Tag Archives: GOP

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.

Gun Violence and Health Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As everyone in America knows by now, this last weekend we had the worst mass killing in modern history (the slaughter of women and children by US soldiers at Wounded Knee was the worst). Was this an act of ‘terrorism’?  We are all a little more terrorized right now. And while we may be in shock, we are not surprised. We are not surprised because we have become all too used to this happening in our country. We are not surprised by the lack of empathy on the part of Republican politicians. And we are not surprised by their lack of response: “now is not the time to talk about guns in this country”—is their only response. Followed by silence and prayer.

There are two things that we know for certain about this weekend’s mass murder: it will happen again, and Republican politicians will do nothing about it. They did nothing after Sandy Hook, when 26 children and their teachers were murdered. They do nothing every day in America when an average of 42 people are gunned down.  They will do nothing now. They are beholden to the gun lobby, in the same way they are beholden to Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Tobacco, and other corporate donors who line their pockets with blood money.

But here is my question: do these Republican politicians think that those 500 people wounded by a hail of bullets from the sky have a right to health care? This is important. Because they all showed up at the emergency rooms, where they weren’t turned away. Who is going to pay for their health care? The gun lobby? Are these innocent victims going to get stuck with thousands of dollars of medical bills? Or, is now not the time to talk about this either?

Here is my point: innocent victims should have their medical expenses covered—by a national insurance program. These people did not choose to be shot. But, nor do people choose to get cancer. Millions of people suffer from diseases, traffic accidents, and other health care related issues through no fault of their own. Some of them can afford insurance, some of them cannot.

Imagine the callousness of a politician saying to those wounded in the massacre last weekend: “we are sorry that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but here is a bill for tens of thousands of dollars for your medical expenses”.  But this is the same callousness which is implied every day. Take the logic of this massacre of innocent people, and apply it to what is happening every day in America.

Innocent people are dying, or declaring bankruptcy, because they cannot afford health insurance—through no fault of their own.

Today’s GOP: Heartless and Cruel

Today Trump gave the white supremacists something to cheer about. He has spent the last month showing America who he is. First, he cheered on the KKK and Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville Virginia, declaring “there are very fine people on both sides.”  He then pardoned the racist sheriff Joe Arpaio, who puts immigrants into “concentration camps” (his own words). And now, through his racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he announces that he will end the DACA program. Sessions was giddy, practically jumping up and down in his pants, when he made the announcement. (happy that he was the one to make the announcement).

For those of you who don’t know: President Obama authorized DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in June of 2012, because the Republican controlled congress would not act—holding true to their vow to block everything President Obama proposed. So Obama did the right thing.

Many of these children were brought here by their parents when they were quite young, this is the only home they have even known. And Trump wants to deport them—to where? This is their home.

In the latest opinion poll 76% of Americans want to keep the DACA program. But 15% of Americans want to end it. This is right in line with Trump’s own 35% approval rating. Who does he care about?  His base. Who is he governing for? His base.

His whole campaign, and now presidency has been to appease the racists in this country. From the moment he came down his golden elevator in Trump Tower and announced his bid for presidency, by denouncing Mexicans as drug-dealers and rapists—he shot to the top of the Republican polls. When he announced a ban on Muslim immigrants, he went even higher in Republican polling. Now, it is true that not all Republicans are racist, but it is obviously true that some are—this is his base.  Them, and the rich. This is how they plan to “make America great again”—and it is now becoming clear what this means to them.

We were warned by people who knew Don the Con, when he was cheating his contractors and workers out of money. He told us that he was going to make health care better and cheaper—that was a con. Only 17% of Americans approved of his health care plan, and he almost succeeded in shoving it through congress. This plan would have thrown 30 million people off health care in order to slash taxes for the richest Americans.

Right in sync with his ‘reality-show presidency’—he gave congress six months to act, as long as they attach it to a bill that he wants. In other words, he wants to hold these children hostage, because this is the only way he can force his agenda.

Last week one dreamer, Alonso Guillen,  lost his life in Houston saving the lives of others. We will need undocumented immigrants to help rebuild Houston. In fact, we will need these workers to rebuild the American economy—we cannot grow the economy with a shrinking population.

These people should keep this in mind next Sunday morning when they mouth the words “Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Any one who would deport these kids are simply heartless and cruel.

What will the rest of Americans do? “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

By The Way: these dreamers pay a lot more in taxes than Trump’s entire family.

 

Should Professors Stop Opining About Trump?

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In last Friday’s New York Times, professional critic Stanley Fish criticized a group of history professors who call themselves Historians Against Trump, for speaking out against the presidential candidate Donald Trump. Fish argues that although they have a right to state their opinion as citizens, they have no right to state their opinion as historians.

Maybe Fish should also criticize climate scientists for speaking out about climate change, given the climate change has also become a political issue. Maybe Fish should tell evolutionary biologists to keep quiet about evolution, given this hotly charged political issue. Fish himself is a law professor. Maybe he should tell law professors that they have no right to write opinion pieces about the constitutionality of some of our legal and political practices…

If this sounds like I am making a reducio ad absurdum out of Fish’s opinion piece– I am: because it is an absurd position. Historians not only have a right to speak out, they have a duty to do so.

