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The Angry American

June 13th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Corporations and Industry, Economics, Populism, taxes

There has been no time in recent memory when so many people, so many Americans, are very, very angry. They have every right to be angry. A large group of Americans…primarily members and elected officials of the Republican Party…have confiscated a large part of the American treasury. Now they want to take even more.

What’s more, they are stealing, in a sense, from many of their own supporters. There are many Republicans who are among the middle class, no matter how they may see themselves. It simply has to be. Before the indictment of this somewhat crass and greedy bunch of plutocratic imbeciles who are ruining this country…a few words about where the Republicans came from and why at one time it was honorable to be a Republican.

Republicans began as perhaps the most idealistic and most typically American political party. Lincoln was their first candidate and President. Grant, of the red, white and blue, an authentic American hero of our great, or not so great, or miserable, war…depending on your view of war itself…was another. After the period of the moguls towards the end of the 19th Century, along came Teddy Roosevelt. While TR was an activist, even before his presidency the Republicans had passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Interstate Commerce Commission so there was a moderate influence in the Party.

In the 1920s, Harding got a bad rap but was a pretty good President, pro-business as described. Hoover got a terribly bad rap, which was largely politically done in order to rally the people behind FDR. Hoover was probably one of the most qualified men to ever become a Republican President, but was never a politician. He was hit with the Depression about 9 months into office and, although he did try many more remedies than given credit for, was not experienced enough to know how to handle what is still the most monumental problem the country has ever faced, except for World War II.

Fairly or not, Hoover became the rallying point against whose image the New Deal could move faster to pass a lot of desperately needed legislation. A truly self-made man, Herbert Hoover, as Harry Truman recognized, was one of the greatest Americans ever, and until we see how Bill Gates turns out, was paradoxically probably our greatest humanitarian ever.

During and after World War I, he had organized an astonishingly efficient American relief program to feed starving people around the world. Through his efforts 300 million people were fed in 21 countries, including newly Communist Russia. He moved from organizing this government program to a voluntary program that fed starving children, a program so successful it became the blueprint for CARE.

Unlike the 1950s, when Republicans were aligned with big business but became the great party of small business, the 1930s Republicans found friends among the large corporations and the very wealthy. FDR owned the middle class and the lower classes, of which there were many more at that time. Within a year of taking office, FDR had 71 Democratic Senators with him versus only 25 for Republicans. By 1937 that advantage had grown to 79 Democratic and only 17 Republicans in the Senate. The House of Representatives was even worse, with only 89 Republicans out of 431 House members.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Republicans were split. The conservatives, who had formed a coalition with Southern Democrats to combat many of the New Deal policies, were led by Robert Taft of Ohio. The moderate faction, led by Everett Dirkson of Illinois, aligned with civil rights policies and LBJ in the more progressive ideas of the Johnson 60s\\]]
\. Eventually what had become the Dixiecrats, people like Strom Thurmond who continued to fight against integration of African-Americans into society, became the Southern wing (Right Wing) of the Republican Party, electing Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and–to their everlasting shame–the stooge-President, George W. Bush and his boss, the fascist, war monger, Vice President Dick Cheney.

By the 1970s Republicans were receiving large sums of cash in attache cases from companies, like United Airlines, who were being leveraged by people like Dick Nixon. They alternatively embraced and threatened large corporations. After Reagan, the politics became codified. The Republican attitude became one of gathering money, getting reelected, demonizing the opponent, scaring the people, and denigrating anything successful done by government, like Social Security. The method was to attache to any piece of legislation some reasonably respectable academic to certify some kind of pre-planned, slanted research report from a corporate-sponsored “think tank” on a matter that usually described some aspect of the dismantling or looting of the federal government.

By the late 1980s, the idea was clear. Republicans could manipulate ignorant Southerners to make them believe that the Republican Party was some kind of quasi-conservative support system…pro-gun, pro-fundamentalist religion, pro-war, anti-abortion, and pro-segregation policies. The Republicans voted reactionary, Right Wing Senators and Congressmen or Congresswomen into office. The South returned to what many people had thought it had never left…the old pre-segregation attitudes. Many began to realize that the South had merely been hiding its racism for 50 years to conform to the behavior of the rest of society.

So, here we are. The Right Wing has shown more disrespect for the office of President and the Right Wing media has joined in more racist attacks towards a President than at any time since Abraham Lincoln. An ignorant slug of a Congressman from South Carolina called the President a liar during the State of the Union speech. This drooling, moron of a racist bigot, who it turned out was wrong, this disgusting residue of the segregation era, then received millions of dollars in support from other racist bigots for his election campaign.

