2015 is here! The Republicans will take over congress next week. With that, there is a lot of talk in the media about what we can expect from a Republican congress. Depending on what side of issues you are, some of the talked about things include the DHS Funding battle in February, Immigration Reform and whether or not anything will be done about it, Keystone XL Pipeline, and other “hot topics” Republicans have done nothing about for six years.
I am a little more interested in some other things that could cause real problems for real Americans. These items are so far under the radar of the national media, that once they raise their ugly head, everyone will wonder where they came from. What I am talking about is the future of four agencies of our Federal Government. They are the Department of Labor, Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Post Office.
All four of these agencies are at the top of the Republican “hit list” of agencies they want to shut down. They are also four agencies that actually protect and/or serve the American People. However, since there are business people who hate them for either “regulating” their business or look at something they can take over and make billions of dollars off, Republicans will do everything they can to cripple or eliminate them.
Why not take a look at each department and see why the Republicans want them to go away.
Department of Labor: The Department of Labor has been a thorn in the sides of Republicans for years. This Department regulates labor laws and regulations. Under OSHA, it also regulates safety in the workplace. When there is a dispute between labor and management, the Department of Labor is the first agency to investigate it. Since Republicans claim that the Department of Labor usually takes the side of the employee, they don’t want this bothersome agency around anymore.
Without the Department of Labor, they will have a freer hand in attacking the unions even more than they already have. Especially public Labor Unions like Police, Fire, Teachers, Government Employees, etc. The head of the New York Police Union has been very critical of the Mayor over the shooting of the two police officers. But, if the Republicans had their way, his phony-baloney job wouldn’t even exist. There would be no police officer union.
OSHA has been a thorn in their sides because they regulate safety in the workplace. If a company is endangering their employee safety, OSHA is the agency that moves in and takes action against the company. Companies have argued for years that OSHA is too intrusive and is hurting their bottom line. Never mind about the safety of the workers. Hazards to their health apparently are simply part of the job.
I predict that there will be additional fights over the Department of Labor. I also predict that if they can’t do away with the entire Department, OSHA will definitely be in the cross-hairs. Don’t forget, the Department of Labor was on every Republican Presidential “hit-list” in the 2012 Presidential Election.
Department of Education: This is something else that Republicans really hate. They don’t want any Federal Standards that will force schools to actually educate students. They are against Federal regulations in how to run a school and how to spend the money. What they don’t hate is the money that comes from the Department of Education to local schools.
What they want to do is spend the money any way they wish. They always argue over “local control” of Public Schools. They say that the local community knows best what its students need to learn. That may all sound great in theory, but in practice, especially in a global economy, that argument is lame at best. I don’t care if you are going to school in New York City, or some rural area where no one ever leaves the county, you need a first class education in order to compete in a global economy.
There are two battle cries of the right in this battle. The first is “vouchers” and the second is “charter schools”. They argue that parents should have a choice where to send their children to school. But, when it comes to vouchers, what they are really saying is that parents should be able to send their children to private schools at the taxpayers expense. Vouchers drain the Public School funds, reduce attendance at Public Schools, and help in the “closet” segregation of our education system. It also helps ensure that children with disabilities or learning disabilities are left behind.
Charter schools are becoming even worse than the voucher system. These are schools run by organizations and/or companies. They get all of their funding from the Public School system. But, they argue that they don’t have to follow the regulations of the Public Schools or the Department of Education. Again, children with disabilities and learning disabilities are usually left behind and not allowed to enter the charter schools.
Additionally, there have been numerous reports from around the country about fraud and abuse in charter schools. The fraud has amounted from the thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. They have become so common that some people in the public are fighting back. Some areas are even demanding a moratorium on creating more charter schools.
As a result of these two programs that are loved by Republicans, the Public School system in America is in crisis mode. Poorer students are not being allowed to enter the charter schools, and the private schools of choice say they don’t “measure” up to their educational standards. As a result, these students are being robbed of a good education because money is being given to “alternative” schools.
Additionally, Republican states are slashing Public Education funding. Just look at New Jersey where Christie has cut over a billion dollars in Public Education. Rather than giving Public Schools a fighting chance to actually educate our children, Republicans are trying to shutdown Public Schools. If the poor and/or disabled cannot get into a private or charter school, well that is just too bad. Why do they need an education anyway? They won’t be able to do anything with it.
