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The Next Two Years

November 21st, 2014 · No Comments · Budgets, Democracy, Economics, Fascism, Health Care, Human Rights, Jobs, Media, Politics, Populism, Social Security, Wall Street

The November 2014 elections were pretty clear. In some states Senators or Governors won by as many as 70% of the vote. Of course, there is still debate and may be for some time, about the huge numbers of people—far more than the margins of victory in many cases—who were removed from the voting rolls in the most disgraceful and anti-democratic action perhaps in our country’s entire history. While no more than 50 to 90 cases of voter misrepresentation have ever been found—in the entire country in total, hundreds of thousands of mostly Democratic voters were removed from the rolls in Republican controlled states. That should be your first warning about your future under the now almost totally lobbyist-controlled legislatures, both local and national.

The election was a windfall for Republicans. Most of it was predictable but there were some surprises. In Illinois, a billionaire by the name of Bruce Rauner, a man with a history of accusations ranging from mismanaging nursing homes to the point of causing deaths to character assassination against former employees was elected Governor. He defeated a man whose entire life to this point had been involved in service to the community. While a previous Republican governor had appointed his former campaign chairman to head up the Illinois Commerce Commission, the utility rate regulator, this now defeated Governor of Illinois had founded the Citizens Utility Board. He did so because that previous Republican governor had given the citizens of Illinois the second highest utility rates in the country , and had just taken the average utility bill from $82 to over $113 per month…not the first time, but the 9th time in 11 years that he had raised utility rates.

Instead of electing the man who founded the non-profit organization that has saved Illinois Citizens over $2 billion dollars by fighting and defeating rate increases over the years, the brilliant population of Illinois elected his opponent, whose stated goals, among others, are: to prevent a higher minimum wage, to cut education costs, to reduce taxes on corporations and to keep the poor from getting health care. Yes, he wants Illinois to be one of those states that have denied access to Medicaid for the poor (totaling about 5 million poor people) even though the Federal government will pay 100% of it for the first two years and then 90% of it after that. You see, he does not really need the financial support of the health insurance industry, but he is allied with them for financial reasons. Illinois elected a man who has been accused of substantiated cruelty to the invalided elderly. His company was investigated and paid fines. And yet the executives in that company were given their substantial bonuses. How is that for having a perceptive voting population? The people of Illinois can no longer blame the states of Wisconsin, or Michigan, Indiana, Ohio or Florida or any of the other states in the country where we feel that the inhabitants have actually traded in their intellects for corn meal.

Florida just reelected a governor who not only barely escaped prison for Medicare fraud but who was one of the ringleaders in support of the health care industry’s multi-hundred-million dollar effort to repeal health care reform. Even though it would cost Florida not one single penny but would increase the number of poor with health insurance by hundreds of thousands, he rejected it for political reasons. A state with more senior citizens as a percent of the population than any other, just re-elected a Governor who was responsible for the largest case of Medicare fraud in U.S. history. Yet, the people of Florida, with a population made up of a huge number of poor families and elderly Medicare recipients reelected him over their own best interests. Incredible.

Elections have consequences. One of the consequences of this election is that Wall Street and ALEC will continue to run the country. The five largest media companies, telecommunications companies, oil companies, food companies, auto companies, computer companies, retailers, insurance companies, investment companies, banks, and military contractors will continue to run this country. In the House of Representatives, where budgets are set, the Republican Fascists control the agenda. And what is the agenda? Does it want health care for all Americans? Is that coming? The head of budgeting, Paul Ryan, is one of the leaders in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act (he’s voted to repeal it 50 times already.) They don’t want to substitute a more efficient system. The Republican plan, if you remember, has only three points. First, return to the private system. Second, decrease financial responsibility on the doctors and hospitals if they make a mistake and accidentally mutilate or kill you. And third, set up Health Savings Accounts as the standard for health care. You would pay the same high rates, or higher, for your health insurance premiums, but now you would have to pay the first $5,000 or so yourself to make the premiums affordable. Of course, they won’t stay affordable because we have a for-profit system. You make money in health care—make a profit—by giving out as little care as possible, only what is absolutely legally necessary, and charging as much as possible for your premiums. The Republican Fascist House and Senate will never make a health insurance company guarantee coverage. That will be the first thing to be removed from health care laws. Being able to pick and choose only the healthy and financial limits on what you provide for the truly ill, is the key to profitability in health care insurance. The sicker the person, the more the cost, the less desirable as a customer. To Republican Fascists, who work for the rich, and therefore, as lackeys, are promised health care as part of their betrayal of average American citizens, health care has nothing to do with humanity. It has to do with pleasing stockholders.

