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Strengthen our Safety Net to Strengthen our Economy

Congress has missed their first deadline in the budget negotiations that were constructed after the government shutdown.  Paul Ryan and Pat Murray are co-chairing the committee, and Ryan is peddling his usual cuts to entitlement programs.  Republicans persistently talk about cutting entitlement benefits under the guise of cutting the deficit and encouraging people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  That mentality might work in a booming economy, but it has quite the opposite effect in a depressed economy.

Earlier this week, President Obama made a comment referencing the fact that America has installed societal ladders for our people to climb to success, and spread safety nets beneath.  We did this so that if we fall, we don’t fall quite so far and we can bounce back.

This is a strong argument to strengthen the safety net programs instead of cutting or even simply maintaining them. Stronger safety nets, properly administered, would actually encourage people to start new businesses and make new investments.  An economy that provides easy access to health insurance and less chance of going bankrupt or losing your home, will enable many people to take risks and start new ventures.

So many Americans have a great talent or idea that they would like to pursue, but are too afraid because if their business doesn’t succeed, they will have a hard time finding new work.  A failed venture could cost them their homes, their health insurance, and even the ability to put food on the table.  High unemployment, fragile safety nets, and monopolized industries are killing job and business growth because it creates an atmosphere where the average person doesn’t have the equity to survive if they fail at a new endeavor.  A society that provides for its citizens, while they get back on their feet, would provide the peace of mind for new business ventures to be started.  This would create more businesses, which creates more jobs, which would also create more options for individuals who are looking for work.

The GOP says they want to cut entitlements because they feel the safety net “has become a hammock”, in the words of Paul Ryan.  This is a ploy.  They don’t want people to have the freedom to start new businesses because new businesses mean competition and the loss of power. This also why they are so against Obamacare.  The Republican Caucus isn’t worried about middle class individuals losing their health insurance.  If that was their worry, they would vote for universal healthcare, tomorrow.  The real reason, outside of campaign donations from the health insurance industry, is that they know that Obamacare will give people the freedom to find affordable healthcare without needing a job at one of their corporate donors.

Furthermore, the GOP continues to cut unemployment insurance because it allows less time for someone to go ahead and start a new venture.  Granted, they don’t want anyone to have to pay taxes either, but even that is just a talking point.  The longer someone is out of work and receiving unemployment, the longer they have to actually start up their own business.  Maybe they fix cars on the side, repair roofing, paint houses, fix computers; whatever the trade may be, Republicans and corporations do not want new competition popping up in their communities.

The government is not the answer to every problem, but in this case it is for the short-term.  A strong safety net would provide the certainty that people need to feel comfortable in taking a risk.  Of those risks, new and prosperous businesses will be developed.  This will provide more jobs and opportunity while bringing down the unemployment rate.  As more of these business take shape, more jobs create a long-term, market-based solution; lessening the need for the safety net.

The Democratic Party needs to go on the offensive in this fight.  They must stop talking about preserving what we have and start screaming about strengthening these programs.

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12 comments to Strengthen our Safety Net to Strengthen our Economy

  • John Casper

    Thanks, Eric.

    The real job creators are CONSUMERS with money to spend.

    Billionaire Nick Hanauer:

    “Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators”

    “……When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.
    It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.
    That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion’s share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.
    And that’s what has been happening in the U.S. for the last 30 years. ….”

    If GOP doesn’t want to tax the 1%, then federal government has to invest more, or we can do both.

    Would love to see Dems run on a federal job guarantee to phase out welfare and most kinds of unemployment insurance.

    “The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements.”

    Even the hard right-leaning Politifact admits that the statement below is TRUE.

    “The Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, controls a fortune equal to the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.”


  • David Blaska

    “They don’t want people to have the freedom to start new businesses because new businesses mean competition and the loss of power.”

    How silly! How juvenile!


    • nonquixote

      Dave, on the silly and juvenile, with the requisite small due respect to your frequent public pronouncements, I’d simply say, takes one to know one.

      On the piece by Eric, I’d say poorly written, convolution of terms/issues used as “proofs,” for outcomes, and not very well thought out or presented. Lots of partisan claims that are not exclusive to either branch of the 1% party, i.e. apply equally to both Dems and Repubs.

