Politics is a weird beast. Policymakers are elected in order to enact policies to help society, but politics is largely a cultural war — or even just a series of cult of personality battles. Policy is hardly touched in the lead-up to elections, and people typically go to the polls without having learned much about the policies their representatives have supported or the policies the candidates they’re voting on would like to implement.
Furthermore, new policies often don’t change society on a dime. It’s common that they slowly roll into action and the effects of the policies show up years down the road, by which time almost no one is paying attention to who implemented the policies and who would implement the same sort of thing again today.
But let’s just get into it. Let’s look at what Republicans have done in the past two years with full control of the House, Senate, and White House.
1. Allowed much more pollution — much, much more pollution:
💨 Independent research estimates 80,000 extra health-related deaths per decade due to Trump’s environmental policies.
💨 At least 67 environmental laws have been repealed under Trump, which includes essentially killing clean water rules, clean air rules, and climate action on the national level.
💨 Trump has neutered and all but eliminated the Clean Power Plan — Obama’s key effort to help stop global
warming heating and climate change catastrophe/destruction.
💨 Trump has crushed fuel economy standards that would force automakers to sell more efficient cars (especially electric cars) in the coming decades.
💨 Trump has opened American national monuments up for drilling and mining.
💨 Trump’s first appointee for the EPA even spent US tax dollar money to travel to Africa and Europe to essentially lobby for natural gas, which is not even legal.
💨 Trump embarrassed the United States in one of the most dramatic ways by deciding to pull the country out of the global Paris climate agreement. Assuming the country follows through in 2020, we will be the only country in the world to no longer supporting the soft, self-imposed rules of the agreement.
💨 In a return to the kind of under-regulated offshore drilling that led to the horrible BP oil spill that destroyed Gulf of Mexico beaches in Florida and elsewhere, the Trump administration is opening up a free for all offshore. Good luck, beaches.
Much more on Trump’s environmental policies can be found on Wikipedia.
2. Weakened control on the banking and Wall Street gamblers that just crashed the economy:
The Great Recession, fundamentally, was caused by horrible, weak regulation of the financial industry and real estate industry. What do Republicans support? Deregulation. So, who was most at fault for the weak regulations? Republicans.
Did we learn from the Great Recession? Well, sort of, but Republicans have gone right back to deregulating the financial industry with their power over Congress and the White House. We actually never got to strong enough regulation of the industry to avoid Great Recession #2, but instead of plugging the holes, Republicans in power today have been pounding more holes in the ship.
This headline captures it perfectly: “Republicans are sowing the seeds of the next financial crisis.” The first paragraph says, “The economy is finally in pretty good shape again after a financial crisis sent the world spiraling into what people feared might become a global depression. Ten years later, Republicans are in power in Washington and are working, with a little help from a minority of Democrats, to set the stage for a new banking disaster.”
Will we have to elect Obama #2 and a Democratic Congress to clean up another financial disaster in the coming decade? Will Democrats have to fix for the umpteenth time economic crises created by deregulation? I’d like to say “let’s hope not,” but I can’t see us avoiding such disasters with obsessive deregulation by Republicans.
3. Gave tax cuts to billionaires and multimillionaires:
Priority #1 for Republicans is always cutting taxes on the super wealthy and corporations. This was the core requirement they forced Obama and Democrats to give them in tough negotiations, and it was the only significant piece of legislation passed in the past two years with Republicans having full control of the federal government.
Republican tax cuts are simple — let the richest Americans pay less in taxes. That means less money available for social security, medicare, education, transportation, and/or other societal services.
As one report found, 65% of federal tax cuts since 2000 have gone to the top 20%, and “the richest 1% received more benefits than the bottom 60%.”
Who do tax cuts really benefit? Not the middle class.
Furthermore, “trickle-down economics” has been shown to be a false theory for years, and independent research indicates the latest tax cuts are not expected to do much (if anything) for the economy. Again, all these tax cuts are about is letting rich people pay less for public education, transportation infrastructure, the social safety net, the military, environmental protection, etc.
4. Started moving toward cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. (in order to make up for those massive tax cuts):
When Democrats are in power, Republican pretend to care about national debt. Every time they get into power, though, they blow up the national deficit by passing huge tax cuts. In the past few decades, it is actually always the Democrats who are the ones cutting the debt.
Yet, Republican politicians (not voters, mind you) have one big solution they’d like to implement to cut US debt. That solution is to cut back funding for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
The American public has supported Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid every decade since they were initiated, but Republican politicians have long been obsessed with the idea of cutting them. That is indeed what they plan to do if retaining power over Congress after the coming elections.
60% of Americans would rather repeal the unhelpful Trump tax scam, but that’s not going to have with Republicans in control of the House and/or Senate.
5. Put people on the Supreme Court who basically think corporations should have infinite rights:
What is a “conservative” judge these days? That question’s a little complicated, but when it comes to topics this site covers, it means giving corporations all but free reign to pollute, abuse works, pay workers poorly, etc. Seriously, this is not hyperbole — conservative justices primarily want to let companies do what they want and not be held responsible for societal harms they cause through under-regulated operation.
6. Didn’t kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but weakened it and drove up health insurance costs:
Ever since the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed, Republicans have vowed to kill it. Interestingly, even with full control for nearly two years, they have decided not to do so.
However, they have removed the individual mandate, which is crucial to the affordability and effectiveness of Obamacare. This will drive up health insurance prices (and is surely already doing so).
Ironically, as Republicans strip environmental regulations that protect our health, Republicans in power want to lower the degree to which the government tries to ensure basic healthcare.
7. Drove up the national debt to a record level:
Well, I already covered this, but yeah, Republicans have raised the national debt to a record $21 trillion.
8. Started a global trade war that’s raising prices for Americans on all sorts of products:
Have you heard about this? Of course you have. Republican policy on trade has been to start fights with everyone, but especially with friends. The price of steal, corn, soybeans, cars, practically everything is discounted.
9. Attacked the fundamental floorboards of democracy — the media and checks on power:
If you’ve been paying any attention to political news, you know that Donald Trump has viciously attacked the most important pillar of democratic society — a healthy and independent press. He has also attacked the independence of the Justice Department, Congress, and others.
It would be one thing if it was just Trump, but Republican politicians have enabled and essentially encouraged it by not stepping up for democracy, but not stepping up for the American public. The key point, though, is that Republicans in power have only enabled autocratic tendencies of the president of the United States.
10. Didn’t raise the minimum wage, didn’t offer better education, didn’t work for better & cheaper health care, didn’t do much to stimulate the key, leading industries (and jobs) of the 21st century:
Yeah, don’t be fooled — Republican leaders have never been in favor of supporting the middle class through government action. Their whole MO is to have no social safety net, reject tax revenue from millionaires and billionaires, cut funding for education and transportation infrastructure, and leave you on your own when it comes to basic health care. That’s what the Republican Party supports. Ironically, the US public largely wants all of those things the Republican Party doesn’t want — yet Republicans control the country.
Think again about the title of this article. Republicans have been in power for two years. What has the party leadership actually done to in order to help you?
Other than allowing more pollution and allowing more financial gambling with the US economy, what has the Republican Party done at all, let alone for you?
Images by ITEP and Maj. Brent J. Davis (some rights reserved)
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