The billionaire fascists are coming for your Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They usually’re brazenly bragging about it.
Proper after Trump’s election, again in December of 2016, Newt Gingrich brazenly bragged on the Heritage Basis that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have been going to “break out of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt model.” That “model,” in fact, created what we in the present day discuss with as “the middle class.”
This week Mitch McConnell confirmed Gingrich’s prophecy, utilizing the large deficits created by Trump’s billionaire tax cuts as an excuse to destroy “entitlement” packages.
“I think it would be safe to say that the single biggest disappointment of my time in Congress has been our failure to address the entitlement issue, and it’s a shame, because now the Democrats are promising Medicare for All,” McConnell informed Bloomberg. He added, “[W]e’re talking about Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”
These packages, together with free public schooling and progressive taxation, are the core drivers and maintainers of the American center class. Historical past exhibits that and not using a robust center class, democracy itself collapses, and fascism is the subsequent step down an extended and horrible street.
Ever because the election of Ronald Reagan, Republicans have been working additional time to kneecap establishments that help the American center class. And, as any working-class household can inform you, the GOP has had some substantial successes, notably in shifting each revenue and political energy away from voters and towards billionaires and transnational firms.
In July of 2015, discussing SCOTUS’s 5 to four conservative vote on Residents United, President Jimmy Carter advised me: “It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery . . .” He added: “[W]e’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors . . .”
As Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Web page demonstrated in an exhaustive evaluation of the distinction between what most People need their politicians to do legislatively, versus what American politicians actuallydo, it’s fairly clear that President Carter was proper.
They discovered that whereas the legislative priorities of the highest 10 % of People are persistently made into regulation, issues the underside 90 % need are ignored. In different phrases, at the moment in America, democracy solely “works” for the highest 10 % of People.
For hundreds of years, economists and financial observers from Aristotle to Adam Smith to Thomas Piketty have advised us that a “middle class” is nota regular byproduct of uncooked, unregulated capitalism—what right-wing ideologues name “the free market.”
As an alternative, unregulated markets — notably markets not regulated by vital taxation on predatory incomes—invariably result in the other of a wholesome center class: they produce extremes of inequality, which are as harmful to democracy as most cancers is to a dwelling being.
With so-called “unregulated free markets,” the wealthy turn out to be super-rich, whereas grinding poverty spreads amongst working individuals like a heroin epidemic. This additional polarizes the nation, each economically and politically, which, perversely, additional cements the facility of the oligarchs.
Whereas there’s a transparent ethical dimension to this—identified by Adam Smith in his basic “Theory of Moral Sentiments” —there’s additionally an important political dimension.
Smith famous, in 1759, that, “All constitutions of government are valued only in proportion as they tend to promote the happiness of those who live under them. This is their sole use and end.”
Smith added a cautionary word, nevertheless: “[The] disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition… is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”
Jefferson was conscious about this: the Declaration of Independence was the primary founding doc of any nation within the historical past of the world that explicitly declared “happiness” as a “right” that ought to be protected and promoted by authorities towards predations by the very rich.
That was under no circumstances, nevertheless, a consideration for the architects of supply-side Reaganomics, though they appropriated JFK’s “rising tide lifts all boats” metaphor to promote their hustle to (boatless) working individuals.
Much more troubling (and well-known to each Smith and nearly all of our nation’s founders), nevertheless, was Aristotle’s remark that when a nation pursues financial/political actions that destroy its center class, it’ll inevitably devolve both into mob rule or oligarchy. As he famous in “Politics”:
“Now in all states there are three parts: one class could be very wealthy, one other very poor, and a 3rd in a imply. . . . However a [government] should be composed, so far as attainable, of equals and similars; and these are usually the center courses. . . .
“Thus it is manifest that the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class, and that those states are likely to be well-administered in which the middle class is large, and stronger if possible than both the other classes, or at any rate than either singly; for the addition of the middle class turns the scale, and prevents either of the extremes from being dominant.”
That is how America was for the Boomer era till about 20 years in the past: a 30-year-old within the 1970s had a 90 % probability of getting or attaining a better lifestyle than his or her mother and father. However, because the 1980s introduction of Reaganomics, there’s been greater than a 70percentdrop in “social mobility” — the power to maneuver from one financial station of life into a greater one.
So, if our democratic republic is to return to democracy and what’s left of our center class is to outlive (and even develop), how can we do this?
Historical past exhibits that the 2 main regulators inside a capitalist system that present for the emergence of a center class are progressive taxation and a wholesome social security internet.
