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Politicians Aren’t Even Pretending to Represent the People
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Politicians Aren’t Even Pretending to Represent the People

Bought-and-Paid-For Republican Lawmakers Are Working Only for the Rich and Powerful

The “favor the rich” wing of current politics has gotten more overt, more blatant, more willing to drop the pretense that they are anything else.

These recent events tell the story:

  • A new Kentucky tax law is a prime example. It cuts taxes for the top and raises them on everyone else. That’s not dramatic hyperbole or exaggeration. It’s literally the case. It does that by flattening tax rates from between 2% and 6% to a single rate of 5%. By definition, that means the top pays less and lower incomes pay more. Plus the law raises more sales taxes, which are regressive. The law was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature, vetoed by the governor though he is Republican too and then the veto was overridden by the legislature. You can’t get much more blatant than this tax change.

  • The federal tax cut in February wasn’t much better. It cuts taxes for the top and for corporations and gives very small cuts for lower incomes. But then those change over time and actually become an increase on low incomes. This, by the way, occurs at the same time the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook says the wealth of the lower half of Americans has fallen slightly in the last few years. The rich aren’t just getting a lot richer, the lower half is literally getting poorer.

There are lots of smaller indicators scattered across government:

  • There’s Mick Mulvaney who took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and simply put it into neutral, not taking any enforcement actions since he’s been in charge. Or Kentucky crafting a law that leaves coal miners who are suing for damage from black lung disease with just one approved specialist to certify that they are suffering from the disease. Well, actually there are four others but they regularly do work for the mining companies.
  • There’s Scott Pruitt at the EPA who just announced that when regulations are measured for their cost/benefit balance the agency will simply not count lives expected to be lost to pollution. To Pruitt, these lives are literally worthless. There’s Ajit Pai at the FCC. When 12 senators sent a letter to the commission pointing out that the FCC has a job to do regarding Sinclair Broadcasting distorting the news by requiring their anchors to read slanted statements, Pai effectively just shrugged.

  • In Pennsylvania, the president pro tempore of the Senate, Joseph Scarnati, sent a formal letter to the state Supreme Court declaring he would have the Senate defy their order. The court had found the state’s congressional districts to be gerrymandered. Among other things, the court ordered the Senate to provide certain related documents. Scarnati responded that the Senate, “will not be turning over any data identified in the Court’s Orders.”

  • Finally, there’s Joseph Otting, comptroller of the currency, who told a group of bankers that the agency would be “very banker-supportive” and was working to make life easy for their “customers.” And who are their customers? The public and the nation generally who should be protected from recklessness by banks? No. He wants to be nice, “to our customers, which are the banks.”

The attitude seems to be that there’s no need to pretend to be anything other than what they are. Of, by and for the powerful interests they represent.

April 19, 2018