Writing a weekly newspaper column these days is like shooting at clay pigeons: The targets just keep on coming and changing. Last Friday, it was the inauguration and President Trump’s dark speech about an America sunk in the carnage of poverty, crime and ignorance. By that evening, the topic was the great rally here at City Hall and the march. Saturday, the fabulous women’s marches in Washington as well as here and in Atlanta and many other cities in America and around the world grabbed our attention. That same day, the president started a counter-punch with an argument over the size of the inauguration crowd that by the Sunday morning talk shows had grabbed attention away from the marches.
Now that they are empowered by their official positions, the president and his mouthpiece Kellyanne Conway lie boldly and attack those who question their “alternative facts,” as promulgated by their bullying press secretary, who lies and then warns the press not to question him. Along the way, in his rambling speech to the CIA, thepPresident says of the media, “They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth.”
Let’s be clear about what has happened. The United States Congress at any time during the last eight years could have fixed deficiencies in the Affordable Care Act or come up with a better plan. But congressional leaders were sworn not to do anything that would give President Obama credit, and congressional leaders do not believe in guaranteeing affordable insurance to all Americans.
Republicans do not believe people have a right to health care unless they have the means to pay whatever premiums insurance companies demand and are in good health. People who cannot afford health insurance or have pre-existing health problems just fall into that unfortunate group of losers who cannot expect to be carried by those who have succeeded. We all will have access to health insurance only if we can afford it—and the cost will be high indeed for those who need insurance most.
The Affordable Care Act is emblematic of the Republican approach to government. Congress, at any time during the last eight years, could have funded the rebuilding of our crumbling infrastructure—bridges, roads, railroads, tunnels, airports—creating jobs at the same time. Congress did not do this, because done right it would involve raising the tax money necessary to pay for such a massive project of public works, and Congress doesn’t want to understand how that money would come back to us through the enhanced economy.
Congress at any time during the last eight years could have addressed the problems of the Rust Belt, the rush offshore to avoid corporate taxes, the high cost of college and all the problems created by a system of taxation that favors the rich and penalizes the rest of us.
The Congress is based on a decade of gerrymandering that assures control by a minority of our country, just as state legislatures are rigged to assure Republican control.
The result over the last eight years has been policy, or lack of it, designed to inflict the greatest possible hurt upon our own citizens (except the rich) and to blame that hurt on President Obama, so that our citizens would be clamoring for deliverance, for change. The Republicans could not see that their carefully calculated policy would pay off with Donald Trump, but they are happy enough to embrace him and to let him take the glare of the spotlight, while they lick their chops over the prospect of finally getting everything they want—total control. Now they can enact their ideology. Now they can further cut taxes on the rich, while cutting services wherever possible—services that support the health and infrastructure needs of our citizens, along with education, cultural enrichment, environmental protection, minimum wages, the right to vote—anything that would put a burden on or limit the power of the rich.
In short, the totally Republican-controlled national government will become much more like our Georgia government, where corporate taxes are low, and services for citizens are lower.
Even in Athens our local government has been hamstrung by a conservatism that does not match what the majority in Athens want.
We’ve got a lot of work to do, especially here at home. We have demonstrated a lot of good, positive energy, and we need to be smart about how we continue to build on it.
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