Opinion: Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich

Nov 28, 2017

This is an administration of the rich, by the rich and for the rich. In fact, Americans have not seen an administration this blatantly tilted toward the interests of the wealthy in at least a hundred years, if ever.

And while that’s remarkable in its own right, it’s even more so when you consider the context:

1.) This administration has come to power in an era when wealth is already highly concentrated and income inequity is at record high levels. Look around you. The stock market has never been higher. Corporate after-tax profits have never been higher. The amount of wealth concentrated among the top one percent and top 0.1 percent has never been higher, at least not in modern times. Yet in every way imaginable — through regulatory changes, through tax policy, through the people it has placed in positions of power — this administration is implementing policies intended to make those inequities worse, not better, to make the powerful more powerful still.

2.) Furthermore, this is coming from an administration and a president elected on the explicit promise that it would take the side of the forgotten little man and woman against Wall Street, transnational corporations and the powerful establishment. That was the promise; that was the contract affirmed and witnessed in Trump rallies all across the nation. By doing the exact opposite, by tightening the ties linking Washington to Wall Street, it is perpetrating a bait-and-switch scam on a scale seldom if ever witnessed in American politics.

You may recall that during the campaign, the American people were promised cheaper, better health care for everyone. What they got instead was a plan that would have stripped insurance from 20 million to 30 million Americans, with the money saved going to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts.

They were also promised over and over again by Donald Trump that foundational programs such as Medicaid and Medicare would not be touched, that their budgets would be sacrosanct. Instead, they have witnessed repeated underhanded efforts to strip hundreds of billions of dollars from those programs, with the proceeds again earmarked for the already rich.

They also heard heartfelt promises to address the opioid crisis that is killing tens of thousands, but have gotten nothing but proposed cutbacks in the few treatment programs that already exist. They were promised a major infrastructure investment program, and got nothing. They were warned that firms such as Goldman Sachs exemplified the establishment that was rigging the system against them, then saw the entire economic policy-making structure handed over to top Goldman Sachs officials.

They — you — were also promised a middle-class tax cut. Instead — and every nonpartisan analysis of the legislation has come to this very same conclusion — you’re getting a bill dominated by tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, a bill in which the relatively small tax cuts for the working and middle class are temporary, while those that benefit big business are made permanent.

By 2027, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 65 percent of American households — the poorer 65 percent — will be losing money and will suffer from a diminished standard of living as a consequence of this bill. By 2027, the top 35 percent will still be benefiting handsomely. It is almost unbelievable that in times such as these, a bill like this could be so close to becoming law.

Yet there it is.