Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shared responsibility?

Tonight President Obama will address the nation regarding our next budget, the debt ceiling and deficit reduction. Many are calling this the most important speech in his Presidency thus far. This I believe to be true, although for a different reason than many people think.

The GOP has gone back to its tried-and-true playbook regarding the budget. Push the discussion so far to the right that what now looks like the center is actually far to the right of where any previous discussion has been. The Ryan plan, touted by so many Republicans and beltway pundits as brave, serious, etc., is so far to the right that it stands virtually no chance of being passed. Even the Republicans aren't stupid enough to destroy Medicare -- Medicaid, possibly, but not Medicare. By pushing the debate so far to the right with the budget though, they've made the Simpson-Bowles proposition (the catfood commission budget) look as if it's in the center. Guess what -- it's not, not by a long shot.

The President is expected tonight to endorse most of the S-B budget recommendations. If you remember, this was the proposal introduced last November that raised the eyebrows of progressives with its draconian cuts. These recommendations include gutting our social safety net, reducing spending on education, clean air, and global warming reduction programs, cutting the number of federal workers, and increasing the amount veterans must pay for participating in veterans and military healthcare systems.

On the good side, the S-B proposal sent Rush Limbaugh into apoplexy. You see, the proposal also calls for reducing defense and foreign policy spending, although not nearly to the degree that these need to be cut. It calls for tax increases, but most of the increases will fall on the poor and middle class. The top 1%? Not so much.

Tonight our Democratic President is expected to begin the process of destroying that which has been painstakingly built by Democratic Presidents and Congresses going back to FDR. He will call for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts (which would almost single-handedly fix our economic problem, by the way), but you know as well as I do that we won't really hear much more about that.

The response that the President will get from me is this: if his budget begins to destroy SS, Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc. and doesn't include significant tax increases on the top 2% of Americans then he can immediately remove me from his mailing and email lists. I will never again donate a penny of my money or a second of my time to support him for reelection -- instead, I will join other progressives around the country to find someone somewhere who will actually work for the majority of Americans rather than paying them lip service while continuing to service the wants of the wealthy. To be sure, I'm not optimistic about finding such a candidate -- but I would rather go down fighting with my principles intact than just roll over again claiming in victory in what is obviously defeat.

In a somewhat related note, I'm proud to know that it is now official that what is said on the floor of the Senate no longer needs to have any basis in reality, and the great state of Arizona is responsible for this. Thank you Jon Kyl!

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