Author Archives: Bill Hoaglin

Merry Christmas Rich People!

As promised Donald Trump delivered on his great big tax cut. As for the rest of us—we got conned. The rich have something to celebrate this Christmas, which was why the Republicans worked so hard to get it done this week. They want to make sure that their donor class has a wonderful Christmas. Oh, and Donald got a great big real estate bonus to put under his own tree.

Most of you already know how the Republicans plan on doing the balancing act for these tax cuts—they are going to take on “entitlement reform” for next year. Which means that they are cutting taxes for the rich and cutting benefits for the middle-class and working poor.

Now is the time to PAY ATTENTION! Thirty five years ago we were sold a trickle-down economics hoax in which “a rising tide would lift all boats”. The result of that swindle is the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression. The results of that was the Great Recession of 2008. And now, they are laying the groundwork for even greater income inequality and for another recession—which probably won’t happen until after the 2020 election. Their claim is that this tax cut will stimulate the economy and thus pay for itself.

Now that the Republicans have perfected gerrymandering for congressional districts, they are working on ‘gerrymandering’ their legislation. For instance, this tax bill is designed to punish blue states more than red states by disallowing state and local tax deductions from federal taxes. It is also gerrymandered so that the tax cuts on the middle-class expire after a few years, while making the corporate and estate tax cuts permanent.

There is just enough sweetener in this tax bill to provide a sugar high for the middle-class to get the Republicans through the 2018 elections, and won’t collapse the economy until after 2020. Republicans are betting that voters have a short memory. By the time the horrendous results of the tax hoax become fully felt, the GOP will place the blame on the Democrats and their voters will believe them.

The truth is now on the table: Republican politicians don’t care about deficits when cutting taxes for the rich—this tax bill will add 1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt. They only care about deficits when it comes to programs which help the poor, the sick, and the elderly. Within a few years the debt will rise and Paul Ryan, or one of his cronies, will claim that we must ‘reform’ Social Security and Medicare, because deficits are out of control.

There is one more huge bonus for Republicans gerrymandered into this tax bill: it repeals the individual mandate in the Obamacare program. Which means that some insurance company will now sue, because you can’t require them to cover preexisting conditions without an individual mandate—then the Supreme Court will vote 5 to 4 to repeal Obamacare.

The working class should keep in mind that of all the promises that Trump made, and all the legislation which has been proposed, this is the only bill that he worked hard to pass. He is literally laughing all the way to the bank. If you saw today’s celebration, you never saw the Republican politicians so giddy. And their donors just cashed in on their campaign investments. Millionaires and billionaires are going to have a great Christmas.

The picture of the Grinch is for the rest of us.

What The Voters Rejected Yesterday

Democrats should not be too sanguine about yesterday’s election in Alabama. Yes, there is now a small blue spot in the deep-red South, so let’s celebrate it and move on. The main question is what can we learn from this election, while hoping that the Republicans don’t learn anything. Our question, and lesson, ought to be: does this make it more or less likely that we can take back congress next year?

The voters of Alabama rejected Roy Moore by the slimmest of margins. He probably feels as bad as when he was told that he couldn’t cruise the mall preying on young girls. And yet, the GOP leadership in Washington is breathing a sigh of relief. They were going to hold a meeting this morning to determine how they could protect pages from Chester the Molester. Not since Tom Foley left congress in disgrace have we had a known child molester walking the halls of congress.

Senators like Lindsey Graham realized that Roy Moore would become the face of the GOP for the next few years, and would thus make it more likely that Democrats would win back congress.

But Don the Con was all-in for the sexual predator from Alabama. Most Republican politicians were willing to accept a pedophile as long as he voted to cut taxes for the rich, outlaw abortion, and put assault rifles in the hands of every man, woman, and child in America. Except in Moore’s case, he probably doesn’t want women who have young daughters owning assault rifles.

We should keep in mind however, what the voters rejected and what they were prepared to accept.

Our molester-in-chief (Don the Con) wanted Roy Moore to help him “Make America Great Again.” They want to take America back to the good ole days “when families stuck together—even though we had slavery” (Roy Moore’s exact words). Moore thinks that America was great when we only had Ten Amendments to the Constitution. He doesn’t like the ones that freed the slaves, made them citizens, and gave the women the right to vote—why?

