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The adversarial relationship between Democrats and Republicans has evolved since the election of Ronald Reagan. Market-interested Republicans are committed to limiting governance through deregulation and tax cuts. Empowerment-interested Democrats believe that government must guarantee the health, civil liberty, and consumer power of the greatest number of Americans through spending and subsidies. Democrats are pragmatic policy makers; Republicans are deductive policy makers. Democrats are evidence-guided; Republicans are doctrine-guided.

But both have a cognitive problem. They think their interests are opposed; when in fact, they are complementary. Republicans want profits from selling goods and services, whereas Democrats want the greatest number of Americans to buy the goods and services sold on the market. Both fail to see that the convergence of their respective interests is correlative rather than adversarial.

However, in 2017 Republicans added a new strategy to their tool box of lobbying, campaign contribution manipulation, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and old fashioned election contests. They moved from implementing ideological policies through constitutional means to implementing policies that hurt the people Democrats want to empower. They instituted policies of domestic cruelty.

On July 1, 2017, Coral Davenport of The New York Times reported that EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, has been working diligently to “disable” the authority of the agency charged with protecting the nation’s air, water, and public health. Using war metaphors, Pruitt told coal miners, “It’s sad that a regulatory body of the government of the United States would declare a war on any part of our economy… The regulatory assault is over.”

Mr. Pruitt, with the blessing of Donald Trump, has sought to weaken climate change regulations, repeal rules curbing pollution in the nation’s waterways, delay implementation of rules that require fossil fuel companies to rein in leaks of methane from oil and gas wells, put off the date by which companies must comply with a rule to prevent explosions and spills at chemical plants, and reverse a ban on the use of a pesticide that the EPA’s own scientists have said is linked to the damage of children’s nervous systems.

Davenport reports that instead of relying on the expertise of career civil servants in the EPA, Mr. Pruitt has farmed out his policy research to a network of lawyers, lobbyists, and the Republican Attorneys General Association funded by Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Murray Energy, and Southern Company. Under Pruitt, the EPA has been captured by market interests who are using it to hurt people.

Concurrently, the American Health Care Act (AHC) that passed in Paul Ryan’s House hurts people in order to pave the way for a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. On March 13, 2017, the Congressional Budget Office Estimate confirmed that Ryan’s AHC reduces outlays for Medicaid and eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) subsidies for non-group health insurance. The AHC repeals (1) the increase in the Hospital Insurance payroll tax rate for high-income taxpayers; (2) the surtax on high income taxpayers’ net investment income; (3) the annual fees imposed on health insurers; and (4) the establishment of a new tax credit for health insurance.

By 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the AHC legislation than under the current law. “Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate,” according to the CBO Report. Between 2018 and 2026 the CBO anticipates further reductions in insurance coverage due in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under the Affordable Care Act.

CBO estimates that the AHC will decrease direct Medicaid spending by $880 billion over the 2017-2026 period. “That reduction would stem primarily from lower enrollment throughout the period, culminating in 14 million fewer Medicaid enrollees by 2026, a reduction of about 17 percent relative to the number under the current law.”

Moreover, “Under the legislation, premiums for older people could be five times larger than those for younger people in many states, but the size of the tax credits for older people would only be twice the size of the credits for younger people.”

The AHC also prevents federal funding of Planned Parenthood and any other program that is: “(1) a nonprofit organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the code; (2) an essential community provider that is primarily engaged in providing family planning and reproductive health services and related medical care; (3) an entity that provides abortions—except in instances in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest or the woman’s life is in danger; and (4) an entity that had expenditures under the Medicaid program that exceeded $350 million in fiscal year 2014.”

These executive and legislative policies of domestic cruelty are the work of public servants who took an oath to the Constitution that seeks a “more perfect union.” Creating policies of domestic cruelty is a violation of that oath. Those policies are threats to the personal and environmental health of Americans. They also impair the right of all Americans to consume the goods and services offered by a market economy to the extent of their financial ability.

Will Democrats ask themselves: “Can we come up with a counter-strategy before millions of Americans are victimized by policies of domestic cruelty?”

