The Republican Party plans to repurpose its 2016 platform for 2020 without changes. Perhaps they’ve forgotten how severely they criticized President Obama’s “current administration.” Now that it’s President Trump’s administration, their vitriol is a bit awkward. Here are a few examples: The current administration has – hugely increased the national debt and placed a significant burden on future generations – exceeded its constitutional authority – brazenly and flagrantly violated the separation of powers – sought to divide America into groups and turn citizen against citizen – unconstitutionally expanded into areas beyond those specifically enumerated, including bullying of state and local governments– and abandoned America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Hey, now it’s the truth.
But the real key to GOP orthodoxy is the 42 times this document uses the word “freedom.” It claims that Obamacare, labor laws and executive branch regulations take freedom away. On the other hand, religious freedom, which typically means the right to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, is lauded. So is the freedom of association for religious, private and youth organizations so they can set membership standards that discriminate. And it wants people – which now includes corporations – to have the freedom to fill the political system with unlimited amounts of cash, even anonymous foreign money.
Obviously, the GOP wants freedom for its base but I believe its policies deprive workers of the resources to be free. In fact, I have begun thinking of Republican ideology less as benefactor of the rich – which it certainly is – and more as a suppressor of the middleclass and poor. If you want to belong to a union; they enact right to work laws. If you need an increase in the minimum wage to survive; Republicans will surely vote no. If you hope to get Obamacare for your family; they’ve asked the Supreme Court to eliminate it. Actually, I struggle to think of one policy conservatives champion that would economically lift up working-class Americans. Instead, they cater to the rich.
The 2019 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report tells the shocking story of wealth accumulation and inequality in the United States:
- Among the 20 wealthiest countries, the U.S. has an estimated 80,510 members in ultra-high net wealth categories – those with over $50 million – which is 48 percent of the world’s total. China was a distant second with 18,130 or around 11 percent.
- The U.S. had 40 percent of world’s U.S. dollar millionaires in 2019 and comprised more than half of the 1.1 million added since the 2018 report. The number of millionaires in the U.S. grew by 250 percent from 2010 to 2019, while wages for most Americans were stagnating.
- The top 1 percent of wealth holders in the U.S. controlled around 35 percent of this nation’s wealth in 2019 – a lower percent than the 1 percent in Brazil, India and Russia – but their share has now grown to 42.5 percent according to Inequality.org.
- Among a group of 16 prominent nations, including the UK, China, India and Brazil, inequality in the U.S. was higher than all the others in 2019 except Russia. Fifty-eight percent of Americans are estimated to have a net worth less than $100,000, which includes home equity, with 27 percent having less than $10,000.
All of these numbers provide proof that the richest Americans are accumulating an ever-larger percentage of the wealth, while the U.S. middleclass and poor are struggling.
Unquestionably, Republican policies favor corporations, many of which hold enormous power over their workers, particularly those in the service and fast food industries. As I have written before, several years ago a conservative friend revealed the Republican mind set when he told me that McDonald’s would install machines to make burgers before they’d pay employees $10 per hour. It’s an inhumane attitude that completely ignores the needs of working Americans.
The Federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, unadjusted by inflation. A family of four can probably qualify for food stamps and Medicaid on this wage, even with both parents working fulltime. The many folks who must work two jobs to make ends meet are not much better off than slaves. Still, most Republican legislators not only refuse to raise the minimum wage, they want to cut the social safety net benefits that many low-income workers are force to seek in order to survive.
To make matters worse, Republicans want to separate major health care programs from the federal government. They favor transitioning Medicare to a voucher system where insurance companies control retiree’s health care and providing block grants for states to totally manage Medicaid. They’re also trying to completely overturn Obamacare without having a viable plan to replace it.
It’s a fact, all Americans do better – including the wealthy – when middleclass and poorer Americans are thriving. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumer spending, mainly driven by the middle and lower-income individuals who spend most of what they make. Republicans, however, reject statistics and common sense; they’re totally committed to their trickle-down ideology that claims tax cuts grow the economy, government is the problem and freedom is more important than health care. Well, I believe GOP policies will eventually create an economy like the early 1900s when a small percentage of the ultra-rich controlled the government and the vast majority of workers were in virtual servitude to their wealthy masters.
There’s no damned freedom for most Americans in that space.