NEW REPORT: The Elephant In The Room

The Pope Addresses A GOP-Controlled Congress Opposed To His Progressive Values

This Thursday, all eyes will be on Pope Francis for his historic and much anticipated address to a joint meeting of Congress. But before the pope arrived in the United States, Republicans already started picking fights and attacking the pope’s teachings.

In advance of the pope’s address, Bridge Project is releasing a new report titled, “The Elephant In The Room: The Pope Address A GOP-Controlled Congress Opposed To His Progressive Values.

Since the start of his papacy, Pope Francis has signaled a shift in focus for the church towards protecting “the least of these,” whether it’s through the stewardship of our environment or addressing income inequality and providing a livable wage. Republicans’ policy views continue to move further and further to the right, and the pope is finally calling them on it.

On countless issues, the GOP’s policy positions go against the pope’s teaching. Bridge Project’s latest report examines how on the following issues, the GOP’s […]

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Hard Work, Unfair Pay: The Conservative Fight Against Increasing The Minimum Wage

With the upper echelons of society taking home increasingly huge portions of the nation’s wealth, the country’s lowest-wage workers – the burger flippers and cashiers who are as integral to the American fabric as Wall Street’s CEOs – are increasingly being pushed into poverty by an economy that’s not working for them.

President Obama’s push to address this growing problem, in part by raising the minimum wage, is drawing the usual howls from conservatives eager to use his every policy initiative for political gain – even if it means trashing low-wage workers who have been left behind and misrepresenting the economic realities they face.

Congress’s failure to keep the minimum wage on par with inflation means that affected workers now take home pay lower than they did in 1968. Currently, full-time minimum-wage work is worth just over $15,000 a year, an amount too paltry to keep a family of four – or three, or even two – above the poverty line. But eroding take-home pay has less to do with workers’ actual value than an economy rigged in favor of those who command economic and political power.

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GOP Union: Rep. McMorris Rodgers In Lockstep With Tea Party’s Sen. Lee

Hoping to break the trend of awkward or forgettable State of the Union responses, Republicans have selected Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to counter President Obama’s annual address tonight.

As a top lieutenant to Speaker John Boehner who generally steers clear of controversy, McMorris Rodgers could seem like a logical choice to try and represent the more welcoming GOP that party leaders called for after the 2012 election. However, a brief review of her record indicates that McMorris Rodgers is no less extreme than many of her Tea Party colleagues. In fact, on several key issues, McMorris Rodgers is closely aligned with Tea Party responder Sen. Mike Lee.

Both McMorris Rodgers and Lee oppose increases in the minimum wage, support deep cuts to food stamps, and have voted against unemployment benefits. McMorris Rodgers has opposed equal pay for women and supported several attempts to restrict women’s health care choices – including notorious legislation that would have redefined rape as “forcible rape” – while Lee believes the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional.

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Rubio Left Thirsting For New Ideas On Poverty

Following a disastrous 2012 election cycle in which Mitt Romney infamously described 47 percent of voters as “dependent upon the government,” Republican leaders set out to make their party more appealing – or at least less insulting – to middle-class and working Americans.

Just weeks after the election, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gave a speech on “middle-class opportunity” that was hailed as a sign of shifting conservative priorities and a more compassionate Republican Party. However, Rubio’s message did not translate into action, as he and his party spent the next year opposing middle-class tax cuts, pushing massive cuts to the safety net, and even shutting down the government in a futile attempt to undermine access to affordable health insurance.

Meanwhile, Rubio endorsed comprehensive immigration reform but failed to sell conservatives on a bipartisan bill and, after damaging his standing on the right, eventually dialed back his support. That failed leadership led one major Florida newspaper to dub Rubio the “political loser” of 2013, so it’s no surprise to see the senator delivering yet another highly publicized speech to give his image a boost.

It is almost unfathomable that Rubio is giving a speech on poverty just a day after voting against unemployment benefits. But his refusal to help the unemployed is actually emblematic of conservatives’ empty rhetoric on poverty. Until Rubio and the Republicans come up with any actual ideas beyond their endless calls for more tax cuts and repealing Obamacare, the real war on poverty in America remains their endless attacks on the middle and working class.

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