Thursday, February 21, 2013
Once more unto the brink my friends. We unhappy many, we band of blatherers. Once more our GOPer congressmorons are taking Americans through an elective crisis, a self-inflicted disaster rapidly becoming a self-fulfilling catastrophe.
Congress passed a law mandating across the board cuts in the federal budget, with no judgement allowed in what is to be cut. The uber-morons of Fox and the Rabid Right don't think these cuts are even deep enough, yet just about everybody else recognizes they'll cripple the country and sink the economy. These cuts were meant to be this bad--to be soooo bad that Congress would do anything to forestall them, even come up with rational budget changes that would cut the deficit without trashing the economy. They didn't, and now the cuts are coming.
Did they have to do this? No. Can they stop it easily by just...well, stopping it? Yes. Are they talking like they will do that? No. "As simple as it is stupid," as Rachel Maddow says.
President Obama outlined some of the consequences:
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.
Emergency responders like the ones who are here today -- their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings."
Though Medicare and Medicaid aren't affected directly, the cuts will of course hit the poor hardest. They'll hit families with children as Head Start gets cut, teachers are disappeared. But as the President noted, the business class will also feel it, at the airport. And those are just some of the direct consequences. When people lose their jobs, a lot of other people eventually lose their jobs too.
There's a kind of apotheosis to this latest apocalypse, partly because there's no ongoing drama. No negotiations, just fatalism. Unless Speaker Banal's attempt to blame this all on Obama is a clever preliminary to saving the country from him by cancelling the cuts--by declaring victory and going home--there is no exit strategy. Congress isn't even bothering to be in session.
This is the seventh time GOPers have gone to the brink in a hostage-taking, manufactured crisis, since Obama was elected (the first time.) Each time, the U.S. economy has paid, the federal deficit has grown because of it. And it's not like they've gained political advantage. The latest polls show President Obama's approval at from 51% to 55%, with GOPers anywhere from 20 to 40 points behind that. Most Americans surveyed believe this is the GOPers fault.
So what's really at work in this moronic inferno (a phrase coined by Martin Amis in the 80s)? Apart from the imploding GOP, on the brink of a nervous breakdown, or more likely having one.
Maybe they have to manufacture apocalyptic crises because they dare not face a real one--one so big and frightening that they can't even admit it exists, let alone put in the emotional work as well as the long, difficult intellectual and political work to confront it. It's a crisis that is going to be here for a very long time, and it can't be ignored away. And the longer we fail to confront it with all the energies we possess, the worse it is going to be.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called for action to combat climate change and spur the American economy by investing in clean energy technologies.
"We share nothing so completely as our planet," Kerry said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state at the University of Virginia. "If we waste this opportunity, it may be the only thing our generation - generations - are remembered for."