by Joseph D. O’Shaughnessy
I normally don’t sign what we all call posts. I don’t even refer to them as “posts.” Rather, I call them editorials or articles. But I don’t want any misunderstanding when it comes to who wrote this stuff about Trump. I don’t like him and I don’t like what he is doing to this country.
How do I know that Trump is no Populist? It has to do with a number of things…his background, his attitudes, the truth of his character and of his politics. Many of you will not be shocked to learn this but Donald Trump is not one of you. You might say…”how do you know?” I know because statistically it is very unlikely that any of you were born into substantial wealth or left an inheritance in the tens of millions of dollars in rapidly appreciating New York City real estate.
So, trust me, Trump is not your buddy. If he met you on the street, which he wouldn’t because he goes from his office to a limousine, he would not recognize you five minutes after he had shaken your hand unless you were worth more money than he is. He is no Teddy Roosevelt nor Robert La Follette, nor George Norris nor William Jennings Bryan nor Harry Truman. He is no Jack, Robert or Teddy Kennedy. He is simply a wealthier version of George W. Bush with a Vice President equally as Neo-Fascist as Dick Cheney but with a more deceptive demeanor. Good men don’t cut 24 million people from health care with a smile.
And, by the way, Ronald Reagan was no Populist. He may have been good to his family, kind to animals and some kind of glad-handing television hero to millions of people, but Ronald Reagan was either one of two things. Either he was a two-faced liar, focused on a plan to turn the country over to the rich and large corporations while removing unions and personal rights, while pretending to be a man of the people. Or he was a dupe, a stupid, smiling, narcissistic moron who was pushed to the extreme Right Wing by General Electric and Bechtel and a few other Conservative radicals.
Reagan’s job for them was to cut taxes for the rich, start the movement to remove unions from the workplace, create a giant military-industrial complex and locate it with good paying jobs in every state so that it would be almost politically impossible to get rid of it. Reagan left this country with a mind-set constantly drummed into the dimmest minds of the people that we could have it all. We could have low, low taxes and a strong government forever into the future, with a huge military around the world while deficits went completely out of control. Reagan started the ruin of this country and he either did it deliberately or he did it mindlessly. Either way, he was nothing to be proud of and certainly no populist. All of our troubles today, yours and mine…not Trump’s…are the result of the many bad policies started and encouraged by Ronald Reagan. And I’m sad to say it. I liked him.
On the campaign trail, Trump said he was going to repeal that “disaster” Obamacare. He says that it is “spiraling down.” He said that everyone will get much better and more affordable health care. Well, we didn’t get that. He went right along with the “Repeal and Replace” bill that the Neo-Fascists in Congress tried to foist off on the American public. He not only ignored Democrats to tried to stop this unjust law, but when the law failed to pass, failed even to get to the floor of Congress, he, Trump, blamed the very people who tried to stop the law. He said that the Democrats caused the Obama repeal and replace law to fail, but Demorats denied it, yet maintained that while they did not have the votes to do anything, they were happy it failed so that 24 million Americans could keep their health care.
So Trump’s first big, publicized piece of legislation, the Ryan Republican’s American Health Care Act failed because cruel, so-called “moderate” conservative Republicans were too lenient in only knocking 24 million off the health care rolls. Not good enough for the FreedomWorks ultra Right Wing, SS-style Neo-Fascist Republicans who are beholden to other farther Right Wing billionaires.
Trump pretended to be a Populist on the campaign trail, but it is clear now that he lied. We know that clearly now. So, do you know what we call populist-sounding politicians who lie to the people? We call them demagogues.
As I said, he is a liar. But not your typical liar. He lies like a politician, but unlike a good politician, he proved this week, he does not have the deep, daily political skills, the brains and the focus and the patience for good legislation. He doesn’t know how to persuade people that a bad bill is actually a good bill, because he doesn’t understand the bad bill and, having every little whim taken care for him, rather than being an average human being, he doesn’t know what a good bill for the people should be.