The Republican Congress is still hanging on to the promise of huge windfall campaign contributions…not that they need them…from the health insurance fraudsters. The health insurance industry and the overall health industry hopes that its now roughly $800 million investment will finally pay off. House leader Boehner is suing the American People through its only representative, the President, to be absolutely certain that 1.) health insurance premiums do not go down, 2.) the working poor have as difficult a time as possible to find affordable insurance, and 3.) the poorest Americans, the ones on Medicare will find no health care at all. Of course, the logical solution to our health care needs is simple, very, very easy to solve. Simply turn the administration of health care over to non-profit organizations and the government. Health care would still be in the hands of the same physicians and specialists but the administration would be done by the government. Health care costs would go down automatically by about one third. That is to say that a $1500 per month policy would drop to $1,000 per month. (It’s not a guess. It is what is being done in every other advanced country in the world.) Actually, it is possible that our costs would be cut in half. That is about what the citizens of other countries pay.

The Republicans have other plans for existing Medicare. Under the Paul Ryan budget, the plan would shift so that whereas seniors now pay for Medicare all of their working lives into it, and then after retirement pay about 25% of costs, the new procedure would shift costs to about 68% payment by individual retirees. Of course Republicans just reelected this jackass so I assume that this will go through. People who cannot afford an increase in post-retirement health care costs of 43% will probably have to find free clinics somewhere. Or go without health care.

The President recently gave a speech on the immigration problem, outlining the reasons for his own amnesty program for illegal immigrants. But the bill is more than amnesty. First, let’s look at where we are in illegal immigration. It has gone down dramatically, by 53% between 2008 and 2011 alone. Illegal immigration is now less than 300,000 per year and declining. One of the reasons is that this President increased the border security personnel from 10,000 to 21,000, added drones and increased cooperation between U.S. and Mexican border enforcement officials. He has also completed 649 miles of the approved and budgeted 658 miles of border fence. His proposal would include increasing those numbers, border construction, enforcement and coming down hard on employers who employ illegal aliens simply to be able to pay lower than minimum wages through intimidation. The President’s plan is to increase efficiency on the border with long-recommended technologies to supplement the physical presence with hi-tech enforcement equipment. The new law also calls for much greater interaction with local officials along the Southwest border to give them more involvement in the process. And finally, it initiates a procedure whereby some illegal aliens may enter a program of gradual conversion from illegal status to legal U.S. citizen status. None of this is part of what the Republicans want. The Republican plan is pretty simple. Shut down the borders. Imprison anyone found in this country illegally. Send anyone without legal documentation back to Mexico or elsewhere in Central or South America from whence they came. So, despite the President’s action, it is logical to assume that there will be far stronger and more conservative bills coming from the Congress soon.

Senator John McCain will probably now be the Chairman of the Defense Committee. He has long sought more troops in Iraq and Syria, Libya and even Iran. He is likely to take a stronger stand against Putin, thus once again, as he has done in the past, not only inserting himself into matters that are normally not done, that is, interfering in diplomatic matters by a Party out of power. Of course the Congress will now want to renew all kinds of legislation that calls for more intrusion into our private lives, more surveillance and perhaps even removing habeas corpus. Who knows what will happen now? We could feel huge pressure to go to war somewhere in the Middle East. Whenever Republicans are in power, they use fear tactics, like those used to confuse and trick even our most anti-war Senators to vote to go to war. To Fascist, lies and propaganda are not morally wrong. They are merely methods of getting what they want. The only positive thing might be a slight cut in military spending. But with the entrenched military-industrial complex now insinuated into every Republican House district, that is highly unlikely. So, the chances are very high that more poor Americans will be recruited, more will go abroad and more will die for corporate America.

There will be even stronger attacks on the national budget. More pressure will be put on the President to reduce taxes even more on the rich and corporations. That means budget cuts to Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits. It means cuts in social programs and aid to education. It means attempts will be made to under fund or not fund at all the new health reform programs. There will be threats to close down government, and there may be government shutdowns affecting millions of Americans. The Republican Senators and House members who have been elected today are not your grandfather’s Republicans. They are now libertarians, even anarchists, who want to tear down this government, take the investments that hundreds of millions of people have made and the sacrifices of untold numbers of American men and women and give all that equity, this great government to the private interests of enormously wealthy businessmen.

