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The calculated oppression of working Americans

Melvin B. Miller
The calculated oppression of working Americans
“How come I always feel like I’m being conned when he’s talking?”

Since 1894, American workers have enjoyed Labor Day every year. Now it always comes on a Monday to provide an extended weekend. Although it was originally supposed to provide an opportunity for workers to meet and develop their political power, Labor Day has become little more than a paid vacation. However, on Labor Day this year, voters who work for a living, even those whose employment has been interrupted by Covid-19, would do well to ponder the classic Election Day question: “Will you be better off with a Democratic or a Republican president?” And it is better to consider the policies of the competing presidential candidates without getting sidetracked by Trump’s tweets or theatrics.

Do not be deceived. American conservatives who oppressed the working class are now very active as members of the Republican Party. In the 1800s, laborers worked seven-day weeks of 12 hours a day just to earn a survivable wage. Factories and mines were unsafe. The labor movement was launched, and strikes forced companies to become more accommodating.

President Franklin Roosevelt established the Social Security system in 1935 to provide a level of financial security for retirees older than 65. President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted Medicare and Medicaid 30 years later in 1965. The reduction of benefits or total elimination of these two programs are the targets of the committed conservatives.

Working-class voters respond aggressively to the elimination of either program. Consequently, Republicans cannot attack either program directly. Politicians joke that to do so is like stepping on the third rail of the subway trains. So attacks are usually subtle and indirect.

Trump has proposed that corporations be excused from paying funds to Social Security so that unemployment for laid-off workers can be paid. The problem with this suggestion is that half of the Social Security resources come from that source. Continued payment of benefits while revenue is cut in half will eventually bleed the program to death. Trump has stepped on the third rail, but few seem to have noticed.

Unlike other industrial nations, the U.S. has been reluctant to provide health care for all its citizens. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), pejoratively called Obamacare, provided health insurance coverage for thousands of poor citizens who could not afford to pay for insurance. But just as important, the law also required adequate coverage on private plans. In order to meet the legal standard, private plans must now insure people with pre-existing health conditions.

Trump still has a suit in court to make Obamacare unconstitutional. There is some concern that 18.8% of federal spending could go to health insurance by 2028. Trump’s solution is to let the well-to-do buy whatever insurance they want, but let Americans with modest incomes survive with inadequate coverage.

Trump has failed to provide national leadership to overcome a major pandemic. As of mid-August, more than 29 million Americans had to receive some form of unemployment compensation as the economy collapsed because of Covid-19. Another 187,000 Americans have died. And Trump is trying to kill Obamacare to deny the poor health insurance.

Now we find that our Commander in Chief has no respect for the military. He is instigating racial turmoil to foment racial conflict.

He has failed to perform favorably on any election commitment he made in 2016.

It is time to look beyond the hype and determine who can produce the kind of America you can be proud of.

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