Today’s topic: an overview of 2016’s two-party political crapshoot
Whether you find yourself on the left or right of establishment political rhetoric, America’s two party system has led to caustic gridlock in Washington. The Republican controlled congress has broken the filibuster record and has record low approval ratings. They are by definition of the most unproductive and least compromising representatives in history.
Conservative voters would argue that the progressively minded Obama administration has worsened economic outlook, created a volatile middle east, and constrained growth through big government and high taxation. In stark contrast, progressives argue their heavily uncompromising Republican friends have blockaded much needed reform within the government.
Liberals argue that the richest country in the history of the world should spend a more of the federal budget on services for the middle class as opposed to on war, tax breaks, or corporate subsidies. They believe legislation should raise wages, provide debt-free college for the youth, and ensure a healthcare system is in place which meets modern standards (one not nearly two times more expensive than other first world nations).
We are in the midst of an exciting presidential election as each party is currently highly polarized between outsiders (Trump and Bernie) and establishment career politicians (Clinton, Cruz, and Kasich).
Unlike on the Republican side where Trump seems to be unstoppable, Bernie Sanders is strongly challenging the entire democratic establishment aka Hillary Clinton and Obama. As renowned economist Robert Reich has said, Hillary is the best candidate to run the current (corrupt) system, while Bernie is the best choice to run the type of system the American people need. Clinton is strongly supported by establishment democrats who are in power as well as the donor class full of our friendly neighborhood corporations and billionaires. Clinton is not to be trusted, but that is a nice topic for another post in this series. For now let’s focus on perhaps the most progressive agenda presented in recent American history:
1. Campaign Finance Reform. The American system currently allows for unlimited donations toward any political candidate through what are known as political action committees. Bernie is somehow the only candidate actually trying to reform the system; this itself is enough of a reason to vote for him. Better yet, polling shows that 90% of voters agree. It doesn’t take a PhD to understand why unlimited legal bribery leads to a corrupt and unproductive Washington. Hell, nearly 87% of congressional races are won by the candidate with more money. No wonder politicians are bending over backwards to please our corporate overlords.
2. Progressive Income Taxation. Bernie’s plan involves taxing the most successful billionaires and corporations more. He aims to raise the top marginal rate to 50% for the top 1% of income earners. This is needed to pay for important shit which the disappearing middle class requires. Bush lowered taxes on the rich to the lowest levels in history. Obama then solidified those tax cuts in an effort to both compromise with Republicans and please his rich donors.
Bernie also seems like a genuine moderate on the issue considering 50% is the same tax rate which Ronald Reagan employed in the 80s (if you don’t know, conservatives get off to anything Reagan and I’ve heard from conservative sources that he may have been the second coming of Jesus). If you think that taxes hinder economic growth, kindly reconsider. For example, if Starbucks wants to build a new store or hire more workers, they can then write off all of those expenses on tax day. Taxes do not prevent businesses from expanding hence why top rates were on average around 70% for all of the 20th century. Tax rates today are lower than ever before.
3. Free College and Healthcare. College graduates are drowning in college debt and 2015 was the worst year in recorded history. Besides mortgages, college debt is now larger than any other type of debt in the country. Meanwhile, the good old USA has the most expensive healthcare system in the world. Medical bills are the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America. Privatized medicine and college has a stranglehold on the middle class. 70% of our economy is consumption i.e. capitalism is based on everyone buying shit.
The economy is strongly hindered when people cannot buy anything because of insane college debt and healthcare costs. If you believe that we simply cannot afford this, please understand European countries all provide these services. The USA has the largest economy in the history of the world even when normalized for our large size. It is simply a matter of where you want to allocate your resources.
4. Smaller Government? Yes the crazy old senator also wants to cut down excessive spending. Specifically the inflated military budget and corporate subsidies. For example, Exxonmobil Gas Company receives billions in taxpayer handouts every year despite being literally the most profitable country in the world in 2014.
5. Smart Regulations. Sanders wants to regulate wall street in an effort to prevent another financial crash. The 2008 crisis was a direct result of fraud orchestrated by the country’s largest investment banks. Polluters and pharmaceutical price gougers will also be regulated in a Sanders administration.
6. Investments in Renewable Energy. 99% of scientists recognize climate change as real and a threat. Climate models validate warmer global temperatures will be followed by increases in drought; this would be a catastrophic blow to global food production. For my capitalist friends who could care less if millions of impoverished 3rd world children die in 2050 because of a grain shortage, a renewable energy breakthrough would bring hundreds of billions into the American economy. It would also make Middle Eastern terror states bankrupt as they have oil economies.
