"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
Most Americans are disillusioned with both political parties, President Obama, and especially the GOP House. I'm not a great writer, but I'll attempt to explain why it's so obvious to me that even though both parties are quite flawed, the Republicans are totally sold out to special interests groups that are WINNING THE WAR against the middle class. My objective in this note is to make the case for why you will be voting against your own interest if you don't vote for Obama, and if you don't vote your Republican representatives out of office. That is, unless you're wealthy!
The United States of America is under a severe political, social and spiritual crisis; and I’m very concerned about the future because we are better than this! While Washington is in ideological gridlock, the U.S. now has the worst income inequality of any industrialized nation. There’s a strong relationship between inequality and social ills and health issues such as homicides, imprisonment, teenage pregnancy, obesity, and mental illness, etc. Thirty years of research comparing each U.S. state, and various countries shows that the greater the inequality, the worse the societal ills.
We have a government system that works hard for the big money transnational corporations and the very richest Americans, but not for the rest of us. One of the many ways in which this is evident is in the corporate loopholes which allow the most profitable companies like Exxon to get away without paying any Federal taxes whatsoever! Rather than fixing this, the Republicans want to privatize Social Security and do away with Medicare! The Republicans would rather balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable, the struggling middle class, etc. This is WRONG and simply immoral!
The Republicans hope you don’t know the history of the U.S. tax structure from the beginning of the 20th Century, and how it corresponds to the Great Depression and this Great Recession. (see image: "Tax Rates on the Top Tax Bracket")
The majority of the GOP House (235 as of July, 2011) has signed the Grover Norquist Tax Pledge in which they vow not to increase taxes. Yet, polls show that the American people overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the wealthy. It’s bad for democracy for our elected officials who are supposed to represent all of us to make such a restrictive pledge—unless, of course, you’re among the wealthiest Americans!
You may recall that the Republicans used a hostage situation to coerce President Obama into a compromise that extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Why not take the $700 billion that the Republicans want to give in tax cuts to the top 2% of richest Americans, and instead of giving those tax cuts, put it into our crumbling infrastructure? That would guarantee an effective economic stimulus by creating much needed jobs. China is way ahead of us in high speed railway systems while our bridges are collapsing in this country!
Republicans call the rich ‘job creators,’ but with the Bush tax cuts still in place, I ask: WHERE ARE THE JOBS? It doesn’t make any sense to me to give the richest Americans this tax break at a time when our income inequality is the worst that it’s been since the Great Depression!
Most people forget that the TARP stimulus for the bank bailouts was initiated by former President Bush. Regarding Obama’s stimulus, I agree with economists who say that the stimulus would have had to be twice as big to have had a more noticeable effect on the economy. However, it’s clear that things would have been worse without this stimulus at all. Another way it could have been more effective is if the Republicans hadn’t stripped it of its “buy American only” provision. So instead, we are stimulating China!
Meanwhile China also had a stimulus plan, but that country had more sense to keep its “buy China only” provision in its plan.
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves that we’ve sent all our call centers and manufacturing jobs to India and China in the name of being “competitive in the global marketplace.” I understand that corporations are just doing what they have to do to stay competitive, but our politicians, both Democratic and Republican, have opened the door for outsourcing. They have abandoned the road map given to us by Alexander Hamilton’s 11-point Plan in his “1791 Report on Manufactures to Congress” that protected American industries. Our insane trade policies only benefit other countries and the transnational corporations. The losers here are mostly middle-class Americans as unemployment increases. We will never have a full recovery until we change the fundamentals!
And it’s plain to me how and why our policies have changed: The lobbyists, corruption, bribery… our politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have been seduced by the corporations to abandon some of our most basic principles. And we wonder where the jobs have gone in this country. Protectionism — It’s a word unfairly subjected to demagoguery, and yet I strongly believe this country is worth protecting!
The Democratic Party isn’t innocent here either. Ross Perot was absolutely right when he said that if Clinton’s NAFTA passes we’ll hear a “giant sucking sound” of our jobs leaving the country, and that’s exactly what happened! Unfortunately it didn’t just stop at NAFTA.
