Dear Trump voters,
Greetings from Deep Blue California, where we have the highest state taxes in the nation, the highest tax rate on millionaires, subsidized healthcare for 12 million poor Californians, guaranteed equal pay for women and men, the strongest environmental and anti-pollution regulations in the country, the strictest laws protecting public health and the state’s natural resources, and wide-ranging rights, benefits, and protections for undocumented immigrants.
Sounds like an economic and cultural nightmare, doesn’t it?
Well, not quite so. California today has the second highest economic growth rate in the country, the ninth highest job growth rate, and the third highest average income. We’re funneling up to $8 billion per year into education and we’re projecting a $2.8 billion budget surplus in 2017.
Things were not always so rosy. In 2011, California had a $26.6 billion budget deficit and was often described in the media as a “failed state.” How did things turn around so drastically and so quickly?
Here’s the short answer: California voters booted Republicans out of our state government.
Today, California is about as Democratic as a state can get. It’s not perfect, but it’s functioning. And it’s functioning because we got rid of Republicans in government.
Here is the hard truth you are about to learn. The Republican Party today, the party that now controls both houses of Congress, is even more radical and dangerous than the Party we banished from California government just a few years ago. Republicans have nothing but contempt for you and your values. That’s why they never saw Donald Trump coming. And they are happy to take money from your wallet and hand it over to the richest Americans who have the least need for it.
When asked in a December 2016 poll why you voted for Trump, 85% of you said it was because you believed he would “improve the economy and make it work better for the middle and working class.” Of course, 76% of you also said it was to “make sure Hillary Clinton did not become President.” But only 36% of you said it was to “pursue traditional Republican policies.” And when asked to pick the one reason that was most important to you, only 1% of you chose “pursue traditional Republican policies.”
I take you seriously when you say you want to see the economy work better for the middle and working classes. I’m suggesting that if you look at states that are in fact working better, like California, you will see that Republicans have no power to obstruct or legislate in any of them. And if you look at states where Republicans are running the show, like in Kansas and Louisiana, you will see that they are doing very poorly for the middle and working classes. That’s just the reality on the ground, where it matters.
The point I want to make here is that Republicans, specifically Republicans in Congress, are the folks who will have to pass the laws required for President Trump to improve the economy for you. And everything we know about the Republican Party tells us that making the economy work better for middle and working class Americans is simply not what they are interested in. On the contrary, they are willing to steal from you, bankrupt you, and even let you die – just to save millionaires and billionaires a few bucks on taxes.
I’m not talking about what Republicans in Congress have said, I’m talking about what they’ve done. I know you’ve been told that Obama was a bad guy who didn’t care about your needs or interests. But here are some facts about who cared about jobs during the Obama years:
- In September 2010, Obama tried to pass a law to end tax breaks for U.S. companies that moved jobs and manufacturing plants overseas. Senate Republicans blocked it.
- In October 2011, Obama tried to pass a $447 billion jobs relief bill. Senate Republicans (plus 2 Democrats) blocked it.
- Later that month, Obama introduced a more limited jobs bill to rehire 400,000 teachers, firefighters, paramedics and police officers who had been laid off during the recession. Senate Republicans blocked it.
- In November 2011, Senate Republicans blocked a $60 billion infrastructure improvement plan because it was funded with a 0.7% surtax on incomes over a million dollars a year.
- In August 2013, Senate Republicans blocked a transportation and housing bill (co-sponsored by a Republican) to repair bridges and roads and provide $3.15 billion to communities to create jobs and invest in local infrastructure, housing, services, and economic development.
- In April 2014, Republicans blocked a minimum wage hike that would have benefited hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans and put millions of dollars into local economies.
- In March 2015, Senate Republicans blocked another infrastructure repair bill that would have created an estimated 11 million jobs.
And that’s just the Republican record on jobs. Between 2007 and 2014, they blocked over 500 bills aimed at helping the middle class. The last three Republican-led Congresses, in session from 2011 to 2016, were the least productive Congresses since the last time Republicans controlled Congress under a Democratic President, 1995-1996.
