(As usual, the arrangement with the syndicators means this column appears here a week after its newspaper release)
^GOING THROUGH THE DOWNWARD MOTIONS@<
^(For use by New York Times News Service clients)@<
^By BOB FRANKEN@=
^c.2022 Hearst Newspapers@=
WASHINGTON _Score one for Herman Cain.
Cain is running for the Republican presidential nomination as the un-politician so when confronted during a GOP debate over not understanding how Washington works, he shot back: ``Yes, I do. It doesn't.’’
Of course, he's only half right. It took a blend of government incompetence and greed in the private sector, which Cain always champions. Together, they have dragged the nation into a financial crisis that is documented still again by newly released figures from the U.S. Census bureau:
In 2010, 46.2 million Americans were living below the poverty line, the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been keeping track, 15.1 per cent of the population. The upward mobility we have always held sacred has become a national downward mobility. Median income, overall, is at the lowest level since 1996. Of course, this is fed by the scourge of unemployment: 14 million out of work, another 10 million scraping by in lesser jobs or simply abandoning the search...and hope.
So here comes President Obama to the rescue. He has presented a new collection of old ideas for using strategically placed federal funding to jolt new hiring and the repair of crumbling infrastructures. Pretty obvious stuff.
Also obvious is the mechanism to pay the estimated $450 billion needed for his American Jobs Act, with its features like cuts in payroll taxes, incentives for hiring long-term unemployed and tons of money for highways, bridges and school construction.
The wealthy individuals who have fed on the fat of the land need to share a few more of their crumbs. The Census Bureau, by the way, points out that the only significant gains in income last year occurred among those in the top one per cent of the economy.
The White House package of reducing tax deductions for the well off and tightening depreciation gimmicks along with ending subsidies for oil companies has been put out there before.
One would think that in these hard times, these would be no-brainers. ``No games. No politics. No delays,’’ to quote the president.
Instead it's ``No Way’’ for Republicans, as usual. South Carolina's GOP Senator Jim Demint set the toxic political tone" The president has set a clever trap for Republicans, DeMint complained on Fox News. ``If we vote for this plan, we'll own the economy with the president, and he desperately needs someone else to blame it on,’’ DeMint said. ``If we vote against it, he's going to try to say Congress blocked his ability to create jobs.’’
``Maybe the issue of taxation, maybe some of these other issues,’’ suggested House Republican Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., ``will have to be left for the election.’’
The problem is the election is 14 months away. Those who are forced to live day to day and hand to mouth can't wait. None of us can. Even if we could, one look at the presidential candidate choices we'll have certainly raises questions about any hope that fresh blood will make a difference. The fresh blood we voted in has been consumed by all the partisan bad blood.
We need to insist on better choices and take over our own destinies. It's really on us to force the common sense action that is required right now.
If we can convince our officeholders that they need to abandon their self-serving bickering or they will soon be ex-officeholders, then we can rebound as a nation.
If we don't, if we are too lazy to think and operate as citizens more effectively, then Herman Cain will continue to be right about our government. It won't work, no matter who is in charge. It's time to dig out before this is irreversible.
(Email: bob(at)hearstdc.com); On the Web: www.bobfranken.tv