English: yosemite national park mirror lake 2010 winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve spent much of my adult life having strong opinions about certain political issues but not a lot of interest in politics. I’m more of a Social Democrat or Socialist than a Democrat but I always vote for Democrats because I tend to favor taking care of people and the environment, etc. and my preferred political persuasion doesn’t have a viable party. No reason in all that to know a lot about Republicans except a pretty strong sense they favor big business.
So I’m looking at a lot of things the Republican administration is proposing and spinning out some probable impacts and scratching my head as to what they’re up to; it doesn’t feel like they’re even serving their own interests.
I may not follow the political scene but a lot of time on my history B.A. was spent studying political science, economics and modern U.S. history regarding political power. I continued those studies in graduate school in sociology and then learned a lot about politics after getting my J.D. and working for the Illinois Governor’s Office, so I may not be an expert but I think I’m looking at the ramifications with some degree of knowledge.
Just examining a few of the current hot issues leaves me wondering:
Get Rid of the National Parks
As I read about this one I’m pretty puzzled. Besides the fact that those parks are a national treasure and seriously important to the environment of not only our country but the earth, the Outdoor Industry employed 6.1 million Americans and injected $646 billion into the U.S. economy–more than the pharmaceutical and automobile industries combined. And, unlike the heavily subsidized oil and gas industry*, they receive NO subsidies from the federal government.
A great deal of their revenue arises from the millions of people who visit the national parks every year and by equipment to use for their activities. If the parks are sold for development and there are few places to ski, hike, camp, hunt, etc., what happens to this giant industry? They’re hopping mad but I can’t tell whether Republican’s care???
Let’s just talk about a minimal impact that causes them to lose $1 billion in revenues and lay off 5% of their employees . Even if they have loopholes, that has to affect the taxes they pay. That’s 300,000 people losing their jobs. Suddenly none of those people can afford to eat out or travel or pay for anything not required for survival. What does that do to the economy? That’s not even exploring the 35,000 unemployed parks service employees.
There’s a lot of fighting on the issue of the Affordable Care Act but what I’ve seen is that the only states where there have been problems and big cost hikes are the ones where they’ve used the discretionary portion of the act to enact regulations designed to screw the ACA — not surprisingly it isn’t doing well. But I’ve also seen, for instance, an interview with a state agency representative here in Kentucky (sorry I lost track of my link to that but it was a NY Times on-line live interview) discussing how the ACA had created thousands of jobs in health care here and generated multi-millions in revenue in KY alone.
But putting that fight over whether the ACA has been a boon aside, let’s look at the proposed (and hopefully now forever defunct 🙂 ) replacement. It takes insurance away from 24 million people. It proposes cuts that would raise insurance rates and out-of-pocket costs for seniors and low income people.
I can’t figure out why no one seems to be talking about the impact that would have on patient lists for doctors or the millions of people who wouldn’t be able to afford to fill their prescriptions. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t cause significant hits to the patient rosters of many doctors, the hospital patient/bed ratios and sales for the mighty pharmaceutical industry with its army of lobbyists.
Doctors here in KY are pretty conservative so as I accompanied my mother to doctor visits over the last 7 years I’ve had to listen to more diatribes about the ACA than I can count. I get it that they don’t like the pesky rules and paperwork — don’t even disagree that many rules are ridiculous — but do they get that in order to make money their practices require actually having some of those pesky patients? Something to contemplate while they’re flipping burgers at a fast food chain after their practices go down….
And how did the pharmaceutical industry fail to squawk about the potential damage to their sales? How many jobs could be lost in that sector if a new health care act at some point leaves tens of millions of people unable to afford to fill a prescription? How much in revenues? Between health care workers, medical supplies employees, and the pharmaceutical industry how much revenue and how many jobs would be lost all told?
Travel Bans and Out-of-Control Border Guards
Very shortly after the first travel ban I began hearing the travel industry started suffering losses as soon as it was issued. I’ve followed along a bit as more and more stories spread about an eminent French historian, a celebrated Australian children’s book author, a bunch of Canadian church volunteers and an Italian rock band all being either harassed, refused entry, or literally taken in handcuffs back to a plane and sent home.
People from other countries are cancelling travel plans to the U.S. and opting to go elsewhere — a 17% drop since the ban was issued.
The losses so far are quite large. New York alone is expecting at least a 2% dip and a loss of $900 million in revenues this year. Altogether it’s estimated $185 million dollars in travel bookings were lost in the first week of the ban. Times’ Money estimates $10 billion/year in revenues could potentially be lost because of the perceptions and fears generated by all of this.
Given that the U.S. airline industry has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy off and on for a couple of decades I’ve been quite surprised to see little speculation as to whether they can survive. They make $160 billion in revenues and employ 545,000 people according to a Columbia University study. Though they’ve recently been making profits, how much loss could they absorb before landing in bankruptcy — or needing a government bailout?
Back to Head Scratching
I’ve been looking into more issues like this but these three give you the idea. A lot of the Republican Administration’s agenda has probable adverse effects on various industries. Just from these three the potential to lose billions in revenues and put a million or more out of jobs is great. I realize Republicans for whatever reason seem to be mainly interested in shoring up the dinosaur industries like oil & gas, coal, and traditional utilities but why would politicians who favor in general taking care of big business cavalierly launch efforts that will so adversely impact a number of humongous industries and potentially leave millions without jobs?
You can spin on out from there that with giant unemployment sales of goods and services also go down, companies start downsizing and laying people off. The ripple effects are potentially mind boggling.
How does any of that serve Republicans? Big business in general? What am I missing?
*Don’t even get me started on their preference for the nuclear industry which is HEAVILY subsidized by the feds; the only reason nuclear comes out looking cheap is because it receives such huge subsidies. I used to do nuclear power plant cases as a lawyer so this is one where I assert I DO know.