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Letter to a Non-Wealthy Republican

I have often heard Democrats accuse Republicans of being selfish. That's nonsense. The economic policies of the Bush Administration have dramatically benefited only the wealthiest two percent of Americans. There are a lot of Republicans nowhere near that level of wealth. To my mind, most people who have voted Republican have not been selfish enough. I encourage everyone to vote their economic self-interest.

By voting Republican, you are voting for higher taxes. The vast majority of President Bush's tax cuts have gone to corporations and the extremely wealthy. What tiny cuts other people have received have been more than made up for by hikes in state and local taxes and fees. By closing loopholes for corporations and asking the super-wealthy to continue to pay their share, it would be possible to significantly reduce taxes on those who actually have trouble paying them -- that is, most of us.

By voting Republican, you are voting to send jobs overseas. President Bush is the first president since Hoover who is expected to finish his term with fewer jobs in the country than there were when he entered office. In fact, we've lost about 3 million jobs under Bush. Tax cuts for the super-wealthy didn't create jobs, so Bush tried tax cuts for the super-wealthy in case that might do it, and when that failed Bush gave tax cuts for the super-wealthy a try -- but with no success. He's out of ideas, but he steadfastly supports the trade agreements that are hurting our country and others, benefiting only multinational corporations. If we want to keep good-paying jobs in this country and encourage them elsewhere, we need a different approach to trade that replaces NAFTA and the WTO with agreements that don't destroy jobs.

By voting Republican, you are voting to pay more for health care. Every other wealthy nation in the world pays less and receives more health care than we do, because we have something they don't: our beloved HMOs and for-profit health insurance companies. We could do what other countries do and provide private health care with complete choice of doctors but with everything paid for by the government for less than what we're paying now. We could fund it with a tax on employers that would be lower than what they now pay for lousy insufficient health insurance. You would have no more premiums or co-payments. You'd just have comprehensive and preventive care. We all would, from cradle to grave, including the 45 million of us who now have no coverage at all.

By voting Republican, you are voting against affordable prescription drugs. There is no reason why Americans should pay 64 percent more than Canadians for prescription drugs. The same single-payer health care system that pays for your doctor visits can provide you with prescription drugs at no cost. But don't wait for Bush to create it.

If you keep voting Republican, you will be voting for lousy schools and voting to keep paying for preschool and college that could easily be free. We have the money to create not only excellent primary and secondary schools, but also to make quality pre-Kindergarten and college available free of cost. These projects sound like fantasies, but they would actually cost much less than what Bush has spent on tax cuts for millionaires.

If you vote for Bush, you are voting for unaffordable housing. We could create jobs at the same time as affordable housing if we acted nationally on the model that some states and cities have had great success with. Don't hold your breath as long as Bush is president.

If you don't vote to stop Bush after his first four years, you are opting not to be paid for overtime, not to have any job security or pension security, not to adjust the minimum wage for inflation. You are choosing longer hours for lower pay.

If you vote to give this guy four more years in the White House, you will be putting Social Security at risk of being privatized and gambled away on Wall Street. Social Security is sound through 2042 and will stay that way if you vote for someone who will leave it alone.

Of course, there are a lot of other non-economic reasons to vote for a President. I think we need to set them aside. I resent being lied to and the lives and dollars being poured into this war in Iraq. Others think it's courageous and noble. Let's set that aside.

I have problems with the "PATRIOT Act," which allows the government to search your home and private records without cause or notification. Others think that's necessary. Let's set that aside for a moment.

And let's try to get past the so-called social issues. I suspect that you don't view voting Republican as voting against your economic interest, but as voting for something else: defending your traditions or your morality. But keeping gay people from getting married won't make your own marriage any easier if you can't pay the bills. Protecting fetuses won't protect children if we can't provide them health care or education.

And no justification for voting for Bush will prevent billionaires from laughing at you all the way to the bank.