Tag Archives: republicans

Robert Reich — AMERICA NOW HAS 6 POLITICAL PARTIES The old…

The old Democratic and Republican parties are exploding. When you take a closer look, America actually has six political parties right now:

1. Establishment Republicans, consisting of large corporations, Wall Street, and major GOP funders. Their goal is to have their taxes cut.

2. Anti-establishment Republicans, consisting of Tea Partiers, the Freedom Caucus, and libertarians. Their goal is to have a smaller government with shrinking deficits and debts. Many of them also want to get Big Money out of politics and end crony capitalism.

More from Robert Reich

Posted by Libergirl

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Why the Republicans’ Tax Proposal Will Disproportionately Harm Black Families

Following the Democrats’ unexpectedly thorough victory this past election day, where the party won almost every competitive race, the congressional Republicans found themselves in an unexpected position, of losing part of their base. Desperate to pass their first major piece of legislation before the 2018 midterm election season begins, the congressional Republicans are eyeing an aggressive tax reform package as their key to validating the Right’s faith in them.

The competing versions of the tax proposal — the Senate version was released on November 9, with the House version being released a week prior — will both reduce taxes on average for all income groups, per analysis by the Tax Policy Center. However, with the top two quintiles by income receiving 78.7 percent of all total federal tax and those in the bottom two quintiles seeing less than a 1 percent change in their average after-tax income, the House proposal is specifically designed to appease wealthy and corporate campaign donors. The House tax proposal will yield $6.2 trillion in tax savings over the next decade, with 47 percent of this going to the top 1 percent.

In contrast, the tax proposal proposed by 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton would have raised taxes $1.4 trillion over a decade, with the wealthiest 1 percent — those with cash income in excess of $699,000 — paying for 92 percent of this. The lowest two quintiles would have received the greatest benefits under this plan.

African-Americans — particularly, poor African-Americans — are likely to be hit hard by these tax proposals. While the impact will be less than that of the proposals Donald Trump originally called for in 2016, the effect of these possible changes stand to exacerbate poverty rates, increase the wealth disparity gap, and stop Black post-Great Recession recovery dead in its tracks.

The House and Senate plans both call for deep cuts to the corporate tax rate. Republicans have for years made the claim that the corporate tax rate is too high and that it is strangling the nation’s competitiveness in world markets. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development argues that it is true that the United States does have the highest corporate tax rate, but only if you are looking at the statutory rate.

As the United States uses a deductions-based tax system, the statutory rate represents only the most one can pay, without fine or other penalties. In reality, the average effective corporate tax rate, per OECD, is only 18 percent — below Argentina, Japan, and the United Kingdom and two percent lower than the twenty percent rate proposed by the Republican proposals.

A key philosophy in Republican tax bill writing is “broaden the base, lower the rate,” which can be translated into a push to lower the statutory rates while limiting or closing loopholes that affect the effective rate. In other words, the strategy behind the Republican proposals is to have those that would pay the 20 percent statutory rate actually pay 20 percent corporate income tax — which would be a tax increase for most businesses.

This push to bring the statutory and effective rates in line extend to income taxes, as well. The Republican proposals opt to eliminate most deductions, including elimination of the state and local tax deduction, a reduction of the mortgage interest deduction (the House limits it to the first $500,000 of a property’s cost, the Senate to the first $1 million), and an elimination of the dependent deduction (this will be met with an increase in the child tax credit and the standard deduction). Also to be affected is the estate tax (the House wants it fully eliminated, the Senate wants to double the threshold for the tax). Since the bill was introduced, the House bill has undone the elimination of the adoption tax credit.

