The Open Hand and the Clinched Fist
October 16, 2013 § 1 Comment
This morning I watched as Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell jointly announced that they reached an agreement. Acting on behalf of our two major political parties, they agreed that our country will pay its bills and that Congress will end the stupid costly and damaging interruption of government services. They addressed the Senate before the TV cameras.
Harry Reid said that we should resist fixing blame for the mess, thanked his GOP counterpart and expressed confidence that a new atmosphere of cooperation would now prevail. Mitch McConnell attacked the Democratic Party and promised a continued effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act. The scene was one more example of the interaction between the Democrats and Republicans for the past five years. Reaching “across the aisle” is always Democrats surrendering some benefit to working class Americans and the GOP grasping with one hand an opportunity to enrich their wealthy business patrons and, with the other hand, reaching for more.
I visualize these negotiators in my mind. The Democrat’s mouth turned down at the corners, eyebrows slanted up in the middle in an expression of mixed surprise and despair; the GOP’s eyes glistening with excitement, lips parted showing teeth gritted in anger, nostrils quivering with labored breathing. The bully and the victim.
So now, we are to have a joint committee to negotiate a grand bargain to “solve the deficit crisis” by next January or February. I heard one commentator mention that the House GOP negotiator will be Paul Ryan, the Ayn Rand student whose reputation as a budget expert is based on his proposed budget that had two characteristics: First, it was economically incoherent and ignorant. Second, it proposed to gut Medicare, Medicade, Social Security and any other effort to correct the wealth inequality that has, for the past forty years, gradually eroded the incomes of middle class Americans and created a smaller and smaller percentage of obscenely wealthy rentiers. If there one thing that we can predict with complete confidence it is that Paul Ryan will never agree to anything that increases tax revenue and that he will insist all efforts to solve the “deficit problem” consist of reducing expenditures that benefit the poor and the middle class.
My fear is that the success of this joint committee will be judged according to how much the Democrats cave in and agree to changes that damage working class Americans. I believe this is the wrong time to deal with the deficit. This is the time to deal with the Sequester, that stupid monstrosity designed by Barack Obama to be unpalatable to the GOP, which they lapped up like a kitten eating warm milk. This is a time for government investment in infrastructure to put people back to work. This is a time to fix Medicaid so that state governments cannot sabotage it. Yes, I know the Supreme Court erected barriers to accomplishing that. Overcoming those barriers should be the challenge to this committee.
It is crucial that the purpose of this Committee be established from the beginning. It should not be to balance the budget. It should be to re-balance expenditures and revenue. This is a time to banish Norquist, Jim Demint and the rest of those government haters from the administration of government. We have just exposed them to be irresponsible, harmful political promoters of chaos and economic ruin. Now is the time to isolate and defang their moles within the Congress, beginning with Ted Cruz. That should be the marching orders for the Democrats. It should come from the President, He should address the country at least once a week on TV to keep people informed about just and fair solutions to our economic problems, incliuding, but not limited to the deficit.