Editor’s Note: The Lake Geneva Regional News presents “Party Lines,” a monthly discussion of political issues featuring side-by-side guest columnists from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The column below represents one side of this month’s discussion. Click here for the other side.
President Trump used his State of the Union address to call for bipartisan cooperation, but then warned that if the House of Representatives insists on oversight of his administration, cooperation won’t be possible.
His bipartisan cooperation seemed shallow when he once again falsely claimed a “tremendous onslaught” of immigrants at the border and declared he would build a wall without the support of Congress. Arrests at the border have dropped to 310,000 migrants from a peak of 1.6 million in 2000.
The reality is that the majority of undocumented immigrants enter the U. S legally and overstay their visas. There were 700,000 overstays in 2017.
Rather than seeking greatness in a border solution, Trump merely reset his immigrant crimes agenda.
“Choosing greatness” is resulting in proposals advocating tax rates as high as 70 percent on incomes above $10 million or a 2 percent tax on net worth above $50 million and 3 percent tax on assets above $1 billion. A Fox News poll found 70 percent of the population support increasing taxes on on incomes over $10 million.
Americans are now realizing that accumulated wealth exerts enormous influence over how we’re governed. Wealth equals power, and the inequality results in misery for many Americans.
The newest members of Congress are “choosing greatness” in their effort to restore balance to our economy and democracy by advocating a course correction using tax policy.
Single-payer healthcare is gaining traction in our country. A majority of Americans favor a “Medicare for all” plan. Many developed nations have successful single-payer systems. Their taxes are higher, but people are no longer charged premiums, co-pays or deductibles. These countries spend half as much per person on healthcare than Americans do.
“Choosing greatness” in health care might include a public option to buy into Medicare that would coexist with private insurance programs. This would address Trump’s unfulfilled promise of better health care for more people at less cost.
Americans want living wage jobs and fair trade, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, reducing the price of health care and prescription drugs, creating a safe and lawful immigration system, and a foreign policy that builds allies with shared interests. Trump warned that proposals such as Medicare-for-all and a wealth tax are socialism and “America will never be a socialist country.”
He argues that our only choice is power-grabbing capitalism where the top 1 percent have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
Many Americans do not share Trump’s view. Seventy-four percent support a wealth tax and 70 percent support Medicare for all. Only 19 percent of young Americans identify as capitalists.
Nordic countries have figured out how to have a healthcare system with higher life expectancy, much less poverty, and significantly higher overall life satisfaction. They have higher levels of entrepreneurship, because people know they won’t lose their healthcare or plunge into poverty if they fail.
Americans support a market economy, but with extreme hardship limited by a strong social safety net and abject poverty limited by progressive taxation. Trump may call this socialism, but the rest of the world calls this social democracy, as it tempers the excesses of runaway capitalism.
Around 60 percent of America’s wealth is now inherited. As rich boomers expire over the next three decades, nearly $30 trillion will go to their children. After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand non-working families.
Meanwhile, most Americans are working harder, but getting nowhere and have less security than ever.
Going forward, it’s up to government to intervene and equalize the playing field between the rich capitalists and the general public who are toiling without reward. Most Americans need thicker safety nets and a bigger piece of the economic pie. If you want to call this socialism, fine. But call it fair.
President Trump and Congress need conciliatory rhetoric — not hostility to bring “greatness” to our country.
Jerry Hanson of Elkhorn is a member of the Walworth County Democratic Party.