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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 26, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   “U.S. Announces Plans To Reclassify Everyone’s Race Based On Net Worth” [The Onion, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 3-25-2023] “‘It is resolved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that any American whose wealth exceeds $1 million shall be white,’ read the bipartisan legislatio […]
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Imagining a Fifteen-Minute Chat with a Republican

I know that you’re a Republican, and you have no intention of listening to anything a Democrat has to say. I know that watching Fox News has got you convinced that Democrats are going to take away your gas stoves, and make you buy homosexual M&Ms, and have your children forced to read pornography in first grade. None of that is true, but I couldn’t convince you of that, and even if I could, Fox would just come up with other things to keep you angry and scared.

All I want to do is to take fifteen minutes to tell you about what the Republicans are going to do to your pocketbook and savings account. After that, you can ignore it, or maybe at least think about it, before you actually support and vote for it.

You do remember how last year, inflation was the major news story? Average prices had gone up about 9% from the year before. That’ is not good. There were reasons for it: the pandemic shutting down supply chains from other countries, and large corporations simply taking advantage of this, to raise prices far beyond costs, and rake in record profits. If you don’t believe me about the record profits they made, you could look it up briefly. But I don’t want to focus on that right now.

So let’s say that you and your family would spend $100 a week on groceries, and maybe another $100 on take-out or restaurant foods. That may be low, but it is an easy number to focus on. So with the 9% inflation, you had to pay $109 on the groceries and $109 on the takeout, so that instead of $200 a week, it was $218.

And you and everyone else who is not rich, were upset at that. There were endless news stories about how people had no idea how to make ends meet. Well, now the inflation rate is down to about 6%, so it’s $212 or so per month, in my example. And of course you hope that inflation will go down more, and it will, but you don’t have to take my word for it now.

So the Republicans ran literally billions of dollars of ads blaming the inflation on President Biden and Democrats. I don’t think that this was at all accurate, but I will not try to convince you otherwise. Republicans told you that if you voted for them, this would somehow be fixed. They never expressed one idea as to how they would combat inflation, except that they would reduce Social Security payments and Medicare. That may not matter to you right now depending on your age, but it should, and it will.

So the Republicans gained enough seats in the House of Representatives to take control. And what is their first, economic bill? They are going to get rid of all the income taxes, and all the corporate taxes, and the capital gains taxes which very rich people pay on the money they make on stocks and other investments. No more tax forms, no more I.R.S!

Except that to try to make up the loss in government revenue, the bill would slap a 30% sales tax on everything you buy. I am not making this up, it is in the bill. Every grocery you buy, every gallon of gas, every bottle of water, kitchen implement, gas, heat, a car, a house, a stick of furniture. All 30% more than the listed price would cost.

So back to the example of the family and groceries and meals that cost them $200 a year ago. They would now have to spend $260. Any item you buy at a store would cost 30% more. Your water and power bill, gas bill, trash collection bill, all would cost 30% more.

And if you had to buy a new car, which people have to do from time to time, it would cost 30% more.. Actually, more than that, because car dealers, and indeed any company which provides items or services to buy, regularly raises its prices. Let’s say 5% for cars, it could be slightly less or even more. So a car which cost $20,000 last year, would be raised by the car dealer to $21,000. The sales tax would be $6,300, so you would have to pay $27,300. Now, at this point one pays state sales tax on a car purchase; in California, where I live, it is high at 10%, but the state does do some good things with the sales tax money they take in. But even if you don’t think so, a car which cost $20,000 plus $2000 sales tax last year, for $22,000, now would cost $21,000 (at least), plus $6,300 national sales tax, plus $2,100 state sales tax, for $29,400. Just like that. And every state has a sales tax,

And if you think that maybe you could write off some of the car cost, as a business expense, you cannot, because there would be no income tax and no tax deductions under this Republican bill. Every single thing that you had been able to deduct from your taxes would be gone. You would simply have to pay 30% sales tax on everything you bought, with no way out.

This Republican bill, which has been passed out of Committee, and will be voted on by the entire House, would almost certainly mean the end of Social Security and Medicare, because they are paid for by income taxes. The funds would quickly go bankrupt, and that would be that. So when you finally had to leave working because of age or infirmity, there would be no safety net for you, the things that were put in under Democratic Administrations, and were immensely popular, except among the very rich, who hate any of their money going to anyone else. You would be like the Americans of the 1880’s or so, who when they lost their job or had to stop working, had no government support, no safety net, nothing but misery, unless their children could work, and support them.

