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Make America Weak Again

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Bob Burnett       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Humorist P. J. O'Rourke famously said, "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it." After 11 months of total Republican control in Washington, the United States has been weakened across-the-board. Here are ten ways that Donald Trump and company have diminished American society.

1. Inequality: Rather than lessen the gap between the rich and poor, Trump has increased it. The Republican "tax reform" plan, championed by Trump, benefits corporations and the rich, at the expense of everyone else. Writing in The New Yorker (https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-final-version-of-the-gop-tax-bill-is-a-corrupt-cruel-budget-busting-hairball? ) John Cassidy noted that Republican leadership promised revenue neutrality, simplicity, and fairness. "The final bill is a corrupt, budget-busting hairball." Republicans claim the tax bill will increase the deficit by $1.5 billion over 10 years; however, "If you adjust the numbers for a series of accounting gimmicks, such as expiration provisions that are unlikely to go into effect, the real cost seems likely to come out at more than two trillion dollars."

By 2027 the tax bill will lead to tax increases for 87 million households. Because the bill adds to the deficit, it is likely to lead to decreases in social programs including Medicare. On the flip side, the Republican tax bill is loaded with special benefits for corporations and the rich; Donald Trump will see his taxes lowered.

2. Healthcare: Rather than build upon the Affordable Care Act the Trump Administration has weakened it. When he was running for President, Trump made bold promises about his new healthcare plan: "No one will lose coverage. There will be insurance for everybody. Healthcare will be a lot less expensive for everyone." None of these promises was fleshed out in GOP legislation.

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Instead Trump settled on a "repeal first, replace later" strategy that would have ended the Affordable Care Act. When this strategy failed, Trump decided to kill the Affordable Care Act by stages. The Republican "tax reform" plan ends the "individual mandate" aspect of the Affordable Care Act. This action will dramatically alter healthcare economics and ultimately lead to the loss of healthcare for 13 million Americans.

3. National Security: Rather than strengthen the U.S., Trump has made the America more vulnerable to attack. He has accomplished this by three specific actions: First, Trump has made it clear that he does not support the traditional U.S. alliances, such as NATO, the United Nations, the WTO, or others. Trump, by his words and actions, has indicated that his "America First" doctrine means that in all important decisions -- such as the worldwide effort to ameliorate global climate change -- he is willing for the U.S. to go its own way. (For example, Trump is willing to consider a unilateral attack on North Korea.)

Second, by his immigration actions -- particularly his ban on travel from Muslim majority nations -- Trump has made it clear that Muslims are unwelcome in the U.S. This impacts all our alliances in the Middle East.

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Third, by his biased treatment of Israel, Trump has made it clear that he no longer supports the "two state solution" or other historic U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Middle East. (Trump made this clear by his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.)

The net impact has been to isolate the United States in the world community. This will impact our national security and have secondary effects; for example, in 2017 international tourism to the U.S. has declined more than 10 percent.

4. Global Climate Change: Trump's "National Security Strategy" is based upon U.S. economic strength and military might and ignores the threat of global climate change. This is consistent with Trump's studied indifference to the subject and his declared intent to take the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accords. We're weaker because global climate change threatens U.S. economic strength and our military prowess.

5. Trade: As of the end of October, the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services had increased by 12 percent since Trump became President ( http://money.cnn.com/2017/12/05/news/economy/us-trade-deficit/index.html). Trump talked about renegotiating trade agreements but hasn't done it.

6. Public Health: Trump has weakened the Center for Disease Control and set up the U.S. to be vulnerable to a pandemic. (https://www.vox.com/2017/3/4/14803596/trump-pandemic-response-global-health-cdc) "America First" doesn't work during pandemics.

7. Jobs & the Economy: While the economy has continued to grown under the Trump Administration, there's no evidence that this has produced meaningful change for working families.

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The U.S. Gross Domestic Product grew 3.3 percent in the third quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has increased by 5000 points. The economy has added roughly 190,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent. Nonetheless, wages have not kept pace; they have risen only 2.4 percent.

8. Public Confidence: In November, 2016, only 33 percent of poll respondents thought that the country was headed "in the right direction." This past November the number remained at 33 percent.

A recent Qunnipiac poll found that 56 percent of respondents believed that Donald Trump was not fit to serve as President. These respondents were disturbed by Trump's demeanor and believed that he does not respect women or people of color.

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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