Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Political Moment

A certain drama has taken a decisive turn.

 After the 2010 elections, while GOPer extremists strongarmed their extremist and anti-democratic measures in the states, the GOPer House zealots combined with the willing Congressional career GOPer tools of fossil fuel and finance billionaires to impose their extremist agenda and humiliate the President, at any cost.  They held unemployment insurance hostage.  They held the budget hostage. And finally they held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage.

The country, the world, held its breath.  No one could quite believe the true believer recklessness of the GOPer Congress.  The President of the United States had no choice but to appear calm and reasonable, in order not to spook the markets around the world into an uncontrolled panic.  He almost pulled off an enormous deficit deal that would have restored some badly needed revenue.  GOPers ran away from that, and the deal that was made seemed at the time to be all on their terms.

Turns out it wasn't.  It made budget cuts to take effect over ten years but mostly not beginning until 2013.  It set up a Super Committee charged with agreeing to more deficit reduction, with penalties if they didn't agree.  On Monday, they didn't agree.  But it turns out these cuts won't take effect until 2013, and Congress has a year to meet the deficit-cutting goal in other ways.  If they don't, there are deep cuts to defense and to domestic programs, but not to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

On Monday President Obama placed responsibility for the failure squarely on the GOPers who would agree to no new tax revenue from the very richest. (Polls show Americans see it this way.)  He said that he would not sign any bill that sought to just circumvent the mandatory cuts--that Congress was going to have to pass a real deficit reduction, a mix of cuts and new revenue.  He challenged GOPers to help pass extensions of soon to expire tax cuts for the 99%, and to extend unemployment insurance.  He challenged them to prove they cared as much about cutting taxes for the 99% as they evidently do about the 1%. 

All this comes after President Obama, no longer constrained by the threat to force the nation into default, has talked in direct terms about the need to pass what were formerely bipartisan provisions to address unemployment.  After all the complicated and muddy deficit talk, he has hammered home "Pass This Bill" (the American Jobs Act) and "We Can't Wait."  And he has named names of those who are opposing what the American people overwhelmingly want Congress to do.  All this comes as Occupy Wall Street has made the 99% a national identity.  And there was getting to be a lot of agreement to the proposition that this is the Worst Congress Ever.

On Monday President Obama continued to call for provisions of the American Jobs Act to be passed.  He also signed into law the one element of the Jobs Act that was passed--that provides tax incentives to small businesses who hire veterans.

Though it looks more than ever like for the next year we'll be gripped by the starkest showdown of modern times, the extremist positions of the Rabid Right--leading back beyond the 19th century of Dickens to the Dark Ages--are increasingly isolated.  Still, it remains a dangerous time, if for no other reason than this degree of repressed anger can explode in a destructive direction, and can still be manipulated.  But the empire of the Rabid Right is naked, and everyone can see it for what it is.

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