You'd think funding a program providing medical care to low-income children would be a no-brainer. Apparently not true in today's poisonous political climate. In today's political climate, even immunizations for poor children become a football to be booted and kicked around until it's flatter than the balls used in Deflategate. Not to worry, though. The rich and their riches are safe.
Our government is supposed to be by the people, of the people and for the people. Yet it seems as if more and more we are defining "people" as corporations and individuals with millions of dollars in their checking accounts. The rest of us apparently don't get representation. We are finding out just what life is like when our "representative" government no longer even pretends to represent the poor and middle class.
I expected that Dan Sullivan would go along with paying his moneyed overlords for their support by voting for a bill that gives tax breaks to people who have to worry about where to park their private jets. But I thought we'd get better from Lisa Murkowski – a lot better. For a brief moment this fall, Lisa looked like the person I thought I'd voted for when she stood up to her party on health care reform. Then they threw ANWR at her and suddenly she voted to destroy the Affordable Care Act in order to give her big donors the Christmas present they requested.
The possibility of opening ANWR was waved under her nose to get her vote. Subsequently, we find ourselves planning to open an unspoiled wilderness to exploitation of non-renewable resources while the rest of the world moves to renewables. In fact, China is leading the world in this respect. While we sit and wallow in our dirty energy, China and the rest of the world move toward clean energy.
Given the amount of money that China is pouring into this effort, I'd guess that within a generation oil will be out and renewables will be in. At that point, our despoiling of this wilderness will seem to be as shortsighted as many of us already think it is. On top of that, we will be propping up a dying industry instead of working to free Alaska from this dependence by diversifying our economy. For instance, maybe we could foster our own alternative energy industry.
But back to those kids, the ones we can't afford to provide even the most basic of health services to because of the huge budget deficit we are facing. At least, that's what the Republicans in Congress are saying. It's interesting that they are simultaneously OK with the trillion-dollar deficit every credible financial institution states their tax plan overhaul will create. For me, this forever ends any pretense Republicans have to being the party of fiscal responsibility. Apparently, the only time they have trouble with the deficit is when it is paying for services to middle- and lower-class Americans. A trillion-dollar deficit to appease their overlords is perfectly acceptable.
But that doesn't matter to them. What matters is that their major donors will now be able to park their jets and deduct some of the costs from their taxes. What matters is that money for their re-election campaigns will continue to flow. What matters is that they have government health care coverage so their children will always have immediate access to needed immunizations.
And can we please dump the myth that putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy will result in jobs and economic growth. As someone on Facebook recently and wisely pointed out, jobs are created when the need to hire employees arises. And that need arises only if business is busy with people spending money. And that won't happen when all the tax breaks go to the wealthy, leaving the rest of us with little to no extra cash to spend. As they have done in the past, the rich will pocket the money, invest it overseas to avoid taxes and never spend a cent in America.
Finally, to add insult to injury, the tax breaks for the wealthy continue ad infinitum. The minuscule tax break for the middle class has a very short expiration date.
Children suffer. The middle class disappears. Student loans bury our young people in debt that they will be repaying in retirement. But not to worry, millionaires will no longer have to pay a large estate tax. If that doesn't put you in the spirit of the Christmas season, I don't know what will.
Elise Sereni Patkotak is the author of two memoirs about her life in Alaska, both available at AlaskaBooksandCalendars.com and at local bookstores.
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