Sunday, July 17, 2011


                                                     Cartoon: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Every person who pays the family bills knows that you can't cut off your revenue stream and go on a spending spree at the same time, even if you have built up a good savings account. And yet, that is exactly what George W. Bush did when he took office.  He cut taxes on those who were contributing the most and went into overdrive on a spending binge, handing over billions to private armies like Blackwater and vendors like his vice president's company, Halliburton, and starting an endless war in the Middle East. The money was flowing out like water over Niagara Falls but the source upstream was dry as a desert.  He blew the big surplus that Bill Clinton had left him, and created a bottomless pit of debt.

Now we're ready to default on our country's debts -- a thing that has never happened in our nations's history. It is unthinkable that we could do this. The Republicans would rather the country go bankrupt than to see President Obama have any kind of success in negotiating us out of this crisis.  They would rather see the country's good name go down in flames than to give an inch on party ideology.

Who didn't see that coming?

Screaming warnings against "socialist" redistribution of wealth, the Republicans cling to the Bush tax cuts which really have redistributed the wealth.,  It's apparently a bad thing if the wealth gets spread out among all the people, but just fine if it gets funneled exclusively to the rich, which is exactly what has happened.  The gap between the rich and the middle class is greater than at any time in our history. Two percent of the population holds 98% of the wealth. The middle class, which made this country so great, is an endangered species. The Republicans complain that removing the Bush tax cuts will hurt job creation, but.the truth is that the big corporations and the mega-rich are not creating jobs.  They are sitting on their money and not spreading it around. Jobs are not being created. Wealth is being created through speculation.  Actual production, which creates jobs, is not happening. The speculators long since figured they could make more money on paper alone and not have  to bother with hiring and firing and plants and contracts.  They are cutting, not creating, jobs. The jobs they do create are offshore where they can avoid labor laws and unions and paying a living wage. Profits are in the multi-billions, at an all-time high. The jobless rate continues to climb.

Ah, but here's the rub: in cutting jobs, they have also cut into their consumer base and it is beginning to tell.  Unlike the Bush administration's philosophy, if ordinary people are not getting paid, they are not spending. They are not using credit, either, because the financial collapse has caused the banks to drastically lower credit limits and raise interest.  There is little credit out there to use. So, no income, savings used up, no credit left = no customers.  The trickle-down effect never worked, but the trickle up effect is beginning to work all too well.  The middle class, which produced most of their wealth, is no longer able to do so.

Now we are in a budget crisis.  The Republicans refuse to eliminate the Bush tax cuts, a thing that must be done by anyone's rational reckoning to prevent even further fiscal erosion. Instead, they insist the social safety net be cut.  The party that campaigned against health care reforms by raising the imaginary spectre of "Death Panels" has created real death panels by proposing cuts in Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. Let the poor and the elderly and children fix the debt so the mega-rich can hang on to their wealth unscathed by the responsibility of contributing to the well-being of the nation.  As a result of these cuts, hospitals are already facing the danger of closing, which will negatively impact the rich as well as the poor. Poorly nourished, ill-educated children will not contribute much to the future of the country.  Long-sightedness does not seem to be a Republican attribute.  

The Tea Party seems to be driving Republican politics these days.  I'm not sure what they're putting in their tea, but it must be moonshine. I wish they would sober up and see the reality of their partisan folly.  Instead, they are partying like it's 476 C.E.