American Oligarchs' Day of Reckoning Is Nigh

Robert Reich

Robert Reich Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, Professor at Berkeley

The Republican tax plan to be voted on this week is likely to pass. “The American people have waited 31 long years to see our broken tax code overhauled,” the leaders of the Koch’s political network insisted in a letter to members of Congress, urging swift approval.

They added that the time had come to put “more money in the pockets of American families.”

Please. The Koch network doesn’t care a fig about the pockets of American families. It cares about the pockets of the Koch network. 

It has poured money into almost every state in an effort to convince Americans that the tax cut will be good for them. Yet most Americans don’t believe it. 

Polls shows only about a third of Americans favor the tax plan. The vast majority feel it’s heavily skewed to the rich and big businesses – which it is.  

In counties that Trump won but Obama carried in 2012, only 17 percent say they expect to pay less in taxes, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Another 25 percent say they expected their family would actually pay higher taxes.

Most Americans know that the tax plan is payback for major Republican donors. Gary Cohn, Trump’s lead economic advisor, even conceded in an interview that “the most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.”

Republican Rep. Chris Collins admitted “my donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’” Senator Lindsey Graham warned that if Republicans failed to pass the tax plan, “the financial contributions will stop.”

By passing it, Republican donors will save billions – paying a lower top tax rate, doubling the amount their heirs can receive tax-free, and treating themselves as “pass-through” businesses able to deduct 20 percent of their income (effectively allowing Trump to cut his tax rate in half, if and when he pays taxes).

They’ll make billions more as their stock portfolios soar because corporate taxes are slashed.

The biggest winners by far will be American oligarchs such as the Koch brothers; Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor; Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate; Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets football team and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune; and Carl Icahn, the activist investor.

The oligarchs are the richest of the richest 1 percent. They’ve poured hundreds of millions into the GOP and Trump. Half of all contributions to the first phase of the 2016 election came from just 158 families, along with the companies they own or control.

The giant tax cut has been their core demand from the start. They also want to slash regulations, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut everything else government does except for defense – including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

In return, they have agreed to finance Trump and the GOP, and mount expensive public relations campaigns that magnify their lies.

Trump has fulfilled his end of the bargain. He’s blinded much of his white working-class base to the reality of what’s happening by means of his racist, xenophobic rants and policies. 

The American oligarchs couldn’t care less about what all this will cost America. 

Within their gated estates and private jets, they’re well insulated from the hatefulness and divisiveness, 

They don’t worry about whether Social Security or Medicare will be there for them in their retirement because they’ve put away huge fortunes.

Climate change doesn’t concern them because their estates are fully insured against hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

They don’t care about public schools because their families don’t attend them. They don’t care about public transportation because they don’t use it. They don’t care about the poor because they don’t see them. 

They don’t worry about the rising budget deficit because they borrow directly from global capital markets. 

Truth to tell, they don’t even care that much about America because their personal and financial interests are global.

They are living in their own separate society, and they want Congress and the President to represent them, not the rest of us.

The Republican Party is their vehicle. Fox News is their voice. Trump is their champion. The new tax plan is their triumph.

But if polls showing most Americans against the tax cut are any guide, that triumph may be short lived. Americans are catching on. 

The recent electoral results in Virginia and Alabama offer further evidence. 

A tidal wave of public loathing is growing across the land – toward Trump, the GOP, and the oligarchs they serve; and to the deception, the wealth, and the power that underlies them.  

That wave could crash in the midterm elections of 2018. If so, the current triumph of the oligarchs will be the start of their undoing.

***

Reposted from AlterNet

Robert Reich served as the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and now is a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His latest book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future, is now in bookstores. His earlier book, “Supercapitalism,” is out in paperback. For copies of his articles, books, and public radio commentaries, go to www.RobertReich.org.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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