Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who Wins in the Deficit Reduction Debate? Not Us!

No observant American can justifiably dispute that our country is run by millionaires and billionaires, for millionaires and billionaires, and the rest of the country be damned

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By Rocky Boschert

Financial Editor

Most of the federal budget debate now occurring in Washington DC is nothing more than political party game playing, financial crisis double talk, and citizen directed media propaganda. And to the trained observer, it is all a cover-up for a larger economic duopoly party collaboration.

First, take the Republican Party's now robotic mantra that the US budget deficit is a product of "runaway spending" and that more tax cuts are the key to economic growth. Republicans claim that the budget deficit, around 10 percent of GDP, is the result of a rise in government outlays, mainly entitlements. This is largely bogus scapegoating.

If you ignore party political misinformation, reality shows the deficit comes almost equally from 1) a fall of tax revenues due to the last recession, and 2) higher spending due to runaway health care costs, an aging population and the leftover budget disaster of the Bush/Republican years when we saw unnecessary tax cuts for the rich and America's chronic addiction to misdirected wars and military occupations in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The short-term factors involve reduced federal revenues due to high unemployment and the drop in income tax revenue as a result. The primary long-term factor involve repeated tax cuts for companies and high-income individuals that have systematically eroded the tax base, giving fiscally unaffordable tax benefits to America's millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations. The Republicans are also either ignorant or flat out lying about the costs and benefits of reducing the budget deficit through higher taxes on the rich.

For the past twenty years, the uber-rich have clearly walked away with the prize money in America. No observant American can justifiably dispute that our country is run by millionaires and billionaires, for millionaires and billionaires, and the rest of the country be damned. Yet the Republicans and their propaganda mouthpieces like Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the right wing think tanks like the Club for Growth, etc. claim with outrageous audacity that taxing the rich would kill economic growth.

This is nothing but more trickle-down, voodoo, supply-side economics propagated purely to benefit the super-rich. Trickle down economics is a proven failure for middle class Americans living in a world of fast paced globalization and shareholder value obsession.

The truth is America has failed to modernize both its industrial and energy infrastructure and its financial regulations and is steadily losing its international competitiveness. Good jobs are disappearing and wages are stagnant, unless of course you are a corporate CEO or a politician who becomes a lobbyist for whoever they pimped for during their political career.

The Blue Side of the Duopoly

On the other side of the make-believe aisle, the Democrats in the White House and much of Congress are less obvious but no less deceptive in their duplicity. Obama's promise to "change Washington" was electoral bait and switch. In fact, we are now seeing the Wall-Street-owned Democratic Party of the future.

The idea that the Republicans are for the billionaires and the Democrats are for the common man is no longer true. It's more accurate to say that the Republicans are for Big Polluters while the Democrats are for Big Scammers (banks). This has been true since the modern Democratic Party was re-created by Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers.

Obama has failed to stand up for the poor and middle class at almost every opportunity. He refuses to tax the Wall Street banks and hedge funds properly on their outlandish profits; he refuses to limit in a serious way the bankers' mega-bonuses even when the bonuses were financed by taxpayer bailouts; and he even refused to stand up against extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich last December, though 60 percent of the electorate repeatedly and consistently demanded that the Bush tax cuts at the top should be ended.

The truth: Obama and Democratic Party politicians rely on Wall Street and the super-rich for campaign contributions the same way that the Republicans rely on oil and coal. In America today, only the rich have political power.

And let’s not ignore one more very important fact about Obama. He is either afraid to stand up to the Pentagon or is now part of the same neoconservative imperial outlook as his predecessor. Yet the cause matters little now since the outcome is the same: Obama is the same type of war President as Bush. One thing is pathetically clear: Obama is abandoning the poor and middle class, by agreeing with the plutocrats in Congress to cut spending on Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and discretionary civilian spending.

At the same time Obama is protecting the military budgets and the low tax rates on the rich. In fact, he may now be planning to lower those top tax rates further according to the secret machinations of the Gang of Six, now endorsed by the president in his pretty obvious theatre in Washington DC.

We know who the winners of these phony debt ceiling negotiations will be. Obama wins, since every word and action of the president is calculated for electoral gain rather than the country's needs. Another winner is the big money lobbyists who now seem to win in every negotiation. For anyone with a brain and the courage to admit it, it is obvious the rich and the multinational corporations run America these days.

