Fatal Miscalculations: Who Will End Up Paying For The Red Plague?

I freely admit that I considered the 2016 election results as a catastrophe for individual liberties, the environment, consumer rights and more. Now, I see that I totally underestimated the damage Trump and the GOP threaten to do to the vast majority of Americans. I’m talking about the 99% who struggle to get by while the 1% feast off of our miseries.

Between the latest version of the AHCA (Anti Health Care Act), that was pushed through the House of Representatives without anyone knowing how it would actually impact Americans, and Trump’s robber baron budget, which portends an unholy transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the 1+%, we are facing a financial threat to our very survival. With a flair for the melodramatic at times, I have chosen to call this threat The Red Plague, since it was brought about by all the red states on the electoral map. And, make no mistake, it is a plague upon our country.

Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Paranoia? Well, I suppose it depends upon where you are in the spectrum of differences that seem to divide rather than unite America. If you’re wealthy, white, a religious conservative, bigoted and a fervent nationalist or some combination thereof, then you probably think all of what’s happening is good. You’re the ones that Trump and the GOP are counting on. They keep you happy by appealing to your fears and prejudices while stealing your money as well as our money and our rights.

On the other hand, it’s a very real threat for those of us who believe in liberty and justice for all, the welfare of others, that health care should be a right not a choice, that people should be paid a living wage, that greed is not good, businesses have a moral responsibility to their employees and their communities, that our environment needs to be protected and that those who need help should get it

Now, I do understand that a number of otherwise good people voted for Trump because he said he was going to bring back jobs to this country and put more people back to work. Well, like everything else he said, it’s a case of over promise and under deliver. As an example, take the big deal he made about getting Carrier to stay in Indiana rather than move jobs to Mexico right after the election. Well, that didn’t last long, because Carrier is going to lay off over 600 people in Indiana and move the jobs to Mexico. (Read the Chicago Tribune story here.)

Then he was going to repeal and replace Obamacare with something so much better that would cover everybody for less. What we have so far is the 2nd version of the AHCA, which the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) now says will result in 23 million people losing their health coverage and those who have low incomes, people with pre-existing conditions and older Americans will get socked with huge premium increases and less coverage. And that’s just part of the pain we’ll be enduring while the wealthy will get huge tax cuts out of it. Call me crazy, but I don’t see that as an improvement. (Read more about the CBO report here from CNN Money.)

Then we have Trump’s attempt at a budget, which is based on a combination of avarice, cruelty, alchemy and wishful thinking. Under the banner of supply side / trickle down economics, which has proven to be a failed approach, this budget gives huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations plus spends massive amounts on defense, while cutting welfare, medical research, medicaid, children’s health insurance, food stamps, student loan programs and public education. Apparently, Trump thinks the poor shouldn’t have chosen to be poor in the first place. Wonder if he has ever heard of King Louis XVI of France and  how that kind of thinking turned out to be a real pain in the neck? (Read about Trump’s budget in this CNN.com report, and it’s miscalculations in this MSN.com story.)

So what does all this mean? Right now in this country, we have a huge problem as more and more of the money is siphoned out of the economy and into the hands of am wealthy few. That is unsustainable. Automation, irresponsible and obscene pay for CEOs without long-term performance goals, predatory financial policies, outrageous health care expenses even with Obamacare and other issues have left many Americans feeling like they have nothing left to lose. And that is how revolutions start. The heads will roll — just look at Louis XVI!

Those in power might want to ponder just how much pain the people can endure from The Red Plague, before they turn on the ones who are spreading it. A miscalculation could be fatal.

Stand up and be counted! Demand your rights! Tell your representatives in Congress that Trump’s budget and the AHCA are DEAD! We want Medicare for all and a budget that assures the wealthy pay their fair share!

Be Vocal! Be Adamant! Be Strong!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

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Lies, Damn Lies and Trump’s Address To Congress

Calling out Trump for not just stretching the truth, but ripping it up and spitting on it has become rote because he does it all the time. As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s like déjà vu all over again!” And while Yogi’s lines were alway humorous, this situation is quite disturbing.

Sadly, Americans accept a lack of integrity on the part of politicians as a fait accompli — it’s just the way things are. I used to say the same thing, but not anymore. As I’ve said before, it’s time we demanded a much higher standard of truthfulness and accountability from those who seek and hold office at any level in this country.

Unfortunately, politicians tell us what we want to hear to get our votes regardless of whether what we want to hear is actually the truth. This goes back a long, long way, so we can’t necessarily blame today’s politicians for starting it, but we can  certainly demand that they stop it here and now. These falsehoods that they’ve perpetuated are what continues to drive us farther apart on so many issues.

For example (and you should’ve been expecting it), let’s take Donald Trump’s speech to Congress last night. I will give him credit for improving his presentation by leaps and bounds in terms of style. On the other hand, as I pointed out in my last post, his facts were essentially alternative facts or, in plain English, untruths.

Just to clarify, I used two different sources that fact checked his speech and both reached the same conclusion based on real facts. Trump must love Burger King because he was peddling some “whoppers” last night.

I will focus on just a few here, but I encourage you to check the links below to read the full stories yourself on WashintongPost.com and MSN.com. It definitely changes the perspective on just how things really are.

To quote from the intro to the WashingtonPost.com article: “An address to Congress is such an important speech that presidents generally are careful not to stretch the truth. The ’16 words’ in George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that falsely claimed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa led to significant turmoil in the administration, including the criminal conviction of a top aide.

“President Trump’s maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies. In fact, many of the president’s false claims are old favorites that he trots out on a regular, almost daily basis.”