Beyond the obvious that such proposals would punish those that itemize their taxes in states with heavy state tax burdens — which are typically blue states, like New York and California — and taxpayers that have more than two children (African-American families are more likely to have four or more children than white families), these deduction eliminations may have a deeper implication

Take renting, for example. African-Americans outpace all other races in regards to households that pay rent for their primary residence. As of the third quarter 2017, 42 percent of African-American households owned their home, compared to 72.5 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 46 percent of Hispanics, and 57.1 percent of all other races, per the U.S. Census Bureau. Aggressive home lending policies and a post-Great Recession recovery have had minimal effect on increasing the home purchasing rates for Black homeowners over the last ten years.

This is troubling when taken with the news that the average African-American household in 2016 paid 44 percent of their take-home income in rent, a four-point increase from five years earlier. A study by Zillow showed the average income for Black households over the same period of time only increased by 2.9 percent, compared to a 5.4 percent rise in white communities. In white communities, the average cost of rent is about 31 percent.

This is causing an affordability crisis. As more African-American families must pay more for housing, they can save less to actually buy their own homes. This ensures that more Black households stay renters longer. “African-American and Hispanic renters find themselves in a catch-22 situation — while owning a home is a great way to build wealth, you need to save up some cash to be able to buy. If you’re spending close to half of your income on rent, saving up that down payment is going to be incredibly difficult,” Dr. Svenja Guedell, chief economist for Zillow, said in a press release.

Per Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, more than 11 million American households spend more than 50 percent of their take-home income in rent.

A little-reported element of the Republicans’ tax proposal threatens to exacerbate this problem. The Senate bill seeks to protect the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit that the House bill seeks to limit. The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is singularly the nation’s chief engine for affordable housing investment. The credit gives a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for the development of affordable housing for Americans with low incomes. Roughly 90 percent of all affordable housing construction in the United States is funded in part through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

The push for a 20 percent corporate statutory tax rate will effectively dry out the low-income housing funding industry. The House bill eliminates the tax exemption on private-activity bonds — the primary way municipalities and states pay for LIHTC projects. These are tax-exempt bonds that can be offered by a governmental agency to a private developer for qualifying projects. The elimination of these could mean the elimination of 60,000 affordable houses built or rehabilitated per year.

Even though the Senate bill protects PABs, the 20 percent corporate tax rate still hinders the effectiveness of LIHTC funding. “It would be a catastrophe,” Bob Moss, principal and national director of governmental affairs at CohnReznick, told Affordable Housing Finance. “In New York alone, housing advocates project that [the state] will lose $4.5 billion in affordable housing investment, 17,000 affordable homes, and 28,000 jobs annually. The national impact of losing 50 percent of production is devastating, at a time when an estimated 25 million Americans are paying more than 50 percent of their monthly income in rent.”

This push to curry political favor before the midterms bears the potential of causing economic calamity for millions. Peter Schaeffing is the president of High Impact Financial Analysis, a top-five national community development finance consultancy. In conversation with Atlanta Black Star, Schaeffing explained that the tax proposals not only have the potential to stop new low-income housing development but slow the purchasing of existing properties for conversion to low-income housing rentals due to the mortgage interest deduction limitation.

“The tax reform bill would reduce the supply of affordable housing, and slow other development in low-income, distressed neighborhoods,” Schaeffing said. “People of color will be disproportionately affected by the elimination of the historic tax credit, the new markets tax credit, and private activity bonds (which facilitate 60 percent of affordable housing developments using the low-income housing tax credit). These changes would have a devastating impact on communities’ ability to meet the increasing demand for affordable housing, further increasing the rent burden on minority families.”

In real terms, the Republicans’ tax plans have the potential to raise the rent burden on low-income African-American households. This can create a cash crunch that would limit the ability to buy food and other essentials and to have any discretionary spending. This could crater the economy of the Black community, creating a sectored economic depression. Such a scenario would not only make the wealth disparity gap worse but would endanger the health and well-being of millions.

“Americans are especially likely to face a tax increase if they have a smaller family, have mostly wage income instead of investment income, or claim some of the many deductions that the bill repeals, like those for state and local taxes and employee business expenses,” Lily Batchelder, a professor and tax specialist at New York University Law School who worked on economic policy in the Obama administration, told the New York Times. “They are increasing taxes on many in the middle class while concentrating their tax cuts on the wealthy.”

