Change is not the same thing as progress. In fact, change can be the exact opposite. It can be regressive, as we’re now learning from – where else? – Congress.
A flock of Tea Party-infused Republicans has certainly changed the political dynamic there, and exultant GOP leaders are claiming that they are now the voice of “The People.” But most people won’t find themselves represented by this change, much less see it as progress.
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That’s because the newcomers in Congress, whether Republican or Democrat, tend to live high up the economic ladder, way out of touch with the people they’re representing. Indeed, 40 percent of newly-elected house members are millionaires, as are 60 percent of new senators. While the great majority of workaday Americans are struggling to make it on about $30,000 a year – and having, at best, puny pensions and iffy health coverage – these incoming lawmakers tend to be sitting pretty on accumulated wealth. Their financial reports show them holding extensive personal investments in such outfits as Wall Street banks, oil giants, and drug makers.
Their wealth and financial ties might help explain the rush by the new Republican house majority to coddle the corporate powers. From gutting EPA’s anti-pollution restrictions on Big Oil to undoing the restraints on Wall Street greed, they’re pushing for a return to the same laissez-fairyland ideology of the past 20 years that got our country in massive messes. At the same time, they’re out to kill a green jobs program, bust unions, cut Social Security, defund Head Start, and generally stomp on the fingers of working families trying to hold onto the middle class rungs of the economic ladder.
The change is Congress in taking America backwards, not forwards, for the new majority literally is the voice of millionaires. And that’s not progress.
“Freshmen in 112th Congress Exceedingly Wealthy Despite Struggling National Economy,” www.opensecrets.org, March 9, 2011.