When my grandfather was a young man in the late 1930s, he left his home in Chicago and went to plant trees in Oregon for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It was the Great Depression, he was unemployed, and his family was poor. Dirt poor. I remember him talking about how excited he was to get an orange for Christmas. I have to admit, given the current economic climate, that story doesn’t sound nearly as quaint.
If it weren’t for that incredibly ambitious program, along with all the other parts of the New Deal, my grandfather may well have died. Seriously. People were starving. Families were living on the streets and in boxcars. And if you didn’t have money, you couldn’t see a doctor (unless you found one who happened to feel sorry for you). Anyway, looking at it all that way, yours truly wouldn’t be here either. So thanks FDR.
I bring all this up because today, the Senate failed to garner 60 votes so that the American Jobs Act could get to the floor. This wasn’t even a vote on whether or not to pass the actual bill. It was just a vote so they could talk about it.
Put it this way: say your car’s broken. So you take it to a mechanic. The mechanic says he needs to look under the hood to see what’s wrong. But you say, “No chance.” And he says, “Well, I can’t really even start to fix the problem if you won’t even let me get in there and try.” And you say, “Absolutely not.” So he says, “Well sorry then, I can’t fix it.” And you cry, “Rat Bastard! I can’t believe you won’t even TRY to fix it! You just sit there and let the problem get worse and worse! See, everything would’ve been so much better if I’d just taken my car to a white guy.”
But I digress. The American Jobs Bill isn’t completely dead. It’ll get thrown around and chopped up and futzed with until no one’s particularly happy. Most of all, you and me. What it should have done is put a bunch of teachers, cops, and fire fighters back to work. And cut payroll taxes so small businesses could hire more people. And rebuild some of our crumbling infrastructure (so the Chinese would stop coming over and laughing at us).
But the larger, much more important issue is this (dear lord, does she ever get to the point?): the reason the jobs bill didn’t pass was because it asked for a 5.6 percent tax on income over $1 million. And every single Republican voted against it. Every. Single. One.
Just to put that in perspective — if you make a million dollars, this doesn’t affect you. If you make $1,100,000, you have to cough up a measly $5,600. That’s less than Paris Hilton spends on cocktails in one evening. And if you make $2,000,000, you owe $56,000. Which may sound like a lot to you and me (because it is). But keep in mind that this is off of $2 million in income. And don’t forget that most of this money is just coming from capital gains off of massive amounts of net worth.
A staggering 1 percent of the population holds almost 35 percent of the wealth in our country. And 20 percent of the people hold 85 percent. Put another way, if you went to a big party with 100 people and 9 pieces of pizza, one guy would get 3 slices. Which is bad enough when you think of splitting the other 6 slices between 99 people. But it gets worse. Twenty of those people (including the first guy) actually get more than seven-and-a-half pieces of pizza. The other 80 people get less than a piece-and-a-half to share.
That’s the kind of greed we’re dealing with. And that’s what our Republican (and two Democratic) senators are expecting us to tolerate. So we have a choice. We can continue to lick up the crumbs and hope that someone will toss us a piece of crust once in a while. Or we can tell them they’d better find a new caterer with better plating skills. And fast.
Until then. . . bon appetit! I mean, if you can find it.