They cut taxes; but whose taxes did they cut?
"The average tax cut for the 20 percent of households in the middle of the income spectrum would be just $20. ...For those with incomes above $1 million, the average tax cut would be $42,000." --Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/11/06
At the same time they were cutting taxes, the Republican Party, which claims to be the party of fiscal responsibility, became the Party of Spending Like a Drunken Sailor (Note: Unlike Congress, drunken sailors spend their own money). The U.S. has to borrow about $2 billion each day--just to keep the government running.
"One year ago this month, [the Republican energy bill gave] $8 billion in tax breaks to energy companies (...gas prices have increased 65% since Bush's second inauguration). ...this year, three of the largest oil companies reported nearly $30 billion in income, and their CEOs made millions. And don't forget that the oil industry helped write the Republican energy bill." --Women's Vote Center, 8/14/06
The problem is that the Republicans in Congress do not represent the majority of Americans; in fact, they don't even represent the majority of Republicans in America. Instead, they represent the interests of the Bush Administration, the wealthy, and whatever lobbyist offers the best vacation package. This becomes obvious when you examine their priorities. The Republicans are obsessed with eliminating the Estate Tax, a move that will benefit one-half of one percent of Americans (about 8000 of the richest Americans); yet they will not even allow an up-or-down vote on raising the minimum wage, which has not been raised in 10 years. During this same period, our Representatives have pocketed $35,000 in raises.
"Since the minimum wage was first established in 1938, Congress has typically acted to adjust its level upwards in a more timely fashion. The one exception was in the 1980s, as the minimum wage remained unchanged from January 1981 until April 1990: a period of nine years and three months." --Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 6/20/06 (Coincidentally, this spans all the Reagan years and half of Poppa Bush's-the dawn of Compassionate Conservatism)
"It gets worse. The lobbyists for the National Restaurant Association managed to inject a paragraph into the minimum wage part of the bill that would have significantly lowered the pay of minimum wage workers who work get tips [sic] (like waitpersons) in seven states." --Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, quoted on TomPaine.com, 8/4/06
If Republicans truly represented the majority of Americans, they would not have wasted five minutes pushing President Bush's unpopular scheme to privatize Social Security. The Bush "plan" would sharply cut guaranteed benefits, and an overwhelming majority of Americans opposes it (http://thinkprogress.org, 7/31/06). But that didn't stop the Republicans from pushing it, praising it, and pushing it some more--and if re-elected, they promise to push some more:
"If I'm around in a leadership role come January, we're going to get serious about this." --House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Washington Times, 7/30/06
"If we can't get it done this year, I'm going to try next year. And if we can't get it done next year, I'm going to try the year after that, because it is the right thing to do." --George W. Bush, 6/27/06
Another Republican obsession is their crusade to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. To hear them tell it, this would cure America's dependence on foreign oil, balance the budget, and prevent teenage pregnancies. No matter what the problem is, drilling in the ANWR will fix it.
"The Department of Energy's own analysis has found drilling in the Arctic Refuge would 'only slightly reduce America's dependence on imports and would lower oil prices by less than 50 cents a barrel.' (This decrease would translate to a measly one penny per gallon reduction in gas prices twenty years from now.)" --The Progress Report, 8/8/06
On the other hand, if the Republican-controlled Congress increased the Corporate Average Fuel Economy ("CAFE") standards to 40 miles per gallon, we would save more oil than we currently import from Saudi Arabia.