For the second time in as many years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy in the United States, as measured from birth, has declined. Fueled by an almost unbelievable 21 percent rise in the death rate due to drug overdoses, the U.S. has not seen two consecutive years of declining life expectancy since a flu epidemic hit the country in 1962 and 1963.
The White House has organized a three-point plan to battle the growing opioid epidemic, which fuels the country’s drug problem, and Kellyanne Conway is heading it. If that doesn’t scare you, there’s the fact that the Trump administration and Congress have allocated the effort no money.
For those who suffer from the opioid epidemic, there seems to be little hope of help coming soon. It was precisely the lack of hope within this country that led to the epidemic in the first place, which is now causing a declining birth rate. Those at the top don’t see it, but if you spend any time outside the Beltway—as the president and members of the GOP ironically often urge reporters to do—you’ll find how full of it most of our representatives in D.C. are.
Tax cuts and the subsequent $1.5 trillion hole in the budget should also make you wary of any real effort by Trump to deal with the problem. His administration spent this week putting together a win on a tax cut plan, one that many members of the GOP admitted they hadn’t even read before voting in favor of it. Still, the legislation relies heavily on the discredited theory of trickle down economics, once championed by President Ronald Reagan. Mind you, Republican President George H.W. Bush later accused the theory of being nothing more than “voodo economics.”
To replace the traditional greeting with something as greedy and self-serving as “Taxmas” is completely lost on the White House staff.
By providing corporations massive tax cuts while giving many middle class taxpayers a modest and sometimes non-existent cut, the GOP is gambling with its donors. It’s okay to screw the poor, they think, because the rich will spend lavishly and after all, “a rising tide raises all boats.”
The fact is there is absolutely no guarantee corporations will reinvest in the economy and create new jobs like the GOP and the president promise. In fact, without mandating that companies must reinvest in the economy, many CEOs, when questioned at a recent forum organized by Wall Street Journal, said they would not invest in their companies. Increased profits merely mean more money in the pockets of shareholders and owners.
Meanwhile, there is little hope for any real relief of the burdens felt by the decreasing middle class. A $1,000 kickback might mean an extra month’s rent, a few more nights out at the movies for a family of five or a paydown on massive credit card debt. But that debt will only creep back after the cut pays it off.
Too many of us are living from paycheck to paycheck. The Baby Boomer generation, which once preached free love and told us never to trust anyone over the age of 30, has become worse than the generation they railed against. Free love, peace and good rock n’ roll gave way to the Me generation of the Ronald Reagan era. Peace has become the war-all-the-time reality. Rock n’ roll doesn’t exist except in museums and rockabilly bars. Richard Nixon has given way to Donald Trump.
In the press room on Tuesday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly defended the president’s tax plan though polls show more than 63 percent of the country is against it. She refused to talk about reinvesting in Amtrak when I asked her directly about the president’s proposed $630 million cut to Amtrak infrastructure. She also refused to talk about a federal judge nominee the president put forth who had no familiarity with the laws he would be responsible for administering as a judge.
This doesn’t provide hope for anyone. The president told us this week how much esteem we now have in the eyes of the world because of his efforts to Make America Great Again. Yet at the same time, the United Nations has condemned us for our actions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Cynics believe Trump only did that so Jared Kushner will have a place to go where he can’t be extradited while the evangelicals believe Trump did it to prompt the Rapture. Either way, what hope can a young person have in this country today?
The White House staff on Wednesday afternoon announced a travel and photo lid, meaning there would be no more chances to see the president. The press could stand down from any other news coming from the White House unless something extraordinary were to happen. This news was delivered to us with a season’s greeting of “Happy Taxmas.”
The irony, of course, is that this administration has claimed there’s been a war on Christmas, a time of the year devoted to peace on earth and good will toward all. To replace the traditional greeting with something as greedy and self-serving as “Taxmas” is completely lost on the White House staff. “The truth is, they’re not that bright,” one of the reporters in the briefing room said, echoing a line from All the President’s Men.
After a year in office, President Donald Trump can point to a more divided nation as his first-year legacy.
After a year in office, President Donald Trump can point to Neal Gorsuch and massive tax cuts, along with dismantling the Department of Education, gutting the State Department, compromising the Environmental Protection Agency and making many questionable judicial appointments as his first-year legacy.
He can also point to a more divided nation—made more so by his tweets than anything else he’s done. He can point to a rabid base that hates on immigrants, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, the poor and anyone else who doesn’t agree with this country’s titular leader. And he can say with venom and verve he has kept his promises to that sector of the voting populace.
He has called members of my profession “the enemy of the people” and “fake news” whenever we write things that anger him (which is often). He has convinced some that he is the only answer to questions many of us have never thought to ask or have considered to even be problems. And at the end of the day, he has erased hope for many while giving it to the most misogynistic and self-centered.
That is why young people believe there is no hope. Our generation has removed it. We haven’t made them self-sufficient. We haven’t taught them understanding and we’ve brought them no peace. Our government comprises people on the left and the right who only argue with each other, rarely seeking solutions that may benefit us all. They diminish rather than enhance our possibilities for a better future.
The president recently spoke of increasing space exploration, a ray of hope in an otherwise dim night. But he has no money to do it. He’s put together a plan to help ease the opioid epidemic, but has provided no money to do that, either. He talks about building infrastructure, but again, there’s no money.
There is only money for defense, corporations and a wall. The only hope many see is in the Mueller investigation.