By Barbra Streisand.
It is strange to watch the Republican Presidential debates or hear the candidates describe our country. While there is hype in political rhetoric, now there are outright falsehoods being peddled as facts.
To the Republicans, the U.S. is an economic basket case. Nothing could be further from the truth. These are the actual facts.
The U.S. has had the best job growth in the industrialized world and the unemployment rate is down to 5.1 percent — the lowest since 2008. Since 2010, more than 7.5 million private sector jobs have been created. As Fareed Zakaria points out in the Washington Post, “Last quarter, the U.S. economy grew at a [3.9] percent clip. Annual growth now is almost twice that of Europe and four times that of Japan.”
In addition, the deficit has come down to its lowest percentage of GDP since 2007. It should be noted that President Obama inherited a big deficit from George W. Bush based on his tax cuts and unpaid-for wars. This after W. inherited a surplus from Bill Clinton, and Clinton had to clean up the debt left after the Reagan and Bush years.
The GOP pretends that President Obama did not inherit the recession unleashed by fraud in the mortgage industry and poor regulatory policy. They hope Americans have forgotten the disastrous policies of George W. Bush, and certainly it worries Republicans that the economy is steadily improving under President Obama’s policies.
The GOP doctrine has not changed; it remains Robin Hood in reverse. George’s younger brother, Jeb, just proposed a tax plan that would give 53 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent of all taxpayers. This would further exacerbate the income inequality. Donald Trump’s proposal does the same and, once again, deficits will go through the roof.
There is a clear issue with wage stagnation across the country, but the president cannot wave a wand and force the nation’s CEOs to give our workers a raise. The issue is neither American productivity nor our willingness to work hard. We already work 30 percent more hours than our German counterparts. Of course, the Republicans refuse to raise the national minimum wage.
Right wing Republicans hope to shut down the government in December over fraudulent videos of Planned Parenthood. Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood services is unrelated to abortions, and treat both men and women. Needless to say, there is no federal money spent on abortions. But Republicans continue to spread falsehoods about Planned Parenthood as Carly Fiorina did during the second debate and as Marco Rubio did when he said the organization incentivizes women to have abortions. This would be the fourth government shutdown by the GOP in the last 23 years. How much harm will this do to the economy?
On our military, according to the annual report from the Institute for Strategic Studies, America allocated $581 billion in 2014 surpassing the total combined Chinese, Saudi, Russian, British, French, German, Japanese, Indian and South Korean military budgets by $15 billion. In addition, our military technology is far superior to that of any adversary. Our air power is unrivaled. The U.S. has 10 active aircraft carriers while Russia and China each have just one. The U.S. NATO allies have another six carriers combined. So President Obama has not “hollowed out” our military.
Republicans would like to rewrite Obama’s legacy, but the United States is far better off since President Obama came into office. Currently, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 17.6 million previously uninsured adults now have health care coverage. Health care costs are also coming down. Why would the Republicans deny coverage to those who most need it? It has been said that countries are judged by how we treat the least fortunate among us.
On climate change, the response to the established science is denial, or pretending that reducing fossil fuel use will wreak havoc on the economy or “make America a harder place to create jobs.” The U.S. has already reduced carbon emissions by subbing natural gas for coal, producing more fuel-efficient cars, and using solar, wind and other technologies to generate heat or electricity. The real economic costs of doing nothing will be enormous, but the GOP candidates have their heads buried in fossil fuels.
The New York Times pointed out how extreme and extremely alone the modern Republican Party is in the world when it comes to climate change, “A study has found that the Republican Party in the United States lags behind conservative parties worldwide when it comes to accepting the reality of climate change… and found that the Republican Party here was the only one to deny the existence of human-caused climate change.” There is, of course, plenty of climate science for Republicans to study if they care to.
There is no justification for these fictions about the state of our great and wealthy nation. I was particularly moved by some of the wise, positive and inspirational words of the Pope during his recent visit: “I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of dreams.” He reminded us all to appreciate what we have now, why can’t the Republicans do the same thing?
As opposed to the constant nightmares preached by these candidates, the Pope’s recent visit promoted hope, kindness and courage.
Every country can always do better, especially for the poor. Of course there are problems and people who are struggling; but unlike the slogan of one of the Republican candidates, America does not need to be made great again. It remains a great country… now.