We have the return of the hopelessly illiterate and uncivilized white trash appearing among the marchers who carried irrelevant racist signs while demonstrating against a health care plan designed exactly for people like them. They referred to themselves as “tea party” members, apparently to create some kind of pseudo-patriotic, compensatory cache for their disgusting racist activities. So eager are they to express their hatred for a black President that they are willing to sacrifice or endanger their own health in the process.

So first we see this kind of anger, this misplaced, weak morality, giving in to racist mentality instead of being strong, fair, honest, charitable, kind, civil, gracious and intelligent. The anger among that group is the expression of weakness…bigotry…racism. But the anger among many other citizens has a sound basis. They have been treated terribly. The question is this; at whom should the anger be directed?

For example, we now have Republican Senators who are calling for the government–the taxpayers–to pick up the costs for the BP oil spill. Should we be paying the tens of billions of dollars needed to clean up the beaches of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida? Of course not.

Why would Senators like Senator Alexander of Tennessee, Senator Ensign of Nevada, Senator McConnell of Kentucky and Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma or others ask that BP be favored with such action? Why would anyone do such a thing? These are all people who receive enormous sums of money from the oil companies. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska received $209,800 from oil companies. She was the one who tried to prevent the raising of the damages that oil companies can be liable for from $75 million, which is less than the damage already done in the Gulf, to over a billion.

Senator David Vitter, of Louisiana, a long time supporter of drilling off the coast of Louisiana has made $242,600 from the oil companies. He has introduced a piece of legislation to restrict the damages for oil companies to this one oil company, BP, while “neglecting” to put in something about potential future spills for other companies.

Just to show it is not only, exclusively, Republicans, Senator Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat from Arkansas, insured that there would be no single payer health insurance program and made sure that the public option to reduce private health insurance rates was excluded from the health reform package. She received $286,400 from the oil companies.

What does that have to do with health care? She’s not stupid. Do you suppose that a lobbyist for a health insurance company also has a client that is an oil company? Have you ever heard the expression, “…you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours….?”

If people are angry, they should be angry about these things that were all done between 2001 and 2008, but mostly between 2001 and 2006, when people had had enough and elected a majority Democratic House of Representatives and a bare, one-vote majority in the Senate.

In 2001, immediately after George W. Bush was elected, the first thing he did was the No Child Left Behind Act, which made enormous levies on states to standardize tests and improve eduction. Even Teddy Kennedy signed on. The problem was that insufficient funding and lax supervision made it impossible to implement and it not only failed but was considered by educators to be a fiasco.

The next thing he did was the first round of tax cuts, which reduced the top rate from 39.5% down to 35% and added a ten percent tax on those making up to $6,000, after which it went higher. Millionaires got huge breaks. The poor got a new ten percent tax. Five-year capital gains taxes were cut to 8%.

In August and September 2001, he ignored warning after warning by Richard Clarke about possible terrorism attacks. The night of 9/11, Condoleeza Rice, Bush’s National Security Advisor was scheduled to give a speech…not on terrorism but on the sporadically-successful “Star Wars” anti-missile program. While Clarke was running around the White House with “his hair on fire” as one [person described it, Bush and Rice and Cheney all ignored the warnings.

Bush signed the original Patriot Act which Republicans created after 9/11. That was OK, but the way Bush and Cheney used it was to not only go after terrorists, but to go after their political opponents. It allowed the FBI and other official agencies…and God knows which ones Cheney put under him…to check a person’s library records and video rental records, tap domestic phones without a warrant…and more…all without the person’s knowledge.

Bush came back with another tax cut in 2002 for job stimulation, but it cost the government another $50 billion a year on top of the $70 billion that the cuts started in 2001 were already costing the government. Eventually, all three Bush tax cuts alone cost the Federal Government $188 billion dollars a year and it was a ten year program. Well over a trillion…almost two trillion.

Then came the wars. First we went into Afghanistan in retaliation for the World Trade Center attacks. We should have gone in. And got out. The Iraq War resolution was also signed in 2002, in October. Among reasons were: collusion with Al Qaeda and having and the intending to use weapons of mass destruction. Both of these rationales were false and known to be false, i.e. fabricated by the Bush Administration.

Since the wars started until now, the costs we know about, i.e., have not been hidden, come to $1.2 trillion dollars. So the tax cuts and the wars add up to about $3 trillion. But Bush and Cheney and the Neocons left us with an additional $7 trillion.

In 2003, Bush signed the law protecting fetuses at the risk of the mother’s life. He didn’t leave it up to doctors. By signing the bill, he decided. He further protected fetuses by signing a bill to make the death of a fetus in the commission of a crime against the mother a capital crime. Many states already had this under law. But Bush twice vetoed the SCHIPs renewal bill to give subsidies for health care for poor families.

