Tags: Trump Administration | Jeb Bush | Marco Rubio | Mitt Romney | middle class | income | wages

Republicans Putting Forward Own Plans to Aid Middle Class

Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:08 AM

Republicans have set their sights on creating their own plans to help the middle class following President Barack Obama’s divisive State of the Union proposals to tax the wealthy to aid struggling Americans.

With the economy back on solid footing due to a soaring stock market, a falling jobless rate and declining gas prices, GOP leaders are turning to the populist theme of income inequality while pushing bills to counter Obama’s plan to raise $320 billion from the rich, The New York Times reports.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential nominee, has promised to "end the scourge of poverty" if he runs for the White House a third time, and he’s already supporting a hike in the minimum wage despite the proposal angering GOP congressional leaders.

New Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has called on rank-and-file members to come up with policies to help the stagnant middle class, the Times said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also a potential 2016 hopeful, launched a new super PAC this month, which proclaimed, "While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, also a likely presidential contender, shrugged off Obama’s plans for free community college tuition, paid sick leave, child care support and middle-class tax cuts financed by higher taxes on the rich.

But he admitted that the sluggish middle-class standard of living is the "relevant issue of our time," according to the newspaper.

"What really happened is a bunch of the recovery over the last several years has gone to such a small segment of the population," Rubio said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "The more the Republican Party focuses on it, the more relevant our policy prescriptions will be to everyday Americans."

Saying that the president has drawn up "the wrong policies," House Speaker John Boehner said, "They’re the wrong priorities, (along with) growing Washington’s bureaucracy here instead of helping to grow the economy and helping to grow opportunities for middle-class families.

"There’s a better way. We need to fix our broken tax code, balance our budget, replace the broken healthcare law with solutions that lower cost and protect jobs."

Republicans are already looking for an alternative to Obama’s proposal to give workers paid time off. Alabama Rep. Martha Roby was set to reintroduce a bill on Thursday allowing workers to use overtime as paid time off, or comp time, rather than extra pay. Republican Mike Lee of Utah planned to introduce a similar bill in the Senate on Thursday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

And Rep. Lynn Jenkins of Kansas was due to release a GOP foil to Obama’s proposal to trim tax benefits on college savings accounts.

Obama plans to tax financial gains as they are withdrawn to pay for education expenses, while Jenkins wants to keep the current tax system of college savings plans with some minor changes, such as allowing the savings to be used to buy computers. Her bill has been backed by some Democrats, including Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin.

However, GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin praised the president’s "gifted speech," saying on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" he was delighted that Obama had "dialed down on the partisan class-warfare rhetoric."

But the 2012 running mate for Romney cautioned, "I just hope that the tone continues that makes it easier for us to reach common ground."

The Times said that even admitting that there the widening gap in wealth between the top and the middle classes is a sea change in policy for the Republicans, who have long believed that market forces boost economic growth resulting in higher wages across the board without interference from government, according to the newspaper.

Liberal New York Mayor Bill de Blasio predicted that middle-class wage stagnation would be "the dominant issue in our public discourse this year" between the Republicans and Democrats.

And he added, "It’s a striking moment when even Mitt Romney is talking about income equality, and there’s some irony in that."

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Republicans have set their sights on creating their own plans to help the middle class — struggling under years of stagnant wages — and in ways that differ from President Barack Obama's State of the Union proposals to tax the wealthy.
middle class, income, wages, stagnation, education, republicans
Thursday, 22 January 2015 09:08 AM
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