So what else did this self-styled Populist lie about? He lied about his cabinet. He hasn’t appointed the best qualified people to make significant changes for the improvement of society. Instead, he has appointed people who have publicly said that they want to eliminate the departments they have been appointed to head. Every single cabinet appointee is an advocate for the positions that their fellow billionaires…most are billionaires and the rest are very, very wealthy…would expect them to take. There are no foxes sent to carefully guard the hen house. These are all people who want all the chickens for themselves. If you have a net worth less than $25,000,000, you are almost certainly not on their radar.
None of these people are Populist. They may not be Fascist, but they are, at the least, hard core conservatives. This means that they do not support the concept of Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, aid for disabilities, unemployment insurance, and affordable, government subsidized health insurance. They do not support these things nor do they support Civil Rights legislation, environmental regulation, climate control legislation, product liability legislation, collective bargaining for better wages and working conditions and adequate workers’ compensation.
These are wealthy people who, for the most part, inherited a large portion of their wealth, and their legacy rights to educational institutions. Their friends are others with whom they attended schools, lived in the same communities, knew the same people and were taught the same values. Did some escape the restricted values that this kind of upbringing fostered? No. As evidenced by the experience of their lives and careers, so far as we can read them, they did not break out of the mold of highly pampered, willful, narcissistic individuals whose only concerns are their own well being and that of their immediate families.
Nothing was more evident than the recent attempt by Republicans in the House and those in the Trump White House to remove health care from the lives of 24 million Americans and increase costs for others (while maintaining an out-and-out lie that they would cut costs) merely in order to create a tax cut for already hugely wealthy Americans. It is clear that Obamacare is not in a “death spiral” or a “disaster.” It is because of the legislative actions of the Republicans in the House and Senate that costs this last year, principally the Rubio Amendment, that caused health insurance firms to drop out and others to raise rates through the roof. The reason that the health insurance industry demanded that the language of new health care legislation begin with “repeal” is simple. If Obamacare continues, the logical extension of all actions will be a public health care system, like Medicare, a very efficient and popular system (98% say they would never voluntarily give it up.)
The solution to a better life, more of the cost of government being shared by the rich, more rational government and more favorable treatment being given the Middle Class and below, is for everyone to vote Democratic. If Trump is the typical uncaring underhanded Republican, then Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and Dick Durbin are the typical fair-minded, caring typical Democrats. You have two kinds of Republicans. One kind is the group we now laughingly call “moderates.” They simply want to raise your health care costs, for example, by about 60%, take away almost all your rights to sue doctors and surgeons, and place limits on what you can receive for any damages, no matter how serious–usually about $250,000. Now the “Freedom” Right Wing Republicans are worse than that. They don’t think you should have any subsidies for health insurance. They don’t think there should be any free health care at all, that is, no Medicaid. (In many states, these “Freedom” Republican governors did not allow Medicaid for their citizens.
So those are the “Trump” Republicans. It is clear, therefore, from what you have actually seen happen with your own eyes, that you will not have Trump’s “more and better” health care insurance. He lied. You will have less and it will be worse. He’s not going to bring back the coal industry. He’s lying. No one uses coal any longer. Other sources of combustion are cheaper, less damaging to the environment, cleaner and just as abundant. Coal jobs, bad as they were, are not coming back. What we need is to take some of those trillions in the personal accounts of billionaires…leaving them with a billion or so….in other words, 20 million a year for the next 50 years…not too shabby…while taxing their other extra cash and creating re-education opportunities in coal country for people who are intelligent and can very well work and support themselves if given the opportunity. There is plenty that they can do that is not different from the hard work of coal mining.
We need to tax hedge fund managers, billionaires, at a reasonable rate, something like 25-30% over ten years. With that money alone we could retrain and reestablish entire communities in coal country, with clean jobs, strong communities, local tax bases and new housing and infrastructure. You need to do one thing. Vote Democratic. Stop believing the lies. Vote Democratic. You voted for Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman and LBJ and all of them…plus Bill Clinton….did you proud. Now trust the people who did right by you and vote Democratic again.