“Those who do not remember the past [history] are condemned to repeat it”. This is the warning that George Santayana gave us, and it bears repeating. Historians are uniquely positioned to remind us of what happened in the past and when the results were disastrous. Actually, some of the ‘prophets’ in the Old Testament were simply issuing ‘warnings’ about the direction people were heading– “those who do not remember how to get to the water supply are condemned to die of thirst”.

The United States of Amnesia. This was the term Gore Vidal used to warn Americans of the disastrous results of never remembering what happened in the past. Sometimes we all need a little reminding.

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Maybe Stanley Fish ought to tell political scientists that they should not explain to us what fascism is.

In an appropriately titled book, Fascism: Why Not Here?– Brian E. Fogarty “draws parallels between German culture of the early twentieth century and American culture today”. He wrote the book before the rise of the Tea Party. And I had to go back and read it again after the rise of Trump. It is a very scary book. And we ought to heed his warning.

Most Americans are not just forgetful, they are ignorant as to what is really happening. Who can blame them? It takes a great deal of time and effort (and frustration) to understand more deeply what is happening and why. It is just easier to watch Fox ‘news’, and then vote their conscience.

Maybe historians, and other professors, are speaking out now because they are concerned that if Trump wins the presidency they will not have the ability to speak out later. This happened not just in Nazi Germany, but in the United States during World War I. Many prominent university professors were fired from their positions for merely questioning whether the US should get involved in a European war.

In fact the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the tenure system were started after this disastrous fiasco. John Dewey (my intellectual hero) explained that professors were hired as ‘public intellectuals’– they should not be fired for saying what they think. (By the way there is a fine line between knowledge and opinion that would take too long to explain here.)

The Republicans hate the tenure system nearly as much as they hate very educated liberals. They would love to do away with both, so that they can go back to firing people for saying things they don’t like. Trump has already barred reporters he doesn’t like from attending his rallies. This is the first step toward a ‘slippery slope’ (that I don’t think is a fallacy). The right of freedom of the press is extended to academic freedom. And sometimes a duty to speak out.

Most people do not know who Stanley Fish is, but even less know who I am. However, as I said before I am tired of remaining silent. And I will continue to speak out, not just as a concerned citizen but as a college professor of philosophy (with a focus on ethics and political philosophy).

By the way Mr. Fish, if Trump gets elected and the results are disastrous– do we then not have the right to say “we tried to warn you”.

The Enthusiasm Gap

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Four weeks from today we are going to the polls. Or should I say, some of us are going to the polls. Republicans will turn out in record numbers to express their disdain for Obama, Democrats will sit on their hands and pout. Not voting is the same as not caring. Turning your back on democracy is not the solution for frustration. If you think things couldn’t be worse, just wait until you see what a Republican controlled congress will do, or not do.

The economy is better than most people realize: 248,000 jobs were created in September. Yet wages have stagnated. Wall Street is doing better than ever but corporations are not sharing this windfall with their workers. Can we reasonably blame this on The President?

When are middle class voters going to realize that neither the Republican establishment nor those who fund the Tea Party are on their side? It is the same party that wrecked the economy from 2001–2006, laying the groundwork for the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression… They did not want the economy to recover under Obama – it would make them look even worse. So they obstructed any chance for recovery, and continue to blame Obama for the slow job growth.

The enthusiasm gap… the liberals are upset because we are bombing ISIS. The Latinos are upset because Obama has not single-handedly changed immigration policy. The working class is upset because we haven’t increased minimum wage, nor created better paying jobs. If any of these groups think that the Republican Party would do a better job on the things that they are upset about, then they should stay home… see what happens.

Just listen to their criticisms of President Obama. They do not offer alternatives, but if you realize what they are implying: we would have ground troops fighting in Iraq and Syria, we would never have immigration reform, and minimum wage would never go up. They would continue their agenda of cutting taxes for their wealthy donors, slash regulations which protect consumers and the environment, and militarize the border.

The reason why inequality is continuing to grow goes back 30 years when we were told that all of the prosperity created by cutting taxes for the wealthy would eventually ‘trickle down’. Now we know the truth. All of the economic recoveries since 1980 have benefited the wealthy more than the working class. And you cannot reasonably blame Obama for this.



Each president has to play the hand he or she is dealt. The Republicans want you to forget the hand which they dealt Obama. They took over the House of Representatives in 2011 and have obstructed any chance for job recovery – knowing that Americans would blame the president.

The Coming War with ISIS

nullAs many of you now realize, we are once again building for a war in Iraq. As far as the Republicans are concerned the entire thing is President Obama’s fault. “He shouldn’t have pulled our troops out in the first place”… “He should have acted sooner when the threat was growing”… It doesn’t matter what is going wrong in the world, as far as the Republicans are concerned everything can be blamed on Obama.

Let’s take a breath and back up: first of all, ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, grew out of the Syrian rebels that the Republicans wanted to arm over a year ago. They will claim that they wanted to arm the moderate rebels, but the experts will admit that it is very hard to distinguish the shifting rebel alliances in the Mid East.

A year ago the Republicans were pushing Obama to attack Syria, but when it came time to hold a vote congress would not go ahead and authorize this military action. And then they blamed Obama for not bombing Syria. Now, of course, they want to bomb Syria –- only for the other side.

Let’s see if they have the courage of their ‘convictions’. Odds are that they will continue to ‘beat their chests’ and then not hold a vote once again. Continue reading