The Sequester, which goes into effect at midnight tonight, will, according to lots of economists, send us into a second round of recession. It’s a dumb idea. It’s makes you wonder why anyone in their right mind would let it happen.
Here’s what I think. In 2010, the Republican leaders succeeded in convincing a lot of people that somehow Obama was to blame for what Bush and the banks did to our economy. On the strength of that whopper, they managed to make substantial gains in both houses. So, they figured, as long as they could keep Obama from improving the economy, they’d have a good chance at winning back the White House in 2012. This meant they’d have to betray all their constituents and work hard to keep people out of work. It also meant any progress on other important issues, like Climate Change, would have to be put off. But how could something like Climate Change be more important than the ego of the Republican strategists.
It didn’t work. Obama got re-elected, in large part because a lot of people manged to figure out that he was trying to do a good job and the people keeping the economy in the toilet were a bunch of self-serving power mongers who couldn’t care less about what actually happened, as long as they could retain their powerful positions.
Unfortunately, the Republican leadership is slow to learn. Rather than moderate their position, they are doubling down. While “We’ll never raise taxes,” makes a great sound bite, it’s incredibly stupid fiscal policy. Most economists agree that while the deficit and debt are critical long term problems, we first need to get people back to work, because without strong tax revenues, we’ll never be able to close the deficit or pay off the debt. The only way to quickly get people working is through government spending, and the responsible thing to do if you’re going to spend more money, is to raise revenues to cover those expenses. (Something Bush/Cheney apparently forgot about.)
Worse, these same paragons of virtue continue to spout nonsense about how horribly over-taxed we are. That’s simply not true, taxes, especially on the rich and corporations, are close to an all-time low for the modern era. Obama’s suggested tax hikes would simply put us back where we were when Clinton was president and we were making steady progress on paying off our debt.
So, once again, it’s a game of chicken, where the Republican leadership has decided that if it demonstrates that it is willing to drive us all off the cliff, that they’ll be back in the drivers seat, even if the car that we’re all in is diving straight for the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.
What I don’t understand is why the press isn’t screaming at our so-called representatives. Why aren’t we all camped out on the Mall in Washington? Why aren’t we demanding that the idiots stop playing games and get back to doing what they’re supposed to do: make the ugly compromises that keep our country running?
The ugly truth is that our system is broken because we’ve let it happen. We sat by while our media was taken over by the ultra-rich and while Fox News became a propaganda machine for the Republicans. We accepted the notion that companies could be too big to fail. Rather than break them up as a condition of bailing them out, we just handed them money. Rather than demand substantial regulation on the Banking industry, after they crashed, we bailed them out, too. We allowed Bush to fight two wars on credit, when anyone with half-a-brain knew we’d have to pay the bill sooner or later. (Makes you wonder where the deficit hawks were back then.) Worst of all, we let our politics become a religion, where we accepted what we were told instead of insisting on proof. We’ve rewarded those who lied to us and punished those who tried to expose them.
If we want things fixed, we have to make noise. We have to call and write our representatives and remind them that they are working for us, and that at least some of us will vote based on their actual performance. We also have to accept that we’ll never get everything we want out of our government, because we aren’t the only people who count. There are three hundred million of us, and we all have a right to have a voice in the decisions that affect us all.
As has been said many times, Democracy is messy, it’s the worst form of government except all others.