Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let Them Eat Peas!

President Obama and the Political Spiel
"It's not going to get easier. It's going to get harder. So we might as well do it now: pull off the Band-Aid, eat our peas. Now is the time to do it. If not now, when?" - President Barack Obama 

President Obama warned the Republican leaders that they risked tipping the world back into a recession and throwing "millions of more people out of work" unless they could reach a deal with him on increasing the US's debt. More than once he warned that if the debt ceiling is not raised there will not be enough money to pay the seniors and the military, forgetting that having a debt means, by definition, that there is not enough money to pay the bills! 

The November 2010 mid-term election ended with a Republican victory. The voters clearly demonstrated their sentiments. Among others, they voted for a smaller government and for more fiscal responsibility.

Smaller government means less spending. Less spending means, among others, drastic cuts to inefficient social programs and reduction of the overblown bureaucracy which should involve closing down of useless governmental agencies and administrative reconstruction of the remaining ones.

In November 2010, President admitted that the election was a "shellacking" and took responsibility for his party's loss, saying that "in the rush to get things done, they forgot to make good on their promise to change the way Washington works". He refused, however, to acknowledge that the election was a direct repudiation of his own policies. 

A new era has began in Congress and things were supposed to get better, but in reality, they didn't. President did not present his budget for the fiscal year 2011 and continued on his spending spree joking that the shovel ready jobs weren't that shovel ready and entering a third war without a Congressional approval. Only a few weeks ago a new federal agency was created in times when people demand a smaller government! But, of course! The new agency is badly needed for the protection of the consumers. To finance it, the consumers will have to pay for it with their own tax money, even if there seems not to be enough of it. Blame the rich!

While it hurts to watch that so much money is being wasted, President Obama insists that his stimulus did not work because not enough money was spent to make things work right in the first place, and continues to blame the previous administration and the "millionaires and billionaires" for the state of US economy. The rich do not pay their fare share in taxes! Things must change, but unfortunately, the intransigent Republicans would rather let the seniors and the poor starve, than agree on raising taxes for the rich. The Republicans, on the other hand, demand drastic budgetary cuts insisting that there is no revenue problem, but rather a spending problem. And while the President has yet to present his own budget  plan, the GOP offered more than one solution to the government's financial problems. 

For months the debate went on and on without any result whatsoever. If the House accepted a proposed plan at all, the Senate would dismiss it. The Republicans, especially the Tea Party fraction, rejected tax hikes, refused to rise the debt ceiling, and postulated drastic cuts to the existing domestic programs. Moreover, they proposed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that would require a balanced budget every year regardless of the state of the economy. But the majority of the Democrats rejected such "insane" ideas. They insist that the  debt ceiling must be raised and extended beyond the 2013 if the US want to avoid a default and the government shutdown. Taxes for the rich must go up. And the amendment to the Constitution must be dismissed as it is an unwise if not a dangerous idea. 

The debt debate would have been almost farcical if things weren't so serious. The government  reminds us of a junkie who insists that the only way to recover from addiction is to increase the dose. The more he gets the better... until he eventually collapses from the overdose. But the doctors cannot agree on the solution. While the cruel ones insist that the only way to save the guy is to immediately cut off the supply, the goodhearted ones plead that in order to ease his suffering more stuff is needed.

President Obama insists that the Republicans want to carry out the fiscal reforms on the backs of the poor and needy Americans - the "ordinary folks who are struggling every day". 

In Obama's words: 

"They’re mad at Democrats and they’re mad at Republicans, because they know somehow, no matter how hard they work, they don’t seem to be able to keep up. And what they’re looking for is somebody who’s willing to look out for them. That’s all they’re looking for. And for us not to be keeping those folks in mind every single day when we’re up here, for us to be more worried about what some funder says, or some talk radio show host says, or what some columnist says, or what pledge we signed back when we were trying to run, or worrying about having a primary fight - for us to be thinking in those terms instead of thinking about those folks is inexcusable."

This is an interesting statement. A statement that was completely overlooked by the media. Who cares about the campaign promises! Who cares about the public opinion! The poor are poor because the rich are too rich. Something has to change! This is what he, Obama, was elected for! Unfortunately the Constitution-wielding Republicans are spoiling the fun.

The truth is, the US needs an austerity plan. The national debt increases daily an average  $3,8 billion. Each citizen carries a rising share of the more than $14,3 trillion. As of today, the national debt is approximately $46,131.50 per capita and will be carried over to the next generations, a prospect that the Tea Party Republicans deeply abhor. And yet, a compromise has to be made if the government wants to avoid a stalemate. 

The Congress is running out of time and the solution is badly needed, but in Washington the discourse is taking yet another dimension. The Republican party appears to be split on the debt issue. The Tea Party freshmen adhere to the promises they made to their constituents and refuse to accept the "weak" position taken by the Republicans. They are being criticized by the Democrats and by some Republicans. The media even compared the Tea Party to Hezbollah and accused it of holding the entire nation hostage. The lack of civility is appalling and deeply saddening.

The debt ceiling will, most probably, go up. So will, inevitably, the taxes. In order to achieve any form of balance, serious budgetary cuts have to be made. But before the government begins closing down schools in America, it should reconsider its nation-building policies in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Priorities have to be redefined if the country is to recover from the current economic crisis.

By Dominique Allmon ©2011

President Obama's quote source here