by Norman Solomon
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he negative trends in the nation’s capital are mostly due to extreme GOP ideologues in Congress. But they’ve been enabled by too many Democrats who keep giving ground while Republican leaders refuse to give an inch.
Many a political truth can be spoken in jest, and that was the case with a mock news item that appeared in The Onion. “A day after signing legislation that raised the government debt ceiling and authorized steep budget cuts,” the satirical magazine reported, “President Obama thanked Democrats as well as Democrats for their willingness to make tough, but necessary, concessions during negotiations.”
The Onion went on: “Obama added that while it may look ugly at times, politics is about Democrats giving up what they want, as well as Democrats giving up what they want, until an agreement can ultimately be reached.”
Compromise is one thing, but capitulation is another, especially when core principles of decency and fairness are at stake.
We must stand our ground on behalf of seniors, children, the disabled and other vulnerable Americans. All the rhetoric about “shared sacrifice” rings hollow when the vast majority of us are being sacrificed to the financial benefit of big banks and large corporations.
There are plenty of sensible and effective ways to reduce the deficit — including a transaction tax on Wall Street, closure of tax loopholes for big companies, an end to the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy and a major reduction in the military budget. Instead, the bipartisan dealmakers in Washington are slashing the safety net that’s essential for vast numbers of Americans.
One of the most dangerous aspects of the recent budget deal in Congress is that it explicitly sets the stage for future actions to undermine Medicare. This scenario strikes at the heart of precious values. I’m committed to defending Social Security and Medicare.
I fully agree with Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey’s explanation for why she voted against the new budget deal. Woolsey pointed out that the deal “puts virtually the entire burden on working families and the middle class while asking nothing from billionaires, millionaires and companies that send jobs overseas.”
In Washington, job one should be creating jobs. That won’t happen by continuing to give tax cuts to the wealthy while imposing benefit cuts on the rest of us.
Corporations are sitting on huge quantities of cash. But rather than expanding the workforce, they’re hoarding the money — and stretching workers in the name of “productivity” — while often posting record profits.
Three years ago, I wrote a column opposing the Wall Street bank bailout then being debated in Congress. Unfortunately, my concerns were borne out by later events. Banks took the bailout money and largely used it to buy other banks — instead of making loans to small businesses and helping homeowners keep their homes.
With the new budget deal, Congress again acted in the financial interests of the rich instead of the vast majority of us.
With chronic unemployment at historic highs and personal savings in the tank, fewer and fewer Americans have the buying power that can pull the economy out of its deep ravine.
Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in the vital lessons of the New Deal. Many millions of good jobs must be created, and that will require well-funded federal jobs programs on a large scale.
Trickle-down economics, relying on the tender mercies of powerful corporations, won’t get it done.