Bill Daniels practices law and mediation in Monterey. He has previously written for Truthout and the WIP.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Helga Fellay July 7, 2017, 8:06 am

    I have to agree with most of what you write, but have to nitpick about a couple of points. You state:
    “They moved from implementing ideological policies through constitutional means to implementing policies that hurt THE PEOPLE DEMOCRATS WANT TO EMPOWER. They instituted policies of domestic cruelty.” (emphasis added is mine). What you are describing is the Democratic Party of long ago, but not today’s Democratic Party which has become almost undistinguishable from the Republican Party. Let me just remind you of one recent fact: when democratic Governor Brown, the governor of the most democratic state in the union, advocated for Single Payer health care, it was voted down, the opposition led by a powerful democrat in a democratic legislature. Our unending wars of aggression against other nations, as well as the pursuit of “free trade” agreements resulting in American job losses and the destruction of the middle class, which most Americans oppose, are official policies of the Democratic Party, which resulted in losing the party the executive office, additional governorships, as well as the leadership in both houses at the recent election. Yet, there is no indication that the party has learned anything from that, or is willing to return to its former roots of actually wanting to empower the people.
    You say “the American Health Care Act (AHC) that passed in Paul Ryan’s House hurts people…” I am sure you are correct, but so did Obama’s ACA, with its huge deductibles and rapidly increasing co-pays, which an ever increasing number of America’s poor could not afford. To add insult to injury, the ACA then imposed a fine on those too poor to afford the ACA, thus hurting them even more. While the AHC may well be even worse than the ACA in many ways, neither plan “empowers the people” but hurts them. Any party that truly wants to “empower the people” would institute single payer, or expanded Medicare. As Governor Brown’s failed California experiment has proven, the Democrats are just as fervently opposed to helping the people, and are just as enthusiastically supporting the interests of greedy health insurance and Big Pharma corporations as the Republicans. So the picture you are painting, where the democratic cowboys are all wearing white hats, while the republican cowboys can be identified by wearing black hats, belongs strictly to ancient Hollywood movies of days long gone. I am afraid in today’s American reality show, EVERYBODY is wearing black hats (made in China).

  • Tim Smith July 7, 2017, 8:36 am

    A journalist friend passed this along to me. May be of interest in this discussion. Frankly, think it is spot on.

    http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/05/02/berkeley-author-george-lakoff-says-dont-underestimate-trump/

    • Helga Fellay July 7, 2017, 11:01 am

      Tim, thank you for this link, I found it fascinating and posted in on FB. There is only one phrase that I question – it is “Hillary Clinton’s well-thought-out policy positions vs. Donald Trump’s tweets. The tweets had one central and fact-free message: “Make America great again.” Clinton’s message was more detailed and fact-based, but also much more diffuse. Heavy on Enlightenment, short on metaphor.”
      While this is no doubt one of the reasons for Clinton’s loss, I don’t believe it is the only one, or even the major one. I don’t believe Clinton’s message was “heavy on Enlightenment” at all. Her arguments may have been well framed, but her policies were anything but “well-thought-out policy positions.” Politicians campaign to win elections. The fact that Bernie Sanders’ policy positions were able to attract stadium crowds of tens of thousands, while she filled town halls, should have given her pause and rethink her policy positions. Yet both she, the DNC and the democratic Establishment in general treated Sanders’ followers, the Progressive Left, with the same contempt as did Republicans. Her policy positions included enthusiastic support of the very “free trade” agreements which have turned once prosperous Rust Belt states into ghost towns of poverty and despair, apparently not realizing that to prevail she would have to win those very same battle ground states she did not even consider worthy of visiting on her campaign. And she did send bite sized metaphors, only the wrong kind. When she referred to Trump supporters, the same people whose jobs had been outsourced under Clinton/Obama neoliberal policies, as a “basket of deplorables,” that message went straight to the gut, not the intellect, and it had nothing to do with Enlightenment. It showed an arrogant, tone deaf, totally out-of-touch member of the new billionaire aristocracy who had no clue about the reality of poor working people and cared even less. Marie Antoinette could not have said it better.

