Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Money Doesn't Talk, It Screams

By Tom Frazier

As a registered lobbyist for almost 27 years and an unpaid, volunteer lobbyist for the last seven years, I have witnessed some major political changes, most of them not good.

One such change is obvious and that is the ever increasing influence of money in political decision-making. This influence was growing already when I retired at the end of 2009, but then the Supreme Court ruling in January 2010 in the Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for that influence. This 5-4 decision said that money was free speech and allowed for-profit corporations, non-profit corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, including ads favoring one candidate over another.

The recent attempt by Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump to pass the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is an example of how bad the influence of money has become. The replacement, the American Health Care Act, contained a $1 trillion tax cut, primarily for the benefit of the wealthy, funded largely by a cut of $880 billion in Medicaid funding. This was an intentional strategy on the part of Ryan to make it easier to provide even larger tax cuts to businesses when Congress and the President moved on to tax reform. In an interview with Fox Business News on March 15, 2017, Ryan said:
“A trillion dollars…that’s 10 percentage points on rates for businesses. It takes the corporate rate from 35 to 20 [%]. That’s why doing this [health care] first makes tax reform that much easier to accomplish.”
Providing large tax cuts to those who don’t need them at the expense of huge cuts in health care for the most vulnerable (elderly, disabled, and children) is, I believe, cynical bordering on unconscionable.