Rural America Deserves A Better Deal Than The One We Have Now

Refilling the Swamp wasn’t the deal many of us in Rural America signed up for last November.  The shady back room deals, the fat-cat financial people lining their pockets with taxpayer treasure, the government cuddling up with leaders of countries that suck up American jobs, and running the family business out of the White House wasn’t what we agreed to, but that’s clearly the lousy deal we’re stuck with right now.
First off, we don’t speak Russian in Rural America, so let’s say this plainly so those slick, big city folks back at the White House can understand us: America has always been great and it always will be. Rural Americans want something better than mounting broken promises to keep America great.
So now that we’ve seen the bum deal the ruling party in Washington is trying to sucker Rural America into accepting, let’s think about A Better Deal, and then try to shape it into something that works in our towns, counties and states — and most of all, something that works at our kitchen tables, where our biggest policy decisions are made each day. One size doesn’t fit all is something you learn the deeper you get into the heart of America, but a few sound baseline ideas can make all the difference when you’re trying to make a good life for you and your family.
One thing we know for sure, we’ve seen a lot of jobs created in this country since the turn-around began from the The Great Recession of 2008. The problem is too many of these jobs aren’t paying enough of us a fair wage for a hard days work.  When you factor in inflation, wage growth is basically zero right now. So we need A Better Deal than the one we’ve got right now. It will mean investing in a real public infrastructure repair plan and creating incentives for Rural Innovation and small business expansion.  We won’t see growth in “Made in America” products, or “Harvested in America” produce, meats and fish until Washington really cracks down on unfair foreign trade, and makes it more expensive for corporations to ship American jobs overseas.  It sure isn’t doing that under the current government.
The next thing Rural America could use is A Better Deal when it comes to the cost of raising our family and providing the security we need for a good future. The costs are just too damn high, whether its our prescription drugs, providing our family with a valuable education, or childcare that allows parents to go to work knowing their kids are safe and being looked after.  Washington also needs to ensure there is more competition in Rural America so we have choices in how we light and heat our homes and businesses, and can pick out more affordable telephone, Internet and cable services, too.  Busting up the monopolies that limit choices in Rural America would send a solid signal that Small Town America isn’t going to have to play second fiddle to Wall Street anymore.
Finally, investing wisely in the tools and resources Rural America needs in the 21st Century is A Better Deal all around. We need new tax incentives for businesses that invest in workforce training and education, rewarding those that commit to long-term growth.  It’s time for programs to invest in apprenticeships for new workers in all kinds of businesses that can move to Rural America, where the streets are safe, the air and water are clean and in many cases a handshake is still a contract that doesn’t need a high-priced lawyer to make it work.  Innovation, smart start-ups and creative small business need Washington to provide tax credits, grants and low-interest loans to compete and prosper.  For starters, Rural Connectivity sure needs to be upgraded to compete with urban and suburban America.  We can create a lot of jobs, directly and indirectly, by erecting the towers and stringing up or burying the fiber optic cable needed to bring broadband and high speed internet to the estimated 40% of Rural America that is without reliable connectivity right now.
There are others ways to ensure Rural Americans are protected from the greed and short-term, profit-driven world that surrounds The Heartland, like not only preserving Social Security, but increasing its benefits, too.  Along those lines, since every Trumpcare plan that the GOP has concocted in the House or Senate sticks it to Americans between the ages of 50 and 65, isn’t it time to start talking about lowering the age that Americans become eligible for Medicare? Expanding Medicaid to include family farmers and working Americans struggling to make ends meet makes a lot of sense, too.  It sure has helped a lot of Rural Americans to see Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.  It’s opened up a lot of eyes to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid are single-payer systems that work better than most private insurance policies, allowing more Americans to have access to the best healthcare providers in the world.  Doctors like those programs too, because they mean less paperwork and red tape than dealing with the haggling, slow-to-pay insurance companies.
Yes indeed, it is time for A Better Deal.
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