Legendary Journalist Bill Moyers Says He Fears For The Nation For The First Time In His Life

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“Society, a democracy, can die of too many lies — and we’re getting close to that terminal moment,” he warns.

Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

Race, Wealth and Taxes

When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.

The truth is that while capitalism is an excellent vehicle to promote consumption and opportunities for expression of economic freedom of choice, it is not ideally suited to ensuring that everyone has the wherewithal to avail themselves of those opportunities. With the myriad of threats facing our nation, perhaps the most dangerous is the growth of income inequality between the top one percent of the nation and the remaining 99%.

Importance of a Middle Class

As a nation we celebrate the presence of a once robust middle class, and while politicians are quick to give lip service to this critical economic segment of society, their tax and monetary policies are eating into the savings and importance of this group. This fact can be seen in the erosion of the middle class purchasing power as their influence is siphoned off in favor of upper income and corporate tax breaks.

Regrettably, the"idea" of a middle class requires more than lip service during the occasional electoral cycle to make it a viable social, political, and economic entity. The fact of the matter is, a vibrant middle class only arises when nations make the decision to foster that development.

The middle class in the United States is a little more than 70 years old. While most Americans may believe that a strong middle class has been the bedrock of our economic growth since those first rounds were fired between colonists and British Redcoats at Lexington and Concord, in reality it only emerged following the Second World War.

In 1945, the United States was the only nation who finished the war stronger than they went into the conflict. This relative strength allowed the wherewithal to foster a growing middle class. From educational grants to returning soldiers to VA home loans engineered to increase home ownership, the country had the money, political desire, and opportunity to support this growth. As such, the nation witnessed a phenomenal growth in this economic demographic in the two decades following the war.

Conservative Elite Backlash

As mentioned, the formation of a robust middle class was fostered by the political will of the nation. Tax rates on corporations and the country's richest citizens were used to pay for this expansion of this group, and they were well equipped to pay for it owing to economic success of this group during the war years. Corporate tax rates were near 90% directly following the war, and had only been scaled back to 70% by the time President Ronald Reagan assumed office in 1981.

Following the dictates of supply-side economics, Reagan slashed the tax rates on America's top earners, both personal and corporate, down to below the 30% threshold, and increasingly the burden of public expenditures have fallen on the shoulders of Middle America to bear the cost. This rising inequity has shattered the vision of the American dream for many as they find themselves increasingly priced out of sought after housing, superior education, and economic opportunities.

A Recommitment to Equality of Opportunity

For years, conservatives have championed the importance of a strong middle class in this nation while doing everything in their power to shore up their own economic position at the expense of other sectors of the economy. From slashing aid programs, designed to help society’s poorest residents, to promoting tax policies that have the effect of eviscerating the middle class, America's conservatives have adopted a short term view that buttresses their corporate bottom line, but risks the long term economic health of the nation by ensuring gross wealth inequality.

 

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House Approves Symbolic Impeachment Inquiry Resolution

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There’s no actual need for the House to vote to start an impeachment inquiry, but Democrats are going belt-and-suspenders.

After weeks of GOP criticism that the House of Representatives had not formally opened an impeachment inquiry, House Democrats approved a resolution Thursday formalizing the process, though Republicans griped that it was too late.

The House voted 232-196 in favor of the resolution, with all but two Democrats and no Republicans voting in favor of the process. Reps. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) voted with Republicans, while independent Justin Amash of Michigan voted with Democrats. 

The resolution lays out ground rules for the impeachment process, including how much time Republican committee leaders will get to question witnesses, guidelines on how Republicans can call their own witnesses, the process for the White House to respond to congressional inquiries, and the overall impeachment process.

In an attempt to finally get the White House to cooperate with their investigations, the resolution would actually give President Donald Trump more rights if he and his staff cooperate with congressional subpoenas, but would take some of those rights away if the White House continues not to comply with subpoenas.

Some Democrats have been pushing for a vote, insisting that the process is undefined and could take too long. Republicans, meanwhile, have also been clamoring for a vote, hoping to lock in a partisan impeachment roll call now before any more damaging information comes to light and before public sentiment moves any further.

As Democrats finally called the vote Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat in the presiding officer’s chair and announced the total. There was a spirited, partisan mood on the House floor, which culminated in Republican Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) objecting to the vote after it was called. Griffith’s objection, which was not heard, was apparently for a motion to reconsider, which he did not have standing to make because he voted with the losing side.

Regardless, Republicans yelled for “regular order,” like a sporadic mantra as Democrats moved on to vote on other items.

During the actual debate of the resolution, Pelosi said the rules would guide the decision to impeach the president, and that the decision had not yet been made. She said Republicans were just “afraid of the truth.”

“That is really what this vote is about,” Pelosi said. “It is about the truth. What is at stake? What is at stake in all of this is nothing less than our democracy.”

For the GOP’s part, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) brought up some old quotes from Pelosi, about how impeachment would be divisive and that the House should only go down that route if there were something overwhelming.

“This impeachment is not only an attempt to undo the last election,” McCarthy said. “It is an attempt to influence the next one as well.”

He argued there was nothing impeachable about the president’s phone call with Ukraine, or the quid pro quo Trump seemed to set up with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky if he opened an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden.

But over the past several weeks, Democrats have obtained damning testimony from Trump administration officials regarding the president’s attempt to make Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden, one of his top rivals in the 2020 election.

White House adviser Alexander Vindman, one of several officials who listened in on Trump’s July phone call with the Ukrainian president, reportedly told Congress last week that he raised concerns Trump had acted improperly ― and that a White House lawyer reacted by burying a transcript of the call on a highly classified server.

Instead of defending the president on the merits, Republicans have focused on the process Democrats have followed. The Judiciary Committee voted in September on a resolution saying the committee would investigate “whether to recommend articles of impeachment.” Then, two weeks later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared that the impeachment inquiry had become “official,” and that the Intelligence Committee would take the lead.

Republicans’ chief complaint has been that Democrats had not launched the inquiry with a full House vote. They’ve argued both in press conferences and in court that the lack of a vote and the closed-door depositions have made the ongoing inquiry a “sham,” a “kangaroo court” and even a “lynching.”

McCarthy, who has vocally insisted there is nothing impeachable about the Ukraine situation, only slightly shifted his rhetoric this week with an impeachment vote impending.

McCarthy has said it was too late for Democrats to act now, because the earlier information they’ve uncovered through the course of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation was “fruit from the forbidden tree.”

The Constitution does not require the House to hold a preliminary impeachment vote like the one Democrats did on Thursday. It simply says the House has sole power of impeachment and that it’s the Senate’s job to conduct a trial after the House has impeached the president or one of his officers.

In a ruling last week ordering the Justice Department to hand over grand jury materials related to its special counsel investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, a top federal judge said Republicans have been cherry-picking historical precedent. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell wrote that the House has impeached federal judges with no preliminary vote.

“Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry,” Howell wrote.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who famously vowed when she took office this year that the House would “impeach the motherfucker,” said Thursday that her constituents have backed her position all the way.

“I’m increasingly optimistic that we’re getting closer to the final resolution,” she said.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the president had done nothing wrong.

“Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats’ unhinged obsession with this illegitimate impeachment proceeding does not hurt President Trump; it hurts the American people,” she said.

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