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Let Them Eat Gardetto’s: Paul Ryan Celebrates $1.50/Week for an American Worker

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On Saturday, House Speaker Paul Ryan courageously deleted his own tweet praising the enormous benefits of the Republican tax cut because it would increase the pay of a high school secretary named Julia Ketchum by a whopping $1.50 a week. Not $150, mind you, but $1.50 every seven days.

Brave Speaker Ryan deleted the tweet a few hours later when he realized it was perhaps a bit tone deaf to suggest that $1.50 a week, something I would have been very excited about when I was 8 in the 1980s, would represent much difference in the life of a full-time employee of a school district, especially when the richest taxpayers will be receiving cuts averaging $51,000 a year, much more than Ms. Ketchum makes all year.

Anyone who has worked in public education knows that it’s the secretaries in the front office who make our schools run. The women who work as secretaries at my school are no exception: one of them literally seems to know the name of every student and staff member in the building, another makes it possible for teachers to get the endless parade of paperwork they need sent to the right place, while another fights every day to make sure that the technology in our classrooms actually works. They’re hard-working, incredibly competent, and almost unbelievably patient with students and teachers.

What would $1.50 a week mean for them? In our staff lounge, they could purchase a bag of Gardetto’s chips or a package of Grandma’s cookies. Now, surely Ryan and his enablers like Greg Gianforte would argue that the purchase of either would be an extravagance and that our secretaries should immediately put that $1.50 into a savings account. Why, in 6,000 years, they could become millionaires, too, with just a little diligent planning.

Steve Daines, Gianforte, and Ryan think those who make this country run, those who work long hours and jobs that simply don’t pay enough, should be grateful that they’re receiving this pittance and should somehow ignore that foreign investors will receive $48 billion from the tax bill and ignore that Daines and Gianforte passed a kickback provision that will net them hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax cuts for real estate holdings.

They’d like secretaries like Ms. Ketchum to be thankful for almost a quarter a day being added to their paychecks while their health premiums will likely increase because of Republican recklessness on health care, their roads and government services continue to deteriorate because of Republican inaction, and their communities continue to suffer because of Republican malfeasance.

When Republicans like Mr. Daines and Mr. Ryan claim that most Americans received a tax cut from their massive handout to the rich, it’s important to remind them that, for many workers, this is the kind of tax break they received. Rather than receiving a break that could have meaningfully improved their lives, their received a pittance to provide political cover for massive giveaways to the billionaires who run and fund their party.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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