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Monday, April 19, 2021

Ohio, California, and New

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It is always interesting to examine, in contrast to our political discourse, how the middle class makes all of these choices: voting, money and sex. Yes, all three seem to be in play this year. On the campaign trail, most of the talking points are the same. Win the blue-collar vote, create hope, create change, convert all those angry, insecure voters. Sure, Hillary has a lot of money, but the reverse was true in 2008. Bernie might have that progressive appeal, but doesn’t he have a funny name? OK, fine, but Bernie was more successful than Hillary — did you hear that phrase “the whole world is watching”? — so Bernie gets to call himself the frontrunner and make money questions come up with alarming frequency. Who knows, maybe someone will fall into the category of “too gay for Jesus” — one Republican candidate copped to that — but I’m not really betting on it. Or something.

For some money, it’s not even the new president who is important. It’s the price. The rich won the last election, and that’s partly because rich people seem to be profiting more these days and vice versa. And since both parties propose to take advantage of Donald Trump’s grasp of finance to help voters with their money troubles, this could affect the one industry that was humming along nicely this year: the politically motivated payment processor.

Voter-request fees, government contracts, reimbursements — what do they all have in common? The answer may surprise you: they’re politically motivated.

This blog posts every Friday, so I’ll skip past the corny bits of the week (hint: Wells Fargo) and focus on: where is the money coming from? For both parties, the answer is in the health care system, and the more politically complex the problem is, the more lucratively. The Republicans want to offer health insurance to poorer people; Democrats want to create an “affordable health care system” for those who don’t have it.

The Democrats want to bar companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, give contraception to everyone who wants it and don’t make the guy from Texas president; Republicans want to make sure the rich are given tax breaks, partially offset by limiting health insurance to younger people. Both parties want to discourage smoking, make sure people with mental health issues get insurance and to reform the prescription drug programs. The only difference is: which side can raise the money to get there?

Money here gets made a lot of different ways: through fees for whatever this is you want to pay, for example, and through more direct subsidies.

Republican lawmakers have proposed Medicare vouchers to buy insurance in the private market. The Democrats have proposed a single-payer system. Both are likely to succeed, or at least will get somewhere, in an election in which the race to win the blue-collar vote will be fought in swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire. Money will get generated here in cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee and in these places where people elect Congress members. Oh, money will also get generated in cities like Whitefish, Montana, Pueblo, Colorado, and Fargo, North Dakota. These places elect senators and representatives who make decisions about money: in politics, at least, there is no other way.

On Capitol Hill, money gets made a lot of different ways: through fees for whatever this is you want to pay, for example, and through more direct subsidies. The House is in a serious “lame duck” mode before the election. How will the new Congress get its funding? “We’ll borrow it,” say the wise Republicans, while the Democrats are more keen to ask states, localities and businesses to pick up the tab.

This jibes with a smart response from a congressman who is an attorney on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. Alderman Roosevelt Black said, “Even if they don’t borrow it, it’s passed to all the counties in the state of Missouri. It’s hard to find any legitimate reason why you shouldn’t borrow it.” A GOP congressman from suburban Dallas added, “I can’t imagine that we’d want to borrow all this money and not want to use it for something, right? We already pay taxes into this.” No, I can’t either. I’m writing this from my desk in North Carolina, where my commutes are longer than any in Texas and where the new federal tax legislation will cut my take-home pay this year, unless I make cuts to my spending. Which I’m not about to do. As great as

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