The Republican Party seems to be putting together quite a show for the 2016 Presidential Elections. Many people are calling it a “clown show.” I suppose that is one way to look at it. However, I am not going to be talking about it being a “clown show” because the outcome is far too important for that. Rather, I think it is time we hold these people to the fire about how they plan to rebuild the middle-class in this country.
Because of my military service, I have lived in many parts of this country. I have seen the good and the bad. Yet I have always been an optimist about America and just how far we can progress as a people and nation. The only problem is that I have slipped in my optimism in the last several years. Not because I don’t believe in the American people and the American worker, but because the Republican Party has been on a mission to destroy everything that I thought was America.
In New Hampshire this past weekend, about 20 Republicans showed up to espouse why they should be considered presidential material. We heard the usual talking points. We heard all about how the government is trying to take our guns away. We heard all about how evil same-sex marriage is. We even heard that Social Security is a bane on society and should be radically changed.
We did not hear a single word about how the Republican Party plans to restore our middle-class. I would guess that is because the Republican Party isn’t interested in restoring our middle-class. As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that the Republican Party wants to eliminate the middle-class from our society.
Since taking over both Houses of Congress, the Republicans have passed not one meaningful piece of legislation targeting the restoration of the middle-class. And, make no mistake about it, the middle-class is shrinking. It has been under attack at least since 1981 when Ronald Reagan took office.
The Republican Party, at least in my opinion, is directly responsible for the loss of our middle-class. They have passed laws that favor the rich and punish everyone else. They constantly talk about “balancing the budget” and then put forth budget proposals that give huge tax cuts to the rich and take away the social safety net from those who desperately need it. They want to severely cut food stamps, WIC, and even education.
They have fought tooth-and-nail against raising the minimum wage. They claim that raising the minimum wage will ruin our economy by cutting jobs. Yet, in areas where the minimum wage was raised the economy is doing better than areas in the same region that have not raised it.
In fighting the Affordable Care Act, Republicans claimed that the “government will get between you and your doctor.” Yet, it is the Insurance companies that are between you and your doctor. Not the government. They tried to claim that there would be “death panels” that would let our seniors die. Yet, it was insurance companies that decided, and still decide, which treatment you will be covered to receive. Their answer to the ACA is to go back to the way it was and just let the insurance companies decide who lives and dies by determining how much they will pay for your health care, and/or cut you off completely.
Republicans have waged a massive war against unions. Many Republican controlled states have passed what they call “Right to Work” laws, which have really become “Right to Work for Less” laws. Every state that has these “Right to Work” laws lag behind in wages to states that have strong unions.
It was unions that brought up wages in the 20th Century. It was unions that created the 40 hour work week. It was unions that created a safer work-place and helped get OSHA into existence. When we had strong unions, the income inequality shrunk. Workers were able to negotiate a better wage deal for themselves and rightfully share in the profits created by their labor.
One of the very first things Reagan did was fire all of the Air Traffic Controllers who went on strike in the 1980s. That signaled the open warfare against unions, and Republicans have fought it with a vengeance ever since. They don’t want workers to get a fair share of the profits. They don’t care if workers are injured on the job. A while ago, I wrote about how they are trying to do away with worker’s compensation as we know it.
Republicans complain that too many people are on things like Food Stamps, WIC, and Medicaid. Yet, they do nothing to force those conglomerate corporations who are putting these people on these programs by not paying them a livable wage. It is no secret that companies like Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Burger King, Big Lots, and a host of others are bilking the American taxpayer trillions of dollars every year by paying so little to their workers that they have no recourse but to apply to the Federal Government for help.
And what do the Republicans want to do to “punish” these corporate welches? They want to give them tax cuts. So, not only will they continue to supplement their profits on the backs of the American taxpayer, they will not even have to pay their fair share of taxes.
If you own a small business, Republicans are doing their best to put you out of business. They are not interested in “saving small business” they are interested in eliminating the competition for their corporate donors. You are paying for their employees. By forcing their employees onto Federal Programs, you are subsidizing these corporations.
Local communities are very willing to give huge tax breaks to the likes of Wal-Mart in order to get them to put a store in town. Once that happens, Main Street starts emptying out. Look at small towns across America and you will see more “For Lease” signs in store fronts on Main Street than “Open For Business” signs. Why? Because these large corporations come in with their huge tax breaks, low wages, and slash prices just long enough to put their small business competition out of business.
Many of us still remember the Soda Shops. We remember the small electronics store that not only sold televisions, but fixed them as well. We remember department stores that were owned locally. We remember the locally owned corner drug store and grocery store. Where have they all gone?
Most went out of business because they couldn’t compete against the giants and their huge tax breaks and government subsidized wages. Many went out of business because factories shut down and shipped the work overseas where the company could pay twenty-five cents an hour in sweatshops. And, the Republicans gave those out-sourcing, American job wreckers a tax cut!
In the early twentieth century, we saw unions fighting for worker’s rights. Unfortunately, we saw riots and even killings during these fights. But, when the unions won the battle, the middle-class took off in a big way. People actually began to earn a livable wage. Health insurance was included in their packages. Safety at the workplace began to get better. In a word, there would be no middle-class today if it were not for the unions then.
We have not seen the all-out war against the American Working Class for almost 100 years. Until now. There is definitely a huge difference between the two parties. The Republicans have become the party of the 1%, and they are very boastful about it, too.
In the last 30 or 40 years, the Republican Party has abandoned the American Dream for everyone. They now prefer to only allow it for the very few. They keep talking about how we should “buckle under” and work hard to get ahead. How we can only gain prosperity through hard work and dedication. Yet, they want to abolish inheritance tax on the rich so their children don’t have to pay any taxes on the billions they inherit without having to work for it.
If you are a one-percenter, you can look forward to huge benefits from the Republican Party. If you are one of the 99% of America, you can look forward to paying for those huge benefits to the one-percent. If you are a small business owner, you can look forward to continuing to subsidize your large competitors. Every single Republican Candidate favors these policies. That includes every candidate at the federal, state, and local levels.
So, you see, I cannot consider the side-show in New Hampshire as a “Clown Show.” The stakes for the average person on the street are way too high for levity. Rather, I consider what took place in New Hampshire as the opening salvo’s in the “War On The Working Class!” The only question is are you ready to fight back?
In the 1992 Presidential Election, Bill Clinton said “it is the economy, stupid.” It is still the economy today. We have two choices in the next two years. We can elect the party that wants to eliminate small business and the middle-class, or one that will fight for them. In case you haven’t noticed, the economy always seems to do better with a Democrat in office than when a Republican is in office. That should tell you something!