Trump fighting government programs that work  

Well, this week the Trump Administration has stepped up its fight against two major pillars of liberalism in this country–Social Security and the U.S. Post Office.  

Social Security was born during the double-digit unemployment years of the Great Depression.  From the first, it made payments to those over 65 without jobs and to spouses and children of deceased workers. Disability insurance was added in 1956 and Medicare in 1965.

For me, it has meant that I didn’t have to choose between getting my father decent medical care and sending my daughters to college or to mortgage my home so my sister could get newly patented cancer treatments, and that I could retire without worrying if I would outlive my savings.

For some, however, it’s the thing they dread most: a government program that works. Many Republicans are working for the “privatization of Social Security” that would require workers to pay Wall Street traders to invest their retirement funds and would make future benefits subject to market fluctuations.

Now President Trump has signed a Tax Memorandum to stop deduction of social security taxes on wages paid from September 1 to the end of the year.  If the Secretary of the Treasury can’t find substitute sources of funding, workers must pay the tax later.

Some say this is just an attempt to boost the economy and enhance Trump’s chances of re-election.
Others contend that Trump is out to ruin Social Security.  His 2021 budget proposes cutting the number of persons receiving disability payments by 5%, and reducing funds for Medicare by 7% and for Medicaid by 16%.

The U.S. Postal Service, originally headed by Benjamin Franklin, is an even older example of a government program that works. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of communication in bonding states into a nation and in promoting internal trade.

Today, with dozens of other delivery services available, the USPS is the ‘public option’ that keeps prices down.

The government cut out federal subsidies to the USPS during the 1980s, thus forcing it to charge enough to cover all of its expenses. In 2006, Congress ordered the agency to make payments to fund retirement obligations in advance, something neither Social Security nor other Federal retirement programs do. Four times since the USPS has failed to fund annual payments toward future retirement obligations.

President Trump has proposed making USPS “a private postal operator,” delivering mail fewer days per week, and ending door-to-door delivery. He has publicly called for a price increase for package deliveries.

In the last week or so, however, the danger to the post office became more immediate.

Trump appointees now fill every seat on the USPS board of governors, and Trump’s new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, holds at least $30 million in stock of a competing delivery company.

Over 600 machines used for rapid sorting of mail are to be “dismantled.’ CNN cited postal workers as estimating that two workers using a machine can do the work of 30 workers without one.

A major cause of the stalemate in negotiating a third coronavirus relief bill is President Trump’s rejection–and Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi’s insistence–on $25 billion in financial help for the USPS.

And Thursday, in an interview on Fox Business Network, President Trump said he believes opposing that aid will stop mail-in voting. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money.  That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

I’m guessing not all Republicans admire President Trump’s current battles to eliminate socialistic government programs.

Idaho politics: Voters support Dems on issues

Judy Ferro     [Published by the Idaho Press-Tribune June 30, 2014]

Enough.  We’ve heard the message.  Political pundits in four states have echoed it.  “The Idaho Republicans may be at war with one another, but the Democrats can’t win.”   Sometimes they add, “because of Idaho’s demographics.”

Predicting Republican victories at this point tends to suppress voter turnout.  Why bother learning about the candidates if my vote will make no difference?  Three decades of Republican victories probably explains why nearly half the county’s adults are not registered.

And no pundit explains what demographics they mean.  Perhaps all the young people leaving the state?   Or all the people working for minimum wage?   Or maybe just the fact there are more registered Republicans?

Over half the voters in Canyon County have locked themselves out of the Republican primaries by registering as “unaffiliated.”  Now, some of these are Democrats who don’t want to be hasseled over their politics.  Still, independents—those who vote for the man/woman, not the party—are by far the largest voting bloc in the county.

So why have Republicans consistently won?

Thinking it was issues, Idaho Democrats once tried a slate of “Republican-lite” candidates.  Some, like Walt Minnick, were liberal on social issues and conservative on economic ones.  Others were conservative on social issues and middle-of-the-road on economic ones.  Walt did win—once.  Overall, though, the tactic undercut Democratic support without attracting many Independents.

And why should it?  There is every reason to believe that voters, even Idaho voters, agree with the Democrats on their defining issues.

A recent Russell Sage Foundation study of polls found that 90% of Americans do not want to see social security cut.

Over 80% want the government to fund schools well and to protect the jobs of American workers.

Nearly 80% want the minimum wage high enough so that one full-time worker worker can keep a family above the poverty level.  About the same number want college to be affordable for everyone.

Nearly 70% are against cutting domestic programs like Medicare, education and highways in order to lower the Federal deficit.

Even federal health care is supported by 60%.

These are the defining Democratic issues.  If they were what really counted with voters, Democrats would be winning handily.

What about the emotional “wedge issues?”  Nationally, voters are more evenly divided on these issues.  Yet, polls indicate 80% of Americans want background checks on all gun purchases and 55% support limiting gun clips to 10 bullets.    Amazingly, only 20% oppose abortions in all circumstances (even though 50% believe they are morally wrong).   Support for gay marriage runs about 55%.

Idaho Democrats are divided on these issues; Republicans are not.  At a meeting of Canyon County’s Republicans prior to the primaries, each candidate stood and recited a mantra—I am pro-life, pro-second amendment, and pro-traditional marriage—before stating his or her other qualifications.  So it’s no surprise that people who care more about guns than schools vote Republican.  But it’s hard to believe that includes a majority of Canyon County.

There are many other explanations for continued Republican victories.  Loyalty, for one.  Many who recognize that the Republican Party has lost its balance choose to work to moderate the party.  Others simply like to identify with the winning side: a Boise district that was all-Republican for many years is now so Democratic that no Republicans are even running there this year.

Whatever the reason, it is not the quality of Idaho’s Democratic candidates.  Democrats run here because they care about people and want to strengthen jobs, schools, families, and communities.  It’s not an easy road to power; they don’t “inherit” victory from predecessors or fathers.  They are heroes in a battle for balance and democracy in Idaho.