What Do Democrats Have To Offer?

As most of you know, I have high regard for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.  As an Independent and a democratic-socialist, he stands about as much chance of ever rising to the presidency as I do, but he’s a good man who is far more concerned with the people of the world than he is with corporate wealth.  He recently published an OpEd in The Hill that I think is well worth reading as election day creeps closer and closer …

Sen. Sanders: Why we need to expand the Democratic majority in Congress

Bernie Sanders

25 October 2022

As we enter the final weeks of the 2022 midterm elections, poll after poll shows that the most important issues facing the American people are the economy and inflation. This should come as no surprise.

As corporate profits soar, and as billionaires become even richer, working class Americans are falling further behind. This, sadly, is not a new reality. Tragically, despite huge increases in worker productivity, real inflation adjusted wages for American workers are lower today than they were nearly 50 years ago. During that period there has been a multi-trillion dollar redistribution of wealth that has gone from the middle class to the top 1 percent, and we now have more income and wealth inequality than at any time in American history. Unbelievably, CEOs of major corporations now make almost 400 times what their average workers make.

Given the economic pain facing working families, many voters are asking themselves which party will better fight for legislation that will improve life for ordinary Americans. As the longest serving Independent in the history of Congress, someone who caucuses with Senate Democrats, let me give you my best answer.

First, let me admit that the Democratic Party is far from perfect. Too many Democratic members of Congress have been unwilling to stand up to the big money interests that dominate Washington and fight for working families. That’s why we need at least 52 Democrats in the Senate.

But here is the simple reality: the Republicans in Congress are far worse when it comes to addressing the needs of the working class.

Let me give you some examples.

Social Security

Right now, despite the reality that 55 percent of seniors are trying to survive on less than $25,000 a year, leading Republicans in the House and Senate are proposing to cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age to 70 or reduce cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for seniors by adopting a less generous formula. Most Democrats believe that we must expand Social Security benefits so that everyone in America can retire with dignity. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees.

Prescription Drugs

The United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. I believe, and many Democrats believe, that we need to cut the price of prescription drugs in half by requiring Medicare to pay no more than the Veterans Administration does. Not a single Republican in Washington is prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs. Almost every Republican in Washington voted against capping the price of insulin at no more than $35 a month.

Expanding Medicare

Today, millions of seniors are unable to afford the outrageous cost of dental care, hearing aids or prescription eyeglasses. Most Democrats believe we need to expand Medicare to cover these essential health care services. Not a single Republican member of Congress agrees. Further there are many Republicans in the House and the Senate who support massive cuts to Medicare.

Universal Health Care

At a time when 85 million Americans are uninsured or under-insured, most Democrats believe that the U.S. should do what every other major country does and guarantee health care for all. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees. The last time Republicans controlled the Senate they came within one vote of throwing up to 32 million Americans off of their health insurance by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Minimum Wage

Sixty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and millions are working for starvation wages. Most Democrats believe that we must increase the federal minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees. In fact, many Republicans don’t even believe in the concept of the minimum wage.

Child Poverty

We have the highest rate of childhood poverty of virtually every major country on earth. Most Democrats believe that we should cut the child poverty rate in America by more than 40 percent by extending the $300 a month per child tax credit to working class families that expired last December. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees.


Today, over 70 percent of the American people support unions. Most Democrats believe that if we are going to expand the middle class we must make it easier for workers to join unions and end the heavy-handed corporate tactics that make it hard for workers to unionize. Not a single Republican in Washington supports legislation to make it easier for workers to join unions.

Corporate Greed

At a time when inflation is a worldwide phenomenon (European Union – 10.1 percent, Germany – 10 percent, UK – 9.7 percent, Canada – 7 percent, etc.), corporations are using the war in Ukraine, the supply chain crisis, and the ongoing pandemic to jack up the price of gas, food, and just about everything the American people need. Many Democrats believe that we should enact a windfall profits tax on large, greedy corporations. Not a single Republican in Washington agrees.

A Fair Tax Policy

During the pandemic, while the billionaire class saw a $2 trillion increase in their wealth some of the largest corporations and wealthiest people in America did not pay a nickel in federal income taxes. Democrats voted to end that absurdity and begin the process of moving to a fairer tax system. Not one Republican voted to support that effort. In fact, at a time of massive wealth and income inequality, Republicans have proposed trillions of dollars in tax breaks for the most profitable corporations and wealthiest people in America.

