The final straw

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Maybe it was when the U.S. House Representatives voted Thursday to blow up the increasingly popular Affordable Health Act and replace it with a non-vetted, closely-held replacement supported by less than 20 percent of voters (the cheering and beer party at the White House didn’t help, either).

Or maybe it was when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents swooped in and arrested about a dozen alleged illegal immigrants working in local mushroom farms, sending shockwaves through the small, yet powerful agriculture community that wields a surprising amount of political clout in Chester County. Enemies — serious enemies — were made that day.

Or maybe it was when the party nominated a handsy reality TV star billionaire for president, only to see him rejected locally in favor an unpopular Democrat in Chester County.

Or maybe it was just a slow death, caused by infighting, greed or a lack of a moral compass or some combination of all of the above. Either way, it appears that the Republican Party in Chester County — one of the party’s actual cradles in the 1850s — is terminally ill.

Oh, sure the Chesco GOP will continue to stagger around like some vitriol-spewing zombie (one needs only to see the dirty campaigning of one GOP District Justice candidate — one supported by much of the establishment — in the Kennett Square area targeting their fellow Republicans to see that), but the time to start working on the obituary has come.

You’ll note we don’t run a lot of obituaries: 1. the funeral homes decline to offer us any ad support, even though we’re willing to run the obits for free (as compared to the many hundreds of dollars charged to the families for each obit by other newspapers) and 2. there are too many errors in the submitted obituaries that require us to go back and fix them after being published, which is a time suck for a small company with limited resources. But for those that are newsworthy, we make a clear exception.

This, of course, is newsworthy.

As with any demise, the post mortem always looks for the cause and I suspect down the road we’ll see that Thursday’s vote to give a giant tax break to the rich and deprive the poor, middle class and elderly of health care that was the final straw in Chester County.

Supporting the American Health Care Act — which two of our local GOP congress members, Ryan Costello (R-6) and Patrick Meehan (R-7) were “no” votes, while a third, Lloyd Smucker, voted yes — a law that could deprive health care from kids, seniors and a whole wide range of folks who won’t be able to afford the cost of expensive new policies, especially those who have pre-existing conditions, isn’t exactly the ticket to electoral success.

Should that bill pass the U.S. Senate as is, doubtful thankfully, people will die.

And folks will notice.

When you, as a party or as an individual, support legislation that causes people to die, you’re not pro-life. As most folks opposing abortion also oppose contraception, they’re not pro-life, just anti-sex — for straight women. And for gay everybody, apparently. They are, of course, OK with men having sex, especially outside of marriage — a fun trait demonstrated by Republicans from President Donald Trump all the way down to a handful of local political leaders. So, there’s that.

So, to recap, Republicans are OK with married guys getting a little on the side, but not single women. Or gay couples. Or unmarried adults of either gender. Just married guys who like to grab em by the….well, you know.

Family values, of course.

But let’s dig a bit deeper.

Republicans are, allegedly, fiscal conservatives. Well, when they’re not in charge — they scream about deficits and spending.

But, elect one president, and suddenly, deficits don’t matter. Cutting taxes for rich people — which caused recessions in 1983, 1991, 2003 and 2008 — and boosting spending for boondoggle defense projects like the F-35 fighter, the Yugo of the skies, so their buddies at General Dynamics and Boeing (the latter of which managed not to pay any taxes last year — despite being highly profitable) get good return for their campaign contributions. But we don’t get any safer and the deficit explodes (just as it did in the 2001-2009 period).

As someone who truly is a fiscal conservative, I’m angered and frustrated by every dollar wasted pointlessly on defense (we should invest in people, training and taking care of our veterans — and save money by keeping proven platforms like the A-10 Ground Attack jet, which could be made state of the art with new avionics and engines, at a cost of pennies on the dollar compared to miscast and failed F-35). By being smarter, we could have a better, more efficient military — one that keeps us safer and costs less — and provide the needed support for everything from health care to infrastructure that we constantly fail at and still cut tax rates for the bottom of the income scale.

To be blunt, a tax cut for the rich is exceptionally poor economics and little more than a payback to rich campaign contributors. The smart play — in terms of boosting economic growth — is to raise taxes on the rich, cut out the corporate tax loopholes and slash taxes on those making less than $100,000 per year.

Why? Rich people and corporations don’t spend money, they hoard it (I’m an investor, I look at the balance sheets of a lot of companies). Take a quick look around at what corporate America does with large stashes of cash: they either sit on it, or buy back stock. They don’t create new jobs or spend on expansion. Rich people don’t spend either, they stash their wealth in offshore tax havens — they’re not “job creators,” they’re wealth creators.

You know who does spend money? Poor and middle class folks. They buy cars and TVs and send their kids to college and fix up their homes. When that happens, new jobs are created and that means there are new people to buy TVs and cars and so on, it creates what economists call a “Virtuous Cycle.” This built America’s middle class between 1945 and 1981.

But that isn’t now, nor has it been for more than a generation, part of the GOP playbook. While in the past, the “cut taxes for growth” argument was plausible, repeated failures have left all but the most ignorant to question both motivation and honesty behind those supporting it. In the end, it was about wealth redistribution to the wealthy from the rest of us.

Combine that with a Molester-In-Chief who can’t control his zipper, his administration or his Twitter account, the backing of Christian Evangelicals (America’s own Taliban), whose fake moral superiority and lust to attack, well everyone else who isn’t sufficiently Godly, has become excessively tiresome to virtually anyone with a triple-digit IQ, and you sow the seeds of destruction in a well-educated place such as Chester County.

The AHCA was little more than the detonator, in the end.

But as soon as this November, the county’s Democrats, which boasts the best slate of county-wide candidates in recent memory (all of whom are vastly better than I was eight years ago), may be in position to help the county GOP reap the whirlwind of what they have sown.

It will get worse in 2018.

While Costello and Meehan wait to see which of the many, qualified, likely to be well-funded Democrats they will face, Smucker already knows (or should know) how much trouble he faces in a rematch with Christina Hartman in the 16th.

And she does, too.

Hence this post by her on Facebook the other day:

“Today our Congressman made sure that my husband, Martin, a 36-year old cancer survivor will not have his ‘pre-existing condition’ of cancer covered. He made sure that my friends who are survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence (1 in 4 women) cannot be covered by the #AHCA for issues related to their abuse. And, he made sure that women who have postpartum depression aren’t covered either.

“Are you sick of this yet?

“Because I am.”

And so is Chester County. RIP, GOP.

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  1. Janet says:


  2. Kate says:

    I agree with your sentiments here, but your endorsements of Republicans Costello, Meehan,Toomey and others last November makes all this ring a little hollow. Do you understand why the House was able to even bring this up for a vote? Because Republicans were in the majority. Without republican politicians like Costello and Meehan, there might not have been a Speaker Ryan who could bring such an abomination to a vote.

    Now, you’re hoping the Senate won’t pass something equally horrible? Toomey, your endorsed candidate, is on the committtee to create the legislation. (As an aside, there are no women on the committee, so if you think you’re scared, try to imagine being a woman under a health care regime that considers being female a pre-existing condition) How do you think he will vote?

    Again, I agree with what you’ve said above, but it’s time for people translate their preferred policy outcomes to their voting behavior. You just got what you voted for. And worse, you did your best to convince your readership to vote likewise.

    I’m glad you seem to have “seen the light.” I hope enough other people do before it’s too late.

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