There are legitimate reasons why millions of willing-to-work Americans remain unemployed. Or remain trapped in part-time, no-benefits jobs far below their levels of education and experience.
But there are sinister ones, too–such as the deliberate refusal of Congressional Republicans to create job opportunities for their fellow Americans.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) made just that argument to guest host Ezra Klein on the June 12 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
KLEIN: Now, some Republicans say and some people say didn’t we do infrastructure a couple years ago? You heard a lot in the stimulus we had done infrastructure. So, how come we have all of this outstanding?
SANDERS: Because we ignored the needs for a long, long, time. Yes, we did put infrastructure. We put it into the state of Vermont, put more money into roads and bridges. But we need a lot more and that`s true for the other 49 states as well.
We have–it’s not only roads, it’s not only bridges, it’s not only water systems. It’s mass transportation. It is rail. China is building high-speed rail all over the place. We are not. Our rail system is in many ways deteriorating.
We have schools that are aging. We have culverts that need work. We have tunnels that need work.
We have an enormous amount of work that is ready to go right now and it is beyond comprehension that our Republican friends will not support infrastructure legislation.
If Sanders is correct, Republicans are deliberately sacrificing the economic life of the nation because:
They hate President Obama; and
They believe that making the American people suffer will lead them to elect Mitt Romney.
On June 4, veteran political analyst Chris Matthews discussed this posibility with John Heilemann, the national affairs editor for New York magazine.
MATTHEWS: Is American business sitting on piles of cash that could help the economy, helping to bring down President Obama?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. And I know that many of you have told me that you`re waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand. So I just want to encourage you to get in the game.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That was President Obama in February of last year, speaking to business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters here in Washington, imploring them, as you just heard, to stop hoarding cash and start investing in the American economy.
Well…they didn’t take his advice at all. The amount of cash that American companies…have been sitting on the sidelines hit over $2.2 trillion at the end of 2011. That’s over $2 trillion. The amount of cash companies are hoarding has risen…dramatically over the past four decades, spiking sharply in the last few years.
Of course, consumer demand is also low, but my question about business is, Are they sitting on that cash through omission or whatever to hurt the president, get him out of office so they can have what they’d like, a regulatory environment which is easy on them and a low corporate tax structure?
You know, I’m talking about this and trying to think about this honestly. If you’re a big business guy, you always have prejudices, but your job is to make money for your stockholders.
When they go in that corporate boardroom with mostly Republican men and women around there…they’re sitting around, thinking, Why don’t we wait around about six months or a year until we have the right regulatory environment–meaning less regulation, a freeze on regulations–and a lower corporate tax rate?
Because that’s what Romney is promising them.
Would this be some perverted way of saying, We can screw Obama by saying we’re waiting for the Republicans to come in?
JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE AND MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, there’s just so much going on here. Now, look, there is no doubt that there are some Republican businessmen and some Republicans on Wall Street in private equity and other places–and you hear it up here in New York all the time–who are hanging back because they think that they would prefer to have a Republican president who has policies–who implements policies that are more favorable to business.
There’s no doubt about that. And there’s discussion of it all the time, as I said, here in New York. There`s a whole bunch of other business people who are not that ideologically inclined, who have the reality of the macroeconomy over the course–the totality of President Obama’s time in office and especially over these last six or nine months. They’re looking at a very soft economy….
MATTHEWS: No, I just–I’m thinking about a self-fulfilling prophecy.