Man on a Tight Rope!

Headed for a Shutdown?

John Boehner is a caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea.  He knows that should the intransigence of the Republican majority in the house cause a shutdown of the government on Friday it will be widely viewed as evidence that the majority leader can’t control his caucus.   He can also take no comfort from his knowledge of the fate that befell Newt Gingrich, the last Republican leader who caused a shutdown of the Federal Government and virtually assured the reelection of Bill Clinton.  Beyond these unpleasant facts there is the very real possibility that the majority of the electorate will finally conclude that the Republicans simply cannot govern because they hate government. That is certainly my position; I have been arguing this for some time. Hence I believe that, being the sober political horse trader that he is in his heart of hearts, Speaker Boehner wants to make a deal as desperately as a drowning man wants a lifeline.

Alas, as I have noted elsewhere, the Republicans struck a Faustian bargain with the Tea Party fanatics in order to gain a majority in congress; now the monster they created has come back to devour them.  That certainly seemed to be the case when Speaker Boehner emerged from the white House meeting with the President today and started talking like he had lost his mind.  Surely the Devil made him do it!   That’s the only other thing I can think of that would make him flirt with the disastrous option of shutting down the national government because they can’t have their way.  After all, that’s how spoiled kids behave when they stomp down sand castles because they didn’t get what they wanted.  We have a right to expect something different and something more from our statesmen.

The position of the Grand Obstructionist Party is that although they control neither the Senate nor the White House, they are still going to impose their will through their ability to obstruct the government from doing the people’s business.  Dr. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC – whose nightly program is a treasure trove of vital information that citizens must know in order to make intelligent decisions – showed a wide variety of Right Wing Republicans telling their constituents in no uncertain terms that they plan to shut down the government if the Democratic Senate and the White House do not acquiesce to their draconian cuts.  For people who are always going around quoting the Constitution, the Republicans appear not to understand, or accept, that our government was designed to require compromise and consensus – a point the militant professional left does not appear to understand either.

The Country Club Republicans understand this well enough, but the Tea Party crowd is clueless. These militant airheads – who know as much about American history as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman – consider compromise treason; and have taken fanatical hard line positions from which they refuse to budge.  They have even threatened not to raise the debt ceiling; this would be an unmitigated disaster!    If the US government defaults on its debt obligations the entire international finance system will collapse, creating a worldwide depression and ending economic recovery at home.

President Obama has presided over the myriad crises he inherited from eight years of Bush league rule with Solomonic wisdom, consummate political skill and compassion, but he has been opposed every step of the way by the Republicans, who employed some of the dirtiest tactics in the history of American politics.  Yet from the poll results it does not appear that millions of Americans have any idea what he has achieved on behalf of the nation.  This is explains how they could vote in a Republican controlled congress that made Texas Congressman John Doe Chairman of the Energy Committee that oversees the oil industry. This is the same man who called the $20 billion dollar clean-up fund President Obama demanded that BP establish to compensate those who were injured by the Gulf oil rig explosion, and the disastrous spill that resulted, “a Chicago style shakedown” and apologized to the management of British Petroleum.  It was such a shameless act of contempt for the public interests that the CEO of BP quickly disassociated himself from the Congressman’s comment!

Clearly the Congressional election results have emboldened the Republican ideologues on the radical right, who take this as a sign that they can get away with a frontal assault on the public interests under the guise of “getting big government off our backs.”  In spite of the persistent attacks on President Obama about his inability to solve the unemployment problem, the Republicans have not made job creation a major priority; beyond cutting taxes to wealthy individuals and giant multi-national corporations – measures that President Obama was forced to go along with or witness millions of economically desperate unemployed workers lose their benefits – they have offered no plans for job growth.  Their solution to everything is to cut taxes and let the magic of the “free market” do its thing; despite the fact that there is no evidence that this policy works, and none of the leading economist – including two Nobel Laureates -believe it will work.

On the other hand, what is incontestably true is that the measures proposed by Republicans will result in the lost of several hundred thousand jobs by people who are now gainfully employed performing vital work in the public sector.  Even a cursory glance at the proposed cuts to the federal budget offered up by the Grand Obstructionist Party will reveal that they are guided by ideological obsessions rather than economic imperatives.  There is no sound economic evidence that would suggests cutting government spending and throwing people out of work in a recession, where a low demand for goods and services is the root cause of economic stagnation, spurs economic recovery.  Yet when speaker Boehner was asked about the fate of fired workers he said if they lost their jobs “So be it!”

