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The Devil Wears Populism On His Sleeve

If one were to just read the preamble of the United States Constitution it would be reasonable for them to believe that this country is a system based on pluralistic values and populism: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The glowing language would conjure up images of people working in a concerted effort to provide the best quality of life for its citizenry. Too bad that’s not the case. We are living in an age where politics is superseding policy. We are living in the days where candidates are posturing themselves as down-to-Earth (because the opposite party is always “out of touch”) populists who are trying to protect the American proletariat from the shamefully corrupt and selfish Leviathan-like government. Candidates galore claim to be speaking up for the voiceless working-class Americans who are struggling to make ends meat. While this narrative may sound good for television ads and might even win them a few speaking gigs at some swanky political fundraisers (which are all raising money for the “people” of course) it has not materialized into real change for the American people. We as Americans have been hit in the face with lies so much that we are punch drunk and if we are not careful, misleading politicians may bite our ears off. Let’s separate fact from fiction.

1. The stimulus package is wasteful and not doing anything to ameliorate the economy.-Fiction

Saying stimulus in front of the Republican party today is like yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. Conservatives continue to construct messages that tell Americans that stimulus money is hampering growth in our economy and not creating jobs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been fundamental in slowing the downward momentum in our economy. According to several noted economists including Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, had the stimulus package not been passed the unemployment rate would be around 11% now and we would have not seen a 2% GDP increase in the past year. In fact, Krugman doesn’t believe the stimulus package was big enough. However, what we do know is that $3.45 billion was allocated for job training programs, $400 million for employment services, $27.5 billion for highway and bridge construction projects, $4 billon for state and local law enforcement agencies, and $ 749 million for crop insurance and emergency loans for farmers. According to Moody’s and HIS Global insight the stimulus package saved and or created 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs.

2. Ending Bush tax cuts for the wealthy won’t lead to economic growth- Fiction

Middle and working class Americans fuel our economy. In fact, a little lesson in Economics 101 tells us that as income raises, the marginal propensity to consume decreases. As people begin to gain money, their likelihood of hoarding that money increases. Income inequality has been on the rise for years, but increased dramatically during the Bush era. Thus, if politicians cared about rejuvenating the economy ending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans wouldn’t be an issue. However, working class Americans are continually getting screwed by misleading ads and politicians.

3. Unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. -Fiction

Tea Party backed candidate, Joe Miller believes that unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. Clearly Mr. Miller has failed to realize that those benefits helped sustain countless working American families during this economic downturn. In fact, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the first $2,400 worth of unemployment income received during tax year 2009 was exempted from being considered as taxable income. Under every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan unemployment benefits have been taxed.

4. We are at war with Islam.- Fiction

We are not at war the Islam we are at war with radical fringe extremists. I think Pastor Terry Jones showed the world how stupid Islamaphobia looks.

I encourage all of you to move beyond politics and look at policy.


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