Urban News: Happy New Year

I wrote this in January for the Urban News in Asheville.

Happy New Year to you and yours. I love the idea of the new year and starting over. Don’t you wish we could redo the election? Unfortunately, there are no do-overs in life.

Giving Your Money to the Very Wealthy

So, if you remember, the GOP sped through a tax cut just before they got out of Washington for their Christmas break. Remember the GOP line—“Everyone will get a tax cut.” Well, that may have been what they set out to do. But that’s not what they did. If you make less than $500,000, then you get a tax increase. Those Americans who make less than $30,000 get run over by a MACK truck with this legislation. The Child Income Tax Credit that has helped so many Americans with children (remember how the GOP says that they love kids) has been dramatically cut. There’s still no funding for the CHIP program. Also, millions of America households will lose a large portion of their mortgage deduction.

By now, we should know that when our Tweeter-in-Chief decides to tweet something, it is probably not random. (It maybe something he saw on Fox two minutes earlier.) Many of his tweets are designed to get you mad or irritated. So, during this Tax Giveaway to the Wealthy, Trump tweeted that we will move our embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. What?

Jerusalem is the center of the religious world for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. There are sensible reasons the embassy now sits in Tel Aviv—for one thing, to keep pressure on Israel and Palestine to negotiate a two-state solution. It’s been that way for 30 years. Second, this will cost us, hard-working Americans, hundreds of millions if not a billion or so dollars to make this crazy move. Finally, the announced move sends a clear message to the Arab nations that we simple do not care about them or their issues.

And what a great distraction! The mainstream media went nuts over the embassy move, and progressives were so busy yelling about it that they stopped yelling about the unfairness of taking money out of the pockets of millions of Americans to help give $1.5 trillion to large corporations and the top 0.1% of Americans.

Also, the tweet allowed the GOP to lock down the votes of those Senators who seemed like—or at least pretended—that they care for the poor and the middle class, like Susan Collins of Maine. It also gave cover to self-defined “budget hawks” like Bob Corker of Tennessee, who insisted “I won’t vote for any bill that adds a single penny to the deficit,” and then turned around and happily voted to add $1.5 trillion dollars to that same deficit. So the tax “reform” passed on a party-line vote: every Republican for it, every Democrat opposed.

Oh, wait, the new numbers from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the total cost of this giveaway will be $2.2 trillion. This reverse-Robin-Hood handout will make our deficit more than 10% bigger than it already is. It is a disaster for our country.

Don’t be fooled again

Now, Trump returns to the White House from playing four or five rounds of golf and he is hot. He is mad. He is in a fever over this new book that is coming out. Like always, he has his lawyers sending out cease-and-desist orders. Trump is throwing around the word “libel.” And the media, once again, is eating this stuff up.

Why? I don’t care if Trump and Steve Bannon are buddies. I don’t care if they get in a fist fight on Pennsylvania Ave (my money is on Bannon). This is yet another distraction. What is more important is that Trump said that our nuclear weapons were bigger than North Korea’s. This is insane. There is no other way to describe it. North Korea is a problem without a reasonable solution.

Let’s just say that we follow our U.S. ambassador’s statement. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that we cannot tolerate a nuclear North Korea. OK, so now what? North Korea is just 40 miles from Seoul, South Korea. North Korea does not need nuclear weapons. They can simply lob hundreds of cheap Scud missiles and tens of thousands of South Koreans, our close ally, will die. Just a peek at any map and you see that Japan, another close American ally, isn’t much farther away from North Korea. Although North Korea does not have tomahawk missile technology, they do have missiles that can reach Hawaii and California. How many American lives are we willing to risk? 100? 1,000? 10,000?

A lot of those Neocon types say that we just need to send in some Navy SEALS to deal with them. So these SEALS are going to sneak into a closed, militarized society undetected, and locate the North Korean leadership, and take ’em out? That works on NCIS and in John Wayne movies, but not in real life. Guns and bullets and bombs are not going to fix this problem.

Starting a war with a country that has no moral standards is NOT a good idea. I don’t think that Kim Jong Un cares if hundreds of thousands or even millions of his own people die, as long as he can say that they stood up to the U.S. Oh, and for those of you who believe that we should use diplomacy, don’t lose heart. Diplomacy worked for years. Then we, okay, not we. Our former president GWB called North Korea part of the axis of evil. Well, the North Koreans read the tea leaves. They kicked their nuclear program into high gear and they kicked diplomacy to the door.

Trump is unhinged

There was a huge article in the New Yorker about our president, Donald J. Trump. The article describes his dysfunctional cabinet. It talks about the fact that he really doesn’t sit down and allow aides to inform him. That details are not for him. He doesn’t read. He looks at hours and hours of Fox News.

Yet didn’t we know all of this before the election? We’ve always known that Trump is a rich man who only cares about money and maybe his family. That’s it. He doesn’t care about the environment or healthcare or any of that “policy stuff.” He cares about money. And maybe his ego. Period.

To be honest, I don’t need to read any more articles about how White House aides are running scared. I do not care that Trump can’t or won’t control his temper. This is not news. It’s not news that Trump won’t change, and we can’t change Trump.

What we can do—what we have to do—is win the House in 2018. Then we can block his agenda. We must also win the Senate in 2020 (if not this Fall) and the White House. We need to win and win big. We have so much work to do. We need to start now!

Happy New Year!!!

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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