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The Democratic Party Attempts Suicide

April 16, 2013

(well, maybe it was only a suicide gesture like slashing your wrists, which usually isn’t fatal)

“The Grand Bargain is about showing the world we can hurt people, so they will know we are serious.”
Dong Johnson, “Elite Pundit Deficit Frenzy Just Like ‘Run Up’ to Iraq War,” posted on Our Future (http:/ 4/12/13

The White House proposal to impose cuts on Social Security and Medicare in order to reduce the deficit and win over the hearts and minds of intransigent Republicans in Congress is senseless, destructive, cruel, and indefensible. Maybe it won the approval of a handful of pretentious, pseudo-centrist pundits like David Brooks, George Will, and Tom Friedman but everyone else obviously hates it and for perfectly reasonable reasons—including 69% of Republican voters. GOP leaders immediately denounced the plan, accusing the White House of an all-out “attack on seniors.”

The proposal is literally sadistic. It imposes further sacrifices and suffering on people who have already suffered enormously, losing in many cases, their jobs, homes, income, hopes of retirement, their health, their ability to help their own children or their elders, their hope for the future, their faith in America as a compassionate society with any future not mired in grinding poverty. Why impose more sacrifice on the most vulnerable people who have already lost so much? So the rich and powerful, who have never made any sacrifice, can be feel confident TM they will never have to. So the politicians to prove to their corporate masters what obedient servants they are and how thoroughly and closely the sheep can be shorn, over and over again.

“The ‘Grand Bargain’ is about hurting regular people (shared sacrifice) who have been suffering since Reagan. The rich have gotten tax cut after tax cut. Their corporations get breaks and subsidies. Wages have been stagnant since Reagan, but prices have gone up. People used up their savings, then went into debt. Meanwhile government services for We the People have been cut, cut, cut. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our transportation and electrical and other systems are just a mess. The safety net has collapsed. College has become unaffordable. Poverty is soaring and the middle class is disappearing.” (Johnson, op. cit.)

All this is happening in a country that, taken together as one nation, is literally richer than ever. The “pie” is larger than it ever has been. Total wealth keeps growing. So does productivity. GDP sets new records consistently. Corporate profits have soared to record levels every quarter for the last 3 ½ years, since the latter part of 2009. Cash reserves of corporations are at all-time highs. Corporate taxes are at their lowest since the 1920s. There never has been a time in American history that we could more readily afford everything we truly need as a society.

The propaganda defending these proposed “necessary” cuts to what remains of America’s safety net (the flimsiest in the developed world already) is based on confusing the costs of this Lesser Depression with its causes, such as the increase in government spending on unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and other relief for citizens rendered destitute by the collapse of the economy run so marvelously by what Ayn Rand disciple and Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan called “the wizards of Wall Street” whose genius in inventing new financial instruments and manipulating the market, he assured everyone in 2008, had ensured there could never be another recession. This is the ultimate example of Blaming the Victim.

Every defense put forward of proposed cuts to Medicare or Social Security is easily shown to be a flat-out lie:
Chained CPI is not a cut in benefits? Of course it is. Social security was designed to adjust for rising costs of living, to keep benefits at the same level in real dollars. The proposed non-cut cut will allegedly “save” $122 billion over ten years. How? By taking it out of benefits that would normally go the retirees and the disabled. When recipients’ benefits are reduced over time by $122 billion, that’s a cut.
Let’s put that large amount of money in perspective.
That $122 billion is about 8% of the $1.5 trillion the Pentagon wants to spend to on the Joint Strike Fighter, a single weapon program.
It’s less than .04 %of the estimated $32 trillion recently revealed to be hidden away from taxation in the British Virgin Islands.

Here are a few alternative ways to reduce the deficit:
Closing capital gains loopholes instead would save $174 billion.
Negotiating with drug companies: $220 billion.
Ending the Bush tax cuts at Obama’s original $250,000 level rather than the compromise $400,000 income level: $183 billion.
End corporate tax loopholes (without being “revenue neutral “as the president’s opposing): $12.4 trillion.
Enact a financial transaction tax on folks who ruined our economy: $1.8 trillion (more than the cost of the Iraq War). [1]

Speaking of billions: for the two billionth time: Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit or the national debt. It never has, never will. Cutting this, the most successful and most popular government program in American history, will not, reduce the deficit by even a single penny. Ask yourself why cuts are even being discussed, much less demanded and proposed? Social Security simply has no place in any rational, honest discussion of the deficit. Finally, remember it is not an “entitlement”—it is an entirely self-funded insurance pool.

Goldman-Sachs analysts report the deficit has already shrunk dramatically, from 10.1% of GDP in 2009 to 4.5% today. Without any government action they expect it to shrink “rapidly” to 3% within the next two years. Goldman-Sachs is not famous for any leftwing propaganda, you know.

“The deficit isn’t our most urgent economic problem. It’s not even close. We desperately need jobs, real wage growth, consumer confidence, financial security for the elderly and disabled (which means increasing Social Security)….Sure, deficits need to be addressed after the economy’s been righted, but right now they’re nowhere near the top of the list. In fact, there is a very good chance that the cuts in President’s budget will make the deficit worse, as austerity cuts have in Europe.” [2]

Finally, it is a blatant betrayal of anything the Democratic Party can still claim to stand for. This shows they have drunk the poisoned Deficit Frenzy Kool-Aid and betrayed the legacy of the New Deal.

The Republicans are already using it against Obama and the White House, pointing out that their current Ryan Plan didn’t propose cuts to Social Security and Medicare, the Democrats did. They accuse the White House of a “shocking war on seniors”. If worked before, in 2010, allowing them to regain control of the House of Representatives with results we know only too well. I predict it will work again, likely allowing them to regain control of the Senate, too, I 2014 which is, after all, is next year.

Remember George W. Bush in 2005? He was riding high on his re-election victory, with majorities in both houses, boasting he had lots of “political capital” and he was going to enjoy spending it. He proposed privatizing Social Security. The outcry was massive and the proposal was not enacted but the Democrats, loudly vowing to protect Social Security at all costs, won sweeping victories and control of congress in the 2006 elections.

I predict the Democratic Party will pay dearly at the polls in 2014 and quite possibly in 2016 even though the proposed cuts will probably not be enacted. At this time.

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