American Debt Crisis: Rich and Powerful Demand Total Victory over Middle Class and Poor

No. 3 in a series on the Debt Crisis of 2011.

President Barack Obama floated a trial balloon on the front page of the Washington Post on Thursday, in a long story that said the President is prepared to discuss cuts to both Medicare and Social Security. As the headline put it, Medicare and Social Security are “on the table,” otherwise known as the chopping block. No one quoted in the story was willing to have their name attached to the information.

In the whole, long newspaper story, the words “defense” and “defense cuts” were never mentioned. Not once. What? You mean Medicare and Social Security are on the table, but the elephantine defense budget is not? It’s not credible, not believable.

As Obama was supposedly preparing to sacrifice Medicare and Social Security, Republicans repeated their long-stated position: Tax increases for the rich are NOT “on the table.” Republicans allowed as how they might be willing to wheel and deal on tax breaks and loopholes, so long as the net effect is no increase in taxes on the rich.

Also yesterday, AARP, the largest organization representing senior citizens, made its position clear: The AARP opposes any cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

So, the lines are clearly drawn in the class war to divide up what’s left of the American Dream. The rich and powerful have made clear they will accept nothing less than total victory over the middle class and poor. President Obama hints he might be a willing accomplice in the cashing out of Medicare and Social Security. If so, it would be a presidential betrayal of the American people on a historic scale.

(If you cringe at the words class war, don’t forget that class warfare will probably be followed by generational warfare, pitting mother against daughter and grandfather against grandson. See “Divide And Conquer: The New Plan To End Social Security by Dividing America at 55.”)

Could President Obama possibly be serious about caving in to the rich and powerful on both Medicare and Social Security? Plus a player to be named later, Medicaid?

I hope the President is not serious. To balance the budget by cutting Medicare and Social Security for the middle class and the poor, while at the same time refusing to raise taxes on the rich by a single penny, would be a craven injustice. Remember, the rich are paying tiny taxes, compared to what they have paid historically, and their wealth continues to expand, in a continuing social transfer of assets from bottom to top.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the American budget that could not be remedied by modest tax increases on the wealthy, accompanied by modest spending cuts in the defense budget. That’s what should be “on the table.”

I hope Obama floated this balloon simply to highlight how outrageous it would be to force the middle class and the poor to pay for the financial crisis created by the rich and powerful. In any event, the trial balloon provided an easy target for Democrats in Congress to shoot down.

Do you suppose that anyone is negotiating in good faith as the clock ticks down to financial default by the U.S. government?  If U.S. leaders fail to behave responsibly, the hard times ahead could test the fabric of American society like never before.

— John Hayden

American Debt Crisis: Whatever Happened to Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?

No. 2 in a series of quick-takes on the Debt Crisis of 2011. 

Today’s question: Whatever happened to the first and foremost issue of the 2010 election, JOBS?

Remember when every politician was chanting in unison: “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” That’s what they said, because that’s what the voters cared about. Jobs. But “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” was more a prayer than a promise.

All politics is local, remember, but the job market is now global. It is not within the power of locally elected politicians to create jobs in a global job market.

It is, however, within the power of politicians to kill jobs. Soon as the class of 2010 took residence in the governor’s mansions and state legislatures, they set about writing austerity budgets focused on two goals: Reduce spending and cut taxes. The way to reduce spending is to eliminate as many state programs and state jobs as possible. Wisconsin got the lion’s share of publicity for austerity, but nearly every state has joined the movement.

Now the focus has turned to Washington, where they’re busy cutting jobs on a larger scale. The debate is not over whether to cut the federal budget, but how deeply to cut. And where to cut.

The Republican Party is determined to cut the budget by gutting the hated “Entitlement Programs.”  They use the words, “Entitlement Programs” because they fear to say, “Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.”  The main budget target this year is Medicare for the elderly. Republicans hope, as soon as possible, to move on to cutting Medicaid and the most popular “Entitlement,” Social Security.

Keep your eye on the goal. Forget about Jobs, jobs, jobs! The attention span is short. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! is over. That was last year’s goal.

The goal for 2011 is reducing the national debt. So they say. Spending cuts are the means to that end.

But the real goal is to reduce taxes for wealthy individuals and for corporations. Republicans plan to hand over to the wealthy and corporations, all the money saved by spending cuts. In a few years, presumably, Congress would begin to use some of the savings to actually reduce the debt. Possibly.

When pressed, Republicans say that the way to create Jobs, jobs, jobs! is by gifting large amounts of money to the wealthy and corporations, who would invest the money. Eventually, it might trickle down to the masses in the form of jobs.

Remember that wealthy people invest their money in corporations. As in,  “International Corporation” Or “Global Corporation.” So, even if you believe in trickle down, exactly where in the world do you suppose new jobs would be created?

In my opinion, any jobs resulting from U.S. spending and tax cuts would go to some developing  country offering cheap labor, far from the U.S.

America with no jobs and no Medicare will be a sad and dreary place.

The first post in this series on the American Debt Crisis is here. The next installment will be “Starve The Beast.”

— John Hayden

(Does a 525-word post qualify as a short-take?)