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Monday, June 20, 2011

Republicans “Debate”–REGRESSIVES Win!

On Monday of this past week, I listened to the entire debate of GOP candidates in New Hampshire.  It was definitely scary!  How regressive and reactionary can you get?  Without answering that question directly, let’s take a look. 

Republican candidates proposed solutions for the economy that will help just one segment of the population:  the rich, the corporations, the business leaders.  Not one thing was proposed to assist the working or broad middle class and the bulk of the unemployed (except maybe Ron Paul’s rant about getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya).

Here’s what they all seem to want to do to “boost” the economy: 
  
>Cut corporate tax rates that are already lower than they’ve been in decades 
>Cut taxes on foreign profits by allowing repatriation of those profits at little or no cost to the profit-makers 
>Lower tax rates for the rich to lowest levels in decades 
>Lower or abolish the capital gains tax 
>Let profits of the big guys trickle down (Santorum actually said it!) 
>Union-bash: UAW has taken over the car industry – I’m sure that‘s be news to them! Right-to-work laws are their mantra;  they want to repeal other laws that protect unions 
>Get rid of government job programs for the unemployed;    

>Repeal strong regulations that protect consumers 
>Get rid of regulatory agencies such as NLRB, EPA 
>They want to support the Ryan Budget plan, maybe with some amendments, none of which were delineated

These are the failed policies of the past that got us into this mess in the first place.  By the way, did you realize that at least two-thirds of these candidates (and the two most likely to declare soon – Rick Perry and Dan Huntsman) are millionaires?  Their views represent and benefit just 1% of the U.S. population, and they, themselves, stand to gain personally from their own proposals!

Where is the guarantee that these tax cuts, tax breaks, incentives, and de-regulation will produce any jobs for the average citizen?  Not one candidate brought forward a commitment on the part of any corporation or business that, if all of these proposals were instituted, they would commit to producing a certain number of jobs in the U.S.  Would Coca-Cola offer to expand its business in the USA when 80% of its profits come from its foreign enterprises?  How about GE, that didn’t pay any taxes on profits in 2010?  Will they commit to hiring a certain number of people in the U.S. in  2011 and 2012?  Not one candidate brought forward any such commitments.  Why? because they can’t.  Theirs is a “trickle-down” theory of job growth: give corporations and businesses enough incentives, and they will take some of their profits and create jobs.

But facts do not back up their theory.  Corporations have already made enormous profits, and are sitting on around $2 trillion dollars, but where are the jobs?  They are still going overseas where the huge profits are waiting.  The “trickle-down” theory is a sham and an illusion because corporations, manufacturers, businesses are not in the business of creating jobs; they are in the business of making profit -- for themselves, their Boards, their share-holders, and their paid lackeys (lobbyists, lawyers, and legislators) who keep fomenting the same old tired “solutions” to growth and joblessness.  Their incentives, no matter how generous, are not going to prevent the multi-nationals from closing factories and businesses here while moving jobs overseas, because they can make bigger profits elsewhere. 

You are being bamboozled if you think any of this works for you, the broad middle class.  It doesn’t; never has; never will.  Corporations and businesses are looking to put their efforts not only where taxes are the lowest, but where several more items come into play: they go where incentives-- like buildings,  equipment and infrastructure, are the best-- where regulations restricting business practices are at a minimum; where pensions are the lowest they can be if they exist at all; where health care as a benefit is not an issue; and where wages are so low as to be unmatchable.  This is what the Republican candidates want for you: to become like third world laborers who get a pittance for their labor, but who don’t mind because it’s better than what they had before. 

Did you hear anything that would lead you to believe that Republicans favor a decent wage, good-paying jobs?  No.  What you heard was an attack upon labor unions (that advocate for decent wages and benefits), an attempt to get rid of governmental regulatory agencies like the NLRB and the EPA, and maybe even the FDA.  What you didn’t hear is any actual job creation or enhancement.  They didn’t even offer enhanced job training programs (instead, they want to “consolidate” those under the Ryan Plan so they can contain them, and eventually get rid of them).  No guarantees of pensions, or health care benefits, or other benefits.  The efforts to restrict bargaining rights and union organizing by certain Republican governors, is also part of this well-orchestrated attack on the working middle class. 

About half of the jobs created last month were at McDonalds.  That’s what Republicans want; they want to reduce wages and benefits so that we become like developing countries where corporations and businesses can hire cheap labor.  Republican candidates won’t say it aloud, but they are working covertly to make sure wages remain stagnant and actually fall.  Is this what you want?

The candidates on that stage Monday night brought nothing but theory, ideology, and conservative think-tank propaganda and offered these as worn-out political solutions to overwhelming problems, at the expense of the middle class. 
 