The most reliable model we have for dealing with this recession is that which brought us out of the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  This policy was called “Keynesian economics,” in recognition of the British economist John Maynard Keynes who was its author.  This policy holds that in an economic recession brought on by the recurrent crisis in capitalism the government must become the “employer of last resort.”  This policy kills two birds with one stone – unemployment and lack of demand – and gets money circulating within the domestic economic, which is essential to jump starting the economy.  Although this model has a record of success that is well known to historians and economists, the Republicans prefer the Laffer Curve, which holds that all financial breaks and subsidies should go to the wealthy because only they possess the wisdom to create jobs.

They gave this spurious ahistorical theory the name “Supply Side Economics,” which is just a high falutin term for the old “trickle down” theory of economics.  “Supply Side Economics” was introduced by Ronnie Reagan, a man once called “an amiable dunce” by the powerful Washington Lawyer and former cabinet member in the Carter Administration Clarke Clifford.  And as the Republican strategist and statistician Kevin Phillips, who helped elect Reagan, would later conclude: Reagan’s economic policies resulted in the most dramatic transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in American history! It also created the largest deficit in history!  Yet this nonsense persists in spite of the lack of any evidence that such policies will work – and the fate of the nation hangs in the balance!

There is every reason to believe the current budget that Republicans are proposing would produce the same results as the Reagan Administration at best; or the even more disastrous results of the recently departed Bushmen and lead to the impoverishment of even more Americans.  Furthermore the Republican budget – in which the principle interest of the Republicans is to use the Federal budget to nullify liberal policies that are now law – will seriously injure the public interests.  For instance they propose to eviscerate or eliminate Head Start, Planned Parenthood, the Environmental Protection Agency, Pell Grants to assist college students and National Public Radio.  Furthermore they want to repeal President Obama’s historic health care legislation by defunding it and also defund the enforcement of the new financial regulation laws.  The fact that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the President’s health care plan will save the government 130 billion over the next decade, and repeal will cost $230 billion, has been dismissed by the Republican shills for the filth rich, should be a wake-up call to everybody who cares about affordable health care.

All the programs that serve the working folks that the Republicans have put on the chopping block comprise a miniscule portion of the Federal government’s budget, especially when compared to the wasteful military budget.  This fact is well understood by all political factions; yet it is ignored by the warmongering Republican ideologues.  The Republican vision for America is a country where everything is privately owned, unorganized workers are held hostage to the whims, prejudices and quirks of their employers, and waging endless wars based on the flawed dangerous theory of “American Exceptionalism.”  This scenario may well be a wet dream for hawkish right wing Plutocrats, but for most Americans it portends a bleak future indeed.

Yet in the final analysis this is a disaster that Americans have made for themselves.  Looking at what the Republicans plan for the working people of this country – which is most of us when we can find a job – it ought to be clear to even fuzzy headed black intellectuals like some of those who met recently at the “Black Agenda” conference, that only President Obama and the Senate Democrats stand between the Republican ideologues and disaster for the broad masses of the American people.  It does not require exceptional intellect, extensive academic training, or a novelist’s imagination to envision what a nightmare life in America would be had John McCain and Sarah Palin – the Mack Man and Silly Sarah – won the White House and enjoyed a Congressional majority.  We need only take a look at the budget proposals of Congressman Ryan, a wild eyed fanatic from Wisconsin who Chairs the House Budget Committee and wants to cut six trillion dollars from the President’s budget – to get a glimpse of the twisted vision of the GOP’s contract on working Americans, as well as it’s assaults on all attempts to rescue our endangered natural environment.

Congressman Ryan: A wild eyed fanatic!

When compared to this gang it should be relatively easy to recognize that the American people have been given a great gift in President Obama – a smart, deeply humane, visionary, and remarkably productive politician.   That is why I routinely dismiss the persistent bitching and moaning from pampered bourgeois black academics, armchair revolutionaries with no experience in actual struggle, clueless white paternalists on the liberal left; militant Marxists and pseudo-Marxists, black nationalists suffering from rejection anxiety, and other do-nothing obscurantist with diarrhea of the mouth. If the whiney ineffective debating society on the Left fucks around with their heads stuck up their assholes believing that Barack Obama is the enemy, and let the Republicans take the White House and the Senate in 2014, it will really be crying time for the working classes.

Unfortunately, the old axiom “A people will eventually get the government they deserve” is proving true for the people of the US.  They keep voting in the Grand Obstructionist Party, no matter how bad they screw up. It’s as if they are a tribe of Rip Van Winkle’s, who have slept through the history of the last 40 years. The present Republican budget plan is clearly an assault on the public interests and the working classes – here I am talking about white collar workers too. The Republican contempt for the public interest is being clearly expressed in the policies they are trying to enact, and the Tea Party faction is so fanatical that Speaker Boehner looks like a man on a tight rope trying to manage the Republican caucus.  Clearly, anything can happen.   Although many white workers are crying about how things are working out for them now…judging by the way they voted a few months ago, it is fair to say: They asked for it!




Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

April 7, 2011

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