We have a 20 trillion dollar deficit. And here’s how we got it. Pay attention. When Reagan took over the national debt was $800 billion. He cut taxes and raised spending. He raised the debt to $2.14 trillion. Then George H.W. Bush took over and he promised the Reagan Republicans that he would not raise taxes. (“Read my lips. No new taxes.”) He knew that was a disaster…and so it was. In only four years, the national debt doubled to $4.0 trillion. Then came Clinton. He raised taxes, primarily on the wealthy….but raised them. Before he could turn things around, the debt went up to $5.6 trillion. But then it stopped going up and started going down. And then came George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The first thing they did was cut taxes again, causing more revenue losses and then starting two major wars simultaneously. In addition, here at home, we spent another trillion dollars on an entirely new government department called Homeland Security. At the end of their 8 years, the national debt had gone from $5.6 trillion…where, the CBO said…it should have stayed, all the way to 12 trillion dollars.
But Bush’s contribution, and Cheney’s did not end there. In 2009, the first Obama debt, which was left by Bush as a result of the Stock Market collapse and the looming Depression (700,000 jobs being lost each month) was $1.4 trillion. Then next one was also $1.4 trillion, as unemployment and welfare were out of control. In 2011, President Obama brought it down somewhat, and then, down and down until it reached pre-2009 levels. But the result was an additional $8 trillion in debt, after 8 years and a totally uncooperative Congress, that resulted in our current $20 trillion national debt. Almost every dime of it the result of Republican tax cuts, wars and greed.
You’ve been paying taxes. You’ve paid all the taxes your government asked of you. Now it is time for you to stop thinking of the so-called “job creators” who, unlike President Obama, as you see now, did everything he could to get more jobs for you, have done nothing for you. No jobs created. No help with mortgages and rent and health care costs and auto prices and gas prices and medical, dental and hospital care. These rich billionaires care nothing for you. The people you need to support are those who go to Congress, to help you get ahead. These are the Democrats and they are the ones, like Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi and Elijah Cummings and John Lewis and Bill Foster who care about you and your children and grandchildren. Trump is a liar. We know that now. Not only is Paul Ryan is a liar, but he actually tried to ram though a repeal and replacement of Obamacare that would not have allowed for any adjustments, reductions in cost, enhancements in service or accessibility through increased subsidies. He tried to cut health care services, cut disability payments, cut Medicare. He is an even worse liar than Trump, because at least Trump makes no excuses for his lies.
Two people, billionaires Charles and David Koch, with the help of thousands of their paid, Neo-Fascist workers, (sorry, but that is exactly what they are) in hundreds of so-called “think tanks” and other outright lobbying organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year, plus, in 2016, an estimated $400 million in campaign money for Republicans who support their anti-government agenda, and especially the “Freedom” caucus. What is the Freedom Caucus. It is a group of about 30 Right Wing Republican Congressmen who have vowed to the Koch Brothers that they will blow up, that is, wreck, any legislation that costs the government more money to help people over corporations. The Kochs are on record as the biggest polluters in the United States, and, because their enterprises are world wide, quite probably the biggest polluters in other places around the globe. They inherited oil and chemical companies that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and by ruthless pollution and corruption have turned that fortune into an income of $20 billion apiece.
So what is the point? The point is that a populist, a true populist, works for the “polis” which is the Greek word for city. So what is a city? A city is not ten billionaires and a hundred thousand average Joes. The city is everyone. It is a place where everyone lives. Now it is a country not made up of city-states as ancient Greece was, but a nation build of many cities and many others living in between. We all must pull together.
Let’s take the simplest and easiest of examples….health care. We all know this simple fact. Everyone needs health care. Every major country in the world has recognized it, most of the big ones, Germany, France, Great Britain…took care of every one starting more than 75 years ago. Germany started it earlier than that. So, people in general who are educated realize that our humanity demands that we have health care. Private profit-motivated health insurance is not the best way to do it, but that is all the Republicans, now the Neo-Fascists, will allow. Think of it…you elect them and they won’t allow you to have good health insurance. Democrats want to keep Obamacare and make it even better. Yes, it will eventually do away with health insurance companies but they have been a bad idea from the beginning, and the jobs will go to non-profit organizations as is done in Europe and all over the world. Trump is for the Republican plan to cut health care for–at a minimum–just Medicaid, but it will be much worse than that in the long run if we do not stop it—24 million people. Would Teddy Roosevelt, Jack Kennedy, Harry Truman or even Dwight David Eisenhower allow that to happen to the people? They would be up in arms, screaming about the greed of billionaires while millions live in stark fear with no health care. How do we know they would stand up for us? Because one of them did. Teddy Kennedy, the last of the Kennedys thus far, stood in the Senate in his dying days and shouted at his Republican fellow members when they would not help the people, “When does it end! When does the greed end?”
