10 March 2017

You Say They Won’t Cut Our Safety Nets?

I can only hope you’re right… 

We’ve all heard those folks who say the government won’t tear down our safety nets. I can only hope they’re right and that the GOP will see sense. But, the truth is that all our civil rights gains of the last seventy years are under assault. This regime is going to make us refight every battle of the last seventy years.

The GOP has already repealed the ACA and their “replacement” plan specifically targets people like me. I’m over 50 and will be hit hard by that age scale (age tax, more like). My son is on Medicaid and will surely lose his coverage with the Medicaid rollback. CHIP has been in place since the 90s and has covered millions of children every year, but was included in the repeal of the ACA. 

There have been plenty of examples over the last six years, since 2010, of the GOP-held government cutting those safety nets. I personally know people who’ve lost such support. I know many families who’ve been pushed from free school meals to reduced, or off the meal support altogether. And, don’t forget, the Congress, in their first few days this year, cut funding for school meals AGAIN! That’s CHILDREN having their access to meals eliminated.

Moreover, the GOP’s primary thrust of their healthcare is going to be tax credits on a by-age sliding scale – which even the AARP has roundly condemned – and health savings accounts. Do you have money to put into a health savings account? I don’t. I don’t know about you, but we already receive the maximum tax deduction each year. Tax credits will be meaningless for us.

As for those rising insurance costs, that has nothing to do with the ACA and everything to do with the GOP and the boards of those insurance companies. Did you know that Paul Ryan has personally taken over $4 MILLION from the insurance industry? Were you aware that Mitch McConnell took upwards of $6 million? And, the CEOs of those insurance corporations make more PER DAY than most of their customers make per year! If the CEOs are making that much, you can be very sure there’s not a person on their boards making much less than their CEOs. Today’s GOPers are not people who care about us – these are mammonites who care only about increasing their own wealth and their own self-aggrandizement. We are just fodder for their wealth engines. 

Immigration is particularly under assault. My son and my naturalized citizen husband already have been impacted by the visa-waiver exclusions for dual nationals passed by the GOP last year; my husband and son are Iranian-American dual nationals – not by choice but because Iran does not permit anyone to give up their citizenship and automatically deems their children citizens too. And, this president has a particular burr under his backside about Iranians. We have several acquaintances who were stymied by that stupid first ban, left hanging in airports around the word when their legitimate visas were denied – that’s violating the civil rights of completely LEGAL immigrants. I’m haunted by what this presidency will mean for my Iranian-American husband and son.

Both the president and the GOP-held congress have rolled back clean air and water protections already and are steam-rolling the end of the EPA, our environmental safety net. They’re eliminating the tax credits and subsidies for converting to or installing clean energy and are trying to actively kill wind and solar to favor fossil fuels. They block wind and solar fields yet promote fracking and strip mining and deep-sea oil rigs. They pass laws and policies to allow coal ash dumping in waterways and more…

It’s naive to think these GOP theocratic corporate extremists will not strip away everything that helps the working poor. They are not the republicans of Lincoln’s party; they’re not even the republicans of the 1950s. The entire party has become increasingly radicalized, starting with Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Today’s GOP does not care about the working poor. They do not work for us. They work for corporations who keep turning in those record breaking profits while complaining that they cannot afford to increase wages and even trying to convince us that there doesn’t need to even be a minimum wage. And today’s GOP embraces the racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, and xenophobia of the alt-right (white nationalists and white supremacists) by the expediency of their refusal to turn their backs on such evils for the sake of their own political greed.

I understand those who feel they need to stay away from the political fight. But, it is a fight, a fight for the very survival of democracy in the world. Our own constitutional democratic republic is being systematically supplanted for the GOP’s theocratic corporatist vision. Add to that the fascist and would-be tin-pot dictator that is our groping bigot-in-chief and the danger to freedom in the world becomes glaring and imminent.

I’m sick and crippled. I’m not young. I’m poor. I’m married to an Iranian immigrant. I don’t expect to survive this presidency. But, I’m going to fight to the last for whomever comes next – especially for my 13-year old son.