Well, first of all, Roy Moore won the white male vote in Alabama in a 74% landslide. It seems that our political divide is not only along geographical lines, it is along racial and gender lines—which is one of the reasons why white males in Alabama are still trying to block the African-American vote, with strict voter ID laws.

Let’s keep in mind what the voters rejected and what they were prepared to accept.  Roy Moore thinks that homosexuality ought to be a crime. He thinks that Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office in the US. He said that America should have stopped with the Tenth Amendment. All this was fully acceptable to the GOP leadership, if only he hadn’t molested 14-year-old girls. Still they were prepared to support him.

For me, the question in politics is what can we learn from all this? Doug Jones ran a great campaign. The African-American voters turned out as much as they did for Obama. By my standards, Doug Jones is a moderate Democrat—but I would rather have a moderate Democrat than a Republican any day! This is why I am a pragmatist. There are many states where an extreme liberal cannot win. We need to win back those crossover voters who were conned by Trump.

What will it take? We may need hope. We must hope that the Republicans don’t learn from this election, and that we do. We must hope that Tom Perez learns the sad consequences of stay-at-home Democratic voters in off-year elections. And, we must hope that more and more Americans are beginning to see the horrendous consequences of Trumpism in America. The Con Man is out to destroy democracy in America, let’s hope people begin to realize this before he causes any more damage.

Besides Doug Jones, there is one other small glimmer of hope coming out of Alabama: Trump’s approval rating in this deep-red state is only 48%. Let’s hope that it continues to plummet.

Would You Save the Drowning Child? The GOP on Tax Cuts and Health Care.

The first thing you learn in law school is that you make a lot more money defending the rich than you do defending the poor. This is the Republican Politicians approach to government. They know that if they cut the taxes of the rich, their donor class will reward them handsomely for it. This is how people like Mitch McConnel and Paul Ryan have become millionaires on a government salary.

Peter Singer sketches a moral lesson in a parable: The Parable of the Drowning Child.

Let’s say that you were walking past a muddy pool of water, wearing a brand new $2000 suit. You saw a child drowning in the pool, and you didn’t have time to take off your suit in order to jump in and save her. The dilemma is this: you ruin your suit and save the child’s life, or you save the child’s life and it costs you a brand-new suit. Would you save the drowning child?

Most of us would. Millionaires would not. And this is the Republican politicians approach to government, as opposed to the Democrats. (I want everyone to keep in mind that I make a distinction between Republican politicians and Republican voters—because I think that most of the voters have been duped). Everything that Republican politicians do in Washington is meant to take from the poor and give to the rich.

Democrats are trying to ‘save the drowning child’—Republicans are out ‘buying new suits’.

And their latest attempt at repealing Obamacare smuggled into their tax cut for the rich, proves this to be true. Even though this attempt at cutting taxes for the rich, while cutting health care for the poor will still add to the government debt, they are trying to make it palatable to some of their politicians. While they hope to fool enough of us into believing that those tax cuts for the rich are actually good for the rest of us. Trickle-down economics: will we get fooled again?

Don the Con ran for president on a nationalistic working-class platform. Even though he has never shown anything but disdain for the working-class his whole life, a great many of the working-class helped put him in office (given the undemocratic Electoral College). Since he has taken office, he has not even proposed one thing to help the working-class. But what he is most excited about is the new tax cut proposal. So his is daughter.

Ivanka the Con, who was going to campaign for women’s rights (yea right!) is now out campaigning for these tax cuts. Why? it is simple—it will make her millions of dollars, given the repeal of the Estate Tax. This tax only affects the richest of the rich, and there are a few billionaire families pushing their minion Republican politicians in Washington to ensure that it gets done—by any means necessary. The two main tax cuts in this new GOP bill: the estate tax and the corporate tax. How will this help working families? It won’t. But they will say that it will. Who does this bill hurt? People on Medicaid, Medicare, and anyone else who needs a little assistance to afford health care.

How many more ‘drowning children’ is it going to take before the Republican Voters admit that they have been conned?

Judge Roy Moore: I don’t generally commit rape.

 

 

 

 

Statutory rape is defined as an adult having sex with a person who is under the age of consent. When Sean Hannity asked Roy Moore in a radio interview if dating young women was ‘consistent’ with his past behavior, Moore replied “Not generally, no”. In other words, he doesn’t generally commit statutory rape.

