Friday, December 19, 2014

The Reverse New Deal: Congress hands out favors to the rich...while our infrastructure falls apart, our children become homeless, and 22 veterans kill themselves every day

 (New Deal policymakers thought stable housing for children was important. WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

As super-wealthy Americans rake in more and more money, consider this:

1. America's infrastructure is deteriorating. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a "D+" letter grade. 

2. The number of homeless children in America is at a record high.

3. An average of 22 veterans are killing themselves, every day.

You would think that any one of these three realities, let alone all three, would spur our Congress to focus all its might and energy on creating public policy to help those in need--in a strong and decisive manner. After all, isn't that what leaders are supposed to do? Address problems in strong and decisive ways?

But this type of policy-making isn't happening, not by a long shot. For example, when an old water main recently broke in Washington, D.C., a spokesman for DC Water said, "Replacing the infrastructure really falls to the rate payers. It’s not something that the city pays for. It’s not something that the federal government assists with" ("Hidden, aging infrastructure strikes D.C. commuters," WTOP, December 16, 2014, emphasis added). With respect to our epidemic of veteran suicides, we see that Republican "Tom Coburn Blocks Bill On Veterans' Suicide Prevention" (Associated Press, Huffington Post, December 15, 2014). As for homeless children, Congress is doing absolutely nothing about the massive income & wealth inequality and stagnant wages that are leaving parents less and less able to provide stable environments for their kids (see "U.S. Wealth Gap Hits Record High," Huffington Post, December 17, 2014, and "Wages and Salaries Still Lag as Corporate Profits Surge," New York Times, August 31, 2014).

(During the New Deal era, World War I veterans could find job opportunities in the Civilian Conservation Corps. This CCC enrollee (not necessarily a World War I veteran) is operating a snow plow at a CCC camp in Staatsburg, New York. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, unemployment is a risk factor for suicide. Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum and the New Deal Network.)

So, if Congress is not focused heavily on infrastructure issues, homeless children, and veteran suicide, what are they focused on? Well, considering that they recently restored Wall Street's right to engage in taxpayer-backed gambling (which will inevitably lead to taxpayer-backed fraud), and expanded the ability of super-wealthy Americans to give Congressional politicians more bribery money campaign contributions, and delayed the Volcker rule, thus allowing the big banks to continue to place their interests over the interests of their clients, I think it's pretty obvious what they're focused on.   

It's seems that we've learned nothing from the financial collapse of 2007-2008. Indeed, we're going further into the territory where, if you speak out against corporate fraud & corruption, you're an evil person. For example, when U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren railed against the restoration of taxpayer-backed bank gambling, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, "Don’t follow her lead. She’s the problem." Then, a Fox News host informed us, "And I can tell you from talking to people in the financial industry, in banking, on Wall Street, they think she is actually the devil. I mean, without question, Elizabeth Warren is the devil. So, they’re going to put any money they have behind Hillary Clinton..." Another host on the segment, clearly upset, said: "When they shine the light on this lady [Warren]...she's a radical leftist. And you're going to find out stuff about her...She's academia, Harvard, radical left." ("‘Without question, Elizabeth Warren is the devil’ and Wall Street will defeat her," Raw Story, December 16, 2014, with video).

Welcome to the Reverse New Deal: Congress hands out favors to the rich...while our infrastructure falls apart, our children become homeless, and 22 veterans kill themselves every day. And if you speak out against this risk being called a "radical," a "devil."

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