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Labor Day: Team America, Including Workers, Built That

By       Message Leo W. Gerard     Permalink
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The GOP, the party of exclusion -- no gays seeking marriage allowed, also no Hispanics, no black people, no poor people who are on or ever were on welfare, and no women who are on or ever were on birth control --- yeah, that private party spent last week taking sole credit for America's greatness, saying in speeches, announcing on signs and even chanting: We built it.

Republicans did it all, they said. The GOP accomplished that exclusively, they contended.

Ann Romney adopted the braggadocio, assigning to her husband all credit for the success of private equity firm Bain Capital. She said of GOP nominee Mitt Romney:

I can tell you Mitt Romney was not handed success. He built it.

No help from anyone, not Bain & Co. founder Bill Bain, not Romney's fellow Bain workers, not the Bain investors, certainly not the government that Romney considers so evil but that he wants to run. He built Bain all by himself.

This is a new week though. It's a week that begins with Labor Day. For that reason, it's a time when Republicans will be falling all over themselves to compliment American workers -- well, except unionized workers, who Republicans hate and who Republicans would like to exclude from their party, along with those gays, poor people and women using birth control. This week, Republicans will ever so briefly share some credit for the greatness of America with white, male, non-union, blue collar workers -- the ones Republicans believe they can convince to vote for the quarter billionaire they've nominated for president. Next week, however, the GOP will be back to claiming Republicans built it all by themselves.

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama said he believes America's success was forged by the talent and hard work of innovators, risk takers, researchers, hard laborers, skilled workers and government leaders mixed with community support, faith and hope. He explained that no one person can take credit for the greatness of America, no individual built that. He said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.
Republicans, have been pounding President Obama about that ever since. They contend one person did build that. No help provided or needed. If Bain was successful, then Romney did it all by himself. He gets all the credit.

Well, that might be right except for the credit that local, state and federal government should get. And that credit, of course, goes to citizens because they provided the government with the tax money that politicians handed Bain companies.

Yeah, that's right. Bain companies took corporate welfare. One of 'em even required a new tax!

In the mid-1990s, Bain invested in a start-up mill, Steel Dynamics, that was to be constructed for $385 million in DeKalb County, Ind. The mill got built with $37 million in subsidies and grants from Indiana and DeKalb County. In addition, DeKalb County levied a new quarter-percent income tax on residents to pay for infrastructure improvements such as roads and railroad exchanges that benefited Steel Dynamics.

Bain put $18.2 million into the project, less than half of what Indiana residents did, and the private equity firm took out $104 million when it sold its share five years later. Romney, of course, contends he built that all by himself.

Similarly, California taxpayers built a conveyor bridge between two Bain company buildings. New York taxpayers gave Bain tax breaks and lower energy bills so it wouldn't move a company to New Jersey. South Carolina taxpayers gave Bain company Holson $200,000 in utility support and a $5 million construction bond. Maryland taxpayers gave Bain company Staples $2.3 million in grants and low-interest loans. And there's more government help for Bain companies Sealy, Steam International, Alliance Laundry Systems, Burger King. . .

But, you know, Romney did it all by himself.

Then there's the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics that Romney claims to have saved all by himself. Right. Except for that quarter billion dollars that American taxpayers donated in the form of federal subsidies to rescue the games.

Other GOP members who spoke on the special "Republicans built it" day at the convention were Phil Archuletta, owner of P&M Signs, and Sher Valenzuela, who owns an upholstery business. Both received government aid to build their businesses. Archuletta complained that his business didn't get enough tax dollars out of the federal stimulus package -- only $340,000. Valenzuela got $2 million in loans from the Small Business Administration and $15 million in government contracts, some noncompetitive. But, you know, they did it all by themselves.

Last week, while Republicans claimed credit for building by themselves everything that's great in America, President Obama upped the ante on his contention that many achievements are a result of group efforts. The President told 6,500 students at the University of Virginia that securing a tax credit for college tuition, increasing tuition grants and extending low interest interest federal student loans, were all possible "because of you."

President Obama made no claim that he built that by himself. On Labor Day, he recognizes the contributions union and non-union workers made to building this great country.

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Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW - United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union) is in his second full term since being elected in (more...)

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