You hear the Right’s new battle cry all the time now – even from the President… “America will ever be a socialist country!”
Yes, evil socialism has raised its ugly head once again. And the Democrats are trying to force it upon us. Except we’ve had socialism for generations. And it’s mostly the rich who now benefit.
Don’t believe me? How about we deal in a few facts… instead of the fear-mongering the Right likes to use?
“Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!”
The rise of the Tea Party brought us plenty of forehead-slapping moments. But none quite as idiotic as these limited-government fans defending their most precious rights.
At multiple rallies, Tea Partiers displayed crude handmade signs reading “Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!” – or something similar.
Except Medicare is a government program. And a socialist one. If you’re over 65, chances are you love socialism. Because Social Security is alsoa socialist program. Medicaid? Socialist. Most veterans’ benefits programs? Yup… socialist.
My dad had a government-issued vets’ life insurance policy. It was only $10,000… but it was cheap. And the annual dividend – for every year I oversaw his finances – was larger than the premium.
As a WW II vet, he also qualified for government-sponsored healthcare. After the war, he and his young family lived in housing just for vets – and built with government subsidies. Uncle Sam underwrote education benefits for vets. If he’d wanted a civil service job, the government would have given my dad extra points on the civil service exams.
I’m not opposed to any of these benefits. Our vets deserve plenty of consideration. But veterans’ benefits are a good example of socialism at work.
But there’s a darker side to socialism. The side Republicans don’t want you to see.
The Handouts the Right Doesn’t Want Cut
To pay for Trump’s tax breaks for corporations and the rich, the GOP wants you to accept cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But they’re not farm subsidiestalking about cuts to corporate welfare. And corporate welfare is huge.
Take the fossil fuel industry. Vox News reports that direct federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies come to $14.7 billion dollars every year. State subsidies add another $5.8 billion to the total.
And those are just the direct subsidies. The International Monetary Fund estimates indirect subsidies to fossil fuel producers are many times higher.
That’s billions in corporate welfare the Right not only accepts… but jealously protects. Even as they call for cuts to retirees’ health coverage.
Here’s another interesting fact: 17% of fossil fuel subsidies are for “remediation.” That is, Uncle Sam paid up the bill for cleaning up the environmental mess fossil fuel companies left behind.
Another great socialist program benefitting the rich? Farm subsidies.
Starting in the 1930s, Washington used subsidies to keep struggling farmers afloat through such disasters as the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Since then, much of the money poured into these programs has benefitted the rich.
Forbes Magazinereported on data showing just how far the abuse has gone.
- A quarter of farm subsidies are now paid to farms earning over $250,000 a year.
- “Farms” in locations such as New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia receive millions in subsidies every year. From 2015 through 2017, $140,000 went to zip code 90210. Yes… that’s Beverly Hills!
- 6,618 agricultural enterprises have taken in at least $1 million in federal subsidies every year since 2018.
- The owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves received $116,502 in farm subsidies in 2017. He’s #350 on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans.
- In 2017, Uncle Sam paid farmers $1.8 billion to notfarm their land.
Here’s the kicker: In 2017, farm subsidies went to a dozen members of Congress. Their haul? $637,059. And that’s on top of their Congressional salary.
All of this is socialism. It’s the government pooling tax money to pay out to those “in need.” Except, with corporate welfare, there’s often no need. Just greed.
Keep in mind, these are just some of the payouts in only two categories of corporate welfare. Payouts members of Congress seem unwilling to talk about – let alone cut.
And then there’s the Trump tax “reform.”
Handouts for the Rich… Benefit Cuts for the Poor
If you’re under 60, you probably don’t remember Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was a war hero. The Supreme Allied Commander in Western Europe during World War II. A career military man. Wildly popular at home. And the 34thpresident of the U.S.
Eisenhower – a Republican – served two terms.
He also warned Americans against “the Military-Industrial Complex” and served when the highest marginal tax rate was 90%. Yes… 90%. And he made no moves to lower it.
Eisenhower also saw the minimum wage increased… the creation of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW)… and an expansion of Social Security. Eisenhower wasn’t perfect, but he certainly saw the benefits of socialism.
That’s a far cry from today’s Republican Party. Trump’s tax cuts benefitted mainly the rich and big corporations. Middle class voters saw cuts to withholding… but often discovered their tax bills hadn’t gone down at all. In fact, many found their tax liability was higher.
Meanwhile, corporations poured most of their new-found riches into boosting share value by buying back stock. This made shareholders richer. But the promised “trickle down” pay increases for workers were few and far between.
The rich became richer. The dwindling middle class now struggles to keep their heads above water. And the poor have been all but abandoned.
Yet socialism is alive and well in the Trump era. It’s just that the Republican version of socialism benefits the rich, while making the rest of us poorer.
Cesca, B., “Keep Your Goddamn Government Hands Off My Medicare!” HuffPost(dot)com. Dec 6, 2017.
Roberts, D., “Friendly policies keep US oil and coal afloat far more than we thought,” Vox(dot)com. Jul 26, 2018.
Andrzejewski, A., “Mapping The U.S. Farm Subsidy $1M Club,” Forbes magazine. Aug 14, 2018.