By Lynn Paris
Is This What You REALLY Want?
From my perspective, what’s going on in government these days is insane. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that the reason I’m feeling this weird anxiety/depression thing—the one I last experienced during the debate on health care reform—is that it’s happening all over again, but on a far larger scale, on a scale that could be devastating for this country.
Right-wing conservatives in congress have proposed such staggering cuts in discretionary spending for the rest of this fiscal year that there should be uprisings across the land . . . protests everywhere like the one in Madison, because Madison is coming to every city and town in America.
The budget plans currently being embraced by congressional Republicans eliminate countless aid programs that help fund state and local governments, without which hundreds of thousands of public workers will be laid off. Under the House plan, dropout-prevention programs such as Communities in Schools would see state funding slashed from about $16 million a year to zero. Programs to benefit students with limited English proficiency also would be cut, at a time when our minorities are quickly becoming our majorities: the workforce of tomorrow. Head Start will be slashed, as will Planned Parenthood, both proven to save millions of taxpayer dollars.
But the cuts will also deprive the private sector with the tools it needs to spark long-term job growth: an educated workforce, a sound infrastructure, a transportation network that moves people and goods effectively, a universally accessible Internet and cutting edge research that can help solve the problems of today and create the innovative industries of tomorrow.
The bottom line is that 25 million Americans are still out of work, which is nothing short of a national disgrace. And, if you want another disgrace--there are approximately 400 disgustingly rich people who have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. They are currently hoarding the bulk of the wealth that should be running our economy; none of their money is creating jobs because they’re too busy stockpiling it and laughing at the stupidity of the rest of us. And paying for their rumor-mill, FOX News, to pit public opinion against the greedy teachers in Wisconsin—the ones who, along with those filthy rich firefighters and cops, caused the deficit. Are you KIDDING me?? Jon Stewart did a hysterical parody showing the same FOX News folks saying, a few months ago, that it was wrong to put salary caps on the CEO's of banks and corporations that we bailed out with tax payer dollars. The hypocrisy is revolting.
The Right claims to be doing this because it’s what the American people want—to drastically cut our deficit, and no one disagrees that we need to cut the deficit. But as I wrote in my previous column, they can’t keep asking the middle class to make more and more sacrifices, to accept (patriotically) billions of dollars of cuts in the 12% of the budget that’s even on the table, while corporations and banks get tax breaks and oil companies and big drug companies continue to get subsidies. And the republicans aren’t really focused on deficits anyway; they're focused on cutting government and defeating Obama. You can't demand tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans in December, and then pretend to care about reducing the deficit in March.
What I want to know is just how much of this lunacy will Obama take in his effort to appease the republicans and pretend we have any semblance of bipartisanship before he stands up in front of the American people and tells them the truth? And not the cleaned up version of the truth that comes out sounding like we all just need to compromise a little more, but the unvarnished truth. Like, Hey, America; is this what you REALLY want? Is this the country you want to live in? Because if all of us who are scared to death of this don’t get off our asses and do something fast, then this is what you . . . and I are going to be stuck with for years.
In the last week I heard two different co-workers, both ardent conservatives and Obama-bashers in the past, complaining about what’s happening to our public schools. One was crying about school closings and the loss of jobs and the other was bemoaning the cuts in spending that will do away with vital programs that benefit public school children like her own. Both times I chuckled to myself; this is what they claimed they wanted, until it started to affect them. Maybe that’s what it will take on a national scale. Tea partiers and right-wingers will have to feel the suffering in their own lives and start their big time protesting all over again. Because we progressives don’t seem to have the guts or the will to get it done.