“Socialist” Scare Tactics

With the election of Joe Biden as the next President, the right-wing scare-mongers have revved up their rants about how the “ultra-liberal” Democrats are going to impose “socialist” measures of all sorts on the United States.

Even if, unlikely as it is, the Democrats win both Georgia Senate seats, they’ll only have a one vote edge in the Senate and that includes two independents, one of whom is Angus King, who left the Democratic Party almost thirty years ago because it had become too liberal. Add to that Joe Manchin, who has consistently opposed almost all “liberal” Democratic positions.

Any legislation that has a chance of passing the next Congress is going to have to have bipartisan support in the Senate or be a small and incremental improvement on existing programs and laws. In addition, as President, Joe Biden will be limited in creating new initiatives through Executive Orders.

Trump was successful largely because the vast majority of his successes lay in destroying or limiting existing programs. While Biden could restore some environmental regulations, he will be very limited in creating new programs without Congressional approval, and he’s not going to get approval of anything even remotely close to what the right-wing scare-mongers are claiming and projecting.

Some of what he may be able to get is a statutory ban on using pre-existing medical conditions to deny health care insurance or to require higher premiums for such insurance. It’s conceivable he might be able to get an increase in the federal minimum wage, but is it all that radical to push for a minimum wage that’s higher that the present one – which is set at 60% of the poverty level? He might also be able to reinstate some air pollution regulations rolled back by Trump, which would be helpful in allowing people to breathe without greater damage to their lungs.

But there won’t be any “Green New Deal” or “Medicare for Everyone,” no matter what the scare-mongers claim. Even getting improvements in the Affordable Care Act, beyond a ban on pre-existing conditions, will be difficult.

The votes just aren’t there, just as the votes weren’t there for Trump to be reelected, but that apparently doesn’t matter to the far right, which is, again, busy creating an alternate political reality, rather than trying to fix the one we have…and the one in which all of us, including Trump, will have to live.

8 thoughts on ““Socialist” Scare Tactics”

  1. Hanneke says:

    If Medicare for all is out of reach, I really hope he can do a few other things, to keep the ACA (as well as Medicare and Medicaid) healthy and to get affordable healthcare to those who need it most.

    1) Remove the ban the Republicans got into the legislation on the government using its collective bargaining power with healthcare providers, instead of just having to pay anything those pharmaceutical companies ask (one of the most important reasons why medicines cost so much more in the USA than in other countries). Undoing that ban would help keep rising Medicare and Medicaid costs in check, and prevent the outright profiteering we’ve seen recently from hedge funds taking over a patent and raising the price to 20x higher than it was, just because people need that medicine and there is no alternative.
    Government research grants pay for a lot of the basic research that underlies advances in medicine; companies then get government-protected patents to be able to sell the developed drugs without competition (and the companies lobby the government, or find loopholes with tiny changes, to extend those patent protections ever further), and then the law says that the government is not allowed to bargain if the companies choose to wildly overcharge them. That is not a fair marketplace whichever way you look at it.
    It really is a wonder to me, how the republican press can get away with scaremongering about socialist democrats, while their own legislation tends to be rife with ‘socialism’ for big companies – handouts, tax cuts, wealth transfer mechanisms, privatising the gains while socialising the costs…

    2) Get a public option into the ACA, which can use the power of collective bargaining to get people a better deal on their healthcare plans.

    3) He needs to reinstate some secure method of collective funding for the collective insurance. Now Republicans have taken away the mandate, so only people who are sick already will choose healthcare insurance, the affordability becomes problematic.
    Car insurance is predicated on all people who own cars having insurance, not just the ones who have just had an accident, or can see one looming ahead. We all own our own health, just like car owners own their car, and want it taken care if in case of an accident or illness, without bankrupting us. It should be regulated similarly, spreading the load.

    4) Getting the expanded Medicaid into all the states, so poorer people living in Republican states don’t get left behind, would help a lot of people, and deal with some of the worst excesses of inequality within the states. But it seems those Republican-run states really like grinding down their poor people, and don’t want their right to do so interfered with, so I’m not sure if this would be achievable.

    The Netherlands runs a commercial health insurance system, rather than a state-run health insurance system; and it does work, everyone gets health insurance at reasonable prices – but it is heavily regulated to achieve that end result.
    So I know it can be done, even without going for the ‘socialist’ Medicare for all option, but it requires the will to regulate this industry. One’s health is considered part of the basic necessities of life, and over in Europe that’s what we consider the most basic core business of the nation: ensuring that everyone has affordable access to all the basic necessities of life, including general safety (through police, firefighters and military), clean air and water (through environmental regulations, water and sewage systems etc.), and healthcare, and a social security safety net which ensures the ability to buy food and shelter for those incapable of doing so otherwise. That is why we humans band together into states and nations, to spread the risks and shoulder some burdens collectively. Where the line gets drawn as to which things we should organise collectively and which are left to the individual differs, and can be a subject for discussions.
    I could wish our law-giving bodies would be open to such a principled discussion – including what the practical human consequences of their principles will be.

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    Anything less than phasing out most of the EXISTING socialism…is still socialism.

