Friday, July 29, 2011
Let's Drop the Pretense Right Now!
One thing I've always abhorred is pretense. The fraudulent and dishonest posturing over some claimed position, but which is really a cover for a deeper, unspoken agenda. Such is the case with all this debt ceiling and "deficit reduction" brouhaha which is merely a conveniently ploy to conceal the real agenda: destroying Social Security and Medicare once and for all. The Tea Party brigands and their ilk know they can't eliminate these programs directly, so are doing it through the "back door" as it were, using a "starve the beast" modus operandi based on draconian spending cuts in combination with preservation of Bush tax cuts that all ought to have expired last December. (Even Alan Greenspan agrees that those cuts need to be retired, a move that would save us $4 trillion over ten years essentially resolving this impasse on deficits with minimal pain)
But this is not what the Tea Baggers and extremist Republicans are about. At the behest of benefactors like Peter G. Peterson, they see a golden opportunity to employ the mania and hysteria for "deficit reduction" as a means to gut Social security and Medicare.
They aren't honest enough to explain or admit the real long term deficit problem hasn't been caused by "wasteful" social spending but by conservatives' own 30-year project of starving federal, state and local governments of revenue via tax cuts for the affluent and for corporations, coupled with insane, unpaid for military spending which for the past ten years has included "off budget" supplementals averaging $150 billion each per year. And how were these paid for? By raiding Social Security monies!
As a wake up call here, in 2010 the total raided Social Security monies amounted to $87 billion out of a total of nearly $140 billion. The grand total raided from S.S. from 2000 to 2010 exceeds $1.92 trillion. THAT is where the Social Security money has gone- to help support off budget accounting gimmicks and disguise the size of the real deficit.
But see, now that 44 million Boomers are ready to collect Social Security - with some 10,000 added each day (and the likelihood its finances will now be a losing wicket), the disgusting pols want to kill it or reduce it so dramatically as to barely allow the elderly to choose between meds and food. This is their golden moment, using "deficit reduction" as the pretext to go after "entitlements".
The problem for these miscreants is that we the aware citizens, can see right through their subterfuge.
We see how the hysteria is being whipped up, and the nation held hostage by a few radical fiscal extremists, to wring every last concession they can from a hobbled Dem party, which can never seem to get ahead of the curve. We can see how their true objective has nothing to do with deficits, but rather adherence to ideological purity in killing social insurance programs.
If these nuts really were invested in solving the DEFICIT problem they could so so easily, just by passively allowing all the Bush tax cuts to expire next year. But that's not what they want! They desire holding the nation hostage to force social program changes and hoping the weak-kneed, pussified Dems will cooperate, which they are.
On another level, beyond the social insurance programs, there is the specter of years of massive spending retrenchment including to food stamps, unemployment benefits, child school nutrition and health care for indigent mothers...as well as utility subsidies for poor seniors. All stand to be on the chopping block if either one of the current plans (Reid's or Boehner's) somehow passes, with no revenues at all.
This has led a group of influential Christians (the only apparent 'real Christians' I can see) to rally in Washington and implore congress to shield the poor from spending cuts (see: 'Coalition of Christians Urges Budget Cutters to Spare the Poor', The Denver Post, July 27, p. 9A).
One of these groups, Sojourners, a liberal evangelical group, has taken out ads in Las Vegas papers which read in part:
The Book of Proverbs teaches that where there is no leadership, a nation falls, and the poor are shunned while the rich have many friends. Sadly, Congress has failed to heed these biblical warnings."
Another ad headlines itself with:
What Would Jesus Cut?
The answer is primarily wasteful military spending, including on two occupations which have brought little constructive benefit to the country, while seeing mammoth waste of taxpayer dollars, whether to private defense contractors (like Bechtel, Halliburton etc.) in Iraq or to Afghan warlords and the Taliban via corrupt banking practices, in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, our own country's infrastrucure is collapsing from neglect and disrepair - even as R-TP-nincompoops on the Hill argue further on what cuts to make (including leaving more than 70,000 jobless as a result of no agreement to an FAA funding!)