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitting that the Senate’s tax proposal will raise taxes for some in the middle class, and with most conceding that the Senate bill is the more compassionate of the two towards non-wealthy taxpayers, one must ask who exactly do the Congressional Republicans serve?

“If the tax proposals go through, it will lead to stagnation in low-income housing construction, among other things,” Schaeffing added. “As the demand forlow-incomee housing has not been met, this can lead to increases in poverty and homelessness, with the most at-risk populations being the first to lose.”

By Frederick Reese/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

We’re Blindly Picking Between Political Poisons Our political system is dominated by two major political parties with serious identity crises.

“The state of the Republicans is particularly parlous,” The Economist noted last year, before our country’s political fissures further deepened and widened, “But the contradictions among Democrats, though less obvious, also run deep.”

How much deeper and wider those fissures now run was demonstrated last week with Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) announcement that he won’t seek reelection. It was the latest evidence that American electoral politics are fracturing in ways that offer less and less to people who reject tribal contests and think live-and-let-live is an attractive philosophy. Actually, it’s a big problem for anybody who just wants clear choices.

With his poll numbers tanking after his outspoken attacks on President Trump’s protectionism, saber-rattling, and xenophobia, the junior senator from Arizona publically conceded that “a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican party.” It was time for him to try his luck at something else.

In another country, that might mean switching to another political label. But America’s political system has never been good at fulfilling one of the premises of a democracy: that when you pick your poison at the ballot box, you at least have some idea of the flavor of the toxin you’ve chosen. Our two institutionalized political parties long muddied those choices, with a mushy center-right party facing a mushy center-left party, whatever the characteristics of individual candidates. These days, the Republican and Democratic Parties remain dominant—by design–even as Americans become more starkly divergent in their political positions. But while Flake and his friends obviously no longer feel welcome in the GOP, it’s less apparent than ever what that party does embrace—and it’s only slightly clearer what the opposition Democrats represent.

“Nearly a year after Donald Trump was elected president, the Republican coalition is deeply divided on such major issues as immigration, America’s role in the world and the fundamental fairness of the U.S. economic system,” the Pew Research Center announced the same day that Jeff Flake said he’d had enough. How deeply divided? Of the four parts into which Pew divides the Republican coalition, one (Market Skeptic Republicans) doesn’t really believe in the free market and supports higher taxes—although they’re not as dubious about free trade as Country First Conservatives. Core Conservatives and New Era Enterprisers, on the other hand, favor the market, but the second group is also better-disposed than the other factions toward larger, interventionist government.

The groups vary widely on social issues, with Country First Conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage, while the other three factions are generally comfortable with the practice. Market Skeptics are the only majority pro-choice faction when it comes to abortion, although New Era Enterprisers aren’t too far behind. New Era type are the only one of the Republican factions within which a majority believe that immigrants “strengthen U.S. with hard work and talents”—zero percent of Country Firsters support that position.

The sheer incoherence of the Republican coalition raises questions about whether the GOP is a political party in any meaningful sense of the term. What does it stand for? It’s clear that Republicans do in fact have strong beliefs, but they have enough of them that are incompatible to make for two or three competing organizations. Given that candidates generally work with their colleagues to achieve their party’s general agenda, to what particular poison is any given GOP voter committing when filling in a ballot?

But let’s not let the dog’s breakfast that is the Republican Party conceal the messiness across the aisle. Democrats are for the moment in better shape than their official rivals, but they also have to reconcile Opportunity Democrats who overwhelmingly believe people can get ahead through hard work with Solid Liberals who overwhelmingly believe nothing of the sort. If Solid Liberals have little faith in the work ethic, they do believe that government does a better job than it is given credit for—a conceit that Disaffected Dems find laughable. That’s probably why Disaffected Dems along with the Devout and Diverse don’t share the positive opinion of government economic regulation held by the other factions in the Democratic coalition.

