6 Steps to Restore Democracy & Defund the GOP
Reagan defunded the Democratic Party in 1981: And, really, it’s just a case of “turnabout is fair play.”
Yesterday I told you how the Republican Party is animated by one single force: greed.
And greed in modern society is all about money. Which is why money is how you take down the Republican Party.
To maintain their greed, the Republican Party has kept all kinds of good things from us, from healthcare to unionization to education to the ability to start a small business for yourself, your family and the future. All that has been eaten alive by their greed.
For Democrats to defund and thus defeat the Republican Party, all they have to do is put into place a few straightforward “good government” steps, all things that should happen in any case:
End Red State welfare. Kentucky gets $2.41 from the federal government for every tax dollar they send to Washington DC, giving Mitch McConnell billions in blue-state tax money to shower on his voters and maintain his power. Most other Red States are similarly “taker” states. So let’s fight for a law limiting states to no more than $1.50 for every dollar they send to DC in tax revenues and they have to pay for everything else by taxing their own in-state wealthy people. Call it Welfare Reform!
End corporate welfare that gets recycled to GOP politicians. This includes $600 billion a year to fossil fuel companies, about a trillion a year we give to Big Pharma (including forbidding Medicare from negotiating drug prices), and government subsidies to massive insurance companies like the “Medicare Advantage” scam that puts individual seniors and the entire Medicare system at risk.
End corporate monopolies that fund the GOP. Break up giant corporations and make America safe again for small businesses, which build local economies. From utilities to tech to banking and retail, giant monopolies rip off working-class Americans to the tune of an average $5000 per-family per-year, and use some of that money to fund Republican politicians. (Breaking up monopolies is actually good for both the nation and the companies themselves: when Nixon & SCOTUS in 1974 initiated the breakup of AT&T into 7 regional companies and Lucent, completed in 1984, it actually increased shareholder value and led to an innovation explosion.)
Bring back Eisenhower’s 91% top tax bracket to restore the middle class that votes Democratic. America’s strongest economy was 1950 to 1980, with a top tax bracket of 91% to 74%. We built highways, schools, hospitals, and put men on the moon. CEOs averaged only 30x the pay their employees took. Democrats ran virtually everything, even in what we now call Red States. Then the Supreme Court changed the rules of the game, money flooded the GOP in 1980, Reagan cut that top bracket to 25%, and the billionaires it produced continue to pour cash into the GOP.
Impose Elizabeth Warren’s 2% tax on great fortunes and use it to fund healthcare and education for working-class voters. Average Americans pay a wealth tax every year: it’s the property tax on their largest store of wealth, their homes. That annual wealth/property tax pays for schools, libraries, police, fire and other essential infrastructure. Billionaires, like average homeowners, should pay their fair share of the cost of the commons through a similar annual tax on their money bins and other investments.
Reverse Citizen’s United to end the GOP’s campaign money from corporations, SuperPACs and billionaires’ ability to skew our politics. We did this in the 1970s after the Nixon bribery scandals, but the Supreme Court blew it up, saying that money was speech. There are multiple ways around that, and the Democratic Party should make this job one. (HR1 is a great start!)
Not only will these steps re-balance the money/power equation between Democrats and Republicans, they’ll be good for average working people and bring back a government that works for all Americans.
And, really, it’s just a case of “turnabout is fair play.”
It was forty years ago this Spring that Reagan and his buddies decided they’d strip the Democratic Party of most of its funding. And their audacious plan worked…until just the past few months.
In the 1970s, the Democratic Party was principally funded by working-class people through America’s labor unions, and the Republican Party got most of its money from big business and wealthy individuals.
America’s political system got a major shake up in 1976 and 1978: The US Supreme Court ruled in two cases those years that when billionaires or giant corporations owned politicians, that was no longer considered “corruption” or “bribery” as it had been since the founding of our republic. I lay this out in detail in The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America.
In those two decisions, Buckley and Bellotti, conservatives on the US Supreme Court ruled that when rich people or corporations showered their favorite politicians with cash, that money wasn’t actually “money.” Instead, the Court ruled, that cash was actually “speech,” and pouring cash down a politician’s throat was simply First Amendment-protected “free speech.”
Those two decisions, the second written by Lewis Powell (of “Powell Memo” fame) himself, unleashed a tsunami of corporate and billionaire cash that flowed into the GOP in the late 1970s and floated Ronald Reagan into office in 1980. (SCOTUS conservatives, over the loud, unanimous objections of the Court’s Democratic-nominated justices, doubled-down on these decisions with Citizens United in 2010.)
In the 1970s Democrats got most of their funding from working-class Americans via their labor unions, so the Party didn’t take much notice then of those two decisions that opened up politics for rich people and corporations. The unions were so awash in money that a few corrupt union bosses were even skimming some off the top.
So when Reagan became president, he set out to destroy the Democratic Party’s main source of funding: labor unions.
Following the example of his role model, Margaret Thatcher, who just two years earlier had destroyed the United Kingdom’s largest and most politically powerful labor union (the coal miners), he took down PATCO, the air traffic controller’s union, and did it in less than a week in 1981.
The following twelve years of the Reagan/Bush administration’s war on America’s middle class so completely gutted labor union membership that in 1992 Bill Clinton and Al Fromm had to reinvent the DLC to work as a funnel to bring corporate money into the Democratic Party.
Tragically, Reagan’s biggest victory in his anti-union effort was changing the very nature of the Democratic Party from FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society party into Bill Clinton’s corporate-friendly DLC/New Democrat party, burrowing deeply into bed with big banks, insurance companies, and the emerging tech industry.
But thanks to the tireless work of progressives both inside and outside government, and a general awakening of the American public to the dangerous scam the GOP has been running these past 40 years, the Democratic Party now has an opportunity to regain its soul and its prosperity.
Now is the most vital time possible to contact your local Democratic Party and volunteer to help out. Become a Precinct Committee-person and you can actually help choose primary candidates and write the Party’s platform.
Republicans and their billionaire donors have devastated the middle class and torn America apart for 40 years now. Together we’ll stop them, and recover both our Party and our democratic republic.