My Turn, Michael Stringer: Rep. Budd wrong on many counts
By Michael Stringer
“The government isn’t the solution. The government is the problem!” the “aw-shucks” former President Ronald Reagan declared in his anti-Black inaugural address 15 years after the Civil Rights Act.
Forty years of this rhetoric later, we have had an insurrection that’s key feature is Christian Nationalism. Rep. Ted Budd’s recent comments about the government being the “root of all evil” is the logical evolution, both the twisting of Judeo-Christian scripture and propagating nonsensical economic theories — trickledown economics — or as President George H.W Bush called it voodoo economics.
Budd’s use of the Bible when placed in context is suspect at best: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs,” states 1 Timothy 6 10. Paul. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me…. For I was hungry, and you gave me no food, I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me” states Matthew 25:34-45.
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem,” Barry Goldwater said before Reagan became the face of conservatism. When a nation refuses to address its citizens’ basic needs, it will be cursed.
Let us expand on “the root of all evil” policies which Budd opposes with his Christian Nationalism. “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land,” states Deuteronomy 15:11. Currently 1.1 million North Carolinians with 140,000 children are without health care. Budd opposes inclusion of eye care, dental care and home care assistance under old age and disability insurance, better known as Medicare. Budd constantly supported repeal of Obamacare.
“Look, the wages you withheld from the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts,” states James 5:4. In supporting Trump’s inequitable tax cut, Budd raised the deficit by $8 trillion. Reagan’s voodoo economic policies have accounted for trillions of dollars in debt. If the Democrats are tax and spend, then the GOP is spend and borrow, with that debt held by the super wealthy. Meanwhile, the poor and low-wealth face child care shortages, jobs that offer “up to $12/hour” with paltry sign on bonuses for jobs that do not provide full employment of 40 hours, no health care and incomprehensible schedules. It is not that people do not want to work; people do not want to work for what is being offered for “essential” work. Millions of workers cannot re-enter the workforce because Trump lied about the deadly virus with Budd’s support. Budd continues to resist raising the minimum wage from 2009’s $7.25 per hour. Based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculation, a living wage for a single person in Rowan County is $14.10/hour. In fact, a family with two working adults and two children would have childcare cost of over $14,000. There is a scarcity of affordable housing estimated at 190,000 units in North Carolina. Also, the number of multi-generational households and increasing number of people spending more than 30% of their income. Budd staunchly opposes “social infrastructure.”
Former President Barack Obama’s “Economic Perspectives on Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System” paper and others find that $15 per hour hour cut the recidivism rate for non-violent crimes. Further, with 95% of incarcerated individuals returning to society, education, housing and eliminating check the box will similarly reduce recidivism.
Budd refused to rebuke Trump’s voter fraud lie. In fact, Budd joined in a lawsuit with the entire North Carolina GOP delegation to overturn the 2020 election. These lawsuits were aimed at metropolitan areas with large Black and brown populations. The assault on voting rights, as Lee Atwater mused, “will hurt poor and low wealth whites. But it will hurt Black people more.” The anti-Blackness is palatable in the drive to suppress voting and the truth. Budd’s efforts to rewrite history by supporting the “1776 commission” instead of telling the truth as told in “The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and The Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist.
Budd and Gordon Gekko believe greed is good: unbridled capitalism with stock buybacks, obscene disparities between CEO salaries thousands of times more than hourly workers and taxes based on income instead of overall wealth. With Trumpian morals, they believe in separate justice and economic systems — wealth allowing you to stand above the law and outside consequences of policies designed to buttress greed.
Michael D. Stringer lives in Cleveland.