7. A Living Wage & Other Social Reform. Despite being the richest country in the world, the USA has one of the highest rates of childhood poverty compared to other industrialized nations along with the largest prison population in the world. To combat this, Sanders plans to raise the minimum wage to adjust for inflation (the 1970 minimum wage would be nearly 20$ in 2016 dollars). He also plans on creating an infrastructure program to reduce unemployment, eliminating for profit prisons, requiring body cameras on police, legalizing marijuana, and ensuring pay equality for women.
8. Balancing the Budget. You may be asking how this can all be paid for and why no other politicians have these wonderful ideas? Well to answer the first question, socialized health care would save us $6 trillion as it removes the corporate middle man (I encourage you to research it yourself). College can be paid for with a 1% tax on Wall Street trading. His income and corporate tax plan accounts for the rest. To answer the second point, Sanders has broken fundraising records despite being the only candidate in decades to not accept donations from corporations or the rich donor class. The only people he owes anything to are the millions of working class Americans who support his campaign. He recently won Michigan in the largest primary upset in HISTORY.
We may not get another candidate like this in our lifetime, I urge you to understand that every other candidate has a corporate agenda and a voting record to match. Anyhow, now to the conservative side of politics!
The Republican establishment is in shambles as they are discovering they are very likely to have no control over their base’s first choice: demagogue extraordinaire Donald Trump. Trump is increasing voter turnout and is winning the support of people normally not engaged in the political process. Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is coming in at a close second, also to the dismay of the GOP establishment. Senator Cruz, the self-proclaimed most conservative thinker in Washington, has rallied support from the tea party movement and has highlighted his strict conservative rhetoric (a voting record highly against immigration, social progress, and women’s rights). Luckily, all republicans essentially have the same agenda strait from their donors and the to-do list of the super rich.
What conservative policy and “Making America Great Again” means for you:
1. Corporate Tax Cuts. Trump would like to cut the top tax rate for people like himself from 39% to 25%. This will increase economic growth just like it did when President Reagan, Bush Sr., and good old Georgey cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires. Just kidding, all of history disagrees, each of these presidents encountered recessions and a ballooning deficit toward the end of their presidencies. Top tax rates were at one point over 90%, these were known as the “good ole days” aka we experienced the largest economic expansions in history (the 1950s onward).
2. Corporate Deregulation. You know “small government” aka the stuff which led to the economic crisis of 2008 and a nearly destroyed world economy. Mind you these fraudulent billionaires never went to jail or even to trial. The best part? They were given trillions in a taxpayer funded bailout and loan package. But hey, we better continue the war on drugs so your neighborhood pothead gets thrown in jail.
3. The Fossil Fuel Industry. Climate change doesn’t exist; neither does the record high rates of cancer and childhood asthma. These are surely not correlated with record high air pollution and environmental destruction.
4. A Large Wall to prevent Muslims and Mexicans. It’s gonna be huge. This could be extremely detrimental to millennials! The price of your favorite vegan kale shake is going to be pretty high without immigrant farm workers. The good thing is Mexico will pay for it.
5. Further Health Care Privatization. We need to keep corporations profiting off of healthcare. Socialism is bad, haven’t you read a history book? I don’t want to live in communist Russia. I’m personally willing to pay the highest prices in the world for a healthcare system ranked 37th by the World Health Organization!
6. More bombs. We only spent $4 trillion on the Bush wars and another $600+ billion on the military every year (nearly 20% of the Budget). Keep in mind the next most militaristic country (China) only spends $130 billion annually.
7. Theocracy and Stagnant Wages. Jesus is against gay marriage and women’s right to choose so should you! He was also against poverty relief? Yeah he definitely wasn’t the one who said give all of your worldly possessions to the poor.
A Trump win could mean essentially anything for the country, he is a reality show personality playing the part of an authentic conservative savior. Despite his political record as a democrat and business history of multiple company bankruptcies, his followers are unwavering. They claim the billionaire will take the world economy back, away from Mexican and Chinese outsourcing. This is somewhat hilarious as he himself produces his brand of clothing in China and frequently hires low wage Mexican immigrants for his hotels, but that is a debate with ignorance I will never win.
Trump voters believe that he can turn over the corrupt establishment and bring prosperity to blue collar workers, although he himself has been reaping the benefits of such establishment for nearly 40 years. He also inherited his fortune and dodged the Vietnam draft. Oops! A Clinton win means the continuation of political stagnation for the country. If Sanders wins, best case scenario we live in a democratic socialist utopia. Worst case? Well we get many much needed reforms to prevent further middle class decline and corporate rigging of the economy.
As always I encourage fact checking all that I say and discussion in the comments! Other articles in this series will go into extremely fun nuanced detail behind all of the points made above. If you are interested in a specific issue let me know in the comments so I can choose that topic first.