Forecast: The 10 Ways Republicans Intend to Transfer Your Money to their Billionaire Buddies
What’s next on the right’s agenda. The vanishingly small U.S. security net is the next major Republican target. Social Security and Medicare won’t survive the next Republican sweep of the White House and Congress, which can occur as early as 2025. We assess the probability of such occurrence at better than 60%. These assessments are the outputs of our recent intelligence analyses and models, which increasingly portend these specific results. This work also enabled us to identify the Republicans’ next 10 targets. We detail them here, and illuminate the strategy the right will use to secure these objectives, so that you might better prepare, and hopefully help prevent them from occurring.
The bigger picture. From a wider perspective, we observe that all potential U.S. political policy is collapsing into a very narrow band driven primarily by right wing American plutocrats and oligarchs (there are moderate and left-leaning billionaires, but they are decidedly in the minority) who are in turn driven by a toxic ideological stew of neoliberalism, crony capitalism and objectivism. The Republican Party serves willingly as their vanguard and foot soldiers. The sheer amount of money fueling an unprincipled political party has warped the polity so that it now teeters on the precipice between “managed democracy” and plutocracy.
There are no longer any firewalls within the Republican Party because the base is composed of ignorant fools and a thin layer of greedy not-so-ignorant tools -- so ignorant and greedy in fact that the Republican leadership cannot believe their good fortune. They no longer have to tell the truth, follow up on promises, or deliver results – “that’s good work if you can get it” as they said when I was young!
This dynamic, coupled with the national structural advantages that favor Republicans, and Democratic Party capitulation and appeasement, means that there are no longer any meaningful boundary conditions constraining the right. Republicans can go for the jugular with no fear of overreach because overreach is no longer even possible for them. In fact, the more outrageous and audacious, the more style points they get from ideologically sympathetic judges!
What America’s plutocrats want. Research and analysis reveal that what the oligarchs want is: anonymity, legal and moral impunity, maximum wealth with minimum accountability, elimination of all perceived threats to capitalism, and their own wealth preservation.
But it’s worse than that. Oligarchs and plutocrats -- drunk on their own power, now want to seize all wealth produced – and they cooperate with each other and the Republican Party in a programmatic effort to make this happen. More wealth strengthens their own power, and removing the small amount held by the “rabble” weakens its influence and thus reduces the potential threat it poses to capitalism as a system. This plutocratic plague has visited us before – in the late 19th century with the railroad magnates, and in the so-called “Gilded Age” of the early 20th Century – to be only temporarily suppressed. It has gone underground, mutated, and returned with greater virulence in the 21st Century.
What’s made this possible. The biggest change in our economy relative to this equation is that growth in plutocrats’ wealth is no longer directly contingent on the pie getting bigger so that their piece can grow as a function of aggregate growth. Through careful study and data analysis, they’ve optimized a combination of rent seeking, corruption, tax inequality, political access, and network effects to create an historic inflection point in which rich Americans can continue to get richer regardless of the overall economic situation of the country. They are insulated for the most part from the economic vicissitudes that challenge the majority. The Covid-19 pandemic perfectly illustrates this, in which billionaires saw their wealth increase by 62%, while at least 82 million Americans lost their jobs and 1 million American citizens, conservatively, died.
Why do Republican Politicians support the oligarchs in this program? Power, for its own benefit, and as necessary prelude to greater wealth for themselves. The only routes to rapid, massive wealth still open in the U.S. are technology, finance, and political corruption -- the latter being the only realistic path for the talentless yet entitled people attracted to the Republican Party.
How do billionaires exert influence on Republican officials? One method is advocating for specific policies and making campaign contributions contingent on action. Here’s an excerpt from a brilliant article in The Guardian: “Most of the wealthiest US billionaires have made substantial financial contributions – amounting to hundreds of thousands of reported dollars annually, in addition to any undisclosed “dark money” contributions – to conservative Republican candidates and officials who favor the very unpopular step of cutting rather than expanding social security benefits. Yet, over the 10-year period we have studied, 97% of the wealthiest billionaires have said nothing at all about social security policy. Nothing about benefit levels, cost-of-living adjustments, or privatization. Also, nothing about the popular idea of shoring up social security finances by removing the low “cap” on income subject to payroll taxes and making the wealthy pay more. Guardian, “What billionaires want: the secret influence of America’s 100 richest.”
Most billionaires indeed do try to keep their points of view hidden, but occasionally they’ll say something that gives the game away. Here are a few examples: “I'm against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it's doable I'm going to do it,” Sheldon Adelson; “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society. As you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore, we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society. Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims,” J. Joe Ricketts; “I want my fair share, and that’s all of it,” Charles Koch; “Rich people only like being around rich people. Nobody likes being around poor people, especially poor people,” Steve Wynn.
Contrary to their propaganda, oligarchs and Republicans are not anti-government – they are actually much more pro-government than the left – they just want to control it completely as opposed to sharing governance with the people. They can only do so profitably if they can cover their tracks -- thus the “limited government” dodge.
