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France G7 Summit (copy)

President Donald Trump listens to a question Monday during a press conference on the third and final day of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France.

A few years ago, there weren’t such glaring differences between Democratic positions and those of Republicans. Lawmakers from both parties considered average working people and the environment, not only those with the most money.

No more. Now members of Congress spend at least 40% of their time fundraising. Former congressmen say there’s even a building across from the Capitol that’s filled with small rooms where they can make phone calls to their donors in total privacy. In return for donations, the lawmakers fulfill the donors’ wishes.

Organizations like OpenSecrets.org, using publicly available information from the Federal Elections Commission, track the sources and amounts of money given to politicians and political action committees. They also reveal how much money members of each party get. It’s clear from the numbers that most of the money donated by gun manufacturers and the gas, oil and pharmaceutical industries goes to Republican candidates. Democrats get much of their donations from individuals, environmental groups and organizations that fight for fair elections, fair taxation, living wages, sensible gun laws and a workable immigration system.

Money talks. Since Republicans had control of Congress for almost all of the past 10 years, powerful corporations and the rich have had their taxes cut several times. Under Donald Trump, the cuts were even more generous, but only for the rich. He seemed to forget the middle-class tax cut he promised.

Under Republicans, unions have lost almost all power to fight for living wages. Wages, when inflation is considered, are no higher than they were in the 1970s.

According to an Aug. 14 report from the Economic Policy Institute, CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978, but typical worker compensation has risen only 12%. Yet, despite Democratic resistance, Republicans keep lowering taxes on those who make the most money because that’s where they get most of their campaign funds.

Under Republican majority rule, prices of prescription drugs skyrocketed. President Trump said he’d lower those prices but, except for a few, the opposite has happened. On July 1, CBS News reported, “So far in 2019, more than 3,400 drugs have boosted their prices, a 17% increase compared with the roughly 2,900 drug price increases at the same time in 2018, according to a new analysis by Rx Savings Solutions, a consultant to health plans and employers.” Anyone who wonders why Republicans don’t do anything about it might like to check out how much campaign money they get from pharmaceutical companies.

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Because of major tax cuts for the rich, the country now has historic debt and has run out of money to adequately fund vital programs like Social Security and Medicare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they’ll probably have to cut funding for those programs, but says nothing about making the ultra-rich pay their fair share. When people whose wages are barely above the poverty line pay more in taxes than companies that make billions in profits every year, maybe they should think about voting out the politicians who made that possible.

Democrats believe nobody should die because they can’t afford to see a doctor or buy necessary medications. They also believe a lot of students need help paying off their student loans and think they should be able to refinance those loans just as people refinance mortgages. Republicans have fought against all of that, calling Democrats “socialists.”

Yet Republicans approved billions in subsidies to gas and oil companies whose owners are richer than some countries. And to try to counteract the harm done to farmers by the Trump tariffs, taxpayers are now paying farmers subsidies, most of which go to large corporate farms. Funny how they never mention “socialism” when it comes to their government handouts.

Meanwhile, the president just announced more, and higher, tariffs on Chinese imports, which will hurt most consumers as well as manufacturing and retail businesses. And again, China does not pay the tariffs. The companies that buy the goods pay them at the borders. That’s a fact, despite Trump’s lies about it, and Republicans in Congress know that. Yet, they stay silent, more afraid of losing voters from Trump’s base than they are of the loss of their morality, if they ever had any to begin with.

But we consumers can easily afford to pay the extra money it’ll cost us when we go to the store, right? After all, on Aug. 19, after returning from another golf outing, the president said, “We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money.”

If you believe that, I have an island to sell you. It’s called Greenland and I’ll take the down payment this afternoon.

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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