RNC Chairman Steele’s Politics of Obfuscation
Recently on MSNBC’s The Last Word, RNC Chairman Michael Steele attempted to defend Republican Senate candidates call to adjust or eliminate the federal minimum wage even though Steele did not know how much the minimum wage actually is ($7.25per hour). Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller has stated that there should be no federal minimum wage and Connecticut’s Republican candidate for Senate Linda McMahon would entertain adjusting it. Also, according the Huffington Post Joe Miller claims that unemployment benefits aren't constitutional even though he has been forced to admit that his wife received unemployment benefits in 2002.
Steele has described the Tea Party and Republican Party as 'locked hand-in-hand'. He went on to describe the Tea Party as “…an organic movement out there of citizens who are concerned about the direction that the nation is going.” In this “concern” Steele never discusses that many in the Tea Party are racially intolerant. According to the 2010 Multi-state Survey of Race & Politics conducted by the University Washington, as many as “…45% of Whites either strongly or somewhat approve of the movement. Of those, only 35% believe Blacks to be hardworking, only 45 % believe Blacks are intelligent, and only 41% think that Blacks are trustworthy. Perceptions of Latinos aren’t much different. While 54% of White Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be hard working, only 44% think them intelligent, and even fewer, 42% of Tea Party supporters believe Latinos to be trustworthy.”
During The Last Word Steele stated, “The administration has failed to create jobs--close to 3 millions jobs have been lost. And this canard that we have saved or created x number of jobs is a joke…the country is hemorrhaging jobs right now…” Steele is parroting the specious arguments and lies that are being promoted by the Republican Party in their so-called “Pledge to America”. In it they claim (among other things) that a trillion-dollar “stimulus” spending bill was signed into law; the economy has declined and our debt has mushroomed with the loss of millions of jobs; and the president is going to raise taxes on roughly half of small business income in America.
Here are some facts that Steele fails to include in his analysis: according to Fact Check.org over the past three years the economy has lost nearly 8.4 million jobs but according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than 4.4 million of those jobs were lost during the Bush administration. The economy has regained 723,000 jobs since President Obama has been in the Oval Office. In terms of stimulus spending, the CBO’s most recent estimate the stimulus spending will fall short of the $1 trillion claimed by the Republicans, even if it is spread over 10 years. The CBO puts the price tag at around $814 billion.
Steele stated that the unemployment rate is 9.7% and the debate needs to be focused on what’s going to create jobs, as if nothing is being done. Page 14 of “The Pledge” states “Private sector unemployment remains at or near 10 percent, jobless claims continue to soar, and the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” The reality is yes, unemployment is way too high at 9.6% but, according to Fact Check.org, “…that’s actually down from the peak of 10.1 percent reached last October. It’s also true that new claims for unemployment compensation – “jobless claims” – continue at a high level. But they are actually running eight percent lower than they did at their worst levels, so they are slowly declining, not soaring.” Even President Obama admits there are too many American’s unemployed but contrary to Steele’s rhetoric, progress is being made.
Steele claims that long-term sustainable private sector job growth has not taken place during the Obama administration. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports the Administrations assertion that the private sector has gained a net total of 763,000 jobs this year while government jobs has declined by about 40,000.
It would appear that RNC Chairman Steele is arguing the wrong side of a number of issues but the reality is he does not understand what the issues really are. He’s debating the minimum wage and does not know how much it is. He’s supporting candidates who want to lower it or do away with it while recent polls show American’s support it. According to the Public Religion Research Institute two-thirds of Americans support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.
As American’s look towards the mid-term elections, the debates should be centered around the facts not the fictions. The best democracy is a well informed democracy not a misinformed democracy. Unfortunately, RNC Chairman Steele can’t seem to figure that out.