What the Democrats could be saying to the Joe Miller Republicans

Republican candidates from coast to coast are fond of branding their opponents the Nancy Pelosi Democrats. Maybe it’s time to talk about the Joe Miller Republicans.

Miller is the Sarah Palin-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Alaska who toppled incumbent Republican Lisa Murkowski because she was not conservative enough.  Miller gained notoriety, in part, by proposing elimination of two of the most popular reforms in U.S. history, Social Security and Medicare, and calling unemployment insurance “unconstitutional”.

Even after his primary upset, Miller did not change his tune. Asked by CNN’s John King September 1 if someone born today should “grow up in an America where there is not a federal Social Security program if you got your way,” Miller replied, “absolutely.”

Though Miller is dismissed by some as an anomaly among Republicans, along with fellow tea party candidates Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharon Angle in Nevada, his views parallel the more convention wing of the party, such as the Republican leaders in Congress boasting about plans to shut down the government rather than allow any funding for the new healthcare law.

Or Meg Whitman who wants to slash pensions in California earned by public employees. Or Carly Fiorina, who in her Senate debate September 1 praised the business practices of China, with its prohibitions on independent unions, mandated  low-wage, long hour labor contracts, inadequate health care coverage and access, locked factory doors, and tainted food products,  and where she shipped thousands of jobs while CEO of Hewlett Packard.

The Miller-Whitman-Fiorina mantra is that “government” is the problem, not just “big government,” any government. That’s the not so subliminal message that underlines Whitman’s promises for deeper cuts in California’s budget, or Carly Fiorina’s attack on the federal stimulus program, or the House Republicans who are giddy over a governmental shutdown that would enable them to stop all checks.

Is government really the problem here? Would we be better off with no paved roads, no bridges, no street lights, no police and fire departments, no libraries, no public schools, nobody trying to keep salmonella out of our eggs or pesticides out of our food, no limits on air and water pollution, no sewage systems, no safety requirements for hospitals or nursing homes, no limits on HMO abuses, no inspections of unsafe mines or other workplaces? And no Social Security or Medicare?

Because that is the ultimate program of the Miller Republicans who would dismantle decades of federal programs and shift even more resources to the robber barons and the have mores. As if the income chasm were not already wide enough, in a country where 61 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck while the average CEO makes 350 times the pay of the average worker, up from 40 times more 30 years ago.

That’s the class warfare that Wall Street and the candidates they elect in Congress and the statehouses, of both parties, have practiced for years. So when the Miller-Whitman-Fiorina Republicans say the way to create jobs is to give the biggest corporations and wealthy even more tax shelters and loopholes, and extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich, someone should be asking, what’s stopped those businesses from creating jobs now?  At a time when, as Bob Herbert pointed out in the New York Times in July, nonfinancial corporations alone have seen a jump of 27 percent in on hand cash, reaching a level not seen in five decades, all while cutting jobs in hopes of getting more tax breaks.

In its September, 2010 Index, Harper’s noted that 31 states face a 2011 budget shortfall, yet in the projected decline in money the states receive from corporate taxes just since last year is a whopping $2.5 billion.  The 3 million richest Americans today have combined investible assets – money readily available to invest, excluding their homes and consumables – of about $12 trillion. A one time wealth surcharge of 15 percent on those assets could wipe out the current U.S. national deficit, fund a year of AIDS medication for 142 million patients or create 34 million jobs paying $50,000 a year, calculates the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, research arm of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.

A program like that would be the best antidote to the Miller Republicans.