President Trump was a big hit with his base at his Phoenix rally. He knows how to play to a crowd that would gladly buy snake oil from the back of his wagon in the good old days. He bragged about the economy doing well but neglected to mention that it has continually risen since 2010. And he did not mention that 80% of the new wealth has gone to the richest 20% of us, or that he and the Senate refuse to raise the minimum wage for struggling workers.
Some other financial observations: Trump has not “rebuilt the military” by increasing the already-huge DOD budget by 3%, or by taking some of that money back to build a wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for. He boasted about the money coming in from the tariffs on Chinese products but didn’t mention those costs are being paid by American consumers, not China. He avoided saying that the tariffs hurt our farmers so much that we are subsidizing them about $14 billion a year. And the national debt is rising a trillion dollars a year thanks to his tax cut for the wealthy.
On other topics, Trump continues to praise autocrats such as those in Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India and North Korea. These are the most brutal rulers in the world.
At the same time, he has weakened America’s relationship with our allies especially with his criticisms of NATO and the United Nations. This threatens our national security.
He attacks the judicial system and individual judges he disagrees with, interferes with Department of Justice decisions and even threatens jurors and whistleblowers. This undermines our rule of law.
He continues to deny that Russian meddled in the 2016 elections to his advantage even though a Senate committee and the Mueller report proved they did. This puts the 2020 election at risk.
Trump promises to protect pre-existing conditions and provide health coverage better than the ACA while he is in court trying to get those protections and the better coverage of Obamacare thrown out.
He continues his crusade against dark-skinned people who apply for visas or seek asylum, often holding them in illegal, inhumane conditions and separating families.
His rhetoric is often immature and dangerous. He uses demeaning nicknames for elected officials he doesn’t like. He accuses journalists of being “enemies of America.” He refers to the “do-nothing Dems” in Congress, even though the House has passed hundreds of bills that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won’t advance. Lately, Trump describes Sen. Bernie Sanders as a “communist,” which is false, of course.
Meanwhile, he and his family have increased their wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars from his hotel in Washington, sales of condos at his golf resorts, his daughter’s clothing line and his son’s book.
None of this happened while Obama, Bush I or II, Clinton or Reagan were in office. But we still pay for the Secret Service for his rallies, his frequent vacations and his family’s safaris and other travels.
Admittedly, the Democratic primaries have started poorly, and the weekly debates aren’t helping, but when a nominee is finally selected she or he will certainly be a person of better moral character, more intelligence and more supportive of America’s values and traditions than our current president.
Americans love anniversaries whether it is the birth of our nation on July Fourth, our parents’ 50th, Pearl Harbor or 9/11. The year 2020 has a number of significant anniversaries of laws that have changed American society in uncountable ways.
On Aug. 14, 1935, in the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Social Security into law. Opponents fought long and hard to stop passage calling it “socialism.” Ida May Fuller received the first Social Security check for the grand sum of $22.45.
July 30 is the 55th anniversary of the historic signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law by President Lyndon Johnson. The ceremony took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and Harry Truman got Medicare card No. 1. His premium for Part B was $3 per month. LBJ spoke only about Medicare and declared it a memorial to the slain JFK. Medicaid was an afterthought, added at the last moment before the law was passed by a divided Congress, and was intended to be a rather modest program with minimal financial impact. Congressional opposition was fierce calling it, once again, “socialism.” The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) is Arizona’s unique and successful Medicaid program.
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. The event took place on the South Lawn of the White House and the president considered it an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. He said, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The signing was the culmination of a quarter century of advocacy by and for the members of our society with disabilities. Some opponents called it “socialism.”
Can you believe it has been 10 years since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. I don’t believe I need to recount the battles leading up to the passage and subsequent battles to “Repeal and Replace.” Opponents, when not talking about “Death Panels,” even called it “socialism.” Rejecting the call to repeal was one of Sen. John McCain’s finest hours.
As we celebrate the 85th anniversary of Social Security, the 55th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, the 30th anniversary of the ADA and the 10th anniversary of the ACA, remember that the passage of these five laws took years of effort, advocacy and politics to achieve the end result of passage. Don’t forget that once the laws were signed the political battles did not end. So, stay tuned for the 2020 presidential election and the repeated use of that 85-year-old pejorative, “socialism.” The debate has not ended and will not in our lifetime.
Dr. Leonard Kirschner
Colonel USAF (Retired)
AHCCCS Director (1987-1993)
Past President AARP Arizona