Who loses? The American people, who have said repeatedly that they want a budget that sharply cuts wasteful military spending, ends the no-win wars that kill our sons and daughters, raises taxes on the rich, protects the poor and the middle class, and invests in America's future.

The time is ripe (if not mandatory) for America to start establishing a viable and intelligent third-party movement to break the hammerlock of the two-party duopoly financial elites. But until that happens, the political class and the media conglomerates will continue to spew lies, America will continue to destabilize and the country will continue its economic decline, possibly resulting in mass demonstration, work stoppages, or tragically, an increase in domestic terrorism.

In the end, the conservative middle class needs to stop being foolishly gullible to the illusion that the Republican Party elite will take care of them if they can just get enough tax dollars to create more jobs – and that having guns and credit cards is the ultimate definition of freedom.

On the other side, liberals and Democrats should realize that their party leaders – at least at the Federal and State level, are the same lobby money whores and uber-rich mascots as the Republicans. Our two party political system is now almost a total failure for the working man and women in America.


Peter Stern said...

Some good thoughts here, Rocky.

How we could save our economy is really very simple.

To have real money on hand we must have taxes, so an increase in taxes is needed. Obama promised to tax the wealthy, but after he became President he chickened out, bending his promises to try to get the GOP more open to his health care plan, which didn't happen anyway.

Then we need to cut our massive expenditures, especially overseas. We need to spend money on creating jobs here via a national job program and to make it worthwhile for the private busines sector via tax exemptions and other perks to hire American citizens.

As easy as it is to reign-in our debt and to pay some off, it won't happen.

Big businesses are drooling at mega markets overseas, e.g., McDonald's and other fast foods in China, Pakistan, India and other areas.

Selling our water overseas to China and the Middle East, e.g., T. Boone Pickens is doing. There are many other enterprises overseas that will provide billions to companies.

Instead of our Congress trying to cut or eliminate our Medicare and Social Security programs, we should cut retirement packages we pay our officials in Washington and we should stop giving them free health care. They can afford their own health care, so let them pay for it as the rest of us must do.

Again, Rocky, you and I see this next issue differently. You want a 3rd political party and I want to get rid of them completely and let all American citizens be independent of parties.

Anyway, I believe that most Americans are doomed. I try to be a positive person in life, so I am positive we are doomed. Only the "when" is undetermined.

During the next decade it is going to get a lot worse for the majority, as our Congress spends more money or not, and whether taxes will increase or not. The little people can't make it. They can't or shouldn't be in the stock market because it is controlled by the big guns. They won't have health care or social security to fall back on a little bit.

The U.S. currently is only for the millionaires and the billionaires, as you stated above Rocky, and it also is for the legal and illegal immigrants who are finding more jobs, public school and economic breaks than do the majority of U.S. citizens who are becoming 3rd rate citizens in their own nation. It is going to get even more ugly.


Sam Brannon said...

Well said, Rocky. So well said I won't quibble on details.

Ok, one quibble... We have a plutocracy. Both our corporations and our government are controlled by those who control vast amounts of wealth.

I call it the Big Money, the hidden hand. The Big Money expects both its corporations and its governments to extract wealth from the people, and to make them increasingly dependent/malleable. The agreements are made through lobbies, political parties, and the courts, at all levels of government.

As far as Peter's comment on the doom... yeah, times could get difficult. But what we do today, locally here in Hays County, will have everything to do with how much we have to work with when times get tough.

Its time for PEOPLE to start supporting PEOPLE, rather than simply playing along with the plutocracy and their lobbies and their party rhetoric. Let's think for ourselves, reach out to our neighbors, engage in the process (both formal and informal), and know that nothing happens to us unless we allow it.

Rocky Boschert said...

Good supplemental comments, Peter.

Actually, Peter, I used the phrase "third party movement" not "a third party," as I more and more agree with your assessment that an actual third party would probably be corrupted and co-opted by big money like the Tea Party has.

Also, I love your sentence:

"I try to be a positive person in life, so I am positive we are doomed."

It appears to be sadly accurate.

Rocky Boschert said...

Sam Brannon says:

"Its time for PEOPLE to start supporting PEOPLE, rather than simply playing along with the plutocracy and their lobbies and their party rhetoric. Let's think for ourselves, reach out to our neighbors, engage in the process (both formal and informal), and know that nothing happens to us unless we allow it."

This comment could just as well have been an alternative ending paragraph to my article.

Anonymous said...

Bravo gentlemen