Where will this end? We only know that it will not end well. The religious fanatics do not care, or so they say, about this life. They believe in some fantasy world no less absurd than that of the Muslim fanatics. But they are not the only ones who are dangerous. We see it in the faces of average businessmen and women who fly around their cities and the country at warp speed trying to reach the point where they will have security against job loss, better schools for their children (against the constant fear mongering about public schools by the Right Wing) and a nest egg secure enough to replace Social Security which the Republican faux-economists continue to insist is bankrupt in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Today, the largest number of people in our history are employed in part-time jobs at wages less than those of full-time workers performing the same tasks. In order to defeat the Affordable Care Act, corporations like WalMart and Home Depot and Target all cut hours of employees to 29 hours per week so that they do not have to provide health care for workers. But, of course, 29 hours a week at low wages is not enough to survive, which means that more and more people, at least 7 million for certain, are now in poverty and working part-time involuntarily. Since the end of the Great Bush Depression, 46 million people have fallen into poverty, 3 million are homeless and a vast number of veterans have no home and no job and are on long waiting lists even for care at the VA.

You don’t hear about this because the media does not report it. You hear every day about Kim Kardashian or about Ebola, although there are not enough cases to make up one side in a basketball game. You still hear Rush Limbaugh, even though 200 advertisers left the networks on which he spews his lies and insults. Fox News has lost viewers and advertisers, has been repeatedly called out for lying and possibly for tapping the phones of American citizens, but it still rolls on. Even the commentators who are so hideously crude and untrustworthy that they are not even allowed to visit Great Britain…not granted a visa…are still on American airwaves. The lies continue. The insults to our intelligence continue. The war mongering, dividing citizens by north and south, rich and poor, religious and non-religious, peace loving and war mongering—continues, with our principal national media, like Fox, NBC, ABC, and the Wall Street Journal, among many other media sources spreading lies every single day. It is a relentless beat of Fascist lies and ridicule that drive so many to acts of violence, let alone the permission for those with distorted realities to run out and shoot innocent children. There is no news, no truth, no facts being broadcast. Only the propaganda that the owners of the five major media allow.

The economy is fading. We had one recovery from disaster. Now we are long since in a post-recovery world where jobs still go abroad, money from the Federal Reserve is spread around Wall Street but none ever reaches the institutions trying to rebuild the manufacturing or infrastructure base of the country. The worst part of the current economy is the stock market, which rises, breaks records, and rises again, making speculators and investors rich but making the average American poorer, if not by outright wage reductions, then by comparison with the top 20% of society who are earning virtually all the income and paying virtually no taxes compared to what they retain in wealth. We now have 49,000 families with a net worth of over one billion dollars. The political power in that group, whose assets are well above $50 trillion dollars has ramifications for the future of the majority of Americans. It means fewer universities, less home ownership, more poverty in retirement, less affluence in society as a whole, more poor neighborhoods, eventually more cities bankrupt, like Detroit.

One word describes it all: Greed. Greed is what motivates billionaires and millionaires, though they hesitate to admit it. Greed is what keeps them from sharing with society those taxes which create the services that build our nation. Other nations have higher tax burdens, equally rich industrialists, who pay and whose corporations pay more in taxes. But their citizens are not homeless, are imprisoned at a tiny fraction of the number in this country, have total health care, better and earlier retirement, longer vacations, almost no deaths from firearms, and almost never have to worry about their children going off to war and coming home dead.

Since Ronald Reagan persuaded the dumb and the racist and the petty that we could have a great society without paying for it, we have been creating work by borrowing from government. And those participating in everything from tax cuts to TARP bailouts for banks or Savings and Loan bailouts, have gotten rich while the average citizen…who needs Medicare and Social Security …has been indebted to the tune of $17 trillion dollars. And it was done specifically (all but $2 trillion) by Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II. The amounts left to Obama have gone down and down, so that now, the deficit is less than even during some points in the Bush Administration.

The American Great Society has not come to an end. Let’s not worry about that. We still have a few years left, perhaps as many as a dozen. Or perhaps not. Perhaps the American People will spend the next two years as lazy, foolish and stupid as they were this November. Not only the crooks, the corporate panderers, the election rigging Republicans, like the Koch Brothers and Scott Walker and Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell and the abhorrent Ted Cruz. But everyone, including every single Democrat who stayed home instead of going out to vote.

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