In 2003, the Bush-Cheney Administration introduced the Healthy Forests Initiative. A piece of legislation supposedly designed to prevent forest fires from reaching homes near forested areas, what it did was to hand over formerly protected forests to timber companies. Leading the project were a logging industry lobbyist and a logging industry attorney.

While doing nothing to protect homes in areas where forest fires might occur–primarily private areas–the Bush Administrations program allowed logging and clear cutting in the Bitterroot National Forest, the Siskiyous Wild Rivers Area and in Glacier National Park. If this were to continue, millions of acres of old growth forests would be in danger. So millions of dollars of timber on citizens’ lands, national parks, were looted solely for the profit of what was most probably some very large Bush Campaign contributor.

Gale Norton, who was the Secretary of Interior until she resigned at about the same time as it was reported that the anti-environmental fund of which she was the head, received about $50,000 from Jack Abramoff. Abramoff was jailed for something or other to do with lobbying, apparently illegally, and most people ran away from association with him as fast as they could. Gale Norton ran back to her fund in Colorado. Her Deputy, Stephen Griles didn’t run fast enough and was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

But that is not the worst part. During the Bush Administration, the Interior Department under Norton, the anti-environmentalist and Giles the mining lobbyist, the clean up of polluted sites by the government fell from the pace of the Clinton Administration by 50%. With $15 billion in the super fund clean up account, the expected clean up, clean water expenditures are already projected at $1 trillion. The damage from mining to the environment is about 300 times more than the oil spill in the gulf.

Not interested in mining? How about pharmaceuticals? The FDA prevented the contraceptive Plan B from being sold over the counter basically on religious grounds. There were no side effects. There was no problem at all except that the Republicans decided that it might be used by young girls. They would rather have them pregnant.

It was on the Bush Administration that the Republican House and Senate added Medicare Part D. This year the Obama Administration will begin to address the costs so that eventually Medicare participants will pay a much smaller part of the costs. So, if Medicare Part D is much less costly than the cost of drugs without it, what’s wrong?

Here’s what’s wrong. The point is that the government should compel the pharmaceutical companies to charge no more in the United States than they do in other countries where the same drugs are between one-half to eighty percent less costly! Between the time Medicare Part D was voted on and signed, and went into effect, the drug companies raised prices 26%. But there was Canada and Mexico for less expensive drugs..right? Wrong.

The Bush Administration shot that down in a hurry. And finally, why don’t you take the $50 billion a year that we pay as taxpayers for the program and divide it by the number of Medicare recipients. You’ve been screwed. Again. By Bush, Billy Tauzin, Bill Thomas, Jim Nussle, Bill Frist, and the entire Neoconservative Republican Congress who could very simply have directed the pharmaceutical companies to negotiate prices for Medicare, just as they do with the Veteran’s Administration.

There are more reasons to be angry. Many more than these. But the Bush-Cheney Administration was very smart. They knew that if they could keep the progressives busy by attacking every single progressive program, from preventing union organizing, to restricting the ability to clean up destroyed landscapes, to keeping the high prices for the pharmaceutical companies, to deregulating the financial industry and the oil industry and food processing and many, many others.

The result is an additional $7 trillion in debt and a structural deficit that can only be closed by increasing taxes, cutting the military budget, shutting down bad trade deals, creating new industries and jobs and containing government spending. If we raise the top marginal rate so that those over $350,000 in income pay a top marginal rate of 50%, rather than the current 35%, and about a 10% cut in the military and perhaps a few other cuts, small reductions in a wide range of programs.

If we create new jobs in the public sector rather than paying unemployment, and stop making things in foreign countries, we can get out from under the crushing debt that the Bush-Cheney Neoconservatives deliberately left for the Obama Administration. There is only one other alternative and they have it in their sights right now. To cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and eventually Veteran’s benefits. It is all part of the same pattern. And the pattern is all too obvious.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • KenR

    Again, a helpful survey and reminder. Your language is sometimes irritating and condescending:
    Not interested in mining?
    Well, I’m interested in what is happening in mining and do keep myself informed about that and forestry and pharmaceuticals.
    Don’t sell your readers short. We may not be experts, but we are no dummies either. And besides, if someone is not intersted in mining, should that be thrown into her face?
    Keep up the good work–save your righteous ire for the Repukes!

  • Joshaughn

    What came across somehow as “righteous ire” was meant to be an adroit use of mild humor. Apparently, did not come out right. Sorry. There is, however, and this addresses your comment, always a decision point on an issue, whether to add more details just in case, at which point we normally try to err on the side of providing too much information. We have the space to do it, so why not…is the feeling. The idea of being condescending is noted and will now be included in our thought processes. We may not be able to avoid the irritating parts.