Total intransigence on the part of the Teaparty domineered GOP has led to draconian cuts in the federal budget called sequester. It was forced on Obama by GOP blackmail. They threatened to refuse to raise the ceiling on the debt limit which would mean the government could not pay it's bills. Refusing to pay the bills has nothing to do with future budgets. The debts, most of which have resulted from the Bush tax cuts and the invasion of Iraq, have already been incurred. ALL of the GOP members who were in office at the time voted for the tax cuts and the war so they are refusing to pay for the things they bought with borrowed money; borrowed to a large extent from a Communist regime after having used the fear of Communism as their principal mantra for 50 years.
Despite the resistance from the GOP, before the 2010 elections, Obama passed health care reform and a stimulus package which has stopped the bleeding of job loss and led to economic recover, anemic but recovery. But the recovery is about to end with the budget cuts forced by sequestration. Look for one more positive jobs report and then the recovery will be over. With the takeover of the House by the Teaparty, progress has stopped and will remain so. These people answer only to their wealthy contributors and their carefully arranged right wing constituencies. Their mantra is that government doesn't work and their goal is to make sure it doesn't and Obama has been weak in overcoming the obstacles. To the chagrin of his liberal base he has offered to make cuts in Medicare and Social Security, along with closing loopholes in corporate tax laws in order to reduce the deficit; but the Teaparty refuses to accept closing the loopholes. The bottom line is:
1. The deficit is not the problem we are facing, it is lack of quality jobs, a decaying infrastructure and a vital need for alternative sources of energy. Austerity has failed in Europe and will fail here too.
2. The Teaparty, along with many conservative Republicans want to balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it. Even with cuts in entitlements the deficit will continue to expand without additional revenues from the upper income groups. They will not accept them.
3. The increased concentration of wealth, or purchasing power, in the upper income groups will prevent a recovery of our economy. Corporations, along with their wealthy shareholders, will thrive in the short run as they move their operations to where they can get cheap labor; and find global markets for their products. In the long run, they too will fail and the next crash will make the 1930s look like the good old days.
It appears that Obama has given up on his fight. In the aftermath of the New Town shooting, he is seeking refuge in what he thinks will be a victory in gun control but even this is slipping away from him. The emotion of the massacre of the children will not overcome the irrational, even grotesque, worship of guns by too many Americans; gun nuts who use the Declaration of Independence to justify their fear of a tyrannical and despotic government which necessitates their squirreling away all these lethal weapons in their attics, basements, storage units and trunks of their cars so they can run through the woods in camouflage pants, jump boots, blackened faces, waving their weapons and shouting hooyah. James Yeager, who has threatened to start murdering people if Obama takes one more dictatorial step toward gun control, is typical of the emotion of people in love with guns and why meaningful gun legislation will never pass. All it has done is use up too much time and energy and direct attention away from the real danger we face.
Another distraction is the attention given by the president, the press and liberals to same sex marriage. The remarkable shift in public opinion regarding what they call equality of marriage, from rejection in the 90s to overwhelming support of it today has given Obama something to hang his popularity on. Again, our problem is the threat of economic collapse looming ahead. This is where the president, the press and liberals should be focused. As distasteful as same sex unions raising children is, at least to me, it's importance is minuscule If our economy collapses, gay and lesbian couples will stop wanting to adopt children.
Abortion is another distraction, once again, or I should still, grabbing the attention of the press and the president. This one is more important because it involves many people now and in the future. The irony here is that the same people who are totally preoccupied with what they call a human life's right to survive a pregnancy turn their back on the child after it is born. They would withhold medical care and even food from those who are unable to provide it without help. It is ironic that the party of small non-intrusive government, government that permits banks to rob their clients, would advocate government dictating what a woman can do with her own body. I am personally against abortion except for some situations, but it is a sin not a crime and should be between only those involved and certainly not the government.
The problem for Obama, and we liberals and progressives, is that press coverage will make Obama as responsible for the upcoming economic failure as the GOP and with the local control by republicans of state elections, we are likely to see a landslide victory of the Democrats for the presidency and control of the legislature by the GOP in the 2016 elections. Thanks to the Citizens United decision with the ensuing flow of money into elections our nation and democracy is in serious trouble. We literally, now have a government at the federal level that is de facto owned by international corporations. With the weakening of our government as a protective entity, we are in real danger of corporate feudalism with government of, by, and for international corporations. It’s a cold hard fact that there is no such thing as laissez faire. It can’t exist for long. Either you have a government that controls business or business that controls government. A healthy stable economy requires a balance – as we had from the end of WWII until the slow dismantling of New Deal legislation and the rebirth of supply side economics. Capitalism is a harsh appeal to selfishness and unchristian Darwinist survival of the fittest. Its sole redeeming quality is that it has been very effective at producing goods and it will only continue to do this as long as good government prevents it from emasculating itself; and government very likely will stop doing so.
