There is an ongoing battle in this country involving the middle class. While the odds in Congress favor the rich and powerful, there are groups fighting hard to preserve and strengthen the middle class and that gives us hope. I am confident that the middle class in America will survive and ultimately be strengthened. But folks around the country must wake up and get involved in the fight. Certain factors influence the battle that can’t be denied. They include the following:
Public Citizen, a leading consumer advocacy group, is convinced that Congress and even the White House are sinking in the quicksand of a completely false “deficit“ crisis. Blind or indifferent to its impact on everything from meat inspections to airport lines to job losses, Congress drove the country into the sequester. This unnecessarily jeopardized critical public safeguards and services and the effect is just beginning to be felt. We are starting to see how bad the sequester approach was as a way to reduce government spending. While some experts say both political parties liked it, I hope that’s not true. But based on what’s happened recently in our Nation’s Capitol, one has to wonder. Regardless, the fact is the losers will be the American people.
We have a tremendous number of serious problems in this country that are unfortunately being ignored by Congress. For example, there are millions of Americans going hungry each day and millions still don’t have health care. Millions of Americans lost their homes, their savings or their pensions to Wall Street’s pathological pursuit of profits. It appears that Congress is seriously considering cuts to Social Security and Medicare, two of the most effective and vital public programs in our nation’s history. I am afraid that President Obama may even be leaning in that direction.
While the super-rich and huge corporations are doing better than ever, individual citizens are being asked to sacrifice and just do the best they can. Folks continue to scrape along. Let’s consider that millions of Americans who want and need work can’t get a job, while those with jobs have seen their wages stagnate. That’s hard to take when you consider workers in the U.S. have become more productive than ever before. When you factor in all of the above, and consider how tens of millions of citizens are hurting, it just doesn’t add up.
The United States – even with our government’s growing debt – is still a rich nation. There is a tremendous amount of prosperity in this country, but unfortunately it’s at the top levels. Instead of prosperity being shared, it’s being sucked up and socked away by the few who already have it. Many of that elite group act as if it’s their birthright and theirs alone. Their disdain and indifference regarding the problems people face in this country is truly disturbing.
Why is all of this happening? Why can’t politicians in Washington, with the picture right in front of them, “get it?” On one side, folks are suffering, while on the other side people with more money than they could ever spend are demanding still more. The reason is quite plain. All too many of our politicians have become beholden to those with the money who can either keep them in or out of office. The problem of money in politics affects every challenge facing American society. If you have any doubts about that, all you have to do is look at what’s going on in our Nation’s Capitol.
Corporate America has played a definite role in weakening the middle-class. It has virtually run the show in Congress. The pharmaceutical industry is a prime example of how huge corporations benefit from the money they put in politics. They furnish the money, elect their candidates, have their way, and keep on putting “profits over safety.” Consider how many FDA-approved drugs have had to be pulled from the market because they were killing or badly hurting folks.
The high cost and lack of availability of healthcare in the U.S. continue to be major problems. It’s long past time that we join our peers throughout the developed world who ensure that affordable, quality health care is available to every one of their citizens. Yet the pharmaceutical and insurance industries elect members of Congress who will scream about “Obamacare,” and make false claims about “socialized medicine” and “death panels.” There are organized efforts to prevent an expanded and improved Medicare-For-All program, which would provide health care as a matter of right. The healthcare law passed by Congress was a step in the right direction, but it was not as good as it could have been.
Should Congress enact some commonsense curbs on Wall Street’s basest impulses – to which it has shown a seemingly bottomless susceptibility – before the Big Banks push ahead toward the brink of disaster again? The financial giants spend practically without limit to push their agenda in Congress. My friends at Public Citizen believe the Big Bank agenda basically boils down to “Trust us.” But past history tells the American people they simply can’t trust these institutions.
Losing industrial jobs in the U.S. is a major problem and it raises a number of questions, one being “Why has Congress allowed American industries to ‘offshore’ too many good jobs?” I believe most Americans would say that’s a bad thing. But special interests with deep pockets are scheming to extend NAFTA-style trade pacts over the entire globe in a “race to the bottom for health and safety standards, environmental protections and worker’s rights.”
Why hasn’t Congress undertaken a badly-needed reform of our tax code? It’s impossible to justify huge corporations making record profits but paying no taxes. There are many examples of this and one company’s efforts will be mentioned in this issue. While there are many other issues that the public is concerned with, and there are numerous reasons for those issues, money in politics affects every single one of them. Reforming our campaign financing laws is where the fight must start. Political money from Corporate America must be controlled. That will require alerting the public and then passing necessary and badly-needed campaign finance reform legislation in Congress.
Public Citizen is leading the fight to save and preserve the middle class in this country. But the problems discussed above are roadblocks in its path. These issues are just few of the reasons Public Citizen devotes so much of its resources to researching, exposing and fighting – in all branches of government in Washington – the ways corporate money corrupts our democracy. The on-going battle is being waged at the local, state and national levels. Public Citizen asks this question: “What can we do about it?” It believes that, “Until we take back our democracy from the billionaires and multinationals, nothing is safe from their greed.” I agree with that assessment.
Our readers are encouraged to join with groups, and specifically with Public Citizen, and help it win this important battle on a permanent basis. We must break the stranglehold that corporate money – and the money of multi-billionaires like the Koch brothers and others – holds over Congress. This is a battle that the American people cannot afford to lose.
Source: Public Citizen
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