Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

GOP’s make believe presidential debates

Friday, November 10th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

The Republican presidential debaters.

The Republican presidential debaters.

    Let me state at the outset that I have not watched any of the Republican Party “presidential” debates, nor do I anticipate watching any in the near future. I see no reason to subject myself to hours of meaningless posturing.

    I say meaningless because the Republican Party apparently is and will remain hostage to Donald Trump’s MAGA minions until and unless he is removed from the equation by a judge, jury or some higher power. 

      Thus far, no Republican has been capable of challenging him for leadership of the once-proud party, or even saying why he or she would be a better president than Trump. Even with years of evidence to make the case.

       Let me also note here that, while I haven’t watched any of the Republican debates, I have read many and varied accounts of them and am aware of the fact that no one on stage — not even Chris Christie, the most vocal Trump critic — could simply point to Trump’s reckless, self-serving, ineffectual approach to running the country, including promises unkept, and articulate what he or she would do or would have done differently. You know, maybe send in the National Guard right away on Jan. 6. Something concrete.

    The so-called presidential hopefuls appear to be campaigning to be the “best” one remaining should Trump — who leads all of them by a wide margin in polling among Republicans and who has ignored all the debates in favor of court appearances and campaign rallies, which he sometimes confuses — somehow turn out not to be the party’s nominee.

      But even then, with Republicans suffering losses in each election since Trump was elected president, the party presidential candidate would face the issue of how to gain more votes — appeal to a wider base of Americans  — without losing the MAGA base that is all Trump all the time.

        Democrats don’t have the same problem. While Republicans were debating, polls were “revealing” that Trump has a lead over President Biden in a hypothetical 2024 rematch. It happens all the time to incumbents.

     Age is supposedly one of the issues, even though Biden is 80 and Trump 77. I’m betting on Biden’s lifestyle and health care over Trump’s.

     But Biden also has an impressive presidential record of accomplishment to run on (employment is up, roads and bridges are being rebuilt, Medicare can negotiate drug prices, inflation is being wrestled down), a lifelong resume of leadership and — do not ignore this — a demonstrated respect for American democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution.

    Trump has none of that. And none of his so-called challengers seems willing to simply make that case. It’s as if we are supposed to simply trust that under another Trump administration America would not be further divided politically, more threatened by world leaders playing to Trump’s ego and ignorance and even more prone to believe the lies of charlatans.

    Polls notwithstanding,  Biden a year from now will have a strong record to run on while Trump may be in jail or in court or both. Answering to 91 felony counts can be time consuming. Even some of his allies are bailing on him in court cases and in books that also expose their complicity.

     Trump is simply a menace to democracy and doesn’t belong anywhere near the White House again. The facts and his daily statements make that abundantly clear to a majority of Americans. 

   In any campaign for president against Donald Trump, Joe Biden, as he did in 2020, can proudly, unequivocally and truthfully say that he represents America’s best choice to protect and preserve democracy.

     Apparently, other Republican “candidates” for president can’t find the courage to make the same case for themselves.

     Meaningless posturing.


America Finally Has a President Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021


 By Bob Gaydos

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

    I tuned in a week ago for the first time in four years to listen to a president’s speech. I got more than I bargained for. The president’s speech was, in fact, a presidential speech. Thank you, President Biden.

     Why presidential? Because it was honest. Because it addressed seemingly every need and problem facing the nation, detailing what he wanted to do, challenging Congress to get busy with him doing it, and proposing to pay for the sweeping programs in a way with which the great majority of Americans could not possibly disagree. Help America win the 21st-century, Biden said. Restore it to its position of global leadership. Repair its tattered reputation.

      Only the congressional Republicans in attendance, sitting on their hands, dour-faced, had a problem with the speech. That’s because they knew Biden was speaking truth and hope to Americans and all Republicans had to offer — still — was lies.

      They couldn’t even claim that Biden was weak or stumbling or unsure of himself In delivering his speech, because he wasn’t. Because he was clear and direct as he laid out a detailed program of what needs to be done to bring America back from four years of incompetence and treachery in the White House. That’s presidential. It was long overdue and much-needed.

      Over and over, Biden referred to the economy, to making and buying American goods (“There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.”) To helping families with young children. To paying fair (livable) wages and providing broader educational opportunities. To repairing roads, replacing ancient water systems. To building a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. To negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs. To getting everyone vaccinated so the country can open up and get back to work. And to jobs, jobs, jobs. As I listened, I thought of the old Democratic campaign motto, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

      And, he said we could pay for it by taxing only the wealthiest of Americans. Make corporations pay their fair share, he said. It was a message aimed right at middle America and, as polls have demonstrated in the following days, middle America heard and liked it.