In his book, “Rebooting the American Dream, “ Thom Hartmann wrote, “After Reagan blew out our tariffs in the 1980s and Clinton kicked the door off the hinges with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and World Trade Organization (WTO), our average tariffs are now around two percent. The predictable result has been the hemorrhaging of American manufacturing capacity to those countries that do protect their industries through high import tariffs but allow exports on the cheap—particularly China and South Korea.
“The irony is that we have abandoned Hamilton’s advice—and our own history—while China, South Korea, Japan, and other nations are following his prescriptions and turning into muscular and prosperous economic entities.”
Even though both parties have had their share in laws with incentives for corporations to outsource jobs, the 2010 Democratic House passed a bill that would have used both the carrot and the stick approach to stop the insane trade policies, and bring those jobs back to the U.S. But this bill was blocked by a Republican filibuster in the Senate! Who’s working for the American people?
The power of corruption and money in politics was given a massive boost by our conservative U.S. Supreme Court in January of 2010 when deciding the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010) case in which they declared corporations as “persons.” Under the guise of “freedom of speech,” Citizens United opened the floodgates for corporate money to influence political campaigns. Not only that, but there’s nothing that prevents foreign corporations from influencing our elections! There are three ways to undo a poor decision by the Supreme Court.
1. Wait for the composition of the Court to change
2. For the American people, the president, and Congress to break with the court
3. Amend the Constitution
The first on the list is the best reason to make sure Barack Obama wins a second term. It is very likely that we will have a chance to change that composition in the next presidential term.
The Right Wing has waged war against regulations on banks and corporations. Would anyone want to watch a football game if there were no rules, no goal posts, and no boundaries? Of course not!
Remember the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf? It was the worst ecological disaster in our nation’s history, and eleven men died due to lack of regulations. The Wall Street financial collapse in the fall of 2008, which went hand in hand with the housing crisis, was due to lack of regulations on Wall Street and the big banks.
I’m not so much for big government as I am for whatever government is necessary for worker safety, protecting children, protecting our environment, as well as consumer protections to keep our nation’s economy strong. While the Democrats aren’t absolved from supporting deregulation, once again, the Republicans have sold out! They’re desperately trying to bring back these same policies that played a major role in the fall of our economy, and THAT’S INSANE!
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) suggests a five-point plan to balance the national budget without hurting the working middle class:
1) End Bush tax breaks to wealthiest Americans. (It’s time for SHARED SACRIFICE!) This would bring in $700 billion
dollars per year.
2) Establish a millionaire surplus tax of 5.4%. This would bring in $380 billion dollars in the next ten years.
3) End tax breaks for the oil/gas companies. This would bring in $35 billion dollars over the next ten years.
4) Prohibit abusive and illegal tax shelters (i.e. bogus address corporations in the Cayman Islands so they don’t have to pay US Federal taxes.) This would bring in $100 billion dollars per year.
5) End tax breaks to companies that outsource their jobs overseas. This would bring in $400 billion dollars in the next ten years.
The Republicans are more interested in sabotaging our economy so that the low information voters will think Obama is to blame.
What is priority number one for the Republicans? Jobs? The economy? According to the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
The sad thing is, none of what Sen. Sanders proposes will get accomplished if Obama isn’t re-elected and if the Democratic Party doesn’t win the House back. Until then, the economy won’t see a recovery for a very long time! Once again, the Republicans would rather balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable, and the struggling middle class; and this is WRONG and simply immoral!
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Due to the corporate person-hood law of Citizens United, in 2012 we’re about to see an unprecedented amount of money pouring into this presidential campaign. The big oil industry and any corporation with enough money to crush any candidate standing in the way of their profits are ready. What can we do? Besides your vote, you can get involved. I would be glad to help get you started, or you can simply click on the link below to get started. There are many ways you can help, but just let me know if you need help getting started.
*** Special thanks to Thom Hartmann who educates me every day! I'm so proud to say this was just published as an op-ed in the Florida Agenda, both online (link below) and in print state-wide.