As Jefferson famous in a 1785 letter to Madison, “Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”
Equally, Thomas Paine, proposing in “Agrarian Justice” (1797) what we at present name Social Security, stated that a democracy can solely survive when its individuals “[S]ee before them the certainty of escaping the miseries that under other governments accompany old age . . .” Such a robust social security internet, Paine argued, “will have an advocate and an ally in the heart of all nations.”
Tragically, Republicans are at the moment planning to destroy each our nation’s progressive taxation system andour social security internet, in obsequious service to their billionaire paymasters.
Flipping Jefferson and FDR on their heads, Republicans final yr handed a multi-trillion-dollar tax break for the wealthy, with a few-hundred-dollars bone tossed in for working individuals.
In the meantime, Republicans are already exhausting at work dismantling the final remnants of the New Deal and the Nice Society.
As Ian Milhiser notes, “Republicans in the House hope to cut Social Security benefits by 20–50 percent. Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to voucherize Medicare would drive up out-of-pocket costs for seniors by about 40 percent. Then he’d cut Medicaid by between a third and a half.”
This isn’t, in fact, the primary time Republicans have tried this. They’ve been making an attempt to dismantle Social Security since 1936, and Reagan himself even recorded a 33 RPM LP calling LBJ’s Nice Society proposal for a program referred to as “Medicare” as “socialism,” saying that if it handed then at some point we’d all look again “remembering the time when men were free.”
And it’s all the time been in service to the identical agenda—handing political and financial energy over the morbidly wealthy and the firms that received them there.
In earlier occasions, we had a phrase for this takeover of democracy by the morbidly wealthy and the firms: fascism.
As I’ve written earlier than, in early 1944, the New York Occasions requested Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace famous, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”
Vice President Wallace’s reply to these questions was revealed within the New York Occasions on April 9, 1944, on the peak of the struggle towards the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.
“The really dangerous American fascists,” Wallace wrote, “are not those that are attached instantly or not directly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on these. … The American fascist would like to not use violence. His technique is to poison the channels of public info.
“With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public,” Wallace continued, “but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”
On this, Wallace was utilizing the basic definition of the phrase “fascist” — the definition Mussolini had in thoughts when he claimed to have invented the phrase.
Because the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary famous, fascism is: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”
Vice President Wallace bluntly specified by his 1944 Occasions article his concern about the identical occurring right here in America: “American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, [and] the deliberate poisoners of public information . . .”
He might have been describing Fox, right-wing hate radio, and the billionaires who hold as we speak’s GOP in energy.
Noting that, “Fascism is a worldwide disease,” Wallace additional recommended that fascism’s “greatest threat to the United States will come after the war” and will manifest “within the United States itself.”
Watching the Republicans of his day work from the identical anti-worker playbook they are right now, Wallace added:
“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.”
As Wallace wrote, some in massive enterprise “are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage.”
In a remark prescient of Donald Trump’s trashing of “Mexican rapists” and “gangs” in Chicago, Wallace wrote:
“The signs of fascist considering are coloured by surroundings and tailored to quick circumstances. However all the time and in all places they are often recognized by their attraction to prejudice and by the will to play upon the fears and vanities of various teams as a way to achieve energy.
“It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice.”
And that prejudice can be exploited to win elections in order that the fascists might rob the individuals and improve their very own energy and rich.
However even at this, Wallace famous, American fascists would nonetheless should mislead the individuals with a purpose to achieve energy. And if the day ever got here when a billionaire opened a “news” community simply to advertise fascist considering, they might promote their lies with ease.
“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact,” Wallace wrote. “Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”
In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism the vice chairman of america noticed rising in America, he added:
“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that using the power of the State and the power of the market simultaneously they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”
Within the election of 2018, we stand at a crossroad that Roosevelt and Wallace solely imagined.
Billionaire-funded fascism is rising in America, calling itself “conservativism” and “Trumpism.”
The Republican candidates’ and their billionaire donors’ conduct at this time eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt stated, “In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.” President Roosevelt and Vice President Wallace’s warnings are extra pressing now than ever earlier than.
If Trump and the billionaire fascists who bankroll the Republicans achieve destroying the final helps for America’s enfeebled center class, together with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and achieve blocking any risk of Medicare for All or free school and commerce faculty — not solely will the underside 90 % of People endure, however what little democracy we have now left on this republic will evaporate. Historical past, from Greek and Roman occasions by means of Europe within the first half of the 20th century, suggests it is going to in all probability get replaced by a violent, kleptocratic oligarchy that not shrinks from phrases like “fascist.”
The warning indicators are already right here, and, within the face of nationwide election fraud based mostly in Republican voter purges, we should end up large numbers if we’re to protect the American Dream and lastly make it obtainable to all.