       Republicans responded by having their only black senator declare that America is not a racist nation. Fine, but Biden never said it was. He said there was institutional racism, which there is. He said he would attack the threat of white supremacist terrorists within our borders, which the FBI has described as our greatest internal threat. He called for sensible gun reform in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings. And again, polls show that the large majority of Americans support this. And he said he was bringing our troops home from Afghanistan where they have been fighting since accomplishing their mission of killing Osama bin Laden 10 years ago. Again, most Americans are not in favor of endless wars with no clear mission.

        There was a lot more in Biden speech, but all of it was aimed at one goal: restoring America’s dignity. Let us work together, care for each other and show the world that our actions match our words, the president, a Democrat, said. The other party pouted. He stole the election, they lied, insulting state election officials of their own party in the process. He’s not uniting us, as he promised, they said, after years of ignoring all Democratic proposals. They voted against his programs and then took credit for the ones that benefitted them politically. They passed state laws making it harder for people to vote. And they lied constantly.

        America has a president who knows how government works, who knows about international diplomacy, who cares about more than his own selfish interests and who actually does his job. Joe Biden wants to heal America and he asked the “loyal” opposition to help. They sat on their hands. They have nothing, but we, at last, have a president again.

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at


Class Warfare in the Bayou State

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Rep. John Fleming

By Bob Gaydos

Poor John Fleming. He lives in Louisiana, generally regarded as one of the worst — if not the worst — state in which to live, yet he has been specifically targeted by President Obama as someone who should pay more taxes to the federal government. What’s a poor millionaire member of Congress to do?

Apparently what all conservative Republican politicians do today: Go on TV to rip Obama with absurd claims that only further serve to illustrate how far removed the Tea Party and its GOP sycophants are from reality.

Fleming appeared on MSNBC to criticize Obama’s jobs plan, which includes a provision for a higher tax rate for millionaires. That’s a concept that sits well as fair and just with a solid majority of Americans every time it is proposed. But the anti-tax party, which is what the Tea Party really is, will have none of it. When Fleming was asked why he shouldn’t pay more taxes on the $6.3 million he makes each year as a family physician, congressman and owner of several Subway and UPS franchises, he said: “My net income is more like $600,000 of that $6.3 million… By the time I feed my family I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest in new locations, upgrade my locations, buy more equipment.”

OK, you’re trying to figure out how he manages to feed his family on only $200,000 a year, right? And getting by on a mere $400,000 a year after everything is paid for? Every year? Seeing as this was not FOX News, the interviewer challenged him: “You do understand, congressman, that the average person out there who’s making maybe 40, 50, $60,000 out there, when they hear you only have $400,000 left over, it’s not exactly a sympathetic position. You understand that?”

“Class warfare has never created a job.” Fleming replied. “This is all about creating jobs, not about attacking people who make certain incomes. You know in this country, most people feel that being successful in their business is a virtue, not a vice, and once we begin to identify it as a vice, this country is going down.”

Poor successful John Fleming. Even if he believes what he says, you would think he would be smart enough to display some compassion for the majority of Americans who would be happy to have a mere $400,000 left over to play with at the end of their working careers, never mind each year. But maybe he’s not concerned with the average American, or those struggling to survive on the poverty level income of $22,000 a year for a family of four. He brags on his website: “I have never believed in the fallacy that the federal government can buy its way out of economic troubles through needless spending. For that reason, I am proud to oppose ‘stimulus‘ packages and endless corporate bailouts, which will do little but weaken the long term integrity of the American economy.”

Fleming, of course, argues that taxing wealthy business owners more makes it harder for them to create more jobs. It’s a rewrite of “trickle down.” Let us keep our money and we’ll create jobs. Except that they don’t. And Fleming ignores the fact that Obama wants to provide tax cuts for businesses that actually create jobs.

John Fleming is a family physician who owns businesses that employ about 500 people. He is in his second term in Congress. He has been a church deacon and Sunday school teacher. He and his wife have been married 33 years. They have four adult children and two grandchildren. I get this from his website. What I don’t get is how he can live such an apparently successful life and seem to be so unsympathetic to the lives of so many of his fellow Louisianans.

I mentioned Louisiana was at the bottom of the list of best states to live.* It is also 48th out of 50 in median household income, second in percent of people living below the poverty level, and next to last in an interesting category — next egg index. That means how much people have put away in savings, investments and other assets to live their lives. Like the $400,000 a year in “leftovers” Fleming complains about.

Since he’s a doctor, it should be noted that his state had the highest gonorrhea rate in the country and the second highest chlamydia rate and was dead last in the prevalence of poor mental health. Its health index, which measures a variety of factors, was the worst in the country. It also was second among states in firearms death rate and alcohol-related traffic fatalities. Among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., Louisiana is next to last in percentage of residents with a high school diploma or higher and, not surprisingly, next to last in percentage of children under age 6 who are read to every day.

