For some reason at this time of year, writers seem to feel a compulsion to look back at the highlights – good and bad – that occurred during the entire year. Depending on their political bent, many will look at the year through a lens of how much was accomplished, or not accomplished by the Obama administration. There’s nothing wrong with that enterprise, but I would rather take a look at what certain people (mostly politicians) said that did not come to pass, or was never true in the first place. The only look-back will be quotes from some of my earlier postings during 2013 (or late 2012).
1) Socialism – in spite of what Republicans have proclaimed, we are no closer to being a socialist nation at the beginning of 2014 then we were in 2008, or in 1950 for that matter. We have a thoroughly established capitalist economic system over which the private sector has an overwhelming amount of control. Our corporations, business executives, boards of directors, big stock holders, and all of their lawyers and lobbyists have made sure that our laws and our regulations, our policies and our rules are all kept from being too restrictive and too confining. For sure, they have also captured enough money and power and connections to keep the law and the judicial system from their door when they step over the line, as did the financiers of Wall Street.
As I have said in an earlier Blog:
"To be a socialist government, the central government would have to be operating all sources of production and distribution. This means that all manufacturers, all services, all industries, all modes of distribution - like trucking companies and railways - would have to be government-operated. They aren’t, and they won’t be under this President (or any other most probably).
The real motive for this appellation (of socialist) is the opposition of the rich toward a government that takes taxes from them and distributes what the rich consider their profits and resources to others with special challenges or needs. It is a basic misunderstanding of the commonweal, i.e. the health of a society as a whole. They simply don‘t want their hard-earned rewards going to people who are, in their estimate: irresponsible, uneducated, and unworthy."
A so-called “welfare state” and a socialist country are not the same, no matter how badly the antagonist liar wants them to be. A socialist state, founded either by the Right or the Left, is all about control of citizens, about power over their thinking and their lives, and all about using them as cogs in the mechanisms of the State. Nazi Germany and Mao's Communist China controlled all aspects of the lives of their subjects, proclaiming citizen “welfare” while simultaneously taking away all individuality and individual rights. The only right one possessed was the right to serve the State.
In a recent Forbes.com article , the author wants to term Obama a European-type socialist because the European welfare state takes one half of national output to provide state health care, pensions, extended unemployment benefits, income grants, and free higher education. However, he also indicates that these countries leave enterprise in private hands but coerce it through taxation and regulation to contribute to what the state deems “social welfare.” But a state with private enterprises is not a socialist state. Social welfare is just that; it is not socialism. Because 60% of Americans are perturbed by the word “socialist” or “socialism”, these purveyors of lies apply that term (wrongly) to any country that provides for “social welfare.”
Security for the elderly and disabled in the form of Social Security, or Medicare for the aged and sick, or the Veteran’s Administration health care system, or the saving of the American auto industry -- these are not signs of socialism. The point is that government help for those in less fortunate circumstances than those who prosper is not socialism; it is a social contract that people enter into as citizens to enable society to enhance the lives of all its people. Government aid is not socialism. America is not on the road to anything like socialism, because we happen to know the difference between control of people by the state and empowerment of people through supports and opportunities."
We are not at the mercy of a socialist in the White House. That lie is a cover-up for what we are actually facing which is the control of our democratic institutions by the rich and powerful. The worst flaws of capitalism are being realized at a rate that is alarming. Here are just a few that have affected us since 2000, and have irritated us for many years:
--big money is being used to affect the outcome of elections, legislation and policies assisted by a questionable decision by the SCOTUS in Citizens United
--attacks made on unions and labor, such as removal of bargaining rights and opposition to the raising of the minimum wage
--unfair tax laws and rules promulgated; a less than progressive system
--extraction of special rebates, tax breaks, loopholes and subsidies that re-distributes money from the lower echelon to the richest 1%
--refusal to use profits to pay fair taxes, create new jobs, expand domestic business
--expanding influence into healthcare, education, foreign policy, social policy, voting laws
--the outlandish income gap between executives and workers
If you have been bamboozled into believing that socialism is the problem, you have missed the boat. Capitalism out-of-control is much worse for 99% of us, and we are paying the price for ignoring these flaws and distortions of our capitalist system in the last decade. Rule by a small group of elite rich robber barons is not a smart choice. A vote for conservative Republicans is a vote against one's own best interests because they do not represent your interests. They represent those of the richest 1%.
