Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wait for it

Neither of the two pro-business parties, Republican or Democrat, will allow the US to default. They are playing a game of chicken. But, from the sounds of it, they are close to arriving at some sort of "deal". The present "deal" includes a punishing, cruel $3 trillion cut (of historic proportions) to the living standard of the majority of Americans. That means cuts to education, cuts to scholarships, cuts to health care, cuts to pensions, massive cuts to public transportation, cuts to unemployment insurance, cuts to the arts, cuts to cutting edge scientific research. It will mean worse infrastructure, canceling desperately needed maintenance on our country's bridges and roads, massive layoffs and severe pay-cuts for public sector workers, worse sanitation services, worse libraries, worse public parks. It means that Obama and the Democrats will sign off on all of this as their own. (The beauty of it for Obama and friends, of course, is that they can push through austerity while externalizing culpability by claiming that "Republicans made us do it", thus pacifying liberal discontent with the slashing and burning of the very policies and programs for which the Democrats have any "progressive" credentials at all).

But I'm telling you: just wait for it. When the "deal" is struck, we will be barraged by a celebratory chorus about how the Republicans and Democrats "put partisanship aside" and "did what was best for the whole country". We will hear endless praise for the "reaching across the aisle" to "compromise", to "come together as one", etc. etc.

We won't hear a word, however, about what the two parties came together to do. We won't hear a word about how this will represent the largest cut to public services in the history of the world. We won't hear a word about the fallout of this harsh plan of austerity for the majority of ordinary Americans. We won't hear a word about all of the consequences of the two parties' long-standing, unchallenged, stable agreement on the "need" for austerity, on the "need" to continue funding wars and occupations, on the "need" to extend to the Bush tax breaks for the richest of the rich.

But, you know, hip hip hooray that they "came together" and "put partisan bickering" aside or whatever. That warms my fucking heart.


-sf said...

I just wanted to praise you for your coverage of this whole thing. Its a refreshing contrast to the fawning perspective you see from the MSM. One little nitpicky thing though (sorry): isn't it really a $2 trillion cut, with $1 trillion coming from the savings of ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? I'm guessing your number is more accurate however, as we saw the predicted "peace dividend" that came from ending the Cold War disappear.

t said...

Thanks for the supportive words. The chorus in the media re: this whole mess is really nauseating.

I saw a headline in the NYTimes this morning with the $3 Trillion number. Cutting $1 Trillion is horrific enough, however, and, as far as I know, still a "historic" number that marks the largest social spending cut in the history of the world. Re: drawing down in Iraq and Afghanistan: I'll believe it when I see it. Iraq was supposed to have "ended" a year ago, according to Obama's "Mission Accomplished" Bush moment. Of course, there are still hundreds of thousands of "military contractors" there, and the US continues to invest billions.

The bottom line is that we don't need to cut a single dime. The US's welfare state is already abysmally anemic, relative to comparable developed industrial nations. Plus, we continue to avoiding doing the obvious and taxing the rich, which would obviate the need for every single cut and layoff at the municipal, county and state level. Don't even get me started on the bailout, and the contradictions it evinced. In the ruling class's moment of need, endless money is mobilized instantly... but when ordinary people's living standards are on the line, the refrain is "cut, cut, cut". Had we nationalized the failing banks, we could have easily used the revenues that emerged after the worst was over to pay down the national debt. This whole thing is rotten. The Democrats are hand in hand with the Republicans in punishing the vast majority of us for a financial crisis we didn't cause.