In conclusion, let me say that it is no secret that many Americans are discouraged by what’s going on in Washington and are unhappy with both major parties. I get that. The answer, however, is not to make a bad situation worse by supporting candidates who will cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and give huge tax breaks to the rich. If we have any chance to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent, we must expand the Democratic majority in Congress and continue to push them to represent the needs of the working class, not the billionaire class.


So, Congress has yet again passed a bill to avert a government shutdown just as they’ve done every year for the past umpteen years … it’s become a joke … wait ‘til the last minute to get your act together and people will praise you while they ignore what you’ve actually produced.  Ho-hum. Yesterday evening, the Senate passed the $1.5 trillion spending bill that the House had passed earlier this week.  $1.5 TRILLION!!!  That is 30 million times what the average wage earner earns!  The first thing that galls me is that the Democrats in the House caved on the issue of helping people when they dropped the $15.6 billion in COVID relief funding that included money for research and development of treatments and vaccines.  When the next surge hits, the next variant arises from the ashes, they may regret that decision, but it was said that the Republicans wouldn’t seriously consider the bill as long as those provisions were part of it.  But they damn sure found it in their shriveled little hearts to include a number of other things, including pay raises for themselves!!!

The bill calls for an increase in funding for congressional offices by 21%, to $774.4 million!  What the Sam Hell have any of our not-so-illustrious members of Congress done to deserve a pay raise?  It would also provide $602.5 million for the Capitol Police, an increase of $87 million. This will allow for the hiring of up to 2,112 sworn officers and 450 civilian members of the Capitol Police.  Now, while I have tremendous respect for the Capitol Police, especially after January 6th of last year, they wouldn’t need an additional 2,000+ officers if the Republicans, led by TFG (the former guy), stopped encouraging radical nudniks to overthrow the government!

The bill also calls for a $675 million increase for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to “improve customer service”!!!  WTF … the IRS doesn’t do ‘customer service’ … they are a strongarm agency, and the intent is to intimidate, to squeeze out of taxpayers every dime they can, not to serve!  I applied for a job with the IRS once shortly after earning my B.A. in Accounting and was told that I was “too nice” to work for them!  And why do they need $12.6 billion, the total amount awarded to the IRS in the spending bill, to run an agency that does no more today than it ever did?

$75 million will go for ‘election security’, money to be given to the states to help them enforce their voter restrictions so that only Republicans can win elections from now on!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The increase that raises my hackles the most, though, is the increase in military spending.  The U.S. already has the highest military budget of any nation on the globe!  The United States spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Australia — combined.

All those damned tanks, guns, missiles — tools designed only to KILL people aren’t going to do one damned thing to help the people of this country!  We already have enough weapons to end all life on the entire planet!!!  We the People need things that will help us … food, shelter, clothing, education, medical care … but nooooooo … our tax dollars have to go to support a glutinous military complex, most of which cannot even be used for fear of starting the “war to end all wars”.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Meanwhile, such things as providing funds to help people out of poverty received no increase, no mention.  The U.S. has one of the highest child poverty rates in the world …

But instead of focusing on helping the people of this nation, Congress is more intent on giving themselves pay increases and buying more ‘boys toys’ for the military to brag about!

There is also $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine … I applaud this one and would have been appalled had it not been included.

At a whopping 2,741 pages, no I have not read the bill in its entirety but rather a few summaries.  However, if you are interested, you can read it if you’ve got the time and patience.   Meanwhile, I am thoroughly disgusted by members of both parties in Congress … people whose salaries WE pay and who just gave themselves a pay raise that WE DID NOT grant them!  Why would we raise their pay when they’ve accomplished almost nothing for years now???  They couldn’t even protect our rights to vote!!!  The Republicans are just asses who pander to big business and the wealthy at our expense, and Democrats are wusses who will cave to the demands of the Republicans!  If my voice reached further, I would try to start a tax revolution … stop paying income taxes until Congress hears us and actually listens!  We pay and pay and pay, and we get very damn little in return.  FIRE DA BUMS!!!

Focusing On People … ALL People

There are numerous ideological differences between the two major political parties in the United States today, some are superficial, others deep-rooted.  But one of the main ones, I believe, is what their view of the purpose of government is.  The Democratic Party largely believes in investing in people, while the Republican Party is more concerned with investing in Profit … profit for the already wealthy, that is, not for the average Joe.

