There he goes again. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently told Fox News
host Chris Wallace that “the government doesn’t create jobs, the private sector
does.” That’s a favorite mantra of Republicans. It may make a good sound bite
but there’s not a bit of truth in it.
For starters, Eric, government
created your job, and pays you $193,400 a year plus a very generous package of
perks such as health insurance, indoor parking, a lavish office, a large staff
to massage your ego and image, all-expense-paid world travel, and you’re
currently on a five-week paid vacation, one of many you and your colleagues have
given yourselves this year.
This is your seventh term in Congress so you
must have some idea of what’s going on. I know you’ve had trouble getting the
House to pass spending bills this year but surely you must know where that money
A huge chunk of it goes to that famous five-sided building just
across the river in your native state of Virginia. How many people work for the
Department of Defense and for defense contractors – big and small – across
Virginia? For that matter, how many besides you work for the legislative branch
of government? Eric, those are all government-created jobs.
drive home to your district around Richmond, you use I-95. Guess who paid for
that nice piece of highway.
And if you go a little further south you’ll
find the largest single employer in your state, the Newport News shipyard. If
you don’t believe government creates jobs, just try cancelling all the federal
money going into the yard – you yourself have voted to send billions of tax
dollars there – and see how the unemployment rolls explode.
they’re building two nuclear aircraft carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and the
USS John F.
Kennedy, at $9 billion each, not including what it costs to
equip them with everything from toilet paper to advanced missiles and jets, and
then the rest of the ships that make up each carrier task force.
carrier alone will have a crew of 4,300 people.
They get paid. They have
families. They spend their government paychecks on food, housing, clothing and
everything else – creating many thousands more jobs, most of them for those
small business Republicans say they champion.
You’re not alone, Eric. All
of your colleagues compete to spend federal tax dollars in their districts (even
nice Jewish boys like you have a big appetite for that species of pork), citing
the importance of creating jobs for constituents, all the while most of those on
your side of the aisle are chanting their mantra about how government doesn’t
Who do you guys really think you’re kidding? You’re not
stupid, Eric, so don’t give us that antigovernment bubbe meise, especially while
you’re doing so well on the public payroll.
Government builds highways,
bridges, airports, dams and other infrastructure which not only creates millions
of jobs but also helps millions more people get to and from work, shopping,
vacation and everywhere else.
Government workers fight our wars, protect
our borders, provide security at airports and in the airways, maintain our
marvelous national parks, protect the health and safety of our food and drug
supply, teach our children, care for the poor.
AND DON’T forget everyone
at the state and local levels as well. In all, about 22 million Americans work
in the public sector.
You’re leading a congressional delegation to Israel
this month and you’re going to boast how the Jewish state is the largest single
recipient of American foreign assistance. That $3.1b. is a huge chunk of the
miniscule proportion of every tax dollar that goes for foreign assistance – but
most of that money is spent in this country and actually creates jobs right here
at home as well as alliances abroad.
I’m not denigrating the private
sector, just trying to dispel any thought that it is the great job creator and
government just gets in its way. It’s time to stop using those 22 million public
employees (except for yourselves, of course) as whipping boys and treat them
Many who tell us the private sector is the real job creator
like to point to Wal-Mart, the largest private employer in the United States
with about 1.4 million employees. It second only to the Defense
Wal-Mart, like Target, Gap and other giant retailers are also
job creators – in China and Bangladesh, where working conditions for the women
and children who make the clothing and other goods for those stores are
notoriously unsafe, and the hours unbelievable long. Wages can be as low as
three cents an hour in China’s “Special Economic Zones” and often between 13 and
26 cents in other Asian sweatshops.
Next to those wages, the federal
minimum wage of $7.25 must look very generous to you, even though it is well
below the poverty level; I guess that’s why you’ve consistently voted against
raising it. You and Speaker John Boehner voted “no” the last time it was raised,
in 2007 during the Bush administration, and now that you’re running things in
the House you're still opposed.
President Barack Obama wants to raise it
to $9 an hour by 2015, which still isn’t a livable wage, and Democrats have a
bill to make that $10.10. When they brought it to the floor you and every other
Republican voted “no.” You’re opposed because those job creators you say you
represent complain that could cut into their profits.
Here’s a little
math for you. A minimum-wage earner with a family of four who works 40 hours
every week of the year makes $15,080, and probably gets no health coverage
benefits; that’s $8,470 below the poverty level. And now you’re pushing for deep
cuts in the food stamps for the poor. Your salary, Eric is nearly 13 times
greater, not counting your very generous benefits package and
Raising the minimum wage is not a profit thief but a job
creator. The extra money will immediately be spent and percolate up through our
ailing economy, helping those small businesses create more jobs. So, Eric, who’s
the real job creator? Both the government and the private sector. It’s a
symbiotic relationship too often obscured by demagogic
politicians.Douglas M. Bloomfield