During his press conference on Monday, President Obama let the GOP know, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn't going to put up with their obstructionist tactics that use the debt ceiling to impose their questionable agenda on us, whether we like it or not. I hope that the President's words are followed up by strong actions and mean an end to his seemingly endless attempts to "compromise" with GOP politicians who are only interested in bringing down, or weakening his administration. As I've said before, an administration that tries to be all things to all people winds up being nothing to everyone.
The GOP continually mistakes President Obama's conciliatory approach for a lack of political conviction. In other words, they mistake kindness for weakness. The Republicans are trying to use the bogus debt ceiling to coerce Obama into compromising away years of Democratic social programs. That's why Obama's brand new tough talk has to be followed up by strong action. The question now is, will FDR's legacy be obliterated on Obama's watch, or will he step up to the plate and be a real Democrat? The choice is his. For America's sake, I hope that he chooses wisely.
Now that the elections are over, and campaign promises are nothing but vague, fuzzy memories in the minds of the folks that we voted into office, we are hearing constant chatter from them about the "fiscal cliff". As I've said many times, the "fiscal cliff" is nothing but a straw dog designed by our electeds to panic we, the people into accepting draconian cuts to what they like to call "entitlements." Their definition of an entitlement is any government administered social program that they see as a cash drain on the budget. That is usually something that the average citizen needs, as opposed to something the average billionaire or corporation wants. My definition of an entitlement is something that, by virtue of years of paycheck deductions or years of service is owed to an individual or something that, for moral reasons is a right.
If you are foolish enough to think that “entitlements” are the main causes of the deficit, consider the following: Any businessman worth his or her salt will tell you that there are two ways for a
business to become profitable: 1- By bringing in profits. 2- By cutting costs. Most businesses use a combination of Increasing profits and cutting costs to succeed. Failing businesses make draconian cuts that hurt their infrastructures because they haven’t been able to bring in profits for one reason or another. Successful business find creative ways to increase their profits, let's say by building a better product. A business that is competitive, doesn't have to make
cuts that hurts its future capabilities. In the case of governments, profits are revenues and costs are expenditures.
In the case of the United States of America, the most obvious loss of revenue is due to the many tax breaks that our electeds have ”given” to corporations and the wealthy. A less obvious and equally significant loss of revenue was and is caused by corporations offshoring American jobs which increases unemployment and underemployment, turning taxpayers into former taxpayers. Similarly, corporations that underpay their employees create a shameful condition called the working poor, who are not a source of revenue because they don't earn enough to pay taxes and in many cases, through no fault of their own need government assistance. To make matters
worse, many giant corporations, especially those that own big box stores put America's real job creators, small businesses out of business by unfair competition.
Folks, I didn't write this article just to whine about the current sad situation, I come to the table armed with ideas that can put our country back on the road to true equitable economic recovery. Economic recovery is as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4:
If you think that those four ideas are baloney and our electeds have the answer, please let me know.
The road to social justice for every American is a long, circuitous one. Over the years, those who have chosen to travel down that road, despite the roadblocks put up by many Republican politicians, have given us many things that we take for granted today. Franklin Delano Roosevelt fought tirelessly to give America Social Security which helps scores of Americans retire with dignity and lets many more know that a severe disability isn't a one way ticket to starvation. Lyndon Baines Johnson used his political prowess to shepherd Medicare through Congress and the Senate, giving seniors and the disabled a healthcare safety net that should be given to everybody.
Social Security and Medicare as rights are both measures of our evolution as a society, much as the elimination of debtors' prisons and the passing of child labor laws were for earlier generations. There was a common thread that ran through all of those steps that brought America forward. That thread was the strong Republican opposition that each of those Democratically supported socio-economic advances elicited. What turned those dreams into reality was that politicians like FDR and LBJ had the will, integrity and political courage to take a stand and fight for them! Voters weren't shy about letting FDR and LBJ know that they wanted Social Security and Medicare.
Today's Democrats seem to forget that their party is the party of FDR and LBJ, a party that has helped us evolve as a society. Many of today's Democratic electeds seem to prefer to pay homage to Ronald Reagan, the father of trickle down economics, something that has lined the pockets of the rich and emptied ours. They would rather compromise with (sell out to) the Republicans than fight for programs that protect our interests. In short, the real Democrats of the past wouldn't call them Democrats.
Programs like Social Security and Medicare have withstood the test of time, the bush tax cuts have only been around since around 2001 and have helped put us in the fiscal mess we're in today. I become disheartened when President Obama and other Democrats call making cuts to Social Security and Medicare or raising the eligibility age in exchange for eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the rich a "Grand Bargain." That's hardly what I would call a "Grand Bargain", in reality, it's a fool's bargain!
Hurricane Sandy's Object Lesson For The GOP:When it comes to the deficit - Those are just numbers, these are people!
President Obama's prompt and decisive response to hurricane Sandy graphically illustrates that the GOP religion of deficit cutting is actually harmful to the future of our country. The President pulled out all the fiscal stops to help hurricane victims. Think about what would have happened if the President stopped to worry about how spending money to help those people would affect the future of America's children. Needless to say, I have some choice words for the GOP and their cult of deficit cutting. To hear my rant, visit my Listen Here! page. Do it for the children!
On Monday afternoon, I interviewed Maria Allison, publisher of the Nuts And Dolts blog about the artificially generated debt ceiling crisis. You can hear an hour long interview by going to The Working Family Radio Network on Thursday, Aug. 4 at 3:05 PM EDT. Can't wait until Thursday? Visit my Listen Here! page for a special mini interview.
