Sunday, October 17, 2010

American oligarchs

The United States is fast becoming a third world nation run by corporate oligarchs, their political lackeys, and supported by gullible citizens who, come November, will vote against their own best interests to further their masters' agendas.

How gullible are you? When Republicans promise to cut taxes and reduce deficits, do you ask them how it is possible to do both at the same time? What specific spending cuts do they propose? GOP sweetheart Paul Ryan, who is touted as the spending and deficit guru of his party, has proposed privatizing Social Security and then further delaying retirement age to 70 from what is now 67. He has previously advocated completely dismantling Social Security – until Mitch McConnell (GOP Congressional leader) advised him that such words would cause him to lose the election. Ryan also wants to end Medicare, and has specifically said so. He wants old people to have to pay for their own insurance on the open market – never mind that it would be extremely expensive, even if they could qualify. Therefore, many of our elderly would have to go without healthcare.

The recent Republican Pledge to America is full of bloviated ideas but short on details. For example, they do not mention how to cut taxes and reduce deficits at the same time. Cutting taxes to next to nothing has long been a Republican goal, and when they tried to do that during the Bush years they turned a huge surplus left by Clinton into a huge deficit.

They proposed privatizing Social Security. What if they had been successful? Where would your Social Security money be today after the market crash of 2008? Those funds would be in the same sinking boat as the 401ks. Given what we have seen happen to financial markets, how would you have done if your Social Security account were turned over to private sector brokerages, like, say, Lehman Brothers?

The GOP promises to repeal the American Care Act (healthcare reform). Of course they have no actual proposal except going back to what we had: yearly double digit increases, children being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, more and more Americans losing their coverage and their coverage being dropped when they get sick, small businesses cutting benefits or eliminating coverage for employees, and on and on.

President Obama's healthcare reform is presently prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Now, this very day, parents may continue covering their kids on their policies until the kids turn 26. Those who are very sick are now able to enter a high risk health insurance program run by private insurers (if their state will allow it). Small businesses that provide coverage for their employees will receive a tax subsidy to offset the cost (which was not true before now). Now, which of these benefits would you like to see cut? What about the old system did you find so attractive?

The United States spends 17% of GDP on healthcare. Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is basically the sum total of our economy. Germany, France and the United Kingdom spend 10% of their GDP. Switzerland, second to the U.S. spends 11% of GDP. Are we healthier because we spend so much more? No. Independent studies show that our healthcare system ranks 37th in the world in terms of favorable outcomes, just below Slovakia.

Do you want to go back to that?

As the Bush Tax cuts approach expiration, the President has proposed continuing the tax cuts for 98% of all Americans. Those deficit hawks on the right insist that the top 2% should continue to get their tax breaks too, and the Republicans are holding your and my taxes hostage to assure that. Apparently, they don't mind the $700 billion those tax cuts will add to the deficit over the next few years – and well over 1.4 trillion in 10 years.

What the Republicans are really doing is protecting those extremely wealthy oligarchs. These billionaires and millionaires paid a marginal rate of 39% under President Clinton, and 91% under President Eisenhower, supposedly deserve our sympathy because their rate will go from the current 36% to the previous 39%.

Gee, those poor rich people. Boo-hoo.

Don't be a gullible tool of the Koch Brothers (big oil and huge money machine for Republicans) and the other corporate oligarchs like Rupert Murdoch. Vote in your own best interest – against the Republican corporate machine on November 2.

*Oligarchs are rulers in an oligarchy: a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, or military control. In the United States, the oligarchs are ‘distinguished’ by wealth.