Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blaming Obama

To blame Obama for the economy is a cheap political trick. Voters, whether out of apathy or frustration with the slow recovery of the U.S. economy, allowed Republicans to seize control of the House of Representatives in 2010. Back then Republicans were running on jobs, and that must have appealed to enough voters to put Republicans back in charge of the nation's fiscal health. Since then, the House has been focused on their own pet projects, such as defunding NPR and Planned Parenthood, while pursuing an agenda to make Obama a one-term President. They are banking on the hope that low-information voters will blame Obama for all the nation's economic ills and elect a Republican executive in 2012.

Article 1 Section 7 of the United States Constitution is clear that "all bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." This is high-school civics 101.

Obama has been trying to negotiate with House Republicans, but Republicans refuse to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy. Instead, they insist that the President cut programs that benefit the most vulnerable and inflict pain on the majority of us. Their political strategy lies in the hope that voters will blame Obama for the economy in 2012.

Why would they want to rebuild the economy before 2012? For them, it's all about winning, and if the economy is doing well come election time Obama, an incumbent, has a good chance of re-election.

The hypocrisy of Republicans is outrageous. Some of the very same Republicans who are opposing raising the debt ceiling voted 19 times during the Bush presidency to do just that. Past Republican presidents have run up the deficit by lowering taxes for the wealthiest without finding ways to pay for them, and waging political wars that will ultimately bankrupt the country.

There are legitimate arguments for reining in the nation's debt, and Obama is not opposed to sane fiscal policy. I would hope that he would end our seemingly endless wars and rebuild a green economy. Subsidizing cheap oil means that it's economically viable to ship Northwest lumber to China to be made into sushi chopsticks for pennies an hour to be shipped back to the U.S. consumer. Domestic job creation depends on a serious discussion of our national priorities instead of the petty politics of Republican vs. Democrat.

Raising the debt ceiling should not be lumped into budget priorities. The U.S. has never defaulted on it's debt so it's hard to know the true consequences from studying history. Republicans are set on ruining the U.S. credit rating and destroying the country's fiscal health if their demands for cutting away at the social safety net fabric is not met.

Frustration with current politics is completely understandable. Washington is in gridlock while politicians engage in election year politics. In general, the media -- what should be the Fourth Estate -- cares little about educating voters and much more about having a high ratings horse race. And understandably, voters would rather not be bothered because we have lives outside of having to be politically savvy and actively involved. I have the feeling that most people would just hope that the people they elect are the grown-ups in the room.

Instead of statesmanship, we have a blame game. Obama is not to blame here. The POTUS can show strong leadership and encourage negotiation, but the House of Representatives is ultimately responsible for the country's fiscal health. And therein lies the rub: Republicans are beholden to the wealthy, corporate base that funds their elections.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zap Republicans

If you've been paying attention to the debt ceiling debate you probably already know that Republicans want the government to default on it's debt unless Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and services that benefit the middle, working and poor classes are cut.

Republicans will not budge on raising taxes on the wealthiest and closing corporate and individual tax loopholes. As usual, they claim raising taxes on the wealthiest will kill jobs. We have had 30 years of supply side economics, aka "trickle down," and it hasn't worked. We've had ten years of Republican tax cuts on the wealthiest, and while corporate profits and income disparity are at their highest levels, we continue to lose jobs. Obviously, Republican ideology is the failure.

Republicans don't care about the economy or jobs. Eric Cantor is short selling in hopes of a default. And Republicans will not accept any deal that raises taxes on the wealthiest, or even closing a tax loophole that benefits private jet owners. Republican Orin Hatch says the poor should do more to shrink the debt, not the rich.

There is a class warfare going on here, and it's being waged by the very ones who cry out class warfare whenever shared responsibility is asked from them. It's clear who the real welfare queens are and it's Republicans and their lobbyists.

I wonder what would happen if the millions of us spent the next few weeks tying up the phone, fax and e-mail communications of the GOP with the message: Pay your share!? Can we disrupt the GOP so much that they can't raise funds or communicate? Can we get them to listen?