GOP Amnesia and the American Jobs Act

As Republicans bash Obama over June's employment report, they fail to mention that he has a plan.

The Washington Post/Getty Images
The Washington Post/Getty Images

What did the plan include? An extension of unemployment benefits; a 50 percent payroll-tax cut for employers committed to hiring; $30 billion in federal grants to states, which allowed them to hire more than 135,000 teachers, police, firefighters and state workers; and $90 billion in infrastructure spending — while supporting 400,000 service jobs in construction and education.

The Tea Party Caucus waged an all-out propaganda campaign against the AJA, decrying it as more stimulus and an example of big government. House Republicans obstructed the Jobs Act, refusing to allow it even to come to a vote. Senate Republicans used the much-abused filibuster to defeat it. But polls continued to favor the president, and as a result, Obama was able to force Boehner & Co. to pass a one-third cut in employees’ payroll taxes and an extension of unemployment benefits. 

And herein lies the rub: The GOP is touting a flailing economy, saying that Obama’s policies are the cause of the malaise — but it is Republicans who have deliberately orchestrated these outcomes by refusing to pass a signature, jobs-focused piece of legislation.

What is worse is that their destructive tactics disproportionately fall on the backs of African Americans, Hispanics, low-income earners and the poor. The GOP does not care — since it calculates that disheartened citizens will be less motivated to go to the polls come November. And with new voter-id laws in place, the black and brown vote will be subject to a perfect storm of suppression that spells a win for Romney.

Republicans are betting on a premise that white working-class voters will become so frustrated with the economic slowdown that they will vote against the first African-American president and instead elect a rich white guy and private-equity magnate — who notoriously destroyed companies while profiting enormously.

As such, stalling the recovery — and even forcing the economy back into recession — is now central to the GOP’s strategy to win. It’s an insidious plan, the evidence of which is clearly visible through the party’s rejection of the AJA. 

So what do the American Jobs Act and Republican obstructionism have to do with black unemployment rates? The answer is simple: The economic recovery has largely benefited white Americans, leaving behind too many others.