These are Fleming’s people. His constituents. I certainly don’t blame him for all of Louisiana’s ills. But I do fault him for seemingly being unsympathetic to the real life problems his neighbors face. Simply being automatically opposed to all tax increases, even when common sense and consensus say some are necessary, is not a viable management principle. It’s dumb and Republicans at some point are going to have to acknowledge it. But pleading poverty on top of that when you’re netting 400 grand a year (and feeding your family for 200 grand) is worse. It suggests you have no clue as to what real life is like for millions of Americans, or that you don’t care.

If you want to find class warfare, Mr. Congressman, go home to Louisiana and look around.

* Data from

What Life is Like in Perryland

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

By Bob Gaydos

Some national political pundits are already promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the head of the Republican class of presidential candidates because he is the chief executive of a state so large it can be regarded as a “mini-nation.” If you haven’t been paying attention, Perry is another folksy straight-shooter who once vetoed a bill that would have made it illegal to execute mentally retarded inmates. He has bragged a lot lately about his record insofar as creating jobs is concerned. Since he wants to be the chief executive of the whole dang nation, I thought it would be a good idea to check out exactly what kind of country we’re talking about. What is life like in Perryland, aka Texas?

For a detailed analysis, I went to the Texas Legislative Study Group’s fifth annual report on the state of their state, entitled “Texas on the Brink.” (You’re sensing something, aren’t you?) Full disclosure: The Texas Legislative Study Group does research on issues affecting Texans and prepares reports and policy papers for state legislators to help them decide what to do. It is a liberal-leaning group. However, all I’m presenting here are facts the group has compiled in assessing where Texas stands today in relation to other states. Texans do not quarrel with the study group’s facts; they merely disagree on their relative importance. That’s fine, I guess, if you’re happy living in Texas, but, as I said, Perry, who is as rigid as any other conservative candidate out there, wants to turn the whole USA into Perryland.

So, let’s start with jobs, shall we? Perry’s braggin’ on how Texas has created more jobs than any other state during the recession. True enough. Yet its unemployment rate in June was 8.2 percent, which was higher than New York’s. And last year, nearly 10 percent of the state’s work force, more than half a million people, were paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or less. That ties Texas with Mississippi for having the highest percentage of minimum-wage hourly workers. Not where you want to be number one.

Of course, Texas always has available jobs because of its huge energy industry. It also isn’t big on regulating business, has low taxes and housing prices and a warm climate. Those factors may attract people from other states to go to work in Texas, but as a national policy for creating jobs, it cannot work — unless we ease immigration policies on Canada. Mexico is clearly another story.

And what do people find when they settle in Texas? A snapshot of Perryland compared to the other 49 states:

  • It ranks 38th in average hourly earnings of production workers on manufacturing payrolls.
  • Government employee salaries rank 24th.
  • Percent of workers who belong to unions: 41st.

Of course, Perry has offered the usual argument about creating more jobs leading to greater wealth, better education and more opportunity. Here’s the state of education in Perryland (where teaching creationism is the governor’s answer to so many ills.):

  • The average salary of public school teachers (2009-2010): 31st
  • Current expenditures per student: 38th
  • State and local expenditures per pupil in public schools: 44th

Now, for a lot of our more conservative countrymen, these numbers might seem encouraging, since they feel New York and other states spend far too much on education in relation to the results. Well, the proof is in the pudding. Here’s how going cheap on schools has paid off in Perryland:

  • On SAT scores, Texas ranks 45th in the country.
  • Its high school graduation rate is 43rd.

And for real braggin’ rights:

  • In the percent of the population 25 and older with a high school diploma, Texas ranks 50th, dead last, in the country. (Some cynics might say that explains the election of the state’s last two governors.)

That takes care of opportunity, but that’s not all folks. All those low-income workers coming to Texas where the living is cheap have this to enjoy, courtesy of Gov. Perry:

  • Texas is 1st in percent of the population without health insurance.
  • Percent of non-elderly uninsured: also 1st
  • Percent of low income population covered by Medicaid: 49th
  • Percent with employer-based health insurance: 48th
  • Per capita state spending on mental health: 50th
  • Per capita state spending on Medicaid: 49th
  • Physicians per capita: 42nd
  • Dentists per capita: 39th
  • Registered nurses: 44th

Stay healthy, man.

And as far as being a low-tax state: A 2009 study found that families in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale pay more than three-and-a-half times as great a share of their earnings in taxes as the top one percent of Texans.

It all sounds like a very 21st century Republican approach to governing. Now, I’m all for reassessing budget allocations and belt-tightening all around, but I reckon I’m just not ready to turn the whole goldarn country into Perryland. Not just yet.