by Martin Kich
In Congressional Republicans’ weekly radio address, ostensibly commemorating Labor Day, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R—Pennsylvania) never mentions unions, organized labor, or collective bargaining. In fact, he uses the word “workers” only five times while using the word “business” three times, and he seems to suggest that most of what he has learned about workers’ problems he has learned while attending business-sponsored luncheons and other comparable events.
Fitzpatrick begins by complaining that the Obama administration has ignored the issue of jobs.
Then with almost maddening predictability, he then spends half of his address complaining about the anti-business effect of “Obamacare” and the administration’s energy policies—especially bemoaning that the President has failed to approve the Keystone pipeline, a “shovel-ready project.”
Fitzpatrick is, of course, very much speaking for his party when he ignores that it has not sponsored or even voted for one bill that directly creates jobs or, since the direction creation of jobs is anathema to the Far Right, even one bill that directy incentivizes job creation.
Not surprisingly, he fails to acknowledge that, in an effort to break AFSCME, AFT, and NEA, Republican governors and legislatures across the “Rust Belt” have slashed state appropriations to local governments and school districts, directly costing hundreds of thousands of public-sector jobs. Worse, those revenues have been transferred directly into large tax cuts and increased “incentives” to corporations—in particular, energy corporations—all with no proportionate increase in employment.
There is no mention of even one thing that the GOP is willing to do for workers that is not of a greater and more direct benefit to employers, so that the benefit merely “trickles down” to workers. (This political party’s “new ideas” are, without exaggeration, forty years old.)
There is no focus on issues such as the increasing prevalence of low-wage and contingent employment and the increasing worker dissatisfaction with such employment.
There is no explanation of how workers employed in such jobs, which generally do not provide benefits, are supposed to pay for their families’ health insurance when they cannot even cover such basic things as housing, utilities, and groceries without both parents working two jobs.
The GOP solution for such families continues to be that those working such jobs should simply find better jobs–in an economy that is not producing “better jobs” but, instead, only more jobs like those that they already have.
WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s Republican address, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) marks Labor Day by celebrating our nation of builders, and highlighting the challenges the president’s policies are creating for families and workers across the country.
Remarks by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
Weekly Republican Address
August 31, 2013
Hello, I’m Mike Fitzpatrick, proudly serving Pennsylvania’s eighth congressional district.
It’s an honor to speak with you this weekend as we celebrate the spirit and ingenuity of America’s workers.
We are a nation that builds things. From skyscrapers to smartphone apps, we live in a land where anyone can create, innovate, and pursue their American Dream.
But as I’ve traveled throughout my district this summer – visiting 100 local businesses in 100 days to speak with workers and business owners – it’s easy to sense that Americans are frustrated.
Nearly five years into the Obama presidency, the workers who drive our economy see nothing but roadblocks coming out of Washington.
President Obama’s health care law comes to mind.
It’s driving up premiums, and forcing workers and their spouses out of plans that they like. Small companies say the taxes and government mandates make it more difficult for them to hire. Even doctors are warning that the law doesn’t come close to addressing the real problems in our health care system.
It simply isn’t working as promised – and the president knows it. He’s already signed seven bills repealing or defunding parts of it. And he’s been busy handing out waivers and delays.
Republicans want to protect everyone from this health care law so we can focus on step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that actually lower costs. We think it’s only fair to give all Americans the same delay the president is giving to big businesses. But the president threatened to veto a bipartisan bill that would do so – why?
President Obama’s energy policies are another concern.
Republicans have an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will help lower prices, boost manufacturing, and improve our national security. But the president is blocking efforts to create jobs and make energy more affordable. Case in point: the Keystone energy pipeline.
This month marks five years since the Keystone application was first filed. Since then, it’s passed every environmental review. Labor unions want it. It’s privately funded – no taxpayer dollars involved. And again, it has bipartisan support in Congress.
So why is the Obama administration still standing in the way of this ‘shovel-ready’ project?
Lastly, people in my district are also worried about the size and scope of the federal government. They’re worried that the threat of higher taxes and the almost-endless stream of red tape are choking the engines of our economy.
Republicans want to get spending under control and simplify the tax code – making it flatter and fairer for everyone. And we’ve passed several jobs bills to eliminate excessive regulations and bring common-sense oversight to the regulatory process.
But the president is still pushing more of the same tax hikes and ‘stimulus’-style policies that have left us with weak job growth, high prices, and stagnant paychecks. Again we have to ask: why?
If there’s one thing I’ve heard a lot of these last few weeks, it’s that people want Congress to focus on expanding opportunity instead of expanding the government.
That’s the goal of the Republican jobs plan – and you can see it at gop.gov/jobs. It’s focused on breaking down the government roadblocks that are hurting our economy, and putting Americans back in the driver’s seat.
Because we want to make sure that the workers we’re celebrating this weekend can keep doing what they do best: building. Creating. And preserving the American Dream for future generations.
Thank you for listening.
Martin Kich is the president of the Wright State University chapter of AAUP, which includes two bargaining units representing a total of about 600 faculty. He is also the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, a member of the executive committee of AAUP’s national Collective Bargaining Congress (AAUP-CBC) and chair of the Ohio Conference’s Communication Committee. Posted initially to the Academe Blog [http://academeblog.org/]