Feb 20, 2011

February 20, 2011: Eating The Seed Corn, No Mandate, On the Altar of Greed

Paul Krugman writing an op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled “Eat the Future” correctly pointed out that the Republicans in congress have no mandate to cut spending or reduce the deficit. Citing a survey by the Pew Research Center he pointed out that when Americans were asked they favored “more, not less, spending on most things, including education and Medicare. They’re evenly divided about spending on aid to the unemployed and–surprise–defense”. (1) In fact, says Klugman, the only thing they really want to cut is foreign aid.

When asked how the states should go about dealing with growing deficits, Americans favored neither cutting “education or health care” nor “do they favor tax increases”. “The moral is clear”, said Krugman, “Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic”. Fitting, it seems to me, for a party that has declared war on science and reason.

When they aren’t engaging in political theatre, as in the recent vote by the house to repeal the Health Care Reform Act, or in trying to strip state employees of the right to bargain collectively, they are voting to deny the Environmental Protection Agency the power to issue regulations on global warming gasses. Is it any wonder, given this record of hopelessly whoring after a political base, that is itself lost in a parallel universe that answers to an entirely different and opposite set of physical laws, that we should find them when in opposition proposing budgets with no numbers; and, when in the majority, crying against deficits whilst voting to give the rich yet another free ride.

This business has been going on for a long time. Ever since Reagan proposed what George the Elder called “Voodoo Economics” in which it was held we could slash taxes, raise defense spending and balance the budget. Later George the Lesser, following the same well-tread path did much the same thing calling Al Gore’s criticisms of this approach “fuzzy math”. It wasn’t “fuzzy math”. It wasn’t the Democrats who can’t cipher, it’s the party of the political pachyderm, the holy warriors who, in the cause of greed, wage a constant war with empiracle reality.

For decades, now, the Cons have been telling the electorate that all we have to do is cut waste, fraud and abuse from the budget and we can bring it into balance; that we can, in effect, have our cake and eat it too. This, coupled with the canard that we can enact massive tax cuts for the rich and that the largesse so bestowed upon our benefactors will “trickle down” to the rest of us, has combined to put us into a fiscal bind that portends very ill for the future.

“Which brings me back to the Republican Dilemma”, writes Krugman. Having promised to cut 100 billion from the federal budget and leaving defense and, for the time being, Medicare out of the mix, the House GOP now faces cutting appropriations for “pregnant mothers, infants and young children, ...578 million from IRS enforcement" (there’s a boon for the rich if I ever saw one, sure to lower future revenues creating larger deficits)..."648 million from nuclear nonproliferation enforcement", cuts in Pell Grants, Home Heating Assistance, High Speed Internet and Rail, Public Transportation and...yes, Big Bird over at PBS.

“In a better world”, says Krugman, “politicians would talk to voters as if they were adults. They would explain that discretionary spending has little to do with the long-run imbalance between spending and revenues. They would have to explain that solving that long term problem requires two main things: reigning in health-care costs and, realistically, increasing taxes to pay for the programs Americans really want”.

That’s not going to happen of course. By whoring after the political fringe–even to the extent of welcoming the John Bircher’s back into the fold–they have boxed themselves into a corner whereby they are now held hostage by the very forces they thought they could manipulate. To suggest serious Health Care Reform would incite a revolt within the ranks–just ask Mitt Romney who has been running as fast as he can from his record in Massachusetts. To suggest raising taxes–any taxes–would invite endless primary challenges. Already the idiot fringe has targeted such persons of reason as Richard Lugar of Indiana and Senator Olympia Snowe of Main. Even such a water-carrier and hopeless apologist like Orrin Hatch of Utah–one of the great supporters of Clarence Thomas–is on their hit list.

The fact is this is the very box the Rescumlicans would have us in, and by agreeing to extend the Bush Tax Cuts the administration bought into the strategem. Because we have created a political environment where we cannot reason with the unreasonable we can now have no compromise. Taxes are off the table, that means that the tax breaks given to those who need it least are going to be paid for by taking milk from babies, making our work force more illiterate and less competitive, and allowing our infrastructure to further deteriorate.

In order to make it possible for old moneybags to give little lord Fauntleroy even greater advantages in life we are now, it appears, willing to eat the seed corn of next year’s crops. We are sacrificing the future on the altar of greed and we cannot now appeal to the electorate as grown adults for the “Generation of Swine”, long since lost in a parallel universe of eternal adolescence, has never grown up.


Footnotes

1. Krugman, Paul. “Eat The Future”. New York Times, Monday February 14, 2011.
Pg. A23

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