Specifically, they want to eliminate all government expenditures that are uncontrollable – by them -- after having been provided to citizens. Rather, they intend to capture – as a class -- all government spending flows and direct them back to themselves. Therefore, the defense budget grows without scrutiny or protest, but there is continuous pressure to reduce the safety net and transfer payments, scientific spending, and National Public Radio (a perceived threat to capitalism). It is precisely this reason that will drive them to “re-structure” social security. By guaranteeing income, Social Security liberates voters somewhat from plutocrat control, and its spend can’t be controlled in any meaningful way.
For an example of how the system works when plutocrats, defense contractors and Congress are all in alignment – take Ukraine aid. Noble as it is, the sheer amount, $15 billion and climbing, and the rapidity in which it was approved and disbursed, staggers the mind. And the pass given to such expenditures by the mainstream press – whose first question about student debt relief, famine aid, pandemic relief and other people support programs is always ”but where will the money come from,” illustrates perfectly how much as a society we’ve come to accept massive transfers of wealth from taxpayers to defense contractors as politically sacrosanct.
To further the oligarchs’ objectives, we forecast these 10 specific actions from their Republican Party puppets in the near term:
1. Demonize, cap, wean people away from, then eliminate social security and Medicare. They’ll grandfather those already receiving benefits and those eligible but deferring. They’ll reduce the payments to the next generation of recipients. They’ll replace the system with a national 401k system for all those born after a certain year. Then they’ll gradually reduce the payments to those still in the system.
2. Eliminate the Capital Gains Tax; reduce corporate tax rates; increase middle class tax rates.
3. Increase the defense budget. We’ll begin seeing think tank studies and articles in the mainstream media about how the small, irregular, asymmetric wars and insurgencies we’ve been preparing for and fighting were temporary, and that the classic large-scale kinetic operations against foes such as China and Russia will reemerge. Then the DoD will follow this with confirming studies, new doctrine and plans that require new, high-cost weapon systems.
4. Eliminate the Departments of Education and HHS; reduce DOJ size; and eliminate all regulatory agencies. All of these get in the way of oligarchs’ objectives and “squander” resources more effectively spent on national defense, or “returned to” high net worth taxpayers.
5. Demonize and ultimately defund public education; while funding vouchers for private Christian schools and faith-based home-schooling programs.
6. Eliminate SNAP and WIC.
7. Demonize and defund public scientific and technological research. Again, such research threatens their program of control because the outcomes are uncontrollable, and potentially revolutionary.
8. Demonize and defund public media and the arts.
9. Establish loyalty compliance requirements for Federal retirees and military service members with sanctions – including firing and loss of pensions.
10. Increase the number of political appointees in government and eliminate legal protections for civil servants. The Republican authoritarian program requires the ability to install party members in all areas of public function, like the Nazis and Communists did, and they can’t quite get there with current laws and policy. This was a lesson learned from the failed January 6 coup.
How this will get done. In every case above, the action arc will go like this. First, the table is set by concept laundering via think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute. They perform intense and continuous data analysis looking for behavioral characteristics of American citizens. The isolate those that: most aggrieve and animate the Republican Base; can be messaged in such a way that puts Democrats on the defensive. We are seeing this live with Critical Race Theory, attacks on LGBTQI rights and Disney, and immigration. Then they craft execrable policy ideas dressed up in technocrat-speak to give them an aura of legitimacy, publish papers, make the talk show rounds, and set up seminars for Republican officials. With the plutocrat wealth available to the Republican ecosystem, each of these policies can be scaled into entire organizations of their own, thus providing a ready and ever-expanding pool of combatants that the left cannot hope to match.
Next, they establish rally points, such as Gingrich’s Contract with America and Rick Scott’s 11-Point Plan to Rescue America, that further launder the actual purpose of the policies and render them into concepts that appear -- to low information voters -- as government “goods,” in the same way that benefits and rights expansion appear to the democratic base.
Then they demonize, through propaganda, the current policies they wish to supplant. This is most often done by linking them to the Democratic Party, liberals in general, Communists, deviants, foreigners, or specific human bogeymen like President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Kamala Harris.
The coup de grace is a scorched earth, full frontal attack on existing policy at all legislative levels until Democrats give in and forge a compromise, or as in the case of Mass Incarceration and the gutting of Aids to Families with Dependent Children (President Clinton owns both) – convince the Democrats to do their dirty business for them.
What we can do about it. Look, we’ve seen this often enough to grasp the pattern. The only way to win this is to get out in front of the whole thing strategically – as opposed to fighting each battle in isolation. Only a high engagement, high enrollment mass protest movement that fights these battles using a powerful strategy and through integrated, long-term campaigns will do the trick. We recently detailed a concept for such a movement that our modeling determined as being most likely to preserve democracy amongst alternative approaches.
We realize that this piece comes across much like a far left, anti-capitalist, conspiratorial rant. But it’s the result of continuous evidence-based intelligence analyses, modeling, and forecasting, and as usual, we’ve audited our findings for bias. FYI, Mark Hill, the article’s primary author, is a veteran, retired Department of Homeland Security Senior Executive, and serial entrepreneur not much given to hyperbole.
The really dire news is that this is a 75-year endeavor from where to are today to totally turning back the authoritarian tide. And in the early part of that period, really until voting rights are fully protected, gerrymandering is eliminated, and the Supreme Court is reset, any Republican national election sweep likely ushers in the plutocracy, closes the door on American democracy, and kills the “last best hope of earth.”