NASH COLUMN: Differences between Dems, Republicans many and stark

NASH COLUMN: Differences between Dems, Republicans many and stark

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Lately, the Republican Party has changed in so many ways that it’s astounding. They used to care about our air and water, equality, fair wages, sensible gun regulations, affordable health care, public schools and other things that are important and essential to ordinary Americans. Today, Republican lawmakers fight any effort to support those issues.

Today’s Republican lawmakers have favored big money donations over our fragile environment. They gave huge tax cuts to the richest while taking away workers’ rights to bargain for fair wages and safe working conditions. They demonize public school teachers and cut education funding. At the same time, they allow taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to go to private-for-profit and religious schools that aren’t accountable to taxpayers and can discriminate against minorities and other groups.

People who truly care about the country will vote for Democratic Party candidates who are fighting to protect our air and water; to combat the effects of global warming and to prevent it from getting worse. Democrats fight for equal pay for equal work; fair wages; affordable health care; and common-sense gun laws.

Democrats don’t want people to suffer or die because they can’t afford health care. They want to stop greedy pharmaceutical companies from hugely profiting from their grossly overpriced prescription drugs. A House bill that would do just that is sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. For many months he’s refused to bring that and more than 270 more Democratic and bipartisan House bills up for a Senate vote. And they talk about “do-nothing Democrats.”

Most of the Democratic presidential candidates and other Democratic lawmakers want to improve the Affordable Care Act so people don’t die because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. They also want to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions don’t suffer and die because their insurance companies won’t cover them. But, unless they gain the presidency and a majority in both houses, nothing will change for the better.

Democrats support policies that make it less expensive to get an education so people can find jobs that pay enough to support them. Once they do, they’ll be contributing to our economy, so why would anyone oppose affordable education? Ask Republican lawmakers.

Democrats also fight against Republican-backed deregulation that results in fewer consumer protections against shady and/or dangerous business practices. A Jan. 30 article on wsaw.com reported how deregulating phone companies hurt elderly, rural customers, “In 2011, Wisconsin followed a nationwide trend when the Republican-controlled state legislature deregulated the telecommunications industry. With that move, the state lost the ability — among other things — to force telephone companies to maintain, repair and upgrade their phone service infrastructure.”

That gift to the phone companies resulted in rural, Frontier Communications’ customers often getting busy signals when they call 911 for emergencies and many instances of phone outages that aren’t repaired for days. Because cell phone reception is sporadic in many rural areas, a landline is the only option many people have. If 911 service is down, lives could be lost. Democrats and their lawmakers care about things like that, but nothing indicates that Republican lawmakers do.

Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin and many other states are fighting against gerrymandering and for fair redistricting by a non-partisan board so the party with fewer votes doesn’t gain the most seats in the legislatures. Skewing the district lines as they did here in Wisconsin should be against the law, but we can be sure a Republican majority in our legislature will never pass a bill that’s fair to the voters and to both parties.

Because this country spends more on defense than the other top ten industrialized countries combined, and because Republicans continue to give massive tax breaks to the wealthy, we have an historic budget deficit and an immense national debt. But instead of making the wealthiest pay their fair share, the president’s new budget would, among others, make cuts to Medicare, education, the food stamp program and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Most of us wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our ancestors coming to this country as refugees from poverty or other dangerous conditions in their birth countries. Since the country’s beginning, immigrants have contributed to the economy, started prosperous businesses and have worked at jobs that established residents refuse to do. Yet the president and many of his enablers are making it almost impossible for new refugees to come here to work hard to be as successful as our ancestors were. They may as well take a bunch of Sharpies and cover up the words on the Statue of Liberty or push her into New York Harbor and let her sink to the bottom. I would hope we’re better than that.

I guess we’ll find out in November.

Pat Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for more than 35 years. Contact her at patnash5149@gmail.com.

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