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The Latest Budget Battle

September 21, 2013

Judging by the latest antics in the US House of Representatives, we are all in for another rousing ride on the Republican deadline-defying hostage-taking carousel. Another year has passed with very little progress  from our government in terms of the major issues facing the vast majority of Americans today. If there is not a government shutdown due to failure to pass budget resolutions or default due to refusal to raise the debt ceiling, many will undoubtedly come to believe in miracles for the first time.

The latest attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act by defunding it in the House Budget resolution, along with the passage of huge cuts to food stamps in an economy that has been stalled in terms of employment, wages and incomes for most Americans, is adding insult to the injury heaped upon us by the sequester when Congress refused to deal with the budget last year. Continuing to assail social safety net programs while trying to bolster defense spending and protecting the interests of the wealthy and corporate welfare should be a cause of shame to legislators elected to serve the interests of the people in their districts.

Make no mistake. The Affordable Care Act will not be repealed or defunded by these parlor tricks. It has many faults, and will require more tweaking in future years as problems become more apparent. I hope it is eventually replaced by a single-payer system totally removed from employment issues. Adequate and affordable health care should be treated as a human right in this society independent of individual material wealth and privilege. In the,meantime, it would be totally inhumane to reverse the gains that have been already made in terms of increased coverage by throwing people with certain conditions that left them uninsurable previously off the rolls again.Going back to the status quo before the passage of the law would hurt more people than it could possibly help at this point.

Knowing that passing bills like this in the House that can never pass the Senate or be signed into law by the President is a bigger waste of time than the interminable recesses we have been paying them to take all year long. Cutting the budget via the sequester has done nothing to improve the economy, create jobs, or provide needed services that help to alleviate the tremendous inequality created in this society by decades of tax policies predicated on the false mythology that was supply side economics. Gun safety, immigration reform,  tax reform, improved access to education, both preschool and post-secondary have all been left totally unaddressed, particularly in a House of Representatives that seems hell-bent on a mission to bring the entire government to a standstill.

The false debt crisis which the sequester was designed to address has been alleviated by the administration to a large degree. The deficit has been dropping rapidly ever since the government stimulus ended. Austerity doesn’t work anyway, but the deficit hawks continue to advocate for it as they continue to try carving away at social programs designed to help the youth, aged and poor to survive and maybe even gain some ground at achieving the “equality” we were supposed created under. All the sequester is doing is adding an additional drag on a sputtering economic recovery, the benefits of which have been felt at all by many. As the interests of the wealthy and the corporations are upheld against the needs of society as a whole and its members, the rest of us are left to tread water or drown.

The media isn’t helping much, as they seem to buy into all this hogwash budget talk as if it were really describing what was going on in Congress. That people can pretend that it is morally acceptable to force people to not have health care or adequate food to eat boggles the mind. The mental gyrations gone through in the attempt to justify these proposals is worthy of at least an Academy Award nomination, but it helps to solve nothing. The GOP agenda at this point is bankrupt. The leadership of the House majority at this point is as unable to lead as any I’ve ever witnessed. Pretending that their actions will not be responsible for any problems caused by whatever mayhem may result from their recalcitrance and refusal to listen to their constituents is folly of the highest order.

Order is something that needs to be restored in Washington. It is time for the people to make their voices heard in no uncertain terms. Jobs paying living wages must be created in sufficient numbers to allow the recovery of the 99%. Catering to the 1%, as has obviously been taking place and adding to the unacceptable degree to which we have been brought must cease. A more balanced and fair economy that allows for the meeting of the needs of all is needed as quickly as possible. We’ve given Reaganomics over 30 years to bring us prosperity and it has failed miserably. The losers of elections in a democracy must adjust their tactics and policies to meet new circumstances, not try to delay and force the world to meet their version of how reality must be.

By delaying and obstructing at every opportunity, Congress (primarily those whose party does not control the White House), ensures that only the bare minimum required not to totally wreck the economy will ever get done. This leaves no opportunity to address any of the other very real, easily identifiable problems that need to be creatively resolved in order for us to thrive as human beings in a civil society. Enough is enough. If we have a bunch of people in DC who refuse to meet our needs, three years is more than enough time for them to get their act together before they start to get bounced out of office. We are not stupid. We see what is happening to us and do not have unlimited patience. Nor do we feel particularly powerless, despite their attempts to weaken our influence and suppress our voices with their obfuscation and seemingly unlimited funds. It is time for a New New Deal to rectify the situation by starting to dismantle some of the plutocracy that has been building in this country for decades.

Suggested Further Readings:

Obama Needs to Stand His Ground

The Misery Trick: Republican Bait-and-Switch on the Budget

The Complete Guide to the GOP’s Three-Year Campaign to Shut Down the Government

Stop Playing Games with Food Stamps

Government Hands $1 Trillion to Wealthy While Deficit Is $642 Billion

Common Sense for the Manufactured Budget Crisis

Obama’s Economy: 6 Truths

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