That was the way that the very rich wanted America to be. And it was that way, until enough people thought it was so awful that they wanted to protect the citizens from this cruelty But the very rich never wanted to, and they are now able, with the aid of Fox News and their other outlets owned by them, to convince people to vote for Republican economic policies, which they do not really understand until it is too late.

Well, this bill will not become law, because Democrats barely control the Senate, and will never vote for it. But in 2025 if is almost certain that they will nor control the Senate. And then, if a Republican, Trump or DeSantis. or any of them, becomes President such a bill will pass.

And the result will be that you and your family will be back to where families like yours were in the 19th century. Making a small wage, paying more and more for goods and services, and always within the threat of one greedy employer firing you and sending you out into the street. It won’t happen immediately, but it will happen. It won’t be much different than in the Middle Ages, where the aristocrats owned all the land, and the peasants or serfs had to work on it every single day, with a little bread and ale being their sustenance, until they either died in their 30’s, or were killed in one of the wars the aristocrats sent them off to fight in.

It took 500 years for humankind to crawl out of that pit, and now the Republicans you support want to throw you back in. They’ll never tell you that, of course, they will divert you with cultural issues, or hate of Democrats. But that is where you will be, where we all will be, if the billionaires who run the Republican Party get their way, and make the laws they intend to make.

Okay, I could say much more, but I said only fifteen minutes of your listening time. Maybe you will spend some time thinking about it, or researching it, if you choose. I am telling you that the people who control the Republican Party have no interest in you, other than as a way that they can gain and keep power. Democrats have their flaws, of course, but they mostly care about the working class. They were the ones who passed the graduated income tax, where the people who earn more pay a higher rate. They passed the 40-hour work week, and the Safety and Health Act. They provided Workers Compensation, and the right to unionize. They passed Social Security and Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act

They did what they could, and the Republicans hated all of it, and have wanted to take all of it away And they will, if you keep voting for them. Thy are already poised to wreck the United States economy by not raising the debt limit, as Congress had done over and over, until the Tea Party and then MAGA Republicans got power. I won’t go into what will happen to the economy if the debt limit is not raised, but we will see soon enough, unless they are stopped in this madness and greed.

Thanks for listening.


15 Responses

  1. Republican voters don’t believe that Social Security and Medicare can be eliminated. They say, “The government can’t do that!” The Republicans I have talked to over the last decade or so think it is impossible, literally impossible, to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. In their minds, these programs are untouchable things, beyond the reach of any elected officials. Unfortunately, a lot of Democrats think so too but for different reasons. Democrats say Republicans won’t actually do it because it will upset their base.

    People are in denial. Republicans will destroy Social Security and Medicare, little by little, over time, the way they have robbed us of our reproductive rights and voting rights, with the help of a corrupt Supreme Court. Republicans have been steadily working at this scheme for decades. We (Democrats) seem to have been lulled asleep. Time to wake up!

  2. William: You left out my new favorite thing that GOP can complain about… XBOX… because (and I know this is hard to believe) it is too woke, since by default it ships in a mode that conserves energy. YEESSSH

    Beata: I don’t disagree with the fact that Republican want to destroy Social Security and Medicare, but I have to say that the Democrats seem to be intent to privatize Medicare too, there are far too many who are behind this new ACO REACH nonsense. IMO this is just another way to scam money out of Medicare.

  3. I agree, jmac. We have way too many Corporate Democrats in power. A certain one has put blinders over much of the Democratic base simply because he is not Donald J Trump. But it’s hard for me to forget who he has been for decades, man. I think you know who I am referring to.

    I didn’t want to tick off William by pointing this out.

    • Well, Biden said that he would not consider cutting Social Security or Medicare. Obama apparently did, unless all the stories about him looking for the “grand bargain,” and that task force with Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, were either untrue or insignificant. i think that in general, Biden has stood up for Democratic principles more than Obama did, and yet Obama is somehow impregnable among many liberals, I guess for image more than policies.

      If someone could suggest a classic liberal who could win a national election, i would be all for him or her. Actually, I think that Hillary was, but most of the “Left” (and I’m not referring to you or jmac or anybody here), constantly disparaged her, and many threw away their crucial votes just to scorn her, thus getting Trump elected. I saw somebody claim yesterday that Adam Schiff bows to the wishes of corporations, which is simply untrue, but pretty typical. Maybe they are still hoping that the Green Party can get 5% of the vote, and thus gain federal funding, as was their big argument tor voting for Nader in 2000.

