The Progressive Democrats of Guam (PDG) would like to thank the Republican Party of Guam for increasing the attention to our fledgling, underfunded organization. It is amazing that the Republicans think PDG is a threat to their party’s agenda of taking away support for the unemployed and destroying jobs of ordinary government workers. Last week, we submitted a survey of 6 questions to candidates of both parties addressing issues that we believe are very important to people in this election: unemployment insurance; layoffs caused by slashing the Business Privilege Tax (BPT); providing additional compensation for essential workers; providing PPE for workers; advancing healthcare for all; and, enhancing enforcement of environmental protection laws.
The Republican Party criticized PDG for advocating the establishment of a permanent unemployment insurance program. Apparently, the Republican Party thinks 35,000 unemployed workers should have to fend for themselves when the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance expires on December 31. We strongly disagree. We believe Guam should join every state, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands in providing unemployment benefits to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and contributions by employers at an estimated 0.5% of total payroll.
PDG proudly supports a $10 minimum wage for essential workers and employer-provided personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers during this pandemic, which the Republican Party may be arguing against. We believe essential workers need the means to provide for their families and all workers should have the means to protect themselves and their families from preventable exposure to Covid-19.
The Republican Party called basic accounting a conspiracy theory. PDG suggested that $61 million in lost revenue would have to be made up somewhere, much of it from permanently eliminating hundreds of GovGuam workers from the payroll.
In 2018, Republican Governor Eddie Baza Calvo’s solution to the severe shortfall of GovGuam revenue caused by the Republican Trump Tax Cuts was to increase BPT by 2%. The Democratic Party controlled the legislature at the time and they would not increase it above 1%, the same 1% the Republican Party seems intent on cutting today. Governor Calvo said that without the additional revenue, he would have to impose layoffs, furloughs, and/or a 32-hour work week. The same basic accounting applies.
When BPT was last cut there was no miraculous private sector job boom, there was no system-wide private sector pay raise, and there was no sudden decrease in consumer prices. It seems evident that GovGuam’s lost revenue went into corporate bank accounts. During that time and following it, there was no large construction boom or any massive turnaround for Guam’s economy. It took years for the economy to slowly recover. It is impossible to make a case from Guam’s history that cutting BPT by 1% will stimulate the economy significantly. We know differently from experience.
Any competent economist would tell you that cutting government spending and taxes together results in less economic activity, not more.
We believe that it is the responsibility of a good government to take care of the people in their time of need. Our private sector workers desperately need a permanent unemployment program. Evidence suggests that cutting BPT would eliminate hundreds of GovGuam jobs while providing no benefit to our people. It is kind of sad that the Republican Party is intent on attacking PDG when all we are doing is advocating for the working people of Guam.