In addition, Republicans have no idea what to do about health care beyond repeal of the Obama administration’s health care reform act, leaving solutions to the states, getting rid of Medicare & Medicaid, supporting PHAs for workers and inadequate vouchers for the elderly.

The “debaters”  presented no substantive ideas on reform of health care; instead, they distorted the $500 million cut in Medicare costs and deplored the Commission that will present ideas for further reform measures.  They all want to support the Ryan plan, maybe with other ideas added, but none of  them actually delineated specific proposals. 
    
We also heard a lot Monday about the States being the place for development, for experimentation, for handling of national issues in a way that doesn’t provide a national solution.  One-size-fits-all is not their rallying cry unless it suits their particular agenda (like a constitutional amendment on when life begins, or an amendment that prohibits same sex marriage).  

We actually tried giving such powers to de-centralized states in the 18th century (it was called Articles of Confederation) and produced such a hodge-podge that the founding fathers rejected the idea that our government should be a confederation of states.  Instead, they called for a stronger central government (Madison, Jay, Hamilton writing as Publius in the Federalist Papers) and argued against a mere confederation because they saw the dangers inherent in a structure that could not address national problems.  However, the Founding Fathers never did permanently resolve the question of powers left to the states.  That is why we still have arguments over states’ rights and central authority.

    Right wing radicals and Republican conservatives want us to believe that the national government is somehow evil, incompetent, interventionist, and obstructionist.  They want it to get out of the way, and let the states resolve most of our problems, and let the private sector conduct all of our business without any restraints.    Federal authority has been a developing concept, both helped along and restrained by constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and legislation.  What is more to the point is to decide what states should be allowed to do and not do.  That is the unresolved constitutional issue that causes problems.

Two points:

One, allowing states to solve problems like heath care puts a lot of people in jeopardy.  Let’s say you are an adult with an acquired disability like MS or MD or ALS.  The state you live in provides adequate health insurance options for you to live a reasonably normal life.  But now, because of circumstances beyond your control, you must move to a neighboring state that does not provide the same choices or supports, but has inadequate provisions for what you need.  What do you do?  You must move, but the lack of care and supports from the other state may be a matter of life and death for you.  If only there was some way to get adequate health care wherever you were to live in this country!  That is the dilemma, not only for health care, but for public education, safety on the job, pension protection, and a myriad of other problems that must have a national foundation in order to protect you from those exigencies that could arise if states are allowed to set up their own very different solutions to such problems (and don’t forget: some states would opt to do nothing!).

So, when Paul Ryan wants to block-grant Medicaid to the states and allow them to put together their own systems of care, watch out.  It is a disaster waiting to happen. For one, administrative costs will sky-rocket, taking dollars from actual care.

Two, not only was our early Confederation of States an example of how not to deal with national problems, it hindered us from becoming a “player” on the world stage at that time.  Now fast forward to today and take a look at India.  Here is the largest democracy in the world, and one of the reasons it is not as much of a international player as China, is its lack of a strong federal government.  Indian Regions or states have too much control and they cannot act together to make India the international powerhouse that it has the potential to be.  Fareed Sakaria, in “A Post-American World,“ put it this way: “India is Tip O’Neill’s dreamland.  ‘All Politics is local’… In India, that principle can be carved in stone.   This diversity and division complicate the work of the Indian state.  They make it difficult for New Delhi to define a national interest, mobilize the country behind it, and then execute a set of policies to achieve its goals, whether in economic reform or foreign policy.  In economic terms, this means a future of muddling along, minor reforms, and….a less active and energetic role on the world stage.”  Is that what reactionary Republicans want for our nation?

Finally, let’s be clear about one thing: as long as health care insurance is tied to work, corporations and businesses will continue to look to those countries where this is not an issue.  Republicans, by having nothing to offer but the repeal of “ObamaCare”, have opted out of resolving this issue for businesses.  In fact, because they have no other alternatives, they are as much the cause of “outsourcing” of jobs as anyone. 

They say they will reduce health care costs, but that is untenable if all they do is return us to the clutches of the huge health insurance conglomerates who have no intention of reducing premiums, but every intention of raising premiums and reducing benefits.  Republicans cannot resolve the health care issue for business until they remove it from the workplace, and they refuse to do that because they refuse to support a public option.  A single-payer system is the only viable way to get health insurance out of the workplace.  Republicans deride this concept as “socialism”, but they support the VA health care system which is run by -- guess who? -- the federal government!  Once again, these purists get caught in a contradiction that they will not, and cannot, resolve. 

    So remember voters: if that “whoosh” you hear is the sound of more jobs going overseas or to other countries in our own hemisphere, where having to pay for health care is not an issue for employers, you have a recalcitrant Republican party to thank for a substantial loss of jobs because they continue to burden businesses with responsibility for paying health care benefits!