The Negative Agenda

Hillary Clinton should thank her lucky stars she’s not President. Trump’s election has shown exactly what the Republican agenda is… and isn’t. In point of fact, the Republicans, and Trump supporters [and while they overlap, they’re not all the same in their exact views], all campaigned and were united by a rejection of Hillary and of what they perceived as a Democratic agenda. For all the talk of making America great again, the underlying agenda was primarily negative… and still is.

To begin with, this administration can’t even fill all the political appointments. Why not? Because anyone who ever deviated from Republican doctrine or ever said an unkind word about our dear President appears to have been rejected, no matter how qualified he or she (rarely are potential appointees women) might be. It’s not about who can contribute positively, but about their perceived negatives.

And it’s not just the President. Congress is just as bad.

Even the so-called health care bill is negative – how much can be cut from healthcare insurance spending and how many people can be denied insurance. There’s absolutely no action or interest in the more basic underlying problem – that the profit-obsessed pharmaceutical and health care industries have created a U.S. health care system with the highest costs in the world, for only average health care [unless you’re wealthy].

The environmental agenda is a retreat from environmental and climate improvement based on the fallacious idea that allowing more pollution will revitalize U.S. industry and create more jobs in the fossil fuels industries, when most U.S. coal isn’t competitive economically and when the technological success of oil and gas fracking has not only kept the price of energy down, but made any expansion of coal production unlikely. Where are the [positive (?)] tax credits for environmental improvement? Or for reduction of greenhouse gases?

The anti-abortion agenda is theoretically positive, since it’s pro-life, except that it’s not. It’s pro-birth at any cost, but the same people who are pro-life are not only opposed to abortion and to birth-control, but also opposed to any government support of all the children born unwanted whose mothers have no way to support them, and the Republican contention that abstention from sexual activity will solve the problem is another negative approach that time and history have shown to be flawed. What reduces overpopulation and unwanted children are positive programs of health care, education, and economic improvement, not negatives.

Then there are all the cuts proposed in federal research. Science doesn’t advance without the funding for R&D, and corporate basic R&D is essentially non-existent. Corporate R&D is about creating products, not about the basic science that underpins those developments.

We’re now almost six months into the new Congress, and so far as I can tell, even with majorities in both the House and Senate, neither House has yet to pass anything positive, unless you consider a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans positive. The Republicans have forgotten how to do positive, if they ever knew.

Now… if Clinton had been elected President, given the negative bent of the Republicans, we’d most likely be watching impeachment proceedings going forward, either on Benghazi or on the Clinton Foundation or anything else…because negative is all the Republicans know or care about.

Hillary… you don’t know how fortunate you are you didn’t become President.

18 thoughts on “The Negative Agenda”

  1. JM says:

    I believe an underlying problem with American society is that we operate under the basis of “What can I keep?” instead of “What can I give?”.
    We try to pay as little as possible in taxes and continuously complain that they are to high.
    We look at charities and think “What have they ever done for me?”.
    We focus on the negative aspects of the organizations and people around us.

    Now I’m not saying we should ignore the darker side of things; rather I’m saying that if you only look for the negatives then all you’ll see are the negatives.
    Take a look at Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord: A very negative action yes but the responses of the cities, states, and tech giants was largely positive. I might not support President Trump and I might see hidden agendas in many large industries but I’m proud to say I live in a nation that will continue to strive for a cleaner environment, even if the figureheads of the nation want to steer us on a different, less beneficial path.

  2. Alan Naylor says:

    A very good point, JM. On all accounts. A review of the withdraw from the Paris accords I read pointed out that the coal industry, and this was from a coal mining executive, is never going to recover to what it was. The industry isn’t dead but it’s not going to be what it once was. More over, companies that are seen as dirty polluting companies by the public are very likely to see a large loss in profits. If they want to compete with foreign companies, it’s not solely about being cheaper.