2) Deficit – have you heard? The deficit is going to overwhelm us. China is going to call in their loans and we will be under their control. According to one blogger, “the second-ranking Republican in the House, Eric Kantor, declared on Fox News that we have a ‘growing deficit,’ while Senator Rand Paul told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that we’re running ‘a trillion-dollar deficit’ every year. People like Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the co-chairmen of President Obama’s deficit commission, did a lot to feed public anxiety about the deficit when it was high. Have they changed their tune as the deficit has come down? No. So it’s no surprise that the narrative of runaway deficits remains, even though the budget reality has completely changed.
In the words of Paul Krugman, “The public has no idea that the deficit has been falling like a stone. A solid majority of voters think it’s still going up, and hardly anyone knows that it’s going down.” In fact, recently, Hal Varian, the chief economist of Google, ran a consumer survey to ask whether the deficit has gone up or down since January 2010. “A majority of those who replied said the deficit has gone up, with more than 40 percent saying that it has gone up a lot. Only 12 percent answered correctly that it has gone down.” Republicans made a lot of political hay over a supposedly runaway deficit early in the Obama administration, and they have maintained the same rhetoric even as the deficit has plunged. In fact, there is a constant refrain from conservatives that President Obama has not laid out a plan to make cuts in spending to address the deficit, nearly constant on all media outlets. With their bad memories, and reluctance to pressure politicians with facts, the media have done us all a disservice. Not only is the deficit itself shrinking, but the President has again and again offered budget concessions and balanced budgets. Above all, it seems at this point all have forgotten that President Obama offered a $4.1 trillion “grand bargain” during the last man-made debt-ceiling crisis. Unfortunately, under a barrage of negative reaction from the out-of-control Tea Party, Speaker John Boehner walked away from any such bargain.
As Ed Schultz said on MSNBC, “Republicans are saying that Obama is unwilling to cut spending, which is made up out of whole cloth and divorced from reality, but the media is all playing along. Obama keeps saying he wants a balanced approach, and he keeps offering options, but Republicans won’t accept anything less than effectively dismantling the social safety net and zero taxes on the rich and corporations. Republicans hold up the Ryan budget as their offer to cut spending, as if it won’t explode the deficit. Once again, they are lying and nobody seems to want to point it out.
Just remember as we head into this next “crisis,” which is totally manufactured by right wing Republicans who helped create this huge debt problem through unpaid spending on two wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, Medicare part D and policies that created the worst economy since the Great Depression, you can tell when they are lying; their lips will be moving.”
In a recent blog, I suggested the following:
"Instead of stimulating a dragging economy by repairing infrastructure and providing jobs, Republicans would rather cut the very programs that are enabling certain sectors of our society to continue to put money into the economy where it is desperately needed. If we do what Republicans want, we will find that the Great Recession will deepen and the economy will take forever to recover.
" The Congress is the problem: they make the laws; they appropriate the money; they manipulate the tax code. All the debt that we owe is because of legislation already passed by the Congress. So, logically, that says to me that Congress is not serious about spending cuts or deficit reduction. What they are serious about is the destruction of government programs that they do not support. What they are most serious about is an ideology that proclaims the federal government as unwieldy, ineffective and cumbersome. So, they portend, it must be reduced in size and gotten out of the way so that the States can oversee most programs and projects.
Don’t believe anything Republicans say about the deficit.
3) Obamacare – this is a subject on which there are so many distortions and lies coming forth from the Republican radicals that no one can keep up with them. But, let us list some of them so we do not forget the lengths to which radical Republicans will go to destroy, not only healthcare for all, but to destroy major government programs so that they can ultimately weaken federal government itself. So here’s what I have already pointed out in previous posts.
