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Est. April 5, 2002
Feb 13, 2020 - Issue 805
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Trump Takes a Cue from His
Trophy-Hunting Sons
and is
Bound to Hang
Our Safety Nets on His Wall


"He thinks that he has been exonerated, but
there are millions of citizens who know of his
wrongdoing, his unethical behavior, and his
outright crimes against peoples and nature."

Now that the U.S. Senate has shown itself to be the most cowardly and lawless deliberative body on the planet, in service to the biggest coward, the Dear Leader in the White House, it's time for the people to take matters into their own hands and prepare for life without the benefits for the people that a free nation should provide.

Trump, now that he has been acquitted by Senate Republicans (while he is still guilty as charged of the two articles of impeachment and so much more), is going to begin to tear down the remaining parts of the social safety net and the environmental regulations that attempt to provide clean air, water, and food that President Trump sees as obstacles to the the further enrichment of Corporate America and the rich 1 percent.

His attacks have begun against Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and breakfasts, and a host of other programs that are needed by millions of American families. He was just waiting for the predictable acquittal of impeachment charges, by the obeisant Republicans who dutifully dismissed his crimes and misdemeanors. He thinks that he has been exonerated, but there are millions of citizens who know of his wrongdoing, his unethical behavior, and his outright crimes against peoples and nature.

Although he said on the campaign trail that he would not ever cut such programs as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid that are so important to scores of millions of citizens, but now such cuts are on the table and he has said he will be discussing reductions with his advisors. He rarely takes the advice of any advisors he may have sitting in the White House, but relies on his “gut,” which means that he will take action based on a whim, whether it makes sense or not, because he believes himself to be always right.

More than 63 million Americans were collecting Social Security benefits in August 2019 and, while older citizens make up some four of five beneficiaries, another 20 percent received Social Security Disability Insurance or were surviving children and dependents of deceased workers. The program, considered to be one of the most successful (if not the most) social programs that has pulled millions out of poverty and kept older people in their own homes. Trump would damage FDR's signature program to find money for his tax cuts for the rich and for his military and for his destructive and immoral wall on the southern frontier. This, even though the benefits are very modest: The average Social Security retirement benefit in June 2019 was about $1,470 a month, or about $17,640 a year. (The average disabled worker and aged widow received slightly less.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) lists the following benefits of Social Security: It provides a guaranteed, progressive benefit that keeps up with increases in the cost of living; it provides a foundation of retirement protection for nearly every American, and its benefits are not means-tested.

97 percent of the elderly either receive Social Security or will receive it; it lifts 1.4 million children out of poverty; Social Security is especially important for women, because they tend to earn less than men, take more time out of the paid workforce, live longer, accumulate less savings, and receive smaller pensions. Women represent more than half of Social Security beneficiaries in their 60s and 7 in 10 beneficiaries in their 90s. In addition, women make up 96 percent of Social Security survivor beneficiaries.

The Center also points out the benefits to black workers and other minorities:

Social Security is particularly important for people of color. Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including Black and Latino people, who face higher poverty rates both during their working lives and in old age. The poverty rate among Black and Latino seniors is over 2.5 times as high as for white seniors. There is a significant racial retirement wealth gap, leading seniors of color to face more retirement insecurity than white seniors. African American and Latino workers are less likely to be offered workplace retirement plans and likelier to work in low-wage jobs with little margin for savings. Social Security helps reduce the economic disparities between white seniors and seniors of color.

Social Security’s importance to families of color goes beyond retirement. Black and Latino workers benefit substantially from Social Security because they have higher disability rates and lower lifetime earnings than white workers, on average, and African American workers have higher rates of premature death. Persistent racial disparities in health care access and quality — as well as in access to food, affordable housing, high-quality schools, and economic opportunity — mean African American workers are likelier to become disabled or die before reaching retirement. Latino workers, too, are more likely to become disabled than white workers, and have longer average life expectancies than white workers, which means they have more years to collect retirement benefits.

Social Security is not about to go under as so many alarmists, especially Republicans, wish. They appear to be doing whatever they can to kill this program and any others that benefit the people. Even if nothing was done, such as increasing the Social Security tax, the program would still be able to pay out about 75 percent of the benefits far into the future. It's not that the program is all that generous, since the U.S. is far down on the list of countries that provide such a program. It is 25th in a list of developed nations that provide retirement income for its citizens. Trump is not interested in this vital program. He doesn't care. He does care about tax cuts for the rich that is, for himself. Tax cuts equal rising deficits.

And he doesn't care about the other programs that are on his chopping block: Medicaid, food stamps, school breakfasts and lunches, poor school districts that need more funds (he would rather privatize schools), and whatever small effort there is to provide low-cost housing. These are a few of the programs he is aiming at. He lies to his base and he lies to the nation. For example, he said a few years ago that he would maintain health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, but he has made every attempt to kill Obamacare, which provides such coverage, but he has nothing to ensure that this important coverage will continue. In fact, he hasn't lifted a finger to propose the comprehensive universal healthcare program he promised, that he bragged would be the best the world has ever seen. Everything he promises will be the “best the world has ever seen.” But, it's all talk and blather. He spends his time attacking anyone who has ever disagreed with him.

His rationale for cuts to such vital programs is that, somehow, the deficit has risen sharply, that these people are to blame, and someone has to pay. He will not cut a cent from the bloated military-defense budget or cease finding billions for his border wall. So, the people will just have to pay for all of it. There are places in the U.S. that are cynically called “flyover country,” meaning that nobody goes there and they can be ignored. For Trump, half the citizenry of America are flyover people and he is bound to ignore them and make them suffer, while he parades his “mighty military” and celebrates his “beautiful wall.” Columnist, John Funiciello, is a former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello.

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