    There are a number of ways in which people are negative. Part of it is that many people feel that others are always taking from them without giving back fair value. Look at the healthcare industry, especially after the changes brought about by the ACA. Premiums went up, services went down and it became more difficult to do anything. Many people only see the pain there because they were not in the minority who were able to receive coverage despite a pre-existing condition or because they couldn’t afford it before.

    The tax situation is another thing people refuse to accept the realities of. If you want ‘good’ schools, ‘good’ fire and police protection, as well as roads and any other number of public services they must be paid for. When you start adding social programs and services to an already stretched budget, something must give. Either you pay more in taxes or you cut services. There’s a reason infrastructure across the country is failing, why so many schools are in trouble and on and on… Either pony up the dollars, from taxes, or cut back on services.

  3. John Prigent says:

    There is an alternative to increasing taxes or cutting services. It’s quite simple. Just cut out the ‘vanity projects’ that make politicians feel good about themselves by catering to minority interests that refuse to spend their own money on what they want if they can get taxpayers to finance it instead. In my town of 25,000 in England we have a ‘Civic Arts Centre’ that has sucked a 7-digit sum out of taxpayers’ pockets because a couple of hundred people wanted to parade on its stage – the previous theatre closed because nobody wanted to pay a commercial for tickets to bad shows. Multiply this by thousands across ANY country, and remember that your US State and Federal Governments are led by people who also want to feel good about themselves for ‘doing something’, and the result is tax money diverted to non-productive uses instead of being spent on what’s actually needed.

  4. Alan Naylor says:

    The Fed spent nearly 3.9 trillion last year. About two thirds of this goes to programs which have mandatory funding requirements by law, with no spending cap, such as Medicaid/Medicare, interest on the national debt (6% of the budget by itself!), veteran pensions and benefits, etc. The cost varies for these programs, for example the size of the elderly population and how much the seniors use Medicaid/Medicare.

    If you combine the discretionary spending ‘other’ budget items with the mandatory spending ‘other’ budget items, which include things like a civic arts center, you get about 12% of the federal budget.

    12% of 3.9 trillion is a fair chunk of the pie, I’ll grant. But even 470 billion wouldn’t solve the problem of infrastructure, teachers, police and fire coverage which currently exist.

    It is estimated that the US needs to spend almost 90 billion additional dollars each year for the next decade or so to bring infrastructure up to par. Roads, bridges especially, have been a badly neglected part of the infrastructure. People seemed to believe that the bridges would last forever and didn’t want to budget money to repair them. The same is true for internet, electric, tunnels, dams, waterways, train and mass transit systems, airports and phone systems. (Though phone might be about obsolete these days.)

    Now gas taxes pay for a lot of road way work, but gas taxes haven’t been adjusted since 1993. And, to add insult to injury, there are more and more electric vehicles on the road. Not a significant number at this date but it will be. These vehicles don’t pay gas taxes to support the infrastructure they ride on.

    US police departments need a lot of things. Training is always good, be it on non-lethal force, de-escalating situations or foreign languages. They also need equipment, more police officers and so forth to provide coverage in a lot of areas. One estimate I saw said an additional 10 billion a year would be a start, ramping up to 20 billion.

    Schools and teachers could use a real boost, and not for their gymnasiums and sports teams. New buildings, more teachers and tech cost bundles and every school district I know of is seeking to cut teachers and facility costs. America spends $810 billion annually on our school systems and still we are in 17th place in reading and 32nd place in math globally, not exactly stellar numbers. The number varies wildly, depending on who’s giving it, but doubling the amount spent on education wouldn’t be unreasonable. Education is the foundation which will promote the children best in their lives. Teachers are some of the lowest paid individuals who I know of that are professionally trained, highly educated and terribly underappreciated. They fight and struggle to get basic needs for their classroom, like paper or markers for the dry erase board. Many spend their own money for classroom supplies. You don’t expect your employee’s to provide paper to print out their employer’s reports on, do you?