Fifty years ago, corporations contributed to 30% of federal tax revenues while they only contribute 4% of them today. For example, right now as I write this, PhRma companies are permitted to leave all foreign, out of country profits off the table in terms of tax scrutiny. Other corporations, via defective laws passed in the 1990s, are allowed to just hang shingles in some little dump in the Caymans or elsewhere, and escape tax liability at home. There was some talk during Obama's 2008 campaign of addressing this, but so far I haven't seen a thing and it continues.
And yet, disreputable Tea Baggers want to take food out of poor seniors' mouths! Just so we are clear on this, let me also provide a quote from the article: 'Stealing From the Poor, Making Rich Richer':
"Social Security isn't broke, but millions of retirees who depend on it are, and many more would be broke without it. The average retired worker's Social Security benefit is just $922 a month--about $11,000 a year. Disabled workers average just $862.
One out of three seniors depends on Social Security for 90 to 100 percent of their income. Two out of three seniors depend on it for more than half their income. Even with Social Security, many seniors must choose between eating and heating, paying the mortgage or paying for medicine."
The preceding article appeared about two years before former Fed Chairman Allan Greenspan's term expired. It had to do with Greenspan's (then) recommendation to congress that cuts in Social Security be used to finance the ongoing Bush tax cuts. In other words, help the rich continue to invest in hedge funds and buy their furs, yachts, blood diamonds and Bentleys off the backs of poor seniors.
That episode over, with seniors able to breathe a tad easier (since the Bush S.S. privatization plan was scotched) we now have the Tea Baggers and conservatives humping and pumping to demand social spending cuts, including to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while they tout a bogus "deficit reduction" front, and hold the nation to ransom over a debt ceiling increase.
As for the "solutions" thus far offered (Harry Reid's or John Boehner's) don't make me laugh! What with the news that the GDP is now at the lowest it's been -for the 2nd quarter - in the past two years, ANY prescription relying only on massive spending cuts is a recipe for financial disaster! Don't these IDIOTS grasp that in a low aggregate demand environment you need to spend, not CUT! Are they totally mad? Do they want a second depression? If NO ONE spends, not business, not the consumer, not government - WHO do they think is going to hold up the GDP??? As one blogger, RJ Eskow, recently put it:
"As the economy burns to the ground, nobody's calling the Fire Department. Both parties want to throw gasoline on the fire, and their only disagreement is whether to use regular gas or unleaded."
I couldn't have used a better analogy!
We hope that by the time this fiasco further unfolds with no resolution in sight by Monday, Obama will finally act like a man and leader! This as opposed to an overly cautious, wimpy, former state Senator with a fetish for "splitting differences"! As more and more reasonable voices are adding to the crescendo, if he is a responsible leader - with his oath of office at heart- he MUST invoke Sec. 4 of the 14th amendment to pass the debt ceiling increase on his own! He can't allow a first time ever (hence historic, with his name on it) national default, or even a downgrade! The other side has disclosed it's playing with 52 cards short of a full deck, so he now has to act as the true Grown-up. That means going beyond the conciliator and compromiser -in -Chief, to the Decider, and Agent of Action!
He doesn't need any "approval" from wimpy, conflict-shy aides, or parsing any fine legal arguments (from Lawrence Tribe, or any one else as to the validity of this move), or acting like a Harvard law professor or Spock. He just needs to act like the determined Leader and PRESIDENT we expected him to be, as opposed to a hapless bystander while maniacs seek to tear up what's left of this nation! Making that one bold move will show in no uncertain terms that he's a decisive leader on a par with JFK, and truly ready for a 2nd term. It will also finally staunch this hideous conflation of social spending cuts to deficit reduction. An attachment that the Dems and their leaders never should have allowed to metastasize to this degree anyway!