Corporate-friendly economic policies weren’t missing from the 90s (see NAFTA and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) but without a doubt, it’s the 00s that will be remembered as the decade when the George W. Bush Administration took laissez-faire, trickle-down capitalism to new heights’putting pro-corporate, upper-class economic policies ahead of hard-working Americans’only to have the middle-class economy tank with historic numbers of job losses and home foreclosures all the while maintaining an unfair tax burden on middle- and lower-class families. It’s from this disaster that local, state, and the national governments are facing the difficult task of how to recover economically in the new decade.AP has a story out today basically asking: with the economy so in shambles, how is the Wisconsin left going to talk about the issue in 2010 after a year of enacting some fairly progressive economic measures (closing the Las Vegas loophole, etc.)? Nevermind that it’s probably not fair to put the leaders of economic recovery measures on the defensive after only a year, what’s really unfortunate is that criticizing Bush isn’t as vogue as it was when he was in office.
The Bush Administration’s policies bear the blame for the economic crisis that we now face. Our nation’s most affluent received a generous tax cut and billion-dollar corporations and financial institutions ran freely and wildly under his administration. And all with the promise that putting more money in the hands of wealthy ‘job creators’ and letting them operate in a ‘free market’ would create jobs and more money would trickle down into the hands of workers. Conservatives got what they wanted and it did not work. Oh boy, did it not work.
And what’s perhaps even more troubling is that those on the right will most assuredly be arguing in favor of the same pro-corporate, conservative policies that put the economy where it is today: tax cuts for the wealthy, corporate deregulation, and less public investment.
But I’ll remain optimistic for my family’s well-being and the well-being of other working class families in 2010 and the years to come as long as Wisconsin continues to make progress in the way of attracting good jobs and making smart public investments (not to mention closing corporate tax loopholes and making the affluent class pay its fair share)that keeps food on the tables of hard-working Wisconsin families.