Sex and Money in Washington, DC

RAPE is the forceable use of power. It need not be about sex but about how power is used to take what is wanted and to victimize those being violated.

What is happening in Congress today amounts to rape of the American public. Some of it is obvious, some of it secret but all of it is about the deterioration of America’s political system.

While one can argue that the last Presidential election is the best illustration of this – the American public’s rejection of the status quo no matter how injurious the result might be – we prefer here to look at two much better examples that can be seen without the emotional content inherent in a Presidential election.

THE CONGRESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY ACT

For the past 22 years, under this law, taxpayers have been underwriting secret payments to people who have accused members of Congress of sexual assault. While the legislation essentially applied to instances of workplace safety, employment and civil rights from which Congress had been exempt, it also established an account to pay settlements preventing lawmakers from being personally liable and created an Office of Compliance that kept all charges and payments secret.

Between 1997 and now, the Office has paid more than $17 million on more than 260 claims. This tally mixes harassment with discrimination and other claims so that the number of sexual harassment claims cannot be clarified. The names of those accused are withheld.

While we hear about Congressman John Conyers of Michigan and Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, to imagine that they alone are complicit is silly – even without knowledge of this very special law to take care of Congress’s dirty little business.

The numbers above are clearly only those which have reached the surface. Bringing a complaint of sexual harassment to the Office of Compliance means that one must first undergo counseling, mediation and a 30 day cooling off period before filing a formal complaint. There is nothing like victimizing the victim is there? Which is why police often ask the victim of rape what she was wearing before the attack.

Several in Congress and NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate have sponsored legislation that would make the counseling process optional and require lawmakers who settle such charges out of court to repay the Treasury.

Image of Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Party Leader
Nancy Pelosi
As you would guess, office holders are far from unanimous about passing this legislation. No less than Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi suggests that unmasking harassers would jeopardize the anonymity of victims and so does not favor the legislation.

Really, Nancy? But then Nancy also looks the other way about the corruption in the Democratic Party – as do all Congressional office holders, particularly those in New York.

If you have ever lived in Washington, DC you are aware of the state of affairs in a city where young women greatly outnumber men of all ages…and of what such a ratio can mean to both sexes. One imagines unmasking such a party without regard to political affiliations and you simply know it will not happen.

Then you learn that in 1995 Congress passed a law which guaranteed it would not happen. Not only are the perpetrators safe but we pay for their illegal activities.

The force of power at work.

THE 2017 INCOME TAX BILL

A more extraordinary misuse of power is taking place right now in Congress; the attempt to pass major changes in income tax policy without a single public hearing, without any chance of a basic analysis of what these changes would do to our economy and with the knowledge that almost 70% of the public does not like provisions in the legislation. This nothing more than the attempt to use the power of force to accomplish a goal to favor the few over the many.

The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income (especially the income gained from invested assets rather than work) from lower and middle income families to corporations and business owners. An analysis of the bill indicates that while corporate taxes go down sharply those in middle income brackets see a series of give and take steps which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.

The trick inherent in the Senate version of this tax legislation is that in the first several years there are a number of tax breaks for the middle class…but then after a few years these are eliminated while corporate tax breaks continue indefinitely.

In ten years, tax increases on the middle class will pay for the income lost to tax breaks for corporations and those with wealth from investments. In the meantime, we can foresee deficits ahead that would for instance, mean a loss of $25 billion in Medicare funds as early as next year. Looking through the bill we see a loss of tax deductibility for those paying interest on their student loans..with 44 million Americans involved with outstanding student debt. There is something vicious in such an act.

Again and again we continue to hear Administration leaders like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promise that the bills involved with help corporations expand and increase jobs in America. That lie was started way back in 1986 when the administration of President Ronald Reagan made the last significant change in the way Americans pay taxes. It never happened then and since and an overwhelming number of economist polled today say it will not happen now…but there will be significant debt…more than we have seen since the administration of George W. Bush which produced the largest debts in American history.

In fairness to Reagan, tax changes came after months and months of hearings and genuine bipartisan attempts to make those changes fair to all. Nothing like that exists today because political power insists that this Congress and administration must pass something to show that they have validity. While they have the numbers to pass legislation, there are a few Republican Senators who could step up and derail this outrageous attempt at a power grab.

Knowing the names of these Senators, we wouldn’t bet on it.

The forceful use of power – legally or illegally – produces victims. Always.

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