I live in a high-rise on the north side of Chicago. My building is full of older people. When the elevator comes, I hold the door for the people with walkers, people wearing braces and casts from falls, and people who move too slowly to exit or enter. It’s safe to say that not one of them had anything at all to do with the Great Crash. They didn’t vote to cut taxes during a war. They didn’t vote to cut taxes on the rich. They didn’t vote to destroy the regulatory system that protected us from the financial sector. They didn’t push fraudulent loans on unsuspecting homebuyers. They didn’t create innovative securities to sell to unsophisticated investors. They didn’t shortchange pension plans to benefit executives and shareholders.
We know who did this. It was craven politicians whose votes opened the door to destruction of the economy. They did it to benefit a small number of very rich people, and their servants in the financial sector. Once the doors were open, the rich burst through and wrecked the economy.
The plutocrats and their servants in the financial sector have paid no price. They are richer than ever, and their control over the public discourse and national and state legislatures is stronger than ever. The politicians paid no price either. They got re-elected time after time, and continued on the path of rewarding failure, and refusing to help the people whose lives were destroyed. They created phony crisis after phony crisis, trying to find a way to protect the wealth of the arrogant plutocrats, and push the losses off onto the people in my building.
Now, in a lame duck session, following an election in which the people began to kick out the Blue Dogs and some of the worst of the Tea Party conservatives, a re-elected Obama has one more chance to accomplish this goal. He wants to cut Social Security benefits in an ugly and sneaky way. He wants to cut Medicare and health programs that disproportionately benefit poor and sick. He wants to cut food stamps at a time when food insecurity is greater than ever. In exchange, he gets some magic beans from the Republicans that will magically improve the economy. Dday explains the miserable deal in more detail here.
Obama won’t be able to do this next year. Speaker Boehner can’t deliver the votes he needs in the House, so a bunch of defeated Blue Dogs are necessary to get to a majority in this lame duck session. In the next session of Congress, there may not be enough craven Democrats to allow the President to act out his inner Ronald Reagan/Bill Clinton, and end Social Security as we know it. None of these evil ideas would be enacted if Congress had to vote on them one at a time.
Can you imagine the outrage if people realized just what will happen to them? Young people would have to face the prospect of helping their parents when their own income is stagnant to falling. Old people will be faced with unpalatable choices of catfood. All of us will be looking at an uglier society. Maybe Obama can deliver one of his patented emotional outpourings over the death of the Great Society, and the misery of the innocent.
Nobody has explained why the innocent should suffer because of the unpunished crimes of others. Bankers and others in the financial sector aren’t investigated or prosecuted. Ousted legislators come back to haunt us as lobbyists for their true owners.
Maybe someone could ask our leaders this question instead of chasing details about the theater of negotiations.
Image by DonkeyHotey released under a Creative Commons license.