Wednesday, October 20, 2021

No, Democrats are not socialists

 No, Democrats are not socialists and are not trying to turn America into a socialist or communist country like Cuba, Venezuela, China or the former Soviet Union.

Countries like that not only own and control almost all business and industry, but their political systems consist of one party, making them authoritarian governments, not democracies.

Democrats, like Republicans, believe that capitalism makes for a better economic system because private ownership of business and industry unleashes competition and allows individuals to profit from their labor. Democrats and Republicans disagree about how much business and industry should be taxed and regulated and how much government should be involved in helping those who need help, not on whether our government should own business and industry.

When I was a teenager in the 1960s, Republicans and many Democrats railed against communism, an ideology that encouraged revolution. Many European countries had (and still have) socialist political parties that lobbied for more “social welfare,” in the form of free health care, higher education and, sometimes, child care or other social programs. We had programs that people referred to as social welfare in the United States, as well, to support poor families with food stamps and cash assistance, although, under Ronald Reagan, many of them were discontinued or began to require recipients to work or go to school to get assistance.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were all called socialist programs by many Republicans when they were passed.

Bill Clinton tried to pass universal health care, but advertising campaigns funded by the health insurance industry and some doctors’ groups called it socialism and defeated it, because it would have put most health insurance companies out of business. Barack Obama managed to pass the Affordable Care Act, in part, by allowing private insurance companies to continue to manage payment for health care, making the “socialist” label harder to deploy. Turns out that Americans agree that profit should not be the motivating factor when their lives and health are at stake.

Is President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which includes the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the jobs and “human infrastructure” bill, an example of socialism? No. It’s a perfect example of the Democratic Party’s long-term effort to make taxation more fair by increasing taxes on the richest among us, which includes hedge funds and corporations that, over time, have been rewarded by Republican tax breaks.

The money collected will be used to rebuild roads and bridges and help working families in a variety of ways, including lowering the cost of child care, prescription drugs and higher education.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has objected to the overall price tag, suggesting that increasing taxes might slow the economy. He has specifically objected to spending money for incentives to transition to clean energy. Manchin knows that the free market — capitalism — has been killing coal jobs for decades. First, it was because of mechanization and, more recently, competition from cheaper sources of energy, like natural gas. Solar and wind are getting even cheaper. Manchin is making a grave mistake by not factoring in the cost of continuing as we are: more floods, extreme weather, fires, droughts, extinctions, rising sea levels, etc.

Like Gov. Jim Justice and his hand-picked Public Service Commission, which recently stuck West Virginians with higher electricity bills for the next 20 years simply to keep coal-burning power plants running, Manchin suggests that quickly transitioning to clean energy is too progressive, or even socialist. It’s not. Transitioning as soon as possible to clean energy is sanity. It is insane not to.

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