A toxic menu of policy disaster that favors elites: Just look at Trumpcare and the president's NAFTA waffling

Republicans' health care bill would widen economic​ ​disparity; Trump's NAFTA plan would empower multinationals

Published June 4, 2017 9:30AM (EDT)

President Trump congratulates House Republicans   (Getty/Mark Wilson)
President Trump congratulates House Republicans (Getty/Mark Wilson)

​The​ ​vast​ ​inequality​ ​that's​ ​rending​ ​our​ ​society​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​natural,​ ​inevitable​ ​or​ ​accidental​ ​phenomenon​; it's caused​ ​intentionally​ ​by​ ​policy decisions​ ​that​ ​corporate​ ​and​ ​political​ ​officials​ ​make,​ ​often​ ​in​ ​tandem.

​Every​ ​now​ ​and​ ​then,​ ​we​ ​commoners​ ​get​ ​a​ ​glimpse​ ​of​ ​inequality​ ​in​ ​the​ ​making,​ ​as​ ​we​ ​did​ ​recently​ ​when the​ ​GOP​ boss​ ​of​ ​the​ ​House,​ ​Rep.​ ​Paul​ ​Ryan​ ​rammed​ ​the​ ​awful​ ​Trumpcare​ ​bill​ ​through​ ​that​ ​chamber.​ ​Without allowing​ ​any​ ​public​ ​testimony​ ​or​ ​even​ ​getting​ ​an​ ​analysis​ ​of​ ​its​ ​cost,​ ​Ryan​ ​browbeat​ ​and​ ​cajoled​ ​the​ ​Republican majority​ ​to​ ​hold​ ​their​ ​noses​ ​and​ ​pass​ ​this​ ​gob​ ​of​ ​plutocratic​ ​wretchedness.​ ​Their​ ​bill​ ​was​ ​so​ ​bad​ ​that,​ ​at​ ​most,​ ​a mere​ ​17​ ​percent​ ​of​ ​Americans​ ​support​ ​it.

​The​ ​public's​ ​distaste​ ​for​ ​Trumpcare​ ​is​ ​well-deserved,​ ​for​ ​it's​ ​an​ ​inequality​ ​machine:​ ​It​ ​strips​ ​at​ ​least​ ​23 million​ ​people​ ​of​ ​health​ ​coverage;​ ​it​ ​lets​ ​insurance​ ​corporations​ ​either​ ​refuse​ ​to​ ​cover​ ​people​ ​with​ ​pre-existing conditions​ ​or​ ​to​ ​gouge​ ​them​ ​with​ ​extreme​ ​price​ ​increases.​ ​And​ ​it​ ​lets​ ​states​ ​eliminate​ ​the​ ​requirement​ ​that insurance​ ​policies​ ​must​ ​at​ ​least​ ​cover​ ​such​ ​essential​ ​health​ ​needs​ ​as​ ​cancer​ ​treatment​ ​and​ ​maternity​ ​care.

And ​in​ ​a​ ​flagrant​ ​example​ ​of​ ​directly​ ​widening​ ​inequality​ ​in​ ​America,​ ​the​ ​Republicans'​ ​bill​ ​slashes​ ​$880 billion​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Medicaid​ ​budget,​ ​which​ ​provides​ ​health​ ​care​ ​for​ ​the​ ​poor,​ elderly​ ​individuals and​ ​people with disabilities.​ ​That's not​ ​just​ ​a​ ​cut​ ​in​ ​dollars,​ ​but​ ​in​ ​people​ ​—​ ​14​ ​million​ ​needy​ ​families​ ​would​ ​lose​ ​their​ ​access​ ​to​ ​health care.

But​ ​that's​ ​only​ ​the​ ​half​ ​of​ ​it.​ ​Ryan's​ ​Trumpcare​ ​nastiness​ ​also​ ​gives​ ​a​ ​massive​ ​new​ ​tax​ ​cut​ ​to​ ​health​ ​care corporations​ ​and​ ​wealthy​ ​investors.​ ​How​ ​massive​ ​is​ ​the​ ​cut?​ ​Precisely​ ​$880​ ​billion.
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By​ ​taking​ ​from​ ​the​ ​needy​ ​and​ ​giving​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rich,​ ​this​ ​one​ ​deliberate​ ​act​ ​by​ ​Congress​ ​would​ ​further​ ​widen economic​ ​disparity​ ​in​ ​our​ ​country​ ​by​ ​nearly​ ​$1.8​ ​trillion.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​one​ ​surefire​ ​way​ ​that inequality​ ​happens.

