We have all heard the old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me three times, let's face it you're a jerk and I'm stupid.” Can any of you remember when we got a stimulus check in 2008? My check was in the amount $300, and depending on the size of the family some got more. I also remember having to pay taxes on the $300 as well. I now look back on that one-time check and wonder how could we have allowed them to do that to us? I am not sure if you realized that the checks that were given to the rich at the time was for a lifetime, and it was for millions of dollars. They dangled those little dollars in front of us as a distraction so that we would not notice what they were taking for themselves. They knew how desperate we were/and still are for a couple of dollars. Please let us pay attention to this same trick that is taking place for a third time. I have decided that the group in Washington does not mind being jerks as long as we are stupid.
The Republicans have slipped one of the biggest tax giveaways to giant corporations in modern history. They are laughing as it is getting ready to take place right in front of our eyes again. The American people are being told that money will trickle down to us, and that is a lie. When the banks and car dealers got the bailout money, how many of us got cheaper loans and better deals on our new cars? Do you remember what the many CEOs did with the bailout money? They threw elaborate parties for all of the top officials and gave themselves raises. Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Finance, bought the failing banks and foreclosed on thousands of individuals who were falling behind with house payments.
Will America become a country that rips away health care and other essential services from tens of millions of Americans in order to give tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires and giant corporations? Yes, over and over again. Even though many of us make grassroots donations, our money does not speak as loudly as the wealthy donors and big businesses, so I have heard.
There is a way to prevent the Republicans from being victorious. It's called speaking up and resisting. Are you aware that even if you have an “R” engraved in gold next to your name, when your check remains the same and your taxes increase, no one will come around to check to make sure you were treated differently from those poor oppressed individuals who had the big “D” next to their names? No, it is a done deal. For the next 10 years your taxes will continue to increase. Deductions for childcare and school expenses will all disappear. You will not have insurance because the Republicans have thrown the AHC Bill in the tax package while you were being lied to about getting a tax cut.
Let us use common sense. How can you get an increase if you have nothing to increase? How many of you have money in the stock market other than the 401 K that you have no control over how it is being invested? Who is on Wall Street looking out for you? It is all about me, myselfand I on that street. The swamp has been drained and the White House is now occupied by heartless, compassionless money hungry leeches with power — like Trump, Zinke, Price and Mnuchin. There is no end to the abuse that these people are willing to go to use that power.
Fool me one time, shame on you. Fool me two times, shame on me. Fool me three times, let us face it, you are a jerk and I am stupid. You and I know that we can't build the future by starving education, letting our roads crumble and bridges collapse, throwing Americans off of their health insurance, or shutting down the avenues to medical and scientific research in this country. I do not think that the Republicans and those who think like them are going to stop being jerks any time soon, but we can certainly decide to stop being stupid.
Willie Mae Samuel is the founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome.