Republicans love regulations … that make them richer … at your expense.
The Bush Administration passed a Medicare drugs benefit. The pharmaceutical industry got the most benefit. Drug prices in the U.S. are quite the highest in the world. The federal government was forbidden to use its buying power to negotiate lower drug costs. Soon after the bill was passed, former Rep. Billy Tauzin, R- Louisiana, got his reward for steering it through. He became a lobbyist with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
He didn’t need to ask his doctor if “Lobbying Was Right for Him” (get it?). He became DC’s highest-paid lobbyist, raking in millions. Everybody yawned. It was business as usual.
In other business as usual, many states have legally privatized their prisons. This makes private prison operators rich and powerful. They bankroll politicians. Magically, the private prison industry gets cash-strapped governments to give it occupancy guarantees, often 90 percent. Taxpayers foot the bill if occupancy rates fall below such quotas, thereby creating a demand for prisoners. Magically, politicians pass draconian laws. Magically, the police and the courts then boost convictions, to keep those beds warm. Corruption? Nah, couldn’t be.
Remember, nothing’s corrupt if it makes rich Republicans richer (irony alert). It’s corruption only when it happens in a Third World country. Yet we have 5 percent of the world’s population, but 25percent of its prisoners. We spend more money on private prisons than public schools and universities to keep people out of prison in the first place. In Europe, they give citizens free further education and actually close prisons (!) for lack of prisoners (!).
The profit motive now trumps integrity in the administration of justice. The prison-industrial complex was responsible for the “three strikes” law that sends people to prison for life for petty offenses. People are jailed for nonpayment of debts in many states. Next time you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, delete the words “with liberty and justice for all.” Justice is a mockery.
The super-rich needn’t worry about going to prison. And they profit from the best regulations of all. They’re in the tax code. Most people would rather drink paint than consider tax laws. Hence, robbery can be committed legally in broad daylight. Read Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super-Rich and Cheat Everyone Else, by David Cay Johnston. Better yet, don’t read it. You’d vomit. It shows how Republicans have rigged the tax code expressly to make the super-rich even richer, at your expense. If you vote Republican and are not super-rich, you have a few screws loose.
If you think Republicans help “job creators” to create more jobs, let’s see some proof. In fact, it’s the other way around. Shortly before the 2012 election, the Congressional Research Service joined a battalion of economists in finding no relationship between upper-income tax rates and economic growth. Republicans had the report suppressed. Higher taxes, however, would pay for improving America’s miserable infrastructure, put people to work and move America forward.
As a nation, we don’t want starving beggars dying on the streets. So regulations provide welfare for people paid starvation wages. Guess what? That’s a profit goldmine for our corporate welfare queens. The biggest welfare queens are immensely profitable retailers. They pay employees starvation wages, and then encourage them to seek welfare benefits in order to survive. Congressional Democrats estimated that one Walmart store alone costs taxpayers around $1 million annually. The fast-food industry is also notorious for this, foisting not only junk food on us but also junk economics.
By one estimate (Paul Buchheit, “Add It Up” at buzzflash.com; www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/18207), these corporate welfare queens cost the average American family $6,000 in extra taxes it has to pay to compensate for lost IRS revenues and other rip-offs. This is for direct subsidies, business incentives, subsidies to banks, coddling drug companies, coddling 401(k) retirement funds, corporate tax subsidies and lost taxes from tax havens. This money is taken out of your pocket, remember, and transferred to wealthy shareholders who mostly don’t spend it. You’d spend it all, however, and stimulate the economy as a true job creator.
But all this is chump change compared to the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, the handiwork of Republican former Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas. He sneaked it into a “must-pass” end-of-year budget bill under screwball Senate rules. It permitted those murky derivatives that ultimately became “instruments of mass financial destruction” (Warren Buffett). Financial institutions falling like dominoes produced the Great Recession of 2008. We’re still reeling from it. Our economy lost somewhere between $14 trillion and $18 trillion. Not to worry. Wall Street bankers got fabulously rich. They don’t worry about prison since they got virtual immunity from Gramm.
Regulations? Republicans love ’em.