  • Fred Seamon July 7, 2017, 9:53 am

    I agree with Mr. Daniels that Republican strategy consists of lobbying, campaign contribution manipulation, voter suppression, gerrymandering, and old fashioned election contests but note that this strategy, especially voter suppression and gerrymandering has been going on for many years. Voter suppression began when African Americans were granted the right to vote at the end of the War of the Rebellion, aka Civil War.

  • Paul Karrer July 7, 2017, 10:10 am

    Bill as per usual your thoughts and points are articulated well. Thanks for your cranial activity.

    Paul Karrer

  • john moore July 7, 2017, 4:57 pm

    I have been disgusted with both parties for the decades following JFK’s death. Thereafter, led by pres. Johnson, congress learned that it could adopt popular programs at the federal level, without paying the true annual cost, but deferring that cost to succeeding generations. That deficit is about twenty trillion dollars.

    Pat Brown was the greatest governor in Ca.. His son, Reagan and Grey Davis, the worst. Ca. presently has a three trillion dollar govt. employee pension deficit(at market rates)and a couple of trillion deficit for health care. The deficits will double every ten years by internal growth, and more so with a recession or market crack.

    Monterey Bay is operating under a cease and desist order which will severely limit Cal Am’s ability to draw water from the Carmel River. A proposed desalination project uses a slaqnt well technology that is unproven, a recycling of sewage and agriculture waste is in construction, but the recycling of agricultural waste is admittedly a first, and the state water agencies presently do not require a test for ag waste insolubles. As of July 1, the Monterey Bay Area has the highest water rates in the nation. The cost of the desal. plant and the recycle project will double those rates, whether the two projects are somehow successful, or not.

    Trump promised tax reform, health care reform and infrastructure reform, but it is clear that he can’t push any of the programs thru congress. His healthcare proposals are as bad as Obamacare, but in fairness to Obama, he did push for a single pay option and a premium lid, and his party dinged both out of hand.
    There is not a politician in view that has any realistic plans to deter the decline of America. The few decades after WWII were apparently an aberration. Sad, the wounds are self inflicted by both political parties.

  • James Toy July 7, 2017, 5:47 pm

    As I see it, the ideologies of the two dominant political parties can be summed up in one sentence each. Democratic Party: We’re all in this together. Republican Party: Every man for himself.

    This article “Sorry, folks, the rich people don’t actually create the jobs” dovetails with Daniels’ observation that “the convergence of [Republican and Democratic parties] respective interests is correlative rather than adversarial.” It is the clearest thing I’ve ever read to explain why trickle-down economics doesn’t work. I’m not an economist, but I figured this out a long time ago. Like the low man on the totem pole, the people at the bottom support the people at the top, not the other way around. http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-people-create-jobs-2013-11

  • bill leone July 8, 2017, 9:00 pm

    Progressive politics has been consistent since the advent of the New Deal under FDR’s administration. Unfortunately, the Republican Party, once the progressive party of Lincoln, has morphed into a White Nationalist, Misogynistic, Christian-Fundamentalist, Patriarchal, party of bigotry & hatred. This began with Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon, who resorted to lead-pipe politics & political dirty tricks. His mentors were Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, & a cabal of outright criminals, the likes of Oliver North, J. Gordon Liddy, & others (now featured on Fox News, the propaganda machine of the GOP). This motley crew of miscreants promoted policies such as: “Law & Order” (Black Lives Don’t Matter), “The War On Drugs” (Arrest & Imprison hippies, minorities & poor people), & “The Southern Strategy” (George Wallace in GOP clothing), not to mention the aptly named CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President, which financed the illegal Watergate Burglary & subsequent unconstitutional cover-up) The logical extension of which is the Pimp President, & his Mafia-like family, who are selling out the country to Russian Intelligence operatives, whose aim is to create a totalitarian kleptocracy, identical to the Russian State.
    Check out You Tube videos of Pussy Riot, who now mock The Pimp President as vigorously as they once mocked Putin….& still do, risking imprisonment & assassination (as have the 40 opponents of Vladimir Putin, who have been mysteriously murdered -to date- since he’s been president).

