The Republican Party has become a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO). As with other criminal organizations, its purpose is to rape, pillage and plunder America.
It should have been evident to all that something was afoot when the first order of business for the GOP-controlled 115th Congress was to try to abolish the Office of Congressional Ethics. After all, why let a little thing like ethics stand in the way of the Republican agenda?
And quite an agenda it is! Rapacious from every aspect, it constitutes nothing less than a hostile takeover of the United States of America by an economic elite bent on financial gain for financial gain’s sake alone.
The most recent manifestation of Republican corruption is its tax bill, which is nothing other than a massive giveaway to the GOP donor class. It does some good things, like cutting the corporate tax rate and getting rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, but fails to do much of anything else right.
While the tax bill gives one multi-million-dollar break after another to the donor class, including the elimination of the inheritance tax, it doles out nickels and dimes to the United States’s working and middle classes.
Here are the crimes
In order to pay for the giveaways to the wealthy, the bill takes away key deductions, including the deduction on mortgage interest and deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). These deductions have promoted a stable middle class in the United States since the end of the Second World War.
Importantly, the elimination of the deductions for state and local taxes is perhaps the most cravenly partisan act since post-Civil War Reconstruction. Its effects are almost entirely concentrated in “Blue States” (i.e., those often run by Democrats), including New York, California, Illinois and Massachusetts.
Trump’s broken campaign promise
In a nausea-inducing demonstration of pay-to-play politics, the bill doesn’t touch the carried interest deduction. This tool is used by hedge fund operators to pay taxes at significantly lower rates than the average U.S. worker. Significantly, repeal of the carried interest provision was a ubiquitous Trump campaign promise!
But there’s more. The tax bill contains provisions that will raise medical insurance costs, eliminate deductions for the interest paid on student loans and eliminate deductions for certain urgent health care costs.
Can anyone be really surprised that the tax bill fails to remove any corporate tax loopholes? Instead, it pays for the sweeping reduction in the corporate tax rate by increasing taxes on the middle class and blowing up the federal government’s deficit.
There is more twisted logic contained in the [Republican] tax bill, but there’s no need to go deeper. Suffice to say that the tax bill is merely part of an agenda that perpetuates and strengthens oligarchic structures in the United States.
It turns tax policy upside-down by facilitating massive transfers of wealth from the lower classes to the very wealthy.
Assault on the tax code just the beginning
The tax reform effort does not stand alone in the Republican crime spree. The first major attempt to rake the American working man over the coals by this Congress was the ill-fated effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
The replacement bills put forth by the Republican Congress were acts of medieval cruelty, denying 30 million Americans health care and literally putting in place the mechanism needed to toss Grandma out of her nursing home. (Yes, it actually did that!)
A couple of GOP stalwarts balked at this travesty and the whole scheme went down in ignominious defeat, tarnishing the GOP in the process. But a bad aftertaste remains, like the taste of bile that one might sense following a failed bank robbery.
The tax bill and Obamacare repeal are merely the most obvious crimes that the Republican Congress has attempted. Other nefarious activities are afoot, the result of Congressional confirmation of Cabinet and Department heads bent on plundering the American patrimony.
One big crime scene
The U.S. Capital has in fact become one big crime scene. Take, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency, which in one short year has reversed decades of progress in improving environmental conditions across the United States.
Under the GOP-led EPA, mining companies are now permitted to dump tailings into America’s rivers and streams unchecked. These tailings are loaded with lead, arsenic and other toxic minerals — some radioactive.
Similarly, the EPA has all but eliminated restrictions on coal ash storage. This allows toxic coal ash to be stored without oversight in close proximity to U.S. waterways and population centers.
These are but two of over forty actions taken by the EPA aimed at doing away with environmental regulation and regulatory oversight. Make America Polluted Again!
And this of course is before the outright repudiation of the whole concept of global warming, which involved the muzzling of hundreds of concerned government scientists and the rejection of the Paris Climate Accord.
3 Ps – Raping, pillaging and plundering America
This environmental agenda is a pay-off to Republican donors in the extraction, materials and utilities industries, who use their wealth and influence to commit rape against the American landscape.
These actions rob future generations of their patrimony and leaves the United States with a looming public health crisis. This could very well turn into a replay of the environmental degradation of the 1950s that ended up advancing the cancer epidemic of the last 30 years.
To make matters worse, the U.S. Department of the Interior has been hard at work to sell off public lands, again to Republican donors. It tries to shrink national parks in order to give donors important mining and woodland franchises. It is trying to open up the Alaska National Wildlife refuge to drilling.
And not content to destroy the tax code, health care, the environment and public lands, Republicans want to end a large number of key regulatory measures. They want, for example, to do away with the concept of “net neutrality” and in so doing turn the internet over to the highest bidders, often Republican donors.
They also want to expedite the approval of new drugs by the FDA, even as the pursuit of class action lawsuits based on pharmaceutical companies selling drugs that cause physical damage have become more than just a cottage industry.
Last, but certainly not least, Republicans want to do away with consumer protections designed to help guard against the rapacious behavior of the banking industry that brought about the financial collapse of 2008.
A Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization — RICO
The GOP has abandoned its core principles and has become a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO).
This law, passed in 1970, provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. Unfortunately, the RICO Act doesn’t apply to political parties.
Otherwise, it would certainly be applicable as the Republican Party has ceased playing a constructive role in improving the lot of its constituents and instead has become a racket, rife with corrupt practices.
With each passing day, a new crime is perpetrated against the American people that concentrates wealth in the hands of a group of oligarchs that exert greater and greater control over how the wealth of America is distributed.
This oligarchy pays off Republican politicians with donations that underpin their political careers. Without these nefarious donations, these paid predators would be out of a job. The donations are nothing other than bribes aimed at securing the financial well-being of their recipients.
And the voters that put GOP politicians in charge! GOP supporters tend to be poorly-educated and under-informed, gullible to the magical thinking that is the very basis of modern Republican ideology.
And for those who suggest there is even a semblance of moral equivalency between Republicans and Democrats, they should keep solidly in mind one important distinction: Democrats want tax cuts for the middle class, health insurance for all, a decent and protected environment, net neutrality and food for poor kids.
The truly perverse thing about this crime spree [via the new tax bill and the many other measures] is that it constitutes a full-on attack on Trump’s core supporters, who are being betrayed at every turn. All anyone can hope for is that voters wise up to what the GOP has been up to.
**Richard Phillips is a New York-based international analyst. Since the 1980s, he has served as a senior advisor to major financial institutions around the world.
Among Mr. Phillips current responsibilities is the management of the Thomson Reuters Corporate Responsibility Ratings and Indexes, which measure 200 separate factors to assess the environmental, social and governance performance of over 5,000 companies worldwide.
His clients have included Deutsche Bank, UBS, Société Générale, Deutsche Borse and the United Nations Development Plan.
Mr. Phillips currently serves as senior financial analyst for S-Network Global Indexes and is responsible for developing and managing indexes and ratings that measure discrete aspects of the global economy.