The last time prominent Republicans took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, the crowd at a GOP debate came under fire for cheering at the mention of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s execution record. Republican debate crowds have since booed a gay soldier and cheered at the thought of letting a sick man die instead of providing him with health care.
Last night, the focus of the presidential race again turned to the Reagan Library for a speech given by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Again, the crowd proved its indifference to those in dire straits, cheering when Christie mentioned Reagan laying off thousands of American workers:
CHRISTIE: In August 1981, the air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike. President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired. [applause]
The fact that Republicans would cheer laying off anyone at a time when unemployment is at 9 percent and the economy is reeling may seem out-of-touch, but the party has repeatedly made it clear that it sees a fundamental difference between workers in the public and private sectors. The GOP’s insistence on steep budget cuts has forced more than 500,000 workers to lose their jobs at the local, state, and federal levels.
To presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R), those workers aren’t part of the “real economy,” and he’s promised to layoff even more. And now, the GOP is threatening to enact massive cuts to the U.S. Postal Service, a move that would put even more people out of work.
The facts belie the Republican argument that reducing public sector employment will spur growth. According to the Brookings Institution, 19 of the 20 metropolitan areas that have had the strongest economic recovery since the recession have added government jobs, while 13 of the 20 worst suffered significant public sector losses. Despite overwhelming evidence against their position, conservatives continue to ignore the fact that their small government ideology is impeding the nation’s economic recovery.