Even two conservative pundits on Hannity’s television show said that the interview was damning for Roy Moore. Geraldo Rivera saying that the interview essentially ended Roy Moore’s political career. We’ll see.

Men are pigs: both on the left and on the right. But what happens when one of the ‘pigs’ gets caught? Look at Harvey Weinstein, Louis C K, and Donald Trump.

In what may turn out to be “the year of the woman” (see below) sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations are flying on the left and the right. Look at the recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein and Louis C K. As soon as the allegations on Weinstein came out, he resigned or was fired, and has now been completely ostracized by the liberals in Hollywood. He is persona non grata in all liberal circles.

Louis C K admitted that these allegations are true and took a retreat from public life to say he had some self-examination to do.

After the allegations concerning Donald Trump became known, the conservatives elected him president. As soon as President Obama left office the polls on vice and forgiveness in conservative circles flipped:

What about the allegations concerning Judge Roy Moore? While no one has yet ‘proved’ that the person who spent his whole life ‘judging’ others for their immoral behavior, which he thinks includes homosexual acts between two consenting adults—the picture that is emerging about his younger years are creepy, to say the least. It seems that all those rumors swirling around his hometown have a foundation. It is reported that he was banned from some shopping malls for cruising for young women—the very definition of a ‘predator’.

While, Moore of course denies the allegations (and he may deny them all the way to hell) the evidence is mounting to an overwhelming consensus. However, it seems that the majority of white evangelicals are all to ready to forgive other white evangelicals, while holding nothing but contempt for the rest of us.

Although many Republicans in the Senate have now distanced themselves from Judge Roy Moore, president Don the Con has refused to jump on the bandwagon—where he usually leads from, when he is not supporting Neo-Nazis or the KKK. I suppose that it may even be too much for president Con Man to distance himself from someone who is also accused of sexually predatory behavior.

In what, I hope, may turn out to be “The Year of The Woman” — which will turn into a decade, then again into a century– women are coming forward  to finally call an end to the sexual harassment and abuse of women, and the predatory behavior of way too many men. Women are also seeking political office in record numbers, which will hopefully produce drastic changes in our dysfunctional political system.

Everyone except sexual predators and their supporters welcomes this much needed change in American Culture.  Stay tuned to see what happens with Roy Moore.

Democrats in 2018: Divided We Fall

Image: Marc Nozell | CC BY 2.0

What part of “divided we fall” don’t we seem to understand?

Right now, the Republicans are trying to divide us, Fox ‘news’ is trying to divide us, Russian propaganda on Facebook is trying to divide us…they are all in bed together. If we stay divided, we lose!

As we are constantly told: elections have consequences. But so does staying home, as we sadly learned one year ago.

The sad truth is that Democrats vote every four years, Republicans vote every two. If we don’t change this, we will lose!

In 2008, we elected our first African-American president. And then in 2010 we stayed home. The consequences of the 2010 election will reverberate for years to come, especially because it was a census year. That election essentially gave the House of Representatives a veto power over anything that Obama wanted to accomplish, and for the next six years his presidency was hobbled by obstructionism.

In 2014, we stayed home, and that cost us the Senate and thus, a seat on the Supreme Court. The only exception was in 2006, when Americans were finally so disgusted with the failures of the Bush Administration that Democrats took back the House and Senate.

Look at us now: we are squabbling over what happened a year ago, and not focusing on next year. We are at the halfway point between elections and we are lucky that things are not worse. I thought Trump would be a horrible president, but even I didn’t think that he would be this bad. We are lucky that they haven’t been able to pass any major legislation, but behind the scenes they are reshaping the court system with record numbers of appointments, because we stayed home in 2014.

As most of you know, Donna Brazile is trying to sell her book. And nothing sells books like a little controversy. Given her fall from grace in the Democratic Party, she doesn’t seem to care that the controversy that she is sowing will further divide us. Yes, I used to love Donna Brazile, but if she is willing to stir up controversy in order to sell books, then to hell with her. We should only look backward in order to learn how to better move forward.

I am a leftist. I am on the left of the Democratic Party. If there was a viable Democratic Socialist party in this country, I would surely vote for it. But I am also an avowed Pragmatist. There is a big difference between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton, but there is a huge chasm between any Democrat and any Republican right now. Any Democrat is infinitely better than any Republican.