Many of our electeds love to preach "austerity" and "shared" sacrifice. They infer that we, the people did something wrong that caused the deficit. That's like saying that a rape victim caused her rape because she wore "suggestive" clothes. Make no mistake about it, as members of the bottom 98%, we were the victims of a mass economic rape. As a matter of fact, we were gang banged by our electeds and the upper 2% who own them.
I'm going to use the family budget analogy to explain how our electeds destroyed our economy and how there is only one way to fix it. When you sit down at the kitchen table to hash out the family budget, you take out your paycheck, and divvy it up to cover your bills and expenses. If you lose that paycheck or have a reduction in income, you have to get it back or practice fiscal triage and sacrifice some expense items. Maintaining your income will allow you to keep some of life's luxury items like food and shelter.
Now that we're clear that increasing income or revenue is always preferable to making draconian cuts in expenses or in the case of government, infrastructure and safety net spending. Let's see how that applies to and what is the real cause of the deficit. Our troubles started when Ronald Reagan decided that it was more important for America's corporations to have a source of cheap labor than for America to have a manufacturing infrastructure and for American workers to have the kind of manufacturing jobs that made the American dream possible. He did that by lowering many trade tariffs on imports which started corporate America's outsourcing frenzy. Ever since then, globalization and job outsourcing continued as a given through every administration and was escalated by Bill Clinton's “free” trade policies that featured job killing NAFTA.
We are now at the point where America has become a country without a product. Our corporatons have become order takers that have their products manufactured overseas in contracted factories, under questionable working conditions for low wages then have their trademark slapped on the product. This process has not only caused unemployment in many industries, but has destroyed America's manufacturing infrastructure. The U.S. corporations that comprise the high tech sector, who pride themselves on their design capabilities and, in some cases boast that their products are designed in the U.S.A. are actually giving American technology to China when they have their products made there. That American technology wouldn't have been possible without all the taxpayer financed research that took place under NASA's space program.
With diminished employment possibilities and stagnant salaries, the Bush administration had a novel approach to the problem of a middle class that was rapidly becoming impoverished, he gave them the illusion of prosperity by encouraging them to borrow. Heck, they were still part of the middle class as long as they could tap their credit cards and take out secondary mortgages on their homes to make up for wages that didn't cover their expenses. The next paragraph ties it all together.
By encouraging "free" trade, our government has allowed Americas corporations to use the third world as it's hiring hall. As our citizens lose their jobs, or take low paying jobs, our government loses tax revenue. Instead of doing the right and patriotic thing for America and the American people by passing legislation that discourages imports and encourages manufacturing here, our electeds from BOTH parties have let America run up a negative balance of trade tab with China. That's why China has invested so heavily in U.S. Treasury notes, to protect THEIR interests. Translation, the American government is borrowing due to a diminishing income, just like the middle class did under Bush.
So now we have the spectre of President Obama endorsing three NAFTA like "free" trade agreements as job creators instead of the job killers they are when the real, honest solution to unemployment, the deficit and most of our economic problems is exactly the opposite. To balance America's budget, our electeds must not hack away at America's safety net and infrastructure, they must increase America's tax revenue by passing legislation that undoes the damage that they did to our country over the past thirty years. Legislation that discourages U.S. corporate offshore manufacturing in the strongest possible way, by reversing every bit of pro "free" trade legislation that was passed since the Reagan regime and by re-instituting each and every tariff on imports.
Let's bring back the American dream and restore America's economy by bringing every bit of manufacturing back to the U.S.A. That can't be done when the President endorses "free" trade agreements and cuts to Social Security as the solution. If it takes a third party, a Labor Party to fix America's problems than so be it.
The Republicans and their shock troops, the teabaggers get their candidates elected by convincing middle class voters that any safety net government extends to their neighbors and even, in some cases to their families will translate into higher taxes or a sharp increase in the deficit that they or their children will have to pay in the future.
The Republicans' cynical and selfish message to the middle class voter is:
If anyone still thinks that the Republicans are truly sincere about deficit cutting, I am going to dispel that illusion right now. Any budget has two main categories, income and expense. If you have little or no money coming in, you have little or no money to spend. A working family's income comes in the form of a paycheck. Any government gets it's income by taxation. Over the years, working people have been taxed to death while corporate America and the rich have gotten constant tax breaks.
Since you can't get blood from a stone, our Republican electeds are now cutting expenses by cutting government services and what they refer to as “entitlements”. Nothing important, just education so we can become a third world country. Nothing important, just “entitlements” like the Social Security that was deducted from everyone's paycheck that would have been self sustaining if a certain President with the initials R.R., acting on the advice of Alan Greenspan didn't decide to use the Social Security fund for general government expenses. Reagan set a precedent that literally robbed the seniors of their future! Speaking of entitlements, someone should tell the Republicans that Unemployment Insurance isn't welfare it's a form of insurance that is deducted from an employee's paycheck. Republicans hate it because their pet corporations have to contribute part of it into the fund for their employees.
Finally, the Republicans are using the budget deficit issue as part of their ongoing war on unions by attacking the right of collective bargaining for unions in the public sector. If they can eliminate unions in the government sector, they have set a precedent for their corporate backers to also become union busters. When that happens, goodbye middle class!
The reality is that there's a big fat elephant that's sinking America's lifeboat! Working Americans, the retired and the poor must throw the elephant overboard in 2012!