Indeed, just because a corporation can make even more money by laying off even more workers, should it? That’s a question that should arise on Capitol Hill during future debates on jobs.

Corporations aren’t human, of course, but they aren’t exactly evil, either.


Corporations have no morals at all; they’re artificial constructs that exist exclusively to maximize profits for shareholders. Therefore, they escape any legal responsibility to employ people.


However, as Congress again considers President Obama’s jobs bill, at least some of the debate should include discussion about corporations’ 1) accountability for their actions in the market (both in a community and in a financial sense) and 2) the self-interest of shareholders who see the companies they supposedly own enrich executives and harm the profile –– and, therefore, the value –– of the business.


All 48 Senate Republicans voted against the measure last Tuesday, joined by conservative Democrats Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana, plus Majority Leader Harry Reid.


Reid (D-Nev.) cast a no-vote so the bill could be re-introduced later. Reid said the Senate will consider individual parts of the bill next month. Sixty votes are needed to break the GOP filibuster.


Obama’s $447 billion American Jobs Act has two key components and a third that funds the package. First, $202 billion is to rehire workers and protect the unemployed; $50 billion of that sum goes to infrastructure and $49 billion to jobless benefits. The President wants to “reform out unemployment insurance system to provide greater flexibility, while ensuring 6 million people do not lose benefits.”


Next, Obama wants to cut taxes: $175 billion of the total would stem from cutting payroll taxes in half next year. That would mean about $1,500 in tax savings per household, affecting about 160 million people. Employers would gain, too, because $65 billion is tied to cutting employer payroll taxes in half in 2012. The White House said that most of the price tag for the bill could be paid by limiting the itemized deductions taken by individuals making more than $200,000 a year and households making $250,000 a year.


Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who previously introduced her own jobs proposal, says the public supports job creation as a government priority.


“When asked ‘Is it deficit reduction or jobs?’ overwhelmingly, the American people –– Republicans, Democrats, even people who self-identify as tea party –– think that jobs are more important than debt reduction.”


Public support probably stems not only from empathy for the jobless and common sense, but also evidence at hand that work needs to be done.


The timing would seem to be ripe. The Associated Press this summer reported “corporate profits are coming in better than expected.”


However, corporations are just sitting on their cash, and their GOP agents defend their inaction, and they want even more deregulation.


Republicans blocking the jobs bill resort to reciting tired conservative talking points –– led by the phrase “job creators,” a new euphemism of the failed trickle-down economic theory that started in the 1980s, which is the idea that the wealthy will create jobs only if they are taxed and regulated even less.


House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) sees government as the problem instead of the citizens’ tool to help improve the economy as well as the public interest.


“We need to liberate our economy from the shackles of Washington,” said Boehner, straight-faced.


Retired Silicon Valley business executive Bob Burnett, a co-founder of Cisco Systems, disputes the claim.


“Starting with Ronald Reagan, Republican ideologues have assumed that rich folks buying yachts and vacation homes would catalyze the consumer economy,” Burnett said. “This didn’t happen.”


The Right wing seems to have a four-part strategy: Pit taxpayers against public employees, eliminate voting rights, keep government dysfunctional via Republican obstructionism and keep the economy in crisis –– all for political gain.


That agenda –– particularly the latter two parts –– helps clarify the huge and growing gap between those prospering in this Great Recession and the rest of the country. Otherwise, why are so few Americans feeling the benefit of record corporate profits?


In an unsigned piece, the weekly National Catholic Reporter editorialized, “There is a fundamental flaw in the ongoing national conversation about economics that explains a lot, and it is that we essentially give business a pass on any obligation beyond the need to accumulate capital.”


Indeed, just because a corporation can make even more money by laying off even more workers, should it? That’s a question that should arise on Capitol Hill during future debates on jobs.


Contact Bill Knight at bill.knight@hotmail.com.