America has never had a working-class party. We have never had a viable Social Democratic Party. The closest thing we have are the Democrats. If we don’t vote for them, we are stuck with the Republicans. In the 1990s Bill Clinton moved the party to the right, in order to accomplish anything. Democrats elected Clinton in 1992, and then stayed home in 1994. The Republican wave that year brought Newt Gingrich the House and obstructionism over the next six years—sound familiar?

The Tea Party was formed by the Koch Brothers and big tobacco as a reaction to Barack Obama. They were the extreme wing of the Republican Party. They pushed the Party so far to the right that we got Trumped. They vote Republican—they don’t stay home and sulk that their party is not far enough in their direction, they got involved and pushed the party further in their direction. Take a lesson from the Tea Party—only on the left.

We oscillate between hope and despair. Don’t let despair keep you from voting. There is great wisdom in William James’s “The Will to Believe” –where he says that “believe in a fact can help bring about the fact”. If we don’t believe that we can make a difference, we are unlikely to try. William James was the godfather of Pragmatism.

As I said, I am very much on the left. So, let me provide you leftists with my favorite Marx quote: “each generation makes its own history, but not as it chooses.” Marx was above all a realist, and in this sense, he was a pragmatist. You have to work with what you have, not with what you want to have. Wanting things to change will not change them, working toward change with the most viable option is the only thing that is likely to work.

If we don’t act soon it may be too late.  The Republicans will be able to pass legislation over the next three years, if we don’t stop them. The only way to stop them is to take back Congress. From voting rights, to civil rights, from the environment to health care, they will destroy everything that liberals have worked for over the last few decades.

They don’t care about democracy, they care about power. And they will use any means to keep it, especially rolling back voting rights. If it is not too late for democracy in America, it may soon be too late.

The Democrats have one mission over the next year: come together and get out the vote. It may sound like hyperbole to say that this may be the most important election in your lifetime, but if you are paying attention to what is happening, you know that is true. Especially given the fact that we cannot go back and change the last election.

Three Reasons Why The Republican Tax Plan is a Hoax

 

Republicans are at it again. More accurately, they have never stopped. The hoax was first perpetrated on the middle class in the 1980s. We were told that if we let the Republicans cut taxes on the ‘job creators’ (the Rich) that this would make us all better off. It never happened. If you look at the data since 1980 all that has happened is that inequality has grown exponentially, and so has the national debt. Those are the facts.

 

 

And yet, they have regurgitated these old arguments in new language. Corporations are making record profits, and still we are told that if we cut corporate tax from 35 to 20% they will create jobs. Why are they not creating them now? Again, they have record profits. The reason we don’t have more economic growth in this country is that the middle class and working poor don’t have enough discretionary spending power. Seventy percent of the American economy is based on consumer spending. If we don’t have enough money left over at the end of the month, from paying rent, bills, food, and health care then we cannot afford to grow the economy.

The Republicans will tell you that their tax ‘reform’ package will generate growth. And that it will save the average family $1000 a year—we are too smart for this. The word “average” means that if I cut taxes on ten percent of the people by $10,000 and the rest by zero—then the average is $1000 per person.

There is one more reason why this whole plan is a hoax, and it goes all the way back to Reagan. In the 1980s they cut everyone’s taxes. But then bit-by-bit they raised taxes back on the middle class, but taxes on the wealthy never went back up to where they were.

The reason why Trump loves this tax cut bill is that it will eliminate estate taxes. It will also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, both of which only affect the richest one-percent.  Billionaires will profit greatly from this tax cut and the middle class and working poor will get screwed once again. The ironic tragedy in all of this is that the working-class Trump supporters will support this bill simply because Trump supports it. They will get screwed, but so will a great many other people.

The Small Business Association* doesn’t support this bill because it really does nothing for small businesses. But the Republicans will push it through with their “small business” battle cry. Once again, their rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.

And the Republicans who screamed about the national debt during the Obama administration? They are ominously silent. They only care about the debt when it is helping the poor. When it comes to cutting taxes for the rich, to hell with the debt–blame the Democrats.

How to fight back against this? The same way we fought back against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act—bring demonstrators into the Capitol and shame enough Senators into backing off. Flood your Congressman and Senator with calls and letters. Resist.