Families Have a Lot to Lose – and Protect – Long Before Inauguration Day

LeeAnn Hall

The right-wing assault on the advances our country has made in the more than 70 years since the presidency of FDR isn’t waiting for Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The battle to take away our health care, retirement benefits, and even food aid has already begun, with the Republican right-wing in Congress conspiring to hand the federal budget over to big corporations and slip in devastating deregulatory measures before they adjourn this year, while few are paying attention.

The Republican Congress has to pass legislation by December 9 to fund the government or cause a shutdown, and it wants to exploit the moment to get a head start on unraveling the programs that are a lifeline for ordinary people.

Their plan is to pass a “continuing resolution” which “continues” the current budget for a few months until the next Congress passes a new one. That way, in the spring, they can gut our budget and sell us out to the big corporations and billionaires.

The right-wing may also sneak in “riders” – provisions completely unrelated to the budget that wouldn’t survive the light of day in a transparent debate in front of the public. In the past, they’ve tried to block overtime pay and rules against predatory lending using this tactic.

Now they’ve sneaked in a rider that would halt the Securities and Exchange Commission from creating rules on corporate political disclosures. We need to stop this dirty trick and others the right-wing has up its sleeve.

The right-wingers in the majority haven’t hidden their ultimate goals: gut Medicaid, turn Medicare over to private insurance corporations, and slash SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps people get food. And we know they will use every trick in the book to mine the federal budget for corporate giveaways and drive families into deeper despair.

But we still have a choice about the kind of country we want to be. We don’t have to let an unpopular president-elect and an emboldened right-wing Congress sell us out to big corporations and billionaires.

We need to take a stand now, and show the right-wing they can’t get away with it. We need principled lawmakers in Congress to show resolve and stand up to these attacks on all our families.

And, even more than that, they need to articulate an alternative vision that shows voters how much we could accomplish with the right priorities. Imagine if we made big corporations and billionaires pay their fair share – and made sure that every person in the United States had access to good education, to health care, to food and shelter, to thriving communities, and jobs that pay a family wage.

We can accomplish that if we hold the ultra-rich accountable to the public good. We don’t have to play the politics of hatred and division. Our job is to shine a bright light on what they are doing, and the let the people know we are fighting on their behalf every step of the way.

If we can’t count on the White House to protect families, we can call on members of Congress to do that job and pass a full budget that protects all families now, without corporate riders and without kicking the can down the road with continuing resolutions.

Now’s the time to raise our voices and demand that Democratic leaders are a champion for families against right-wingers who care only about the few. And we need principled Republicans to stand up, too.

We can be the kind of country that believes in the dignity of each person. We can be the kind of country that puts people – all the people – above corporate profit and billionaires. But only if we speak out when they wage war against the working class and the poor.

Originally published at The Huffington Post

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