New data showing U.S. median net worth plunged by nearly 40 percent following the not-so-Great Recession is getting big media play today. Pundits are shocked—which gated communities do they live in again?—but the Federal Reserve figures showing individuals’ net worth dropped from $126,400 in 2008 to $77,300 in 2010 doesn’t come as a surprise to most Americans. They’ve been struggling to find jobs in an economy where there still are more than three job seekers for ever one available.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are holding hostage the America Dream, one that involves making a decent living and being able to afford to send your kids to college and maybe buy a home. The partisan gamesmanship, especially among members of the so-called tea party who want to make a point at the expense of the rest of us, has paralyzed passage of basic legislation that normally would be voted for as a matter of routine, such as the surface transportation bill, which would create up to 3 million jobs and begin to address the nation’s dangerously crumbling infrastructure.
As Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Edward Wytkind put it, the bill:
is being held hostage by too many lawmakers who want to score political points with their political base rather than inject billions into our failing highways, bridges and transit systems.
Many in Congress also opposed President Obama's plan to aid the U.S. auto industry, but that plan went through—and now automakers are seeing profits, hiring workers—and paying back U.S. taxpayers. Much of individuals' networth, especially that of the middle class, is tied up in their homes, whose value has taken a huge hit, and Obama also has sought to make it easier, for those whose homes are worth less than they owe, to refinance.
As Obama has said, it takes more than a few years to undo 30 years of mistaken policies built on illusions of wealth that in reality were based on financial bubbles and debt and not on quality jobs and rising wages. Doubling down on these policies--as Mitt Romney wants to do--would be the worst medicine for the nation's ills.
Last year, President Obama sought to pass the American Jobs Act, which would invest $50 billion in transportation improvement projects. Republicans in Congress blocked it, starving the economy of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Republicans in Congress also have blocked essential Wall Street reforms like ending home-loan scams.
The pattern is the same: A jobs-creating bill is proposed in Congress, pushed by the president, and malcontent Republicans block it, shafting the American people—and, with hard work on our part, ending their chances for re-election.