How can we explain this ongoing effort to obstruct and suppress the economic recovery of the United States? Only one explanation makes sense: Republicans wanted ammunition to criticize Obama’s record in the upcoming Presidential campaign. So they were willing to sacrifice your economic well-being for years in order to achieve this goal, blocking the creation of millions of well-paying jobs that would have brought an economic boost to thousands of American communities, just so they could make the Democrats look bad in the upcoming election. And it worked.
Donald Trump, as you figured out pretty early on, is not a standard Republican. While Republicans in Congress were blocking every effort to improve the American economy for middle and working class Americans, candidate Trump was promising a very different agenda: creating millions of new jobs, bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, closing tax loopholes that only benefit the rich, and replacing Obamacare with something better and cheaper. You believed him and made him President of the United States.
Republican politicians may have been able to disguise their values and agenda when they were in opposition during the Obama years. But now they’re in charge, so they have to show their political hand for all to see. And what they’re showing looks very good for the very rich, but not so good for you, the middle class and working class Americans who put Donald Trump in the White House. Here’s a bit of what the Republicans have in store for you.
Obamacare. Item #1 on the Republican agenda is to repeal Obamacare, even though they have no idea how to replace it. What’s weird about this is that Republicans seem to believe that making healthcare inaccessible to up to 30 million Americans is something they should be congratulated for doing. Doctors, insurance companies and hospitals all say the results of repeal, which will also cut back eligibility for Medicaid, will be devastating for many Americans, including millions of Trump voters, but Republicans seem to feel that is an acceptable cost for the pleasure of obliterating this key part of Obama’s legacy. They also don’t seem to care that, in their own estimate, this gesture will add $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years and result in up to 36,000 avoidable deaths per year. Much of that cost and pain will be felt in communities that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.
And why are Republicans so willing to heap this suffering on millions of low-income Americans? Because they want to save rich Americans from a small tax increase imposed to fund Obamacare – an increase in Medicare taxes from 1.45% to 2.35% on income over $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples). Let’s put this priority in perspective. According to the logic of the Republican Party, it’s OK to let up to 36,000 low-income Americans die every year in order to save very well-off Americans about $900 per year for every $100,000 in income they make above $200,000. Does that sound like a fair trade to you?
Republican tax plans. It’s a family tradition. Every new Republican Administration rewards the rich with another massive tax cut, usually throwing a small bone to the little people so they don’t feel left out. What Republicans have planned this time depends on which plan you look at, but they’re all pretty similar: anywhere from 47% to 76% of tax benefits will go to the top one percent of taxpayers (incomes over $700,000), while only 5% to 10% will go to the bottom sixty percent (incomes under $60,000). The planned cuts will shrink government revenues by trillions of dollars over the next decade, which will produce massive budget deficits that Republicans will want to close by cutting programs like Social Security, Medicare, aid to schools, and other services that currently benefit middle and working class Americans.
Again, here is the Republican mindset at work. First you give away trillions of dollars to the rich, then you use that as an excuse to cut services to everyone else, because the government no longer has the money to pay for them!
Making the rich richer, and you poorer. But perhaps you should be asking Republicans, when will we have rewarded the rich enough? Income inequality has exploded over the last few decades. And every Republican tax plan increases inequality even more.
How much more inequality can middle and working class Americans tolerate? In 1980, the average income of the bottom 50% of wage earners was about $16,000 (in 2014 dollars) while the top 1% earned an average of $428,200, or 27 times more. By 2014, the bottom 50% were still earning about $16,000, but the top 1% were now earning an average of $1,304,800, or 81 times more.
Here’s another example. If you were in the middle 60% of income earners in 2011, your average income was $72,036 (in current dollars). But if inequality had not increased since 1980, your income would have been $83,666. In other words, in 2011 you paid an “inequality tax” of almost $12,000. That’s a direct transfer from you to the top 1%. Republicans want to increase that tax even more. Do you?
Whatever you have been told by Republicans about immigrants or minorities being the cause of your economic difficulties, the fact is, the real culprit is income inequality. Yes, Bernie Sanders was right. The rich are not paying their fair share, and it is the Republican Party that is trying to keep it that way, at your expense.
My recommendation for all Trump supporters is to follow the lead of California and vote the Republicans out of their Senate and House majorities in 2018. You will be stunned at how quickly things begin to improve, just as they improved in California, once the Republicans were out of the picture.
If Donald Trump really wants to fight for you, this is the best way to help him do it.