The biggest thing in this fight, of course, is that Republicans want to reintroduce religion into public education. Not just any religion mind you, their religion even if you disagree with their beliefs. One could even call it an attempt at “mind control” of our children. The Department of Education will surely be under attack from the Republican controlled congress.
Environmental Protection Agency: You know this agency will be the first to be attacked. In the cromnibus bill that passed the last congress at the end of the year, the EPA took a huge hit to their budget. Remember, this is the agency that protects our drinking water, land, and air from pollutants that will actually kill you.
Of course by regulating how much pollution companies can actually produce, it is argued these regulations are a direct threat to the bottom line of companies like oil, gas, and coal. Republicans want these companies to thrive. Manly because they get millions in contributions to their campaigns from these companies.
Ever since the EPA began, under a Republican President named Richard Nixon, Republicans have complained that the EPA is simply a “job killer” because of the regulations they mandate. There is no proof that clean air and water have killed jobs, but they still scream about it.
With Republicans claiming that climate change is a hoax, there is no reason to believe that the EPA won’t be under fire even more in 2015. The one agency we have that can actually help reduce carbon emissions is the one agency the Republicans argue is not necessary. Nor, do they want the EPA to regulate clean water. Look at the Duke Energy coal ash dumps in North Carolina. They still haven’t cleaned up the coal ash, and they aren’t going to be forced to by the state either. So, that ash with its carcinogenic pollutants will linger at the bottom of the river poisoning the drinking water of communities.
I could probably write pages more about how much the Republicans hate the EPA. But, there is enough evidence to show that without anymore ink about it. Just be certain, the EPA is facing a very dangerous time in its existence. If the Republicans are able to close down the agency, people like the Koch Brothers will have a free hand in polluting our air and water. If you die from that pollution, oh well.
U.S. Post Office: In fairness it took me a long time to figure out why the Post Office is such a threat to Republicans. You would think that an agency which was created in the Constitution would actually be loved by Republicans. But they hate the Post Office. One reason they hate the Post Office is because the mail carriers actually have a union. Republicans have always hated anything involving unions.
Here is the point. The U.S. Post Office gets no money from the Federal Budget. It is run as a private company. You would think that Republicans would be in love with that business model. But, they hate it so much they are trying to close it down and “privatize” it. A few years ago, the Republicans came up with a scheme that would guaranty the Post Office would lose money. They “regulated” that the Post Office must pre-pay the insurance coverage for its retired employees for 75 YEARS and that they must do so in 10 years!
No other government agency, nor any private business, is required to follow this “regulation”. Remember, Republicans hate “regulation”. So, why put such a regulation on the Post Office? There is only one reason. They want to close it down and give the business to private companies so they can deliver your mail and make billions more in profit.
Last year, the Post Office actually turned a profit. According to statistics I could find, they made about 1 billion dollars. However, because of the “regulation” arbitrarily placed on them by the Republicans, they are showing a loss of around 4 billion dollars. So, a profitable government agency is being forced to lose money and close down sorting centers and post offices because of “regulations” that Republicans placed on them. The same type of regulations they claim to despise. The irony is that the areas most hurt by this attack are rural areas where their base lives.
In earlier years, the Post Office was allowed to offer some banking services as well. If they were allowed to offer these services to help the poor and rural areas, they would still make money, even with the regulations put upon them. These services were things like saving accounts and money orders. Some have even called for them to be able to offer prepaid credit cards or debit cards. But, that would cut into the big banks business, so it will never happen.
Because of this attack on the Post Office, we are already looking at the mail slowing down. That Birthday Card you send to your mom across town is more likely to take up to three days now because of the cuts the Post Office is being forced to make. This is one time where “regulation” is forcing a business to shut down. But, you won’t hear Republicans saying that. They will claim that the union forced the closure of our Post Office.
As you can see, every one of these departments or agencies directly serve the needs of the people. They are also standing in the way of private companies making billions of dollars in new profits off the taxpayers. Yet, because of these new profits envisioned by Republicans for their business cronies, they are the very agencies they want to shut down.
According to them, our children’s education, our drinking water and air, our safety, our land, even our mail is in jeopardy. Republicans believe that private companies are the answer to everything. As Herbert Hoover said, “the business of America is business.” Remember what happened under his administration? We wound up with the Great Depression. And guess what, there were no “government regulations” at the time that hampered the bottom-line!
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