    No, sadly, while there is plenty of waste in government spending, pork barrel projects and things for minority groups are too small a percentage of the federal budget to be the solution. They could certainly be part of the solution, and I’d highly encourage it, but ultimately the ‘goes in’s’ must equal the ‘goes out’s’, which it doesn’t. Even with deficit spending the American people have demanded too much of the system for too many without giving enough.

  5. Devildog says:

    There is a way to increase revenue without increasing the tax rate and that means eliminating the loop holes. Create meaningful jobs for lows killed labor so that they can raise their families will get rid of the subsidized corporate labor and increase revenues also. We fight about health insurance when we should do things to actually reduce the cost of the healthcare itself. Finally, we need to quit spending more than we take in. The country is committing financial suicide slowly. Neither party gets it because they are both two sides of the same coin. Make meaningful changes that will improve the lives of the everyday families and that party will be in power for the future.

    1. JM says:

      I’ve seen 3 opinions here and I mean no offense to the other too but a tax raise, alongside an actual proper restructuring of the tax system, is the best solution I can think of. Taxes HAVE to go up at some point.

      It was said earlier: “What comes out must go in”. Yes there is some uneccisary spending but any system will have loss.

  6. Joe says:

    Amazing how no one mentions the elephant in the room!

    Cut military spending. The wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and God knows where else don’t help average citizens or make them make safer. A good education, medical care, and help in old age do. Selling weapons to Qatar and Saudi is… mind boggling.

    The Government is going to “surge” in Afghanistan. It’s playing with fire on the border of Russia. It’s destabilizing Qatar. It’s playing with China’s flea (North Korea). Even announcing an ICBM interception system before it works is dumb. Just encourages Russia to develop better evasion techniques earlier.

    Tulsi Gabbard & Rand Paul tried to introduce legislation requiring the government to stop funding terrorists. You’d think that would be uncontroversial. The proposed legislation is dead in the water.

    Arts cost diddly squat. Science costs diddly squat. War is where the real money is.

    1. Tim says:

      To Joe. US defense spending keeps enormous numbers of people employed. I read that each new carrier needs 5000 shipyard workers and later a crew of roughly the same number, and that is without those peolple building the aircraft. Chopping the budget would put these jobs at risk.

      Here in the UK we have just one carrier of any note about to enter service and another being built. Our budget is struggling to fund the crew and aircraft. I would rather we were in your position but your point is valid: why does the US need 11 carriers for example.

      I suspect there is another carrier being planned in the US as we speak. And some recent ones seem to be named after Republican presidents.

      1. Joe says:

        The armaments industry does create jobs. But so do other things the government could spend money on, such as education, scientific research, the arts, health care, rebuilding infrastructure, etc.

        Moreover, spending money on the military creates very perverse incentives: whereas it may not be to the benefit of the country to embark on military adventures, it is to the benefit of individual careers. You’re not much of a general if you didn’t manage to grow your division, or make it important by being involved in active combat, or by torturing people to obtain “hot information”.

        Money attracts people who like climbing ranks. The more money you inject into the military, the greater the proportion of careerists, who concentrate on short term boosts to their careers, and the lower the proportion of people who genuinely wish to defend their country and think about their country’s long term interests. The same dynamic is at work in the large banks, which is why they keep blowing up.

        Spending money on military is not morally cost free. And to that extent, I contend that it makes us less, rather than more, civilized or safe.

  7. Tom says:

    I assume “negative agenda” is deconstructive and “positive agenda” is constructive. In business ( and many other aspects of life) the example and direction has to come from the top. Sailing solo into innovation and construction is still being done by small groups of people and individuals – the larger the society the more difficult it is to get positive action and the easier it is to get negative action. One author holds that it is very difficult to pass laws that benefit some without hurting some other. I would be interested in reading what anyone proposes that could benefit the US and would be passed by the present Administration and Legislated by the present Congress. Attempts at reducing the damage to the US is all I believe is possible because we have a Toxic “Boss” (see todays BBC News) and thus cannot have anything but a negative agenda per our elected leaders and our society as a whole.

