Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Greedy Old Plutocrats — G.O.P. — are still working their Long Con

Trump strategy dismantles protections, favors the wealthy

by Tom Maertens

Tom Maertens served as National Security Council director for nonproliferation and homeland defense under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and as deputy coordinator for counter-terrorism in the State Department during and after 9/11.

The Greedy Old Plutocrats — G.O.P. — are still working their Long Con.

Their long-standing program is to reward the wealthy who supply their campaign funds, using the debunked “trickle down” claim that cutting taxes for rich people produces an economic miracle, a free lunch.

They object to Obamacare principally because it is largely paid for with taxes on the wealthy, and in fact, Paul Ryan’s replacement plan would cut taxes for the wealthy by hundreds of billions of dollars. The top .01 percent already have as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

It is no surprise that Trump would embrace an economic swindle. Typically, he has promised “massive” tax relief for the middle class when the real beneficiaries of his plan are the fatcats; the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that Trump’s tax plan would save the top 1 percent $214,690 each, or 13.5 percent of after-tax income, while middle-income households would get an average tax cut of 1.8 percent or $1,010 each.

But Trump is a gifted huckster with a proven ability to dupe the ignorancia; his political career after all is built on a five-year lie about Obama’s birthplace.

The Tax Policy Center also found that Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal tax revenue by at least $6.1 trillion: half of that money would go directly to the richest 1 percent; combined with more defense spending, it would explode government debt.

Republi-Cons claim that Reagan’s tax cuts prove that trickle down works, but they fail to mention his eleven subsequent tax increases, and more important, his Pentagon buildup — a form of military Keynesianism that tripled the national debt; Reagan’s economy was built on both tax cuts and deficit spending. It produced fewer jobs than the economy did under Bill Clinton, who raised taxes and produced a surplus.

Even Obama created more jobs than Reagan. He also inherited a $1.4 trillion dollar annual deficit from George W. Bush’s failed economic policies. Obama eventually cut that by two-thirds, but in the interim, yearly deficits continued to pile up by the trillions, which Republicans blame on Obama instead of on the real causes — Bush’s supply-side scam and unfunded war.

Further evidence of the plutocrats’ real intentions is evidenced by their obsession with eliminating the inheritance tax, which affects a few thousand of the richest people in the country, but which the GOP misrepresents as a “death tax” that applies to all.

A second major goal of the GOP is to weaken or eliminate government regulations, which are an impediment to the plutocrats’ looting and polluting. Trump’s chief advisor, Steve Bannon, has listed “deconstruction of the administrative state” as a goal of the administration.

What will be destroyed under Trump/Bannon will be regulations governing clean air, clean water, fair labor practices, fair housing standards, anti-discrimination measures, financial regulations, and food and drug safety laws.

The Republican Congress is also committed to weakening the Dodd-Frank rules on Wall Street intended to prevent another economic crisis, and to eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created to redress abuses/fraud by financial institutions. They want a market without rules.

The greediest plutocrat of all is Trump, who can’t seem to get enough money or enough publicity. Not surprisingly, he appointed a ratpack of other predatory billionaires to his cabinet, such as Steven Mnuchin, whose claim to fame is that his firm foreclosed on 25,000 mortgages during the financial crisis.

The biggest obstacle to Trump’s destructive policies is an independent press which regularly exposes his lies and conflicts of interest.

The Washington Post Fact Checker found that Trump made 194 false or misleading claims in his first 48 days in office. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has termed Trump “the most dishonest man ever to hold high office in America.”

So it is no surprise that Trump would try to discredit the mainstream press. What is astonishing is that he resorted to “enemy of the people,” a standby of demagogues and dictators, one which Stalin used to justify liquidating his opponents.

Trump has even compared the U.S. intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany and accused Obama of wiretapping him and organizing protests.

There is a likely explanation for Trump’s deranged outbursts: more than 26,000 psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals have signed a petition at Psychology Today declaring Trump has serious mental illness (narcissistic megalomania) — with symptoms obvious to everybody.

So we are faced with four years under a half-crazy con artist with the nuclear codes, and a destructive political party controlled by plutocrats.

What could go wrong?

Also published in the Mankato Free Press, March 18, 2017

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