by by John Flynn via Joseph Slater]
The desire to southernize the entire United States is not new, and in some ways it’s been happening for a while, at least where Republicans have control of government. But now that Republicans have complete control in Washington, they’re going to try to accelerate and deepen that process. Let’s look at it piece by piece:
The Southern economic model. The first and most far-reaching component of this project is to take the Southern economic model national. The foundation of that model is the elimination of collective bargaining and the destruction of the labor unions that are able to negotiate higher wages and better benefits for workers. The Southern model replaces the North’s high-wage, unionized manufacturing with a low-wage, low-benefit version that has succeeded in drawing many factories southward. Southern states have lured companies with gigantic tax breaks and the promise of a powerless and desperate workforce. The result is often more jobs in those Southern states, but worse jobs. And what those states give up in taxes means poorer schools and fewer social services.
It’s deeply ironic that Donald Trump won by promising white working class voters that he could turn back the clock to the halcyon days of American manufacturing when unionized workers had secure jobs with high wages and benefits, while his administration is going to pursue policies that will essentially initiate a race to the bottom for workers. Yesterday we learned that Trump will nominate Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the fast-food company CKE Restaurant Holdings, to be Secretary of Labor — the person in charge of looking after workers’ interests. Puzder is an ardent opponent of minimum wage increases, expanded overtime pay, paid sick leave, health coverage for workers, and collective bargaining. While he’s toiling at the Labor Department for the interests of corporations, Republicans will almost certainly try to pass a federal “right to work” law — the kind now in force in states across the South — as part of their effort to destroy labor unions once and for all.
OK, maybe Puzder is a strong opponent of labor rights, but the NEOLIBERAL Tom Perez once observed that Hillary Clinton was more popular among African-Americans than Bernie Sanders, so really Both Sides Do It but Clinton is probably worse.
The Southern health care model. The Republicans’ first legislative priority is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and while we don’t yet know what form that repeal (or its replacement) will take, the people most vulnerable are the estimated 12 million who would lose the coverage they gained because of the law’s expansion of Medicaid. Nineteen states refused to accept that expansion, preferring to keep their poor citizens uninsured rather than allow them to get coverage paid for by the federal government. Those 19 included some conservative states in the Midwest like Kansas and Nebraska, but the largest group of states was in the South: 10 of the 11 states of the Confederacy (Louisiana being the sole exception) refused the Medicaid expansion.
Republican statehouses are just protecting their citizens from the BAILOUT of the insurance industry that happened when Obama passed the Heritage Foundation’s health care plan.
The Southern civil rights model. For his Attorney General, Trump picked Alabama’s Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, named for the president of the Confederacy and a Confederate general. Sessions was rejected by the Senate in the 1980s for a judgeship because of his history of what these days we call “racially charged” comments. His most famous case as a prosecutor involved his unsuccessful prosecution of a former aide to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whom Sessions went after for helping elderly African-Americans to vote absentee. While we don’t know exactly what Sessions’ agenda is, it’s a fair bet that vigorous enforcement of civil rights protections will not be high on his list.
In addition, Republicans will almost certainly be taking their voter suppression crusade national, especially given how successful it has been in putting up voting barriers to African-Americans, Latinos, and other people who might cast ballots for Democrats. Look for federal versions of voter ID laws, limits on early voting, and bans on same-day registration. Trump has also appointed Ben Carson to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Carson has compared efforts to enforce the Fair Housing Act to communism.
There Waldman goes again with his “identity politics.”
Anyway, the Slave Power may have lost the Civil War, but they’re still winning presidential elections.