Creative rebalancing of funding that goes to the source of our problems

By Thom Hartmann, LA Progressive, Dec 2020 excerpt

The only way to deal with a death-dealing cult is to end it; thus, we must embark on a campaign to defund the Republican Party. Back in 1981, the Republican Party decided to defund the Democratic Party, and actually pulled it off.

While the Republican Party had principally been funded by rich people and big business since the 1920s, the Democrats were largely reliant on the labor unions. So Ronald Reagan, as part of his “Reagan Revolution,” figured the best way to destroy the Democratic Party was to destroy America’s unions.

His first shot was to destroy PATCO, the air traffic controllers’ union, and he did it in less than a week in August of 1981. He, along with Republicans in Congress and conservatives on the Supreme Court, then embarked on a campaign to eliminate unions from the American landscape, thus gutting the Democratic Party’s ability to win elections.

It worked, and by 1992, American union membership, and union’s ability to fund elections, had collapsed so severely that Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party turned to giant corporations and billionaires to win that election year.

Reagan’s plan not only kneecapped the Democratic Party for the next 40 years but also changed the party at its core, turning it from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society party into Bill Clinton’s corporate-friendly Democratic Leadership Council/New Democrats, now in bed with big banks, insurance companies, etc.

Defunding the Republican Party may even force it to start focusing on the needs of regular people rather than just billionaires and corporations, which only adds to the urgency of the job. There are just a few steps through the process, which include:

  • End “Red State Welfare.” Kentucky gets $2.41 for every dollar they send to Washington, D.C. Most other red states are similarly “taker” states, so let’s fight for a law limiting states to no more than, say, $1.50 for every buck they sent to D.C. in tax revenues. Call it welfare reform!
  • End corporate welfare that gets recycled to GOP politicians. This includes $700 billion a year to fossil fuel companies, and nearly $1 trillion a year we give to Big Pharma, as well as support for insurance companies (like subsidies for the “Medicare Advantage” scam) and “Big Ag.”
  • End corporate monopolies. Break up giant corporations and make America safe again for small businesses while rejuvenating local economies. From airlines to tech to banking and retail, giant monopolies rip off working-class Americans and use some of that money to fund the GOP.
  • Bring back Eisenhower’s 91 percent top tax rate, or at least something north of 50 percent. America’s strongest economy was during the 30 years from 1950 to 1980, with a top tax rate of 91 percent to 74 percent. Progressive taxation on the super-wealthy was openly supported by Republican presidents like Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford. With that tax revenue, we built highways, schools and hospitals, and put men on the moon, while the best way CEOs could avoid the tax was to use the money to pay their workers better wages. Reagan cut that top rate to less than 30 percent, and the billionaires it produced now pour money into the GOP to keep it that way.
  • Follow Europe’s example and impose a wealth tax on great fortunes. Average Americans pay a wealth tax every year—the property tax on their largest store of wealth, their homes. Billionaires should pay a similar annual tax on their money bins.
  • End campaign contributions from corporations, end super PACs, and limit billionaires’ ability to skew our politics with their money. We did this in the 1970s after the Nixon bribery scandals, but the Supreme Court blew it up. There are multiple ways around that, and the Democratic Party should make this job one.

These simple “Progressive Contract with America” steps, along with restoring the ability of American workers to unionize, will not only revive the Democratic Party, but also restore America to economic greatness and give us a far more honest political system.

Thom Hartmann
Independent Media Institute

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.