The Devout and Diverse are the most religious of Democratic groups and the most split of the coalition on the abortion issue, with just a slight plurality favoring pro-choice views. They’re equally divided about the contributions of immigrants. Where the Democratic factions generally agree—the issues arguably holding them together—are those involving race and the welfare state. Overwhelmingly, they say the government should do more. (Interestingly, the traditional backbones of both parties—Core Conservatives and Solid Liberals—are the two groups least likely to agree to sacrifice privacy for promises of safety from terrorism.)

So a voter picking a Democratic candidate is most likely marking the ballot for more government services. But otherwise, that voter buys a mystery package just as if they’d marked a Republican ballot—especially when it comes to the sort of economy that’s going to pay for the goodies.

Pew’s categories are, frankly, confusing—the organization has taken some pains to explain (not convincingly, to me) why it doesn’t use more commonly accepted terms. In particular, Pew has repeatedly written about why its categories don’t use “libertarian” even though it has found reasonably consistent supporters of freedom to make up between 5 percent and 10 percent of the population. The organization’s current set of questions for determining typologies are intensely frustrating in their phrasing and underlying premises (I gave up halfway through). That said, there’s plenty of evidence here that to the extent the major political parties offer a choice at the ballot box, it’s among surprise gifts with the contents to be revealed only after the votes are counted.

That still leaves us choice between political tribes, I guess. But to make any sort of an informed selection beyond tribal affiliation—to pick our poison from between our traditional major party selections, we can’t even begin to decide whether one or another of those partisan toxins suits us until we have a better handle on what they are.

By J.D. Tuccille/Reason

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Silence of the Democrats

A recent speech by George W. Bush made headlines for its pointed criticisms of Donald Trump, but there was something else he said that I found far more compelling. As soon as he finished his thank-yous and his little jokes, Mr. Bush dived immediately into the heart of the crisis confronting Western democracies today:

“The great democracies face new and serious threats, yet seem to be losing confidence in their own calling and competence. Economic, political and national security challenges proliferate, and they are made worse by the tendency to turn inward. The health of the democratic spirit itself is at issue. And the renewal of that spirit is the urgent task at hand.”

I was hardly a fan of how Mr. Bush sought to renew that spirit as president. But I was impressed with these words. They show an understanding of the grave stakes that challenge the United States and other Western democracies.

The problem is not simply one of Mr. Trump’s coarseness and divisiveness and extremism. The problem, from Brexit to Mr. Trump’s election to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, is how the liberal order responds to a crisis that threatens its erasure in favor of a reactionary, authoritarian alternative.

Those are pretty high stakes. I’m glad Mr. Bush understands them, but given that he’s retired, not much hinges on whether he grasps them.

Much hangs, however, on whether the Democrats understand them. And if they expect to recapture the White House in 2020 and take the lead in restoring and reforming the postwar democratic framework, they — or, at least, one of them — absolutely must.

I haven’t seen much evidence that the party and its crop of potential presidential candidates are up for it. I was disappointed, for example, that after the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., while Democrats duly denounced President Trump’s reaction and the rally’s white supremacism and the right’s defense of Confederate statuary (tough calls!), no one who purports to want to lead the party — and country — out of this darkness stepped forward to offer broader reflections on that grim episode.

Bah! It’s too early for that, some will say. The Democrats are an opposition party right now, and their main job is to oppose. And under the leadership of Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, they’re doing that quite well. But I don’t think Democratic reluctance here is just a matter of timing.

The Democrats are undergoing a historic transformation, from being the party that embraced neoliberalism in the early 1990s to one that is rejecting that centrist posture and moving left. There’s plenty about this to cheer — the neoliberal Democratic Party didn’t do nearly enough to try to arrest growing income inequality, among other shortcomings.

