Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) has been in Congress 43 years, 37 of those in the U.S. Senate. When asked about the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace Obamacare he said: “You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.” Really? A campaign promise outweighs people dying for lack of health care?
Republicans obstructed President Obama every way they could, creating crisis after crisis on critical issues like funding the government and raising the debt limit. They unfairly blamed him for the deficits, which they claimed were the nation’s number one problem. Members of the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives even voted for a catastrophic default on the nation’s debt over this issue.
Now the GOP is enthusiastically promoting an irresponsible, budget-busting tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. But deficits no longer seem to matter to Republicans, including the Freedom Caucus. They promised tax cuts and now they must deliver regardless of the consequences.
What could be more outrageous than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans crafting major legislation on health care and taxes with limited hearings and little input from experts, Democrats or the public. GOP policies don’t hold up in the light of day so legislation is fashioned in secret and presented for a vote with limited time for review. This is a terrible precedent that weakens our traditional democratic processes.
Candidate Trump talked like a populist, the voice of working Americans. He was going to challenge the establishment and “drain the swamp.” But he and his billionaire cabinet members operate most comfortably in the swamp.
President Trump is lining his pockets by promoting his properties as THE places to have contact with him and influence the government. The Trump hotel in Washington, DC has become a magnet for those seeking favors from his administration.
Fabulously wealthy Sec. of Treasury Steve Mnuchin requested government jets for his honeymoon to Europe. Former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) — already under a cloud for insider trading in stocks he influenced with legislation – used his position as Health and Human Services secretary to fly on chartered and government jets for both domestic and foreign trips. The taxpayer’s bill was estimated at around $1 million.
Price has resigned but he’s not the only cabinet official charging the taxpayers for their excessive, luxury accommodations. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt reportedly spent $25,000 for a secure, soundproof communications booth in his office. (This made me think of bumbling detective Maxwell Smart’s “cone of silence” in the TV program “Get Smart.) Pruitt must be concerned that someone will overhear his conversations with oil industry buddies and discover the terrible things he is trying to do to the environment. He too flies on chartered or government jets when commercial travel would suffice.
Pruitt also has an unprecedented 18-person, 24/7 security detail at the cost to taxpayers of over $800,000 for just three months. He must be paranoid – or perhaps he’s afraid of the American public. When they discover how his decisions are exposing them to increased industrial pollution, they might get really angry.
But there are numerous other reasons for public anger. Strong evidence shows that Russia conducted a cyber-attack to influence the 2016 presidential election; but Trump and congressional Republicans can’t be bothered with taking defensive actions. I don’t hear them demanding a strong technical barrier to defend against Russian hacking. Russia is trying to destroy our free society, our democratic processes and our faith in the government but the Trump administration and Congress do not appear to be doing much to prevent it.
Another outrage was the primary in Alabama to select a candidate to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ seat in the Senate. Republicans selected Roy Moore, an evangelical, homophobic radical. Most Senate Republicans just shrugged, but not Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). He called it like it should be called: Referring to Moore’s unbelievable insistence that Muslim Americans shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress, Flake said, “I think that when we disagree with something so fundamental like that, we ought to stand up and say, that’s not right, that’s not our party, that is not us.” I’m sorry Jeff, that may not be you — but that is your party.
For years Republicans have demonized the media and the federal government. As a result, their base and millions of other Americans are losing faith in the basic institutions of our democratic republic. Many people don’t know who to trust. No country can progress — let alone prosper — when this happens. And Trump compounds the problem with his pathological lying.
The examples are too numerous to chronical, but perhaps the biggest outrage is how Trump is dividing our nation — how he is being enabled by many Republicans in Congress — and how millions of Americans don’t seem to care or think it’s ok.
I believe it will take a long time for the nation to recover from McConnell, Trump and the ideologically driven right-wing. Hopefully a clear majority of voters will put a stop to some of their outrages in the 2018 elections.
Last Sunday our son-in-law Ed and I completed a 2,700-mile drive across most of this great country from the east, through the heartland where I was born and on to the west coast. I was reminded that very few people live in this vast expanse of land. We spent hours traveling across flat, endless prairies, passed farmlands with few houses and through fields of corn and wheat that stretched out beyond the horizon on both sides of the road. We met many great folks along the way but in a small, windy Wyoming town we experienced some particularly friendly, helpful clerks in a combination gas station, general store and pizza parlor. I kept wondering why these good people would help elect a slick, lying, New York City real estate developer like Donald Trump. They no doubt knew Trump is a jerk; but perhaps they thought he would be their jerk. I think they were wrong.