  8. Derek says:

    Given the violent rhetoric by those on the right leading up to the election, she should be considering herself lucky that she doesn’t have an army of right wing nutjobs gunning for her right now. My state was filled with talk of armed uprising, worse still from otherwise reasonable people. When members your state’s National Guard are openly discussing overthrow of the government in case of a Clinton victory… In a very real sense, she really is lucky she did not win.

    1. Tom says:

      Revolt is possible, even if unlikely to be successful, when every citizen carries a gun and takes unconsidered action. But, does the US Military have the type of leaders who will a. Let it happen and b. replacement banana republic. Probably not, because our destroyers cannot avoid container ships at night and our cops have to empty their guns to make sure one or two shots hit the target. Yes, they probably are still the best in the world but is that enough?

  9. CEC says:

    I wish I had a more positive outlook on the potential effectiveness of the Democratic agenda, but I don’t. In a modicum of fairness to the Republicans–and full disclosure, I’m neither a member nor a supporter of either major party–I think the Democratic agenda makes no economic sense, and the noise and accusations I hear from the left are as bad as what I hear from the right. All in all, a pretty ugly time in American politics.

  10. Frank says:

    I read this blog as entertainment while I eat lunch at work, so forgive me for some abbreviated comments:

    I agree that Hillary should be glad she didn’t win. I don’t think she was a good candidate, although she would have probably been a better President than “The Donald.”

    Most of the financial analyses seem believable. We are in serious trouble. I would suggest, however, that we start trying to “do what we can do.” Solve the problems we can, even if it isn’t enough. Do something to make things better. E.g., try not to pollute (not the whole world…just you). Government is a mess. I’m in it and have tried to change things to promote efficiency and savings, but there is a huge amount of inertia to fight as well as folks actively fighting to keep their bed feathered and their tasking light. What I would suggest is a Constitutional Amendment to limit ALL elected offices to 2 terms of 4 years. We need to go back to citizen legislators.

    1. JM says:

      I can agree with putting a limit on terms. I’m not a fan of career polititions.

      1. Alan Naylor says:

        There are a wide variety of things which might be done to improve government, though they wouldn’t be popular with government officials so would never be proposed. Term limits is one such example. Another was that Congress should be subjected to the same medical bills they approve.

        A civics class I was part of in college suggested that Congressmen should be paid no more than the median wage for the area they represent. Seems reasonable to me.

        1. Tim says:

          @Alan Naylor. Though it sounds good in principle, levelling the salaries brings with it a side-effect as we experience here in the UK. Our Members of Parliament are not well paid at all, so many people attracted to the role are generally from well-off backgrounds and have a private income. They will likely also have attended the best universities as the public school system their parents paid for prepared them to get there.

          Bizarrely the vilified UKIP party fielded candidates who came from far less well-heeled backgrounds and so offered people who were arguably more egalitarian. This brought its own issues however as they were less prepared for the media, and so gave the latter a field day.

          1. Alan Naylor says:

            I can’t say that I’m surprised, but what we have right now isn’t much different. A majority of politicians are well off, sufficient enough that they do not need to work if they do not wish to. They are not, it is generally believed, in touch with the middle class and below who make up the majority of their voting groups and they tend to vote their own interests.

            If politician’s interests were the interests of their voters, if their well being, income and so forth were directly tied to their voters it might improve the political system.

            With a salary of 174K, retirement after one term in office, several months of time ‘off’ (which is used differently by each Congressman), generally free travel (picked up by state or federal tax dollars) to and from their state, $1.2-3.3 million in staff funding from tax payer sources and a host of lesser perks, it is hard to suggest that the Congress has any touch with reality for the middle class and below.

            Most Congressman hold bachelor’s degrees, though some have advanced degrees and a few don’t have bachelor’s degrees. They are all practically wealthy from outside sources and barely scratch the surface of American diversity. Primarily white and male, to the tune of 80+%, law makers can hardly be said to represent the ‘people.’

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