I have shared two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s work before, and his column yesterday in the New York Times is another that needs to be read, pondered and absorbed.  He makes the case for President Biden’s proposals for investment in the people of this nation, and he makes it well.  If the Republican Party chooses not to participate, then perhaps it’s time we leave them behind … for the greater good, the good of the nation and all of its people.

Joe Biden Is Electrifying America Like F.D.R.

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

YAMHILL, Ore. — The best argument for President Biden’s three-part proposal to invest heavily in America and its people is an echo of Franklin Roosevelt’s explanation for the New Deal.

“In 1932 there was an awfully sick patient called the United States of America,” Roosevelt said in 1943. “He was suffering from a grave internal disorder … and they sent for a doctor.”

Paging Dr. Joe Biden.

We should be cleareyed about both the enormous strengths of the United States — its technologies, its universities, its entrepreneurial spirit — and its central weakness: For half a century, compared with other countries, we have underinvested in our people.

In 1970, the United States was a world leader in high school and college attendance, enjoyed high life expectancy and had a solid middle class. This was achieved in part because of Roosevelt.

The New Deal was imperfect and left out too many African-Americans and Native Americans, but it was still transformative.

Here in my hometown, Yamhill, the New Deal was an engine of opportunity. A few farmers had rigged generators on streams, but Roosevelt’s rural electrification brought almost everyone onto the grid and output soared. Jobs programs preserved the social fabric and built trails that I hike on every year. The G.I. Bill of Rights gave local families a shot at education and homeownership.

Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration provided $27,415 in 1935 (the equivalent of $530,000 today) to help build a high school in Yamhill. That provided jobs for 90 people on the relief rolls, and it created the school that I attended and that remains in use today.

In short, the New Deal invested in the potential and productivity of my little town — and of much of the nation. The returns were extraordinary.

These kinds of investments in physical infrastructure (interstate highways) and human capital (state universities and community colleges) continued under Democratic and Republican presidents alike. They made America a stronger nation and a better one.

Yet beginning in the 1970s, America took a wrong turn. We slowed new investments in health and education and embraced a harsh narrative that people just need to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. We gutted labor unions, embraced inequality and shrugged as working-class America disintegrated. Average weekly wages for America’s production workers were actually lower in December 2020 ($860) than they had been, after adjusting for inflation, in December 1972 ($902 in today’s money).

What does that mean in human terms? I’ve written about how one-quarter of the people on my old No. 6 school bus died of drugs, alcohol or suicide — “deaths of despair.” That number needs to be updated: The toll has risen to about one-third.

We allocated large sums of taxpayer dollars to incarcerate my friends and their children. Biden proposes something more humane and effective — investing in children, families and infrastructure in ways that echo Roosevelt’s initiatives.

The most important thread of Biden’s program is his plan to use child allowances to cut America’s child poverty in half. Biden’s main misstep is that he would end the program in 2025 instead of making it permanent; Congress should fix that.

The highest return on investment in America today isn’t in private equity but in early childhood initiatives for disadvantaged kids of all races. That includes home visitations, lead reduction, pre-K and child care.

Roosevelt started a day care program during World War II to make it easier for parents to participate in the war economy. It was a huge success, looking after perhaps half a million children, but it was allowed to lapse after the war ended.

Biden’s proposal for day care would be a lifeline for young children who might be neglected. Aside from the wartime model, we have another in the U.S.: The military operates a high-quality on-base day care system, because that supports service members in performing their jobs.

Then there are Biden’s proposed investments in broadband; that’s today’s version of rural electrification. Likewise, free community college would enable young people to gain technical skills and earn more money, strengthening working-class families.

Some Americans worry about the cost of Biden’s program. That’s a fair concern. Yet this is not an expense but an investment: Our ability to compete with China will depend less on our military budget, our spy satellites or our intellectual property protections than on our high school and college graduation rates. A country cannot succeed when so many of its people are failing.

As many Americans have criminal records as college degrees. A baby born in Washington, D.C., has a shorter life expectancy (78 years) than a baby born in Beijing (82 years). Newborns in 10 counties in Mississippi have a shorter life expectancy than newborns in Bangladesh. Rather than continue with Herbert Hoover-style complacency, let’s acknowledge our “grave internal disorder” and summon a doctor.

The question today, as in the 1930s, is not whether we can afford to make ambitious investments in our people. It’s whether we can afford not to.