Another​ ​way​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​economic​ ​inequality​ ​by​ ​taking​ ​from​ ​the​ ​needy​ ​and​ ​giving​ ​to​ ​the​ ​rich​ ​is​ ​through God-awful trade​ ​deals​ ​like​ ​the​ ​North​ ​American​ ​Free​ ​Trade​ ​Agreement.​ ​Trump​ ​gloriously​ ​pledged​ ​last​ ​year​ ​to​ ​scrap​ ​the NAFTA​ ​trade​ ​scam​ ​and​ ​renegotiate​ it ​to​ ​provide​ ​a​ ​"much​ ​better"​ ​deal​ ​for​ ​working​ ​families.​ ​Beautiful!​ ​But ​like rose​ ​blossoms,​ ​a​ ​politician's​ ​promises​ ​can​ ​be​ ​beautiful​ ​when​ ​they​ ​burst​ ​into​ ​full,​ ​glorious​ ​bloom​ ​—​ ​only​ ​later​ ​to have ​them​ ​fade​ ​over​ ​time​ ​and,​ ​petal​ ​by​ ​petal,​ ​fall​ ​away.

This​ ​particular​ ​blossom​ ​was​ ​the​ ​single​ ​most important​ ​issue​ ​that​ ​convinced​ ​many​ ​hard-hit,​ ​former factory workers​ ​to​ ​vote​ ​Trump​ ​into​ ​the​ ​White​ ​House.​ ​But​ ​the​ ​bloom​ ​is​ ​now​ ​off​ ​Trump's​ ​rosy​ ​promise,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​looks​ ​like working​ ​families​ ​are​ ​getting​ ​nothing​ ​but​ ​more​ ​free-trade​ ​thorns​ ​from​ ​him.​ ​As​ ​revealed​ ​in​ ​a​ ​recently leaked​ ​copy of​ ​his​ ​NAFTA​ ​renegotiation​ ​plan,​ ​far​ ​from​ ​scrapping​ ​the​ ​U.S.-Mexico-Canada​ ​trade​ ​deal,​ ​White​ ​House negotiators​ ​are​ ​goosing​ ​it​ ​up​ ​with​ ​even​ ​more​ ​power​ ​for​ ​multinational​ ​corporations.​ ​In​ ​particular,​ ​the​ ​plan includes​ ​new​ ​"investor​ ​incentives"​ ​to​ ​offshore​ ​thousands​ ​more​ ​of​ ​our​ ​middle-class​ ​jobs.​ ​Where​ ​did​ ​this​ ​come from?​ ​It​ ​seems​ ​to​ ​have​ ​been​ ​lifted​ ​right​ ​out​ ​of​ ​last​ ​year's​ ​discredited​ ​and​ ​defeated​ ​Trans-Pacific​ ​Partnership,​ ​a scam​ ​intended​ ​to​ ​enthrone​ ​corporate​ ​supremacy​ ​over​ ​people​ ​and​ ​even​ ​​our​ ​laws.
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​Indeed,​ ​the​ ​500​ ​corporate​ ​executives​ ​and​ ​lobbyists​ ​who​ ​essentially​ ​wrote​ ​the​ ​raw​ ​TPP​ ​deal​ ​and​ ​tried​ ​to ram​ ​it​ ​down​ ​our​ ​throats,​ ​have​ ​quietly​ ​been​ ​huddling​ ​with​ ​Trump's​ ​team​ ​to​ ​draft​ ​the​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​this​ ​"new"​ ​NAFTA. Where​ ​were​ ​representatives​ ​of​ ​those​ ​working​ ​people​ ​Trump​ ​promised​ ​to​ ​help?​ ​Locked​ ​out,​ ​not​ ​even​ ​allowed​ ​to watch​ ​the​ ​negotiations,​ ​much​ ​less​ ​have​ ​a​ ​say​ ​in​ ​them.​ ​The​ ​same​ ​for​ ​consumers,​ ​environmentalists,​ ​farmers​ ​— even​ ​members​ ​of​ ​Congress​ ​are​ ​being​ ​left​ ​totally​ ​in​ ​the​ ​dark​ ​and​ ​allowed​ ​no​ ​voice​ ​in​ ​shaping​ ​the​ ​deal.

​But​ ​I'm​ ​guessing​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Goldman​ ​Sachs​ ​executives​ ​Trump​ ​brought​ ​in​ ​to​ ​run​ ​our​ ​economic​ ​policy have​ ​a​ ​say,​ ​along​ ​with​ ​his​ ​daughter​ ​and​ ​son-in-law​ ​who​ ​oversee​ ​both​ ​our​ ​government​ ​and​ ​stand to benefit from the​ ​extended​ ​Trump family's​ ​global​ ​business​ ​empire.​ ​With​ ​all​ ​of​ ​them​ ​and​ ​that​ ​slew​ ​of​ ​corporate​ ​lobbyists​ ​at​ ​the​ ​table,​ ​you,​ ​me​ ​and everyone​ ​else​ ​are​ ​on​ ​the​ ​menu.​ ​And​ ​the​ ​inequality​ ​gap​ ​will​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​grow.

By Jim Hightower

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​trans-pacific​ ​partnership Editor's Picks Goldman Sachs Nafta President Donald Trump Trumpcare