There will be necessary internecine fights, and they boil down to loyalty tests on particular positions demanded by the vanguard. Consider the debate within the party on Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” bill, which most (though not all) 2020 contenders rushed to attach themselves to. To fail to sign on to that legislation is to open oneself to criticism, even abuse, although it’s less a piece of legislation than a goal.

Forget about who’s right and wrong in these debates. Time will sort that out. My point is that they tend to consume a party experiencing a shift. The Democratic Party, because it is an amalgam of interest groups in a way the Republican Party is not, has always had a tendency to elevate the candidate who can check the most boxes. The current internal dynamics exacerbate that. It’s also worth remembering that no one besides party activists cares.

So when the party’s leaders tussle over this or that policy, they also need to take a step back, to see the direction the country — the West itself — is heading, and take a stand on it. This isn’t just a matter of high-minded idealism; it’s what separates great politicians from merely good ones.

History tells us that the transformative politicians, the ones who can change the country’s direction and will really matter in the history books, are the ones who can do both. I think there have been four of them in the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Why Roosevelt and Reagan should be obvious. I know some would dispute my choice of Mr. Clinton, but he rescued a party that had lost three presidential elections in a row and was being read last rites by some pundits in 1991 (the extent to which he changed the country’s fundamental direction is debatable). Mr. Obama made history and redrew the electoral map. All four were able to speak both to their base and beyond it by identifying the challenge of the moment and persuading majorities that they had some answers.

The future of the Western democratic project is the fundamental issue of our era. It’s under attack from Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon and many people in between (and to the extent that he backs Mr. Bannon’s purge of the Republican Party, from the president himself; think about that).

Democrats can’t duck this question and expect the broader electorate to see them as prepared to lead. To his credit, Mr. Sanders did talk a bit about all this in a foreign-policy speech in late September at the same Missouri college where Winston Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech, noting an “international order” that is “under great strain.”

The Democrats were the party that created this order after World War II. They must now be the party that fixes and saves it.

By Michael Tomasky/NYTimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist

America’s Political Divide Intensified During Trump’s First Year As President Republicans and Democrats have grown further apart in their political views during the first year of the administration, the Pew Research Center finds.

Disagreement among Republican and Democratic voters on a range of political issues has risen sharply in recent years, a political divide that intensified during the first year of President Trump’s administration, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

“The divisions between Republicans and Democrats on fundamental political values—on government, race, immigration, national security, environmental protection, and other areas—reached record levels during Barack Obama’s presidency,” Pew’s report states. “In Donald Trump’s first year as president, these gaps have grown even larger.”

Since the widening of the partisan opinion gap is a continuation of a trend, Trump’s presidency hasn’t ushered in a new era of intense political polarization so much as it marks a new chapter in an increasingly polarized political time. Public opinion remains more divided along partisan lines than along the lines of race, religion, age, gender, and educational background, Pew finds.

As the country’s partisan divide has increased in recent years, hostility between Republicans and Democrats has remained high. Perhaps surprisingly, Pew’s data shows a slight decline in the share of Democrats and Republicans who say they have a “very unfavorable” view of the opposing party relative to one year ago. Overall, though, the numbers don’t represent a major change, and aren’t enough on their own to say that partisan hostilities are lessening. The vast majority of Republicans and Democrats, at 81 percent for both parties, say they have an unfavorable view of the other side in the latest report.

America’s partisan divergence reaches beyond the realm of political debate in Washington. Pew data indicates that Republicans prefer to live in rural areas, while Democrats prefer urban living. Sixty-five percent of Republicans say they would rather live in communities where “houses are larger and farther apart” and “schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away.” In contrast, 61 percent of Democrats said they would prefer to live in a place where the homes are smaller and more densely packed into neighborhoods, and stores, schools, and restaurants are in walking distance.

“What it shows is that even things that are ostensibly not about politics are still subject to political divides,” Jocelyn Kiley, an associate director of research at Pew, said in an interview. “That reflects a lot about the state of the American political landscape right now.”