Democracy can only exist with an informed constituency and with the right to vote assured to all voters. The locally controlled legislatures are working hard on limiting the opportunity to vote and the corporate controlled media has done an excellent job on feeding the public misinformation, hiding the real news and protecting their corporate interests in what they show and tell on the TV and radio media.
Recently MSNBC did a special on the events leading up to the Iraq invasion. As an aside, MSNBC is ostensibly a liberal political discussion show but the managers are careful to ensure that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and all the right wingers get their time. It is also obvious that you can't be too critical as we learned from the owners (GE) removing Phil Donohue, Keith Olbermann, Dylan Ratigan and moving Ed Shultz out of the weekday shows. Can Rachel Maddow last much longer after her Bush expose? Maddow's show was interesting but nothing new. Everyone now knows that Bush and his staff, including Powell lied. Her show was an interesting "mea culpa" for the "other guys," but the fact is that everyone in congress knew the truth, or should have. I knew the truth but I had to find out by reading the deep caves of the daily papers and listening to a few isolated talk shows. The public can be excused because most don't read past the main section of the paper and get their news from the networks, CNN and Fox News. The congressmen, however, have staffs and they certainly knew. They were bullied by public opinion. They, with a few exceptions, simply had no courage.
It's not a question of failure of the press. It's a question of the objectives of the press. Since the end of WW II, with a few exceptions, where there was competition to provide information that could not be suppressed, as in the Watergate investigation, the press has presented or withheld information to further their owner's corporate interests. During the Cold War we were told what to believe. We were led to believe that Chiang Kai-Shek was a good guy and the established Chinese government was bad...because they were communists. We were told that the Chinese and Soviet Union were part of a unified movement that had the power and motivation to take over the world. Subsequent events have proven that this was never the case but it is still part of our conventional wisdom because of the press. We could have whipped the Russians at any time militarily. The real fear was that socialism would overcome capitalism. Any economist who has taken basic economics knew from the beginning that a centrally controlled economy could not survive. The Chinese, now our friends, primary source of war funds, and trading partners, are still communists but they have learned that allocation of resources has to be made by the market. And we have learned, though it is denied by the media, that the real threat to a free market is not socialism but unrestrained corporate capitalism - just as Adam Smith told us.
Another distraction from the real problem of the economy, is immigration reform. Again, don't look for anything significant to happen. The corporations like it as it is. Plenty of cheap local workers who can't vote and who aren't likely to form unions. It isn't an accident they're here. They were brought here. Just as the migrant farm workers were lured to the west during the Dust Bowl with promise of work, the Mexicans, mostly Mexicans, were brought here with the same promise. But this was even better. They were told not to bring their families and not to stay too long. They found out in 1935 that the "Okies" could think, vote and form unions. They weren't going to make that mistake this time. There is a problem here, however. Typical of corporate fixation on the short run and the next years bottom line, they didn't look at the future. The new workers didn't necessarily bring their families, they stayed too long and made families. Now we have children who are legal with parents who are not and the children who are legal can vote...and think, and the average Gringo got hooked on the cheap labor; folks cutting their grass, cleaning their houses, waiting tables and working in doctor's offices.
As we found out in the last election, they tend to vote democratic. They are not to happy about the threat of busting up families - sending part of the family out of the country. The corporations have created a monster. Now they are scurrying about looking for a way to make these people vote for them without helping them. Guns, Gold and God worked on the low information Gringo voters but it hasn't as yet worked on the new voters as more and more politicians have learned that they can make the case that God likes poor people and too many professed Christians don't. But don't expect any significant improvement.
The GOteaParty is contented now in just shutting down government. Of course this will hurt them eventually but not on next year's bottom line. Globalization will delay the day of reckoning for the corporations and the one percent but it will come. In the meantime, Obama will claim victory with some trivial change in the gun laws, he will get more Latino voters when the GOteaParty blocks immigration reform, more black voters as it becomes more and more apparent that their best hope is with the Democrats, gay and lesbian voters will continue to vote democratic and the country will become even more divided. Gerrymandering will keep the House Republican, the Republican Party as we have known it in the past will die and corporate feudalism will become more and more entrenched.
So what happens next if intervening legislation is not passed? The cuts will take place over the next years but the effects will start showing up in April. The one good thing that will result from sequestration is that we will learn that the Pentagon budget has been bloated as our national security isn't effected by the cuts to their budget. The bad thing is that unemployment will rise, wages will go down and the middle class will disappear. We will come to accept 15% unemployment as normal. The corporate press will blame the depression on Obama because he was in office; just as the crash of 1929 was blamed on Hoover. The fact is that neither were able or willing to control the forces that brought the economy down. The difference is, Obama says all the right things.