"The facts are that about 15% of Americans are uninsured, which means that the ACA was primarily aimed at the 45-50 million people in this country who have no healthcare coverage at all. The current population of the United States is around 317 million people based on the 2010 census and other factors used by the Bureau of the Census to calculate this figure. 101.5 million people already enrolled in government health programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP won’t need to use the marketplace, and 170.9 million already covered by employer insurance won’t need to use the marketplace. The most likely people to be under-insured or un-insured are poor working families where at least one or more members has one or more jobs. Thus, it is of major importance to focus on the facts and the realities involved, and not on manufactured distortions like "death panels” and higher taxes for everyone, or technical difficulties with websites.
“The largest health care crisis in this country right now is not the inexcusable botched roll-out of the national website for enrolling in ObamaCare. It is not even the matter of the promise by President Obama that if you like your current healthcare plan, you can keep it, and the “fix” that followed. It is not the recent policy termination letters from insurers. Nor is it Republican legislation in the House (Upton bill) that passed with the support of 39 Democrats, or even the President’s “fix” that allows insurers to extend certain existing plans until the start of 2015 when all plans will have to comply with the ACA. The real crisis is what uninsured, or under-insured, people have to endure in their lives when they are not adequately covered.”
4) Social Security- Social Security remains one of the biggest Republican targets for lies and distortions. They claim that Social Security is “in trouble”; that it poses a threat in the form of adding to the deficit, and that “it’s broken.” But, the real reason they keep up their barrage of propaganda is because they see all of this money as an opportunity for their Wall Street buddies to capitalize on a huge money-making scheme. If they can get even 50% of the money in the SS Trust Fund into personal accounts, they will be well on their way to realizing a profit bonanza. In other words, they want to have their brokers and bankers manage your old age insurance funds! They are willing to bet that their stream of lies can eventually convince enough people that personal accounts will “save” SS while also reducing our federal deficit.
According to Politics Plus, Social Security “remains one of the nation’s most successful, effective, and popular programs. It has dramatically reduced elderly poverty — nearly half of seniors today would be in poverty without it — and it is the nation’s most effective tool at alleviating poverty among people with disabilities. It does all this while spending less than a penny per dollar on administrative costs. And despite conservatives’ fear mongering, Social Security is not going bankrupt any time soon.”
Even if we do nothing, and the trust fund runs out in 37 years, recipients would still receive 80% of their benefits, far more that they will after 37 years of (Big Bank) attention, if Republicans get their way. But that would be foolish and unnecessary. The shortfall can be fixed tomorrow by raising the income cap, and letting those who created the problem share in the burden of fixing it. Also, remember the biggest Republican lie of all. Social Security has never added a penny to the deficit, so controlling ‘government spending’ has nothing to do with this.”
As I’ve said before on a past posting, “Social Security is not a drag on the economy or the federal budget. It has its own Trust Fund that will remain adequate for years and could be more so if the government paid back what it borrowed from that Fund, and if the cap on wages from which FICA is paid were raised to about $250,000!
Personal bank or “investment” accounts as alternatives to our present system hold little promise for the under 55 year-old generations. This is a sham (similar to Part D of Medicare) to give private investment companies access to funds that are not presently under their purview. What a boon such personal accounts would be to these financial companies.
The point is, now that 5 years (half a decade!) of an Obama administration are part of history, we should realize something about these charges and claims of concern. None of the Republican dire predictions have come true. The reason: they were always made up. The deficit is shrinking. A move to socialism has no basis in fact, and is simply a distortion of social welfare under a social contract. Obamacare is already meeting its main goal by signing up millions of uninsured and underinsured persons, and several bad practices of insurance companies are now illegal. Social Security is not broken, is not negatively affecting a shrinking deficit, and is not going broke. Enough time has passed to be able to ask – where’s the evidence, the facts, the proof, and the alternatives? The Republicans present no facts, have no plans, and even ignore the history of the last five years because it contradicts their dire predictions on all major issues. They are wrong; what's worse, they are deluded!
The time has come to face reality.