What the hell are the Republicans trying to do? And why are the American people letting them get away with it? To take just one issue--the extension of unemployment benefits--the Republicans say we can't afford it. We have to cut spending (more like slash and burn) AND taxes, as if starving government programs would somehow solve our financial problems. What "cutting spending" means is this: families with disabled children (picture a ten-year old who can only eat through a tube, can't speak, can't walk, can't bathe herself) will lose desperately-needed services; more families will be driven to the wall by ballooning medical costs; more people who seek employment will feel like failures because there are no jobs in sight; and the economy will still be in the toilet.
Over and over, I hear economists--famous, reputable ones--say, let government keep people afloat and create jobs in the short term, and plan on reducing the deficit in the long-term. The Republican drumbeat is that raising taxes discourages job-creation, that government is the problem and can't be trusted. What amazes me is how so many Americans fail to recognize that the government is us. Everyone in Congress is there because enough Americans wanted them to be there. Our government is not an occupying army. If Congress refuses to extend unemployment benefits, what that says to me is that America is a selfish country, at least half of whose people (the majority of voters in our last election) lack the compassion to imagine what it feels like to be poor or to be caught up in circumstances beyond one's control.
There are two ways to go. As a people, we can band together to create a compassionate, fair, tolerant society and make decisions based on those values, or we can make money the measure of all things. I love that challenge to create a hypothetical society without knowing where you would fit into it. What if you were plunked down in a society as a gay person or a woman or a disabled person? Would the society you "created" be as good for you as for everyone else? The society we have now is very good for rich people. Money rules. I am flabbergasted that people who stand to lose the most were the very ones who elected a Congress that is intent on protecting the wealthy while slashing away at programs that benefit the majority of us.
Others have articulated my position far better than I--Paul Krugman and Robert Reich to name two--but I want to register my protest against the madness. Americans are angry. I am angry. I am especially angry at the wizards of Wall Street who led us into this ravine, but I am angry too at those who fail to realize that whoever started this mess, we are all going to have to help clean it up. Before we pull the rug out from under ordinary people, let's raise taxes to the levels of the Reagan or Clinton eras. An undertaxed society is a starved society. Too many of our citizens are going hungry, and we damn well better do something about it.