For example, Trump spoke about draining the swamp and his order banning executive branch officials from lobbying for 5 years after leaving. However, it’s not what it seems. The ban only applies to an official lobbying the department/agency he/she actually worked for. It doesn’t stop them from becoming  a lobbyist and doesn’t apply to legislative branch officials. The truth is a whole lot less impressive than his alternate facts.

In another example of vastly overstating his early accomplishments, “Trump again takes credit for business decisions made before his election.”

Ford’s decision to expand a plant in Michigan and not build a plant in Mexico was driven by sales results and long-term business goals, while Fiat Chrysler’s plans to invest $1 billion in a factory in Michigan were put into place over a year ago. Trump had no influence on these decisions to name a few, yet claimed credit for them. That’s not an encouraging sign.

And, to quote from the MSN.com article, Trump “cherry-picked the findings of a recent report, saying it found immigration costs U.S. taxpayers ‘billions of dollars a year.’ The report said immigration ‘has an overall positive impact on long-run economic growth.’

“Trump said ’94 million Americans are out of the labor force,’ a figure that includes the retired, college students and stay-at-home parents. The vast majority — 88.5 million — said they didn’t want a job.

“Trump said he would ‘promote clean air and clean water,’ a vague claim that came hours after he had signed an executive order to roll back a 2015 ‘Clean Water Rule.'”

I again encourage you read the full analysis in both articles so you can see for yourself why we should all be concerned. It’s not being fair to the American people to make policy decisions based on false facts. That helps no one but these in power who have a vested interest in perpetuating the big lies.

Call and write your representatives in the House and Senate as well as the media to demand real transparency and accountability from all levels of government. NO MORE LIES!

Let the R.A.I.N. come down and let the truth shine through!

The Divine Miss Bri

 

 

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Trump’s Address to Congress: Style And Smiles, But No Substance

I admit to missing part of Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday night. However, what I did see left me totally unimpressed, especially watching Pence and Ryan pop up and applaud so often they acted like trained monkeys. (That may be petty, but it was really overdone!)

In an effort to avoid any further sniping, let’s get to the crux of what Trump was saying and what it actually meant. Seriously, there weren’t a lot of surprises aside from his attempt to project a more positive message. Unfortunately, style is not nearly as important as substance. And as far as substance is concerned, he ducked, bobbed and weaved or just outright ignored it. Probably for good reason, because the substance is not going to be particularly palatable for most Americans.

It’s important to understand the realities that affect how things work in our government, at all levels, especially these days. The 1% who have the most wealth (and consequently the most power) pour millions of dollars directly and through Political Action Committees into electing mostly conservative Republicans representatives, senators and presidents. They don’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an agenda that works for them and only them. It’s easy for them to extoll free enterprise and rolling back government regulations, and talk about affordable healthcare in terms of competition and ending entitlements, because it puts more money in their pockets and takes it out of ours.

According to an article in The Nation, The 400 richest Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 61 percent of the population, in a [December 2015] report by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) …

“The concentration of wealth at the top isn’t the result of some sort of organic process. The top one-10th of 1 percent of American households controlled about 7 percent of the nation’s wealth in the mid-1970s. By 2000, their share had grown to about 15 percent, and today it’s well over 20 percent. Those at the very top didn’t become three times as smart or lucky or good-looking in the intervening years. They’ve benefited from changes in things like trade policy, the tax code, and collective-bargaining rules—all policy changes they’ve used their wealth to champion.”

Even worse, Trump has served to distract us from the economic issues by attacking immigrants, rescinding Federal support of equality for transgender students in schools, and fostering a mean-spirited rise in racial and ethnic  prejudice as part of a nationalistic policy.

So the challenge for Democrats is to not become just the party of “NO” like the Republicans during President’s Obama’s administration. It is time, however, for the Democratic party to come up with realistic options that do not compromise our values while addressing the needs and concerns of all Americans.

First and foremost, we need to address the wealth and income inequality situation by making sure that those who make the most pay their FAIR share to support the country that allowed them to make so much money. Much has been made about tax cuts for the wealthy spurring investments in companies which in turn produces more higher paying jobs as the money trickles down. Sorry, but that has not worked worth a damn so far. It’s better to put that money in consumers’ hands first, because demand stimulates production rather than the other way around.

Supporting unions, raising the minimum wage, and some form of universal, affordable healthcare, along with lower taxes, factor into increasing disposable income among the middle and lower classes. Plus, making improvements in the quality of public education and lowering the cost of post-high school college and vocational education are critical elements in creating the skilled workforce of the future. And, we must assure equality for all in employment, housing and public accommodation regardless of religion, race, sex/gender, sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s simple … we must be a nation of equals and respect those who not exactly like us. Our differences are what make us a stronger nation.

In the same vein, we need to change how we treat the 1% with stricter campaign finance laws, no income cutoffs for social security and medicare taxes, and fewer overall tax breaks. Now, I do suggest, for those who invest in start-up companies and select other business opportunities, that we offer them targeted tax breaks that reward them for contributing to specific growth. We should also maintain strict regulation of the financial industry, because 2008 taught us that they cannot be trusted to act wisely without oversight.

Finally, as far as environmental and safety regulations are concerned, we should establish a bipartisan commission of experts in various fields to examine regulations with an eye to making them more efficient in achieving their purpose in protecting people and the environment. that should also help make them most cost-effective, although that is not the primary focus.

This is hardly a comprehensive list of things we need to do, but it should be a good start for conversation. Now is the time to get engaged and participate in shaping our future by determining party platforms and encouraging people to run for office who support those platforms.

The revolution rests with each of us. Get involved!

Let the R.A.I.N. wash away the old ways and help new ideas grow!

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