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Carville - the Economy Redux

Now and then, I get exercised, sometimes to the point of alarm, over political developments, and vent my spleen or pull the warning bell rope on this forum. Both emotions have simmered for the last couple of days, and reached a boiling point minutes ago.

James Carville

Book marketing experts preach that authors should put politics aside, but the issues facing our country – and the world, for that matter – are too important for coyness. Besides, my best books, Murder in Palm Beach and Blood on Their Hands, are characterized as much by the messages they convey as the entertainment they provide.

Remember James Carville, of “It’s the economy, stupid” fame? He uttered it in 1992 as a strategist for Bill Clinton’s election campaign against President George H.W. Bush when the economy was hurting. Carville moments ago made another reference to the economy as it affects the 2022 midterm elections for the House and the Senate.

The irascible Carville told Ari Melber of MSNBC that Republican leaders have given the Democrats an issue they need to pound into the minds of the electorate relentlessly over the next two weeks leading to the November 8 election. It’s an idea I have been stewing over recently, after House Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to block an increase in the debt limit next year, if the GOP takes control of the House, unless Democrats agree to cut Social Security and Medicare.

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy

A default on the debt obligations would plunge the country into a major economic crisis, which would have a devastating effect not only on senior citizens, but everyone else.

I, along with millions of other Americans, rely heavily on Social Security, and need Medicare to pay for most of my health needs. But the Republicans say these programs are increasing the nation’s deficit by too much, and must be trimmed. Actually, the plan proposed by Florida’s illustrious Senator Rick Scott – you know, the one who cheated Medicare as CEO of Columbia Hospitals – and backed by his Senate colleagues would review Medicare every five years in a duplicitous plan to privatize it, leaving its beneficiaries with no control over its direction as the corporate profit motive would become paramount.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott

The Republicans say such spending cuts are necessary to bring the deficit under control. Other ways that don’t cause financial suffering by the vast majority of the population are available, of course, but they require the tiny percentage of the wealthiest citizens to turn over a minimal amount of the riches they’ve accumulated to those in the middle and lower income classes, who have made such wealth possible. Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have long advocated minimal tax increases on mega-millionaires and billionaires, whose numbers have increased in recent years to today’s 720 figure – give or take a few.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren

But that kind of deficit reduction doesn’t sit well with Republicans, who get big campaign contributions from corporations and the wealthy. Under Donald Trump, Republicans granted tax cuts mostly benefiting those sectors. During his four years as president, the deficit exploded by $7 trillion. A number of big corporations have paid little or no income taxes, and President Biden’s inflation reduction legislation increases the number of IRS agents to track mostly corporate and high-income tax cheaters, but it happens over 10 years and just brings the depleted agency up to status quo. Nonetheless, Republicans in Congress overwhelmingly opposed him.

Still another way to keep Social Security functioning well is one that has been around for years, yet doesn’t gain traction: Remove the cap on income subject to SS deductions. The wealthy don’t pay anything into the fund.

Carville vigorously insisted that the Democrats pounce on the announced Republicans’ threat to hold the country hostage if Social Security and Medicare payments to beneficiaries aren’t reduced. They have demonstrated in the past their willingness to impose similarly draconian measures, and should be believed, the political operative said. So the Democrats would have a choice between caving to the GOP demands to harm older Americans or harm the entire population by devastating the economy.

That is why the midterm elections are so important, especially to seniors. Yet they are the ones most supportive of Republicans – the high percentage of them who populate Florida, for example. People aren’t paying attention, and the message needs to be repeated incessantly for it to be effective. Trump knows this: It’s why he’s repeated The Big Lie endlessly; gullible people finally believe it.

Michael Moore

A nobler goal, one that redounds to voters’ benefit, is to get them to believe the truth. That should be Democratic strategists’ singular, and single, mission over the days approaching one of the most critical elections in modern times, perhaps in our country’s history. Yes, the issue of greatest consequence likely is the survival of our democracy. But a recent poll showed only 7% of voters regarded it as tops in importance. People’s pocketbooks are what matter most to them.

So be it. That’s where Democrats need to focus like a laser beam.

If two prominent political prognosticators are correct, we won’t need to worry about the Republican threat coming to fruition. Michael Moore, who made the immensely contrarian prediction that Trump would win the 2016 election, now says the country will experience a “blue wave” in the November election, with Democrats holding both the Senate and House – if voter turnout is sufficient. So far, turnout has been huge in early voting.

Howard Dean

The other political activist defying the polls in his forecast is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and a 2004 presidential candidate. He said on MSNBC this evening that Democrats would gain seats in the Senate, and in the House, as well. Dean was way off the mark in 2010, however, when the House overturned Democratic control by a wide margin after he predicted a narrow Democratic win.

If enough people vote in favor of their own interests, the Democrats will win. The challenge is to get them to overcome the false narratives and pay sufficient attention to understand what benefits them.

We wait with bated breaths.

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