  • WB Daniels July 10, 2017, 7:05 am

    Is there a positive policy vision embedded our critiques of Democrats’ performance in 2016 and 2017 that is waiting to be weaponized in 2018?

    Can we layout the core idea that drives progressives to join phone banks, to walk neighborhoods or to hold house meetings, which is more than busting evil, offering candidate resumes, or presenting a laundry list of legislative accomplishments?

    Finding our positive voice is a critical task for progressives.

    Your thoughts?

  • Lloyd Jones July 13, 2017, 3:31 pm

    This is the question of the hour and will become more intense as Trump and his gang continue to pursue their agenda. Future political results will be determined greatly by the willingness of Americans to engage in participatory democracy. That latent willingness must climb a high wall of misinformation, disinformation, apathy, need for amusement. High on that wall is suffering the illusion that great wealth is in the offing, in Steinbeck’s words, that we are “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”. This illusion can be pinned on many Democratic politicians, who vie for state and national seats as a stepping stone to the riches of K Street. “Empowerment interested Democrats” have become a somewhat rare breed. As they continue to vote against the interests of their less financially endowed constituents, we will continue on this slippery slope.

    There is possible hope in the 82% of millennials who didn’t vote in the 2016 general election. Their apathy screams ignorance of their responsibility to participate. If they as a body realize that the quality of their lives and thus the future of the nation requires vigilance to understanding our process, there’s hope. If they work to guide themselves toward the collective needs of themselves, their friends and families, and their fellow citizens on a national scale, there is hope. First, that will require discernment between policies that will meet the genuine needs of Americans as opposed to the limbic stimulating hoodoo that passes for public information. Second, they need to apply that information in the voting booth, and learn to yell when the elective process doesn’t live up to collective needs.

    All this is easy to think and write about, and there is a potential for a turning point in 2018. But much can happen in the interim. Both Trump and Putin want greater control of global resources and they are in a position to use the people of this world toward those goals. Will the US have a Reichstag moment? Will we respond any better than we did after 9/11? If we have another financial breakdown, will the American public be curious as to how it came about, as opposed to the last several financial crises? Moreover, will they do something to correct the causes?

    Bill, the national response to these questions will guide the answer to your question.

  • bill leone July 15, 2017, 8:46 pm

    Actually, the defeat of Monstrosity Downs was a Massive triumph of Progressive & clear-thinking citizens to preserve the quality of life for Monterey County. Moreover, the election of Mary Adams, a Democrat with Good Heart & Sound Mind was a victory for local Democrats (Progressive & Establishment alike). The election of Kayla Jones to the Seaside City Council was a victory for minorities, women, young folks, students, Progressives, & just about everyone who has a brain & is a resident of Seaside (She, by the way, is a Progressive Democrat). Moreover, we had the very First Gay Pride Parade in Seaside, in spite of the Nasty, Bigoted objection by, of all people, African-American
    Clergy, who have failed to recognize a Civil Rights Movement when they see one. The primary organizer of that march is a Progressive Democrat. And, by the way, that Pride Parade would not have been thinkable without Kayla Jones (again a Progressive Democrat) sitting on the Seaside City Council. Moreover, it would not have been possible with an all Republican City Council (For all those Partisan readers who would be outraged by that last sentence, I urge you to read the Republican Party Platform for 2016 regarding Marriage between a Man & a Woman.) And Keep in mind, Jimmy Panetta gave a keynote speech at the end of the Pride Parade; that was a Courageous thing for him to do, & he is, in case you haven’t noticed, a Democrat.
    Another victory for local Democrats was the preservation of Jane Parker’s seat on the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, in spite of her Republican opponent, Dennis The Menace, outspending her by 5 to 1, & being endorsed by an Establishment Democrat, Mayor Rubio, who was Not endorsed by the local Democratic Party….&, of course, there’s Measure Z! I could go on & on, but the bottom line is: if you believe Progressive Democrats, or Democrats in general, are politically stuck in the mud, you are either in denial or you just have Not been paying attention. Get Involved!