    We don’t need more entitlements, benefits, redistribution; we need less. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the federal government’s job is meeting people’s needs. In fact, the 9th and 10th amendments kind of say that anything not enumerated (or implied) is NOT the federal government’s job. (“general welfare” in the preamble does NOT count!)

    As for scares, GOOD. Eternal vigilance and all that. Better be scared when ANY district is dumb enough to elect people like “the Squad”.

    1. Tom says:

      Socialism – noun- a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

      i.e. “Society with government of the people by the people”.

      It was interesting to read your opinions. Fare thee well in your freedom on your isolated rock.

    2. Hanna says:

      Boo hoo.

      The Squad won, America won and the orange BS lost.

      And you’re still a tRump brown nosing wingnut.

      [NOTE FROM EDITOR: This last phrase is on the edge. A little more polite in tone in the future, please.]

    3. Hanneke says:

      @R. Hamilton, re “general welfare” in the preamble of the Constitution: don’t you think it’s too obviously self-serving and opinionated to declare one of the core principles for all human group-forming, clearly mentioned in the preamble of your Constitution as (one of) the bases on which the whole thing is predicated, as “this does not count” – just because it doesn’t align with you libertarian (anarchist) viewpoint?
      It’s in the preamble for a reason; the preamble is what the following text is based on.
      Promoting the general welfare of its people should be the core aim of a good nation, and all the details in the rest just explains how the founders thought would be the best way to go about this.
      Individual personal freedoms, and freedom from oppressive interference by the state and others, are part of that. That doesn’t mean the state should leave anyone struck by ill-luck or ill-health to die, or allow predators (human or corporate) to ravage the population unchecked.

      Your libertarian philosophy of each for himself, none for us all, and might makes right, is not a basis for any kind of human society. It’s pure anarchy, and cannot stand up to its own Darwinian test: whenever people try this, other humans will eventually band together to deal with these anarchic individuals.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        My philosophy is not so rigid as to be either conservative or libertarian (I have some positions one or the other wouldn’t like, not always aligned with the same one, and perhaps occasionally with neither).

        But you’re quite wrong about the bottom line. I do NOT say that every person is an island. I DO say that government should NOT become the usual way to ensure no planetary problem is unsolved, no great amount of acute personal needs are unmet, etc. PRIVATE entities (charities, business owners that want the business to be around for their grandchildren, and their grandchildren to be healthy, etc) can do quite a lot. They DO quite a lot, and if not burdened by confiscatory taxes, would probably do more.

        You are however right in this respect: I think that people’s problems should be solved by THEM if at all possible, assisted by VOLUNTARY PRIVATE means, and then (only occasionally) as a last resort, by STATES, NOT by the federal government (except for those injured in the line of duty in federal service, who are entitled to at least as much consideration as workmen’s comp provides for private employees, arguably more in the case of those with inherently dangerous jobs, like the military).

        I do NOT however think that the possibility that some fall through the cracks calls for any means (including IMO unconstitutional federal programs) to avoid that. There’s NO right to any need for survival other than air (which nobody’s labor and liberty has to be confiscated to provide), except in the case of minors, or adults declared incompetent.

        If your conscience burdens you for strangers, support a charity that’s likely to help them. The government is NOT a charity. And government printing more money (in excess of actual GDP growth, anyway) is NOT a magic free stuff machine, it messes up the economy. There IS NO magic free stuff machine. Whenever government gives to one, it’s because it’s taken from others, period. ONLY the least practical amount of taking is reasonable, IMO; the rest is theft or fractional slavery. Do what’s right because you believe it’s right, not because it’s rolled into your taxes! The latter also undermines people doing what’s right on their own, because many will think they don’t have to.

        But no, no body count statistic will impress me worth a hoot. I say that at the VERY last resort, Darwin Awards probably improve the species (although a counter argument is that they would indicate a lack of – hopefully PRIVATE – compassion).

        1. Lourain says:

          You live in a world where the government’s effects on the quality of life are so taken for granted, that you don’t acknowledge their existence. Ex: Air is not free. Bad air quality can shorten peoples’ lives and even kill. When farmers in India burn their fields in the fall, the air quality in the metropolitan areas becomes some of the worst in the world. The farmers have a good reason to burn the fields, but they are indirectly killing people. How would your ‘world’ solve this problem without government intervention?
          There are plenty of other examples…water quality, resource depletion…the list is a long one.

          1. R. Hamilton says:

            There are always a few cases. I’m NOT saying pollute infinitely and freely. But the LEAST regulation needed to for example have L.A. air quality (still temperamental due to the tendency for inversions to confine the pollution) at current levels rather than at early 60’s levels is quite enough, if not borderline more than enough, IMO.

            I have a reservation for a Cybertruck (electric), not because I want to save the planet, but because it will FINALLY be the electric that offers the functionality (including range) that I want, and the likelihood of longer life and lower maintenance than a dino-juice burner. So, not as an activist or for the greater good, but for enlightened self-interest, and DESPITE the annoying activists, I’ll still end up doing what some might consider the right thing.

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