Donald Trump is not about the people. He is one of those about whom Teddy Kennedy said…when is the greed going to end? How little taxes and how many billions do the billionaires need before they will be satiated and will stop trying to drive the average person to an early grave, totally divested of every single piece of property–impoverished, indebted and destitute.
Popuists are good people. Senator George Norris knew what he had to do. He voted for the right things, for staying out of war unless attacked, for rural electrification for farms and rural villages, for labor’s right to negotiate for better wages. But when Presidents vetoed these things he had no problem speaking out against them.And they were also Republicans. Populists are fearless, like Norris, because they are fighting for the people. Donald Trump should never even be mentioned in the same conversations as men like Norris.
In the end it is your choice. Will you support someone like Bernie Sanders, a true populist, and the kinds of people who would follow his lead? Or will you vote for the current status quo, Republican legislators who have received hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece for their votes.And when they do not vote properly, the Right Wing groups find someone even more anti-American.
Yes, anti-American. What could be more anti-American than voting against the best interests of all your American neighbors and for a few billionaires who do not even consider the United States their full-time residence! Yes, they pay a lot of taxes but not much compared to the amounts they have left which is more already than they could ever spend. If you think a man who has a guaranteed $10 million per year to live on for the next 50 years without lifting another finger needs more than you do and needs you to have less, then you are nuts. If you think that a man like that deserves that you vote Republican so that he can cut your Medicare and Social Security so that he can have his taxes reduced, you are nuts. Incomes at the top end of this society are out of control.
The top one percent, or about 1 million households take home about 58 percent of all income in a country of 312 million people. Now it wasn’t always like this. At the same time, the average annual CEO pay is about $17 million. While the average worker pay is about $50,000. That means that the CEO, whose company may not even be profitable, by the way, makes 340 times what the average worker makes. And how does this work? Well, some of it is smarts. Some of it is being born white with wealthy parents. Some of it is brilliance, a fast mind and a high percentage of correct decisions. But not 340 times what the average person could do. Were his grades 340 times better? Did he work 340 times more hours than the average worker? Does his job contribute 340 times more to the corporation and do the workers benefit not 340 times, but lets say just 2 times from his effort? Do they make $100,000 because he worked 340 times better…somehow better, faster, smarter…than average? Did he ever work hard enough and smart enough to get them 3 times their wages….which would be an astonishing…to them…$150,000 that year? Did he ever work that hard for his 340 times better pay? I doubt that this has ever happened. Ever.
In fact, Donald Trump’s cabinet members, the people he has picked to work for you…and here goes….have cheated minimum wage workers out of their overtime pay, foreclosed on thousands of people who had already been cheated out of everything else, declared that public schools must teach the “Christian” religion–whatever the hell that means these days (I was raised a Roman Catholic and these other religions don’t make any sense to me at all.) and have a certain number of charter schools on our way to having private education for some and very poor public education for others. Trump’s cabinet appointments have, at one time or another, among their sins, raised your gasoline prices to $4.00 remember that? They have bought corporations that were ailing and, instead of building them up, gave the shareholders a few bucks, took enormous salaries for themselves, then closed the plants down, sold off the buildings and sent the jobs out of the country. When the products came back they were warehoused and shipped to customers via highly automated distribution centers. The result…high profits for the bounty hunters who took over those companies, only one job for every 50 that had been there before, and millions into the pockets of the scavangers…now working to hose the rest of us by working for Trump.
Trump is a liar and at best a demagogue. He is no populist, no progressive, and not even one small hair on his ugly body has a Liberal tint to it. He a rich Right Winger, just like all the others.And now he has control of the levers of power. He is no populist an you….are screwed.