      The article falls flat right from the beginning with the author’s failure to recognize that capitalism is the problem that is causing (and has been responsible for) the chasm and disparity in the distribution of wealth in our country and around the world and furthering it is not the vehicle to solve the problems with are experiencing. Look back to at least the Carter administration and the beginnings of the savings and loan debacle.

      No matter what your, “party,” affiliations, get over yourselves, this is CLASS warfare that is happening to us. If you insist on continuing to make it D vs R, we all continue to lose.


  • AJ

    Eric I agree with Republicans doing everything they can to destroy the safety net. What I think Democrats need to being doing is cutting the rotten spending, raise wages, and cut taxes on working men and woman. Rep Alan Grayson introduced the “War is Making You Poor Act” after Obama wanted more funding in Afghanistan on top of an already hefty Pentagon budget.


  • Cat Kin

    Earlier this week, President Obama made a comment referencing the fact that America has installed societal ladders for our people to climb to success, and spread safety net beneath. We did this so that if we fall, we don’t fall quite so far and we can bounce back.

    So good to see someone touting President Obama’s overall plan for economic recovery and not nit-picking this and that negotiated strategies. “The letter of the law destroys while the spirit of the law gives life” Global trends are like avalanches rolling down the mountain. And sometimes you simply have to find shelter or get out of the way. So many People have criticized the President while groveling in shelters far from danger.

    But, having lived through the machinations of previous administrations and witnessed the kinds of opposition adamantly opposing every move the President makes, one should conclude that Obama administration has the right spirit for reclaiming democracy and the strength of the United States in the world.


    • nonquixote

      Yes, Barry came out the day before the fast food workers to try to appear that he is concerned and touted a new minimally higher minimum wage. What courage, what resolve, what will we see as any action to bring to fruition the golden intonation of his blather on the issue? Nothing.

      Socially funded ladders to prop up private the private insurance cartels, social funded ladders for multinational corporate profits and disregard of US sovereinty through determined pursuit of the TPP and the POTUS’s desire to fast track it, socially funded TBTF national and world banks, $85B a month, every month, socially funding ladders to profits for private school corporations (Rahm and Duncan) and, the low, low thump of the heavy weight of the proposed chaining of the CPI, another of Barry’s key objectives, kind of takes ALL the bounce out of that issue, doesn’t it?

      How the Barry fantasy survives in anyone’s mind is beyond all fact or reason. Our strength is our people and Barry doesn’t give a shit about any of us in the 90%.


  • nonquixote

    Under the circumstances, very little respect bordering on deserved distain is what is due him IMO and the opinion of many others. Very informative post about the latest TPP wikileaks info and if readers follow the comments you will hopefully better understand what this POTUS wants to do to our nation.

    Eric, I may have been a bit tough on your piece to begin with, but all the R vs D banter is just so much theater to distract from the real transnational corporate coup being orchestrated by our liar-in-chief. I agree with your sentiment that stronger safety nets are needed, but is is not going to come in any form what-so-ever from leadership in either party from the US Capitol.

    From the comment section, #17

    That Corporate Court will completely eviscerate all local land use law(globally!), in a heartbeat, simply because it’ll ‘impede’ Corporate Profit margins…! 8-(

    It’s f*cking insane, how far the Transnationals have corrupted all of our individual Nation-States…!

    The ironic part of this is partisan hacks for the Koch Bros like Walker and Blaska and others of their ilk attempting to control WI, will be unnecessary to the transnationals and will be essentially powerless in the face of something like a ratified TPP. They’ll be begging in the streets, have no governmental authority over mining or anything and it appears they are too stupid to have figured out who the actual threats to our “democracy,” and real, “freedoms,” are.


  • NonQuix, don’t forget to take your meds.


    • nonquixote

      Not a politician but you occasionally attempt playing one on the radio (WPR), not a doctor either, but you seem to be pretending to be one here with your, “prescriptive,” ad hominem. I didn’t actually expect a credible response to any part of my comments from you. Living up to expectations (see ‘partisan hacks,’ above) appears to be your motto.


  • Eric Brant writes: “[Republicans] don’t want people to have the freedom to start new businesses because new businesses mean competition and the loss of power.”

    WHAT!??? The unemployed are just waiting to start businesses but can’t because their unemployment compensation wasn’t extended to 99 weeks?!


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