Those preferences line up with the urban-rural divide that showed up in the results of the 2016 presidential election. Fifty-nine percent of voters who lived in a city with a population greater than 50,000 people voted for Hillary Clinton, while 62 percent of voters who lived in a small city or rural area pulled the lever for Donald Trump, according to exit polls from the presidential election.

The fact that even living preferences have taken on a partisan dimension helps explain another aspect of America’s highly partisan political environment. It’s common for Democrats and Republicans to have social circles filled with people who share their own political beliefs. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats say that a lot of their close friends are also Democrats, while 57 percent of Republican voters surround themselves with Republican friends, Pew’s survey conducted in August 2017 shows. That inevitably diminishes the likelihood that people will have their partisan viewpoints challenged in any kind of meaningful way in their day-to-day lives.

The more that Americans’ social lives and identity become intertwined with partisan beliefs, the more pressure people will face to adopt partisan viewpoints rather than risk alienating close friends and their broader social network. That dynamic is likely one reason why Gallup found in 2015 that college-educated Republicans were more likely than less educated Republicans to say that the threat of global warming has been exaggerated, despite warnings from the scientific community that the harmful impacts of climate change are already underway.

Trump himself has a track record of climate denial, and it is possible that his own defiance of the scientific consensus will intensify skepticism among some Republican voters. Prior to taking office as president, Trump called global warming a “hoax.” After the administration announced it would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the White House sidestepped questions over whether the president continues to think climate change is a hoax.

Pew’s latest report suggests that kind of rhetoric may have had an impact on Republican voters who support the president. Among Republicans, voters who strongly approve of Trump were also the most likely to say that there is no solid evidence of global warming, while Republicans who disapprove of the president were the most likely to say there is solid evidence. Eighty-eight percent of Republicans who disapprove of the president said there is solid evidence for global warming, while 57 percent of Republicans who “very strongly” support Trump said there is not.

As long as Republicans and Democrats continue to cluster geographically across the country and surround themselves with like-minded partisans, it’s likely that the partisan divide will remain as entrenched as ever.

By Clare Foran/TheAtlantic

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The stark difference between Republicans and Democrats on health care couldn’t be clearer

Attendees hold signs while waiting for a health-care bill news conference to begin on Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 13. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

“When they go low, we go high,” Michelle Obama told the Democratic National Convention in her electrifying address last year. That phrase summarizes the stark contrast between Republicans and Democrats on the fundamental question of affordable health care. Republicans want you to have all the health care you choose to afford, even if you can’t afford much. Democrats understand that affordable health care should be a fundamental right.

Having failed to pass four different bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, Republicans are back at it again. Backers of the new bill — labeled Graham-Cassidy after Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — claim to have 48 or 49 votes for this effort. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has asked the Congressional Budget Office to make the bill’s assessment a priority. The 141-page bill was only made public on Sept. 13, but Republicans are pushing for a vote by the end of the month.

The millions of Americans who were appalled by previous Republican efforts to gut affordable health care should be alarmed once more. Graham-Cassidy employs classic conservative packaging to dress up what it is peddling. It turns health care over to the states, allowing Republicans to posture about getting “closer to the people.” Its cuts are phased in, delaying the effects until 2020 and the most destructive effects until 2027 and thereafter.

But it is the same old poison in a new bottle. The block grants to the states terminate the health-care law’s subsidies for moderate- and low-income families and make deep cuts in Medicaid — not only reversing the Medicaid expansion but also cutting into the core program itself. Because the block grants don’t keep up with projected inflation, they grow more inadequate over time. The bill leaves states free to let insurance companies charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions or to not require core benefits required under current law such as maternity care or prescription drugs. The cuts in the core Medicaid program will impact millions of seniors, people with disabilities and mothers with children. The CBO scoring is not in, but as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities summarizes, while the CBO estimated that the last repeal-without-replace approach would deprive 32 million people of health insurance, Graham-Cassidy would likely strip an even higher number of coverage in its second decade.