      I am not a great Biden fan, but I think that in this era he is standing up pretty strongly fort the working class. I am always open to learning about areas where he is not, and where a more liberal approach to it would have gotten more actual voting support.There may well be a few, but he has had to tread a difficult path, with the slimmest of majorities.

      • Just a few areas where Biden has not stood up strongly for ordinary Americans:

        •ACO REACH, implementing a Trump era direct contracting program that is a move toward privatization of traditional Medicare and includes healthcare contacts with companies known to have committed prior fraud

        •Betrayal of railway workers reasonable demands for decent working conditions in favor of large corporate interests reporting record profits

        •Approval of more permits for oil and gas drilling on public lands in his first two years than in Trump’s first two years

        I could go on but these are depressing enough. None of the above policy decisions required Congressional approval.

      • If someone could suggest a classic liberal who could win a national election

        I think I agree that there is no liberal who can win a national election. But not just because of the Republican party, the Democratic party does little to nothing for progressive candidates, and in many cases works actively against them. This gives the Republican party the small opening they need, since Democrats do not think in hive mind like the Republicans there is no Democratic 11th commandment. I am unlikely to ever again support a Republican candidate (full disclosure, I voted for McCain), but Democrats like Biden, Schumer, etc. can not expect my enthusiastic support.

  4. We should have repealed the debt limit altogether in the lame duck session. Of course, there were a couple of soi-disant Senate Democrats (one of whom no longer is) who wouldn’t have gone along with that. This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • Yes, and it is infuriating. We would have passed the massive Build Back Better plan, had it not been for those two. And for her final act, Sinema will assure that the Democrats will lose her Senate seat, by splitting the votes so that any Republican can win it.

      As I see it, the only hope is waking up enough people to what the Republicans will do to the economy, and to their savings, so that they would stop voting for them for a while. So many states outside the South that used to vote for Democrats, and now always vote for Republicans. That somehow has to change; there aren’t enough states now to get us 55. much less 60, senators.

      • And obviously we should stop counting OASD and Medicare in budget calculations. LBJ started doing that so he could use the (then) FICA revenue surplus to make the debt from the Vietnam War look smaller. It was deceptive then and it has come back to bite us now..

      • “Sinema will assure that the Democrats will lose her Senate seat, by splitting the votes so that any Republican can win it.”

        Ehh…maybe. But the one who wins the Repunlican primary here is likely to be Kari Lake or a similar loon, and Curtsey Sinema is viewed negatively by EVERYBODY in AZ, Democrats, Republicans and Independents. It’s a rare instance of tripartisan comity…everyone hates her guts.

        Krazy Lake just had a hand in getting a new GOP chaiman elected in AZ and he’s a committed MAGA, so it’s likely their candidates will alienate the same independents they did this year; and her likely Democratic opponent is Reuben Gallego who is most definitely a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the party.

        • I appreciate the comment and perspective. I don’t know how Arizona handles Independents on the ballot; do they have to run in a Democratic or Republican primary, or can they run on an Independent line? If they can, then Sinema gets to skip the primary, and then she is in a three-person race.

          I would certainly assume that whatever votes she gets will come from people who would otherwise have voted for the Democrat. We know that Mark Kelly, a very admirable Senator, only won by three percent or so in the last election, and Katie Hobbs fortunately won, by less then a percent. So Arizona is not, at least not yet, a blue state.

          i would be inclined to believe that Gallego, who is good on issues, but who I think supported Sanders over Hillary in 2016, might not do as well as the more moderate Democrats have done. But if somehow Sinema does not siphon votes from him, he certainly has a chance, in a crucial Senate race. I do think that if Arizona runs Ducey or a semi-moderate, they would likely win the seat, but I hope that is wrong.

          • Fact Check: Ruben Gallego was a Hillary supporter in 2016. He endorsed her in November, 2015.

          • The reality in purple states is that all elections are now won by a few percent. 3 percent is practically a landslide. Our Attorney General race was won by ~500 votes. But lets not start drowning ourselves in doom here. Arizona hasn’t had a Democratic Governor in 14 years or NOT had a Republican Senator in decades. Both chambers in the Legislature are held by Republicans by a single seat. This in an election year that was supposed to be terrible for Democrats.

  5. Test post on this thread.

  6. In memory of my mother:

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