COMMENTARY: Can anyone make sense out of the 2016 elections and resulting mess on the U.S. domestic side before inauguration day in 2017? I try.
There is so much crud out there. Let’s focus on reality. The back-and-forth folderol is no longer funny. Much of the working class deserted the national Democratic Party — which had abandoned them — and turned to Republican promises.
A few thoughts:
1. We cannot let the president-elect, House Speaker Ryan nor HHS Secretary-designate Price voucherize Medicare and cut/eliminate Medicaid. With related components, its a disaster is in the making.
Build upon and fix the Affordable Care Act. Universal health care based on the Medicare model must come. Some call this “socialized medicine.” Yet facts put us below all other industrial nations in quality of health care and reasonableness of price. Tell the president-elect.
2. Let’s talk about jobs. True, those employed have been generally rising since 1990 — from some 115 million then to some 152+ million in 2016. But sorry President Obama. There are other numbers. What about those no longer in the U.S. workforce? The folks unemployed for 27 weeks+ rose from 9.9 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2016. That is telling. Population goes up, jobs go up, but the overall number of employed people keeps dropping. Just think…
3. It’s true that the president-elect talks “jobs, jobs, jobs.” Oh? His companies buy most if not all products from other nations. Are those jobs coming back to the U.S. as an example to other corporations? No.
Headlines tout the “1,000 jobs” kept in this country by Indiana’s Carrier Air Conditioning after talks with the president-elect? Funny — 1,300 of the 2,000 are still going to Mexico, including 600 of the 1,400 in Indianapolis and all in Huntington. A few are kept here due to generous financial incentives discussed. Where’s the benefit to American workers?
How will pushing oil and gas pipelines return ongoing jobs? Coal won’t come back. Job-friendly solar and wind technology, among others, may be hobbled; there are potential large job losses. Majority Leader McConnell’s priorities don’t include rebuilding our infrastructure. A national minimum wage increase dies. Environmental clean-up will be postponed. We American people will get little directly as the U.S. is sold off or given away to billionaires through sweetheart deals or to the highest bidder.
Profits, not people. The downward trend will continue. Tell the president-elect.
4. The whole question of pay and benefits is a longstanding issue with both parties. This has become clearer since the 1970s. Simply, we the people hurt. Wages are stagnant and, generally, benefits are disappearing, especially for low-income salary and wage people. “Trickle down” has never worked, regardless of hype. Rush the dollars to the top is the American way. Change is needed. Tell the president-elect.
5. The federal government needs trimming, which is easy for most to ignore. We have many duplicated or unneeded programs and/or special giveaways (e.g., subsidies to inappropriate farmers and ranchers plus coal, gas and oil companies). Clearly debatable. In New Mexico also, some of our giveaways are notorious, as is our governor’s intransigence. Let’s see sensibility herein, not a blunt hacksaw. Tell the president-elect.
6. Term-limits are up for discussion on both sides. We all have seen how seniority destroys the national Democratic Party. I like what I see locally and in some other places. But Senator Schumer? Just another corporatist. Rep. Pelosi? Unprintable. Local parties? We’ll see. Change the Democratic Party.
Traditional Republicans crashed and burned. But as the new administration shapes out, it’s creeping back. What’s next?
7. Control of government has flipped totally unicameral. What might the U.S. government do in the next two years? What happens to Commerce, Education, HHS, Justice, Treasury and other departments under certain appointees? Thirty-three legislatures are red, and flipping an additional one in 2018 means Republicans could call a constitutional convention in 2019. All bets would be off. Monitor closely.
If we want to move forward, there is a large base of facts without hype that gives us a base in reality. Facts are not fungible. Hype aplenty is much national “journalism.” But facts alone are not enough without mass education and push-back. For many Americans, slogans and hype must be ignored. Change and our future is coming.
Jerry Nachison is a 10-year Las Cruces resident who is active in local politics and nonprofits. He’s a retired social/housing gerontologist.