Graham-Cassidy tells us much about the Republican majority. GOP legislators don’t mind that millions go without health insurance. They assume low-wage and moderate-income families should have less health-care protection than the wealthy. You get what you can afford, and you won’t be able to afford much because you’ll have to pay the rip-offs of the private insurance companies and the obscene drug prices of the drug lobby.

While Republicans were going low once more, Democrats were going high. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his Medicare-for-all bill last week. For Sanders, health care is a right, not a privilege. “We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need,” he wrote. “This is not what the United States should be about.”

His bill would provide universal coverage for all, expanding Medicare benefits to include eye and tooth care. It would eliminate the private-insurance-company and drug-company rip-offs. Businesses would be free of the burden of providing health care; workers would not have to fight against constant increases in co-pays and cutbacks in coverage. Sanders would phase his coverage in over four years. To pay for it, he proposes a range of progressive taxes. The wealthy would end up paying more for health care; the vast majority about the same or less — with greater security and more benefits. Sanders is also savvy enough to realize this won’t happen overnight. With Medicare for all as the clear and aspirational goal, he supports steps that would move toward that end.

Four years ago, Sanders introduced a similar bill without a co-sponsor. This week, 16 Democratic senators joined him, including presidential hopefuls such as Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and others. A majority of the House Democratic Caucus has endorsed a similar bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

Democratic congressional leaders are wary. Moderate and conservative Democrats are uneasy in the face of Republican salvos about the “government takeover of health care.” Polling shows that Medicare for all has significant popularity, but that can wilt under attack. But even Hillary Clinton, who said Medicare for all would “never” happen during the campaign, now agrees, as she wrote in her recent book “What Happened,”that Sanders was right about the popularity of universal programs: “Democrats should redouble our efforts to develop bold, creative ideas that offer broad-based benefits for the whole country.”

The Sanders bill is closer to the beginning than the end of the push for making health care a universal right in this country. With Democrats a minority in both chambers, it isn’t near passage. Unlike the Republican bills, it will go through public hearings and extensive amendments. Passage will require fighting off the powerful insurance and drug lobbies.

More and more Americans understand that health care should be a basic right, not a commodity that you purchase if you can afford it. We understand that the grip of private insurance companies and oligopolistic drug companies is a far remove from a competitive marketplace. And now the contrast is as clear as day. Republicans want to strip millions of health insurance, including seniors in the last days of life, the disabled and women with infants. Democrats want everyone to have the right to affordable health care. There is a choice.

By Katrina vanden Heuvel/WashingtonPost

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Republicans Condemn ‘Hate and Bigotry’ But Don’t Mention President Trump

Image: Time Magazine

One after another, the nation’s most powerful Republicans responded to President Donald Trump’s extraordinary remarks about white supremacists. Yet few mentioned the president.

The Senate’s top Republican, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemned “hate and bigotry.” House Speaker Paul Ryan charged that, “White supremacy is repulsive.” Neither criticized the president’s insistence that there were “very fine people on both sides” of a violent weekend clash between white supremacists and counterdemonstrators.

The nuanced statements reflect the party establishment’s delicate dance. Few top Republican officeholders defended the president in the midst of an escalating political crisis. Yet they are unwilling to declare all-out war against Trump and risk alienating his loyalists. And as the 2018 elections begin to take shape, the debate over Trump’s words appears to be taking hold in GOP primaries.

Trump on Thursday attacked some of the Republicans who have directly criticized him.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who doesn’t face re-election until 2020, said the president “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and the people demonstrating against them.

“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham added, referring to the former Ku Klux Klan leader.

Trump shot back on Thursday on Twitter: “Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists and people like Ms. Heyer.” He was referring to Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when she was struck by a car driven into the crowd.

“Such a disgusting lie,” Trump said of Graham’s remarks. “He just can’t forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember.”

More from Time Magazine

Posted by Libergirl