It is distressing to watch/read the Beltway media struggling to avoid an honest description of what is happening in Washington as the Tea-GOP-ConservaDems lay siege to America’s future. This appearance by economist Jeffery Sachs [video of his trying to overcome the media's ingrained framing] illustrates the problem.
Never mind Congress’ total indifference to America’s real problems. In the real world, there is massive unemployment, record poverty and inequality, 50 million without health insurance, pointless wasteful wars, strangling states and cities, millions facing foreclosure, global climate threats, and a collapse of the rule of law, etc. As Matt Taibbi documents in his Why Isn’t Wall Street in Jail?, no elites have been held accountable for creating these catastrophes. Yet there isn’t a single initiative from the Tea-GOP Congress to deal with any of this. So why isn’t Congress’ and the Administration’s neglect of these real crises the lead story on every media every day?
It would be ludicrous if the media thought the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes just fell because of public concerns over the next fiscal year budget deficit. Every poll tells us our citizens, like the protesters there, regard that issue as far down the list, well behind the lack of jobs, education and an economically fair and secure future.
What we are witnessing in Congress and in states with radical Tea-GOP Governors is an unrelenting assault on all of the economic and intellectual foundations of our present and future. They’re waging war on us, effectively targeting the economic security and future of a majority of Americans. Oh, the rich will do just fine; the Obama Administration and Congress will take care of them as they did in December. You and your children and their future are the targets.
If this were a conventional war — think WWII — the enemy would be bombing our bridges and rail lines, blowing up government centers, attacking police and firemen stations, and letting our factories burn. They’d be undermining basic research, stealing technology, and targeting our schools hoping to cripple our intellectual ability to advance, feed ourselves, produce what we need and hold the nation together. They’d work to incapacitate and strangle state and local governments, to demoralize and crush the public’s confidence. They’d try to cripple the public health system and leave us defenseless against massive outbreaks of disease. They’d dismantle environmental protections designed to protect public health from toxic water, deadly emissions, and unsafe consumer products. And on and on.
Take a close look at that list. Which part of this coordinated attack on the nation’s economy and civilization’s foundations do you think is not happening? The nihilists have a defunding equivalent for every single one of these wartime tactics for defeating a nation. They’re being proposed today in your Congress and many State legislatures.
The effects will be the same. Instead of literally bombing existing rail lines and bridges, they’re denying the funds needed to keep dangerously deteriorating infrastructure from collapsing or to build new infrastructure for future growth. If you refuse to build needed new schools, or new water treatment plants, or new pollution control facilities, it’s just like building them but blowing them up later. States have been forced to fire over 400,000 public employees — teachers, administrators, firemen, police, sanitation and health workers, and if the current proposals force another million into unemployment, the national leadership’s reaction is “so be it.”
We hear public service announcements everywhere these days. “If you see something, say something.” If you observe suspicious activity that could endanger the public, report it. Okay. So, if they’re effectively destroying our bridges, our rail service, our police and fire stations, our schools and public health facilities, how should we respond? If we see this happening, should we report it? Should we surround the capital and not let them in? Should we make a citizen’s arrest and turn these thugs over to the authorities? How about this and this (h/t Adam 503 from comments)?
And who are the responsible authorities? We don’t seem to have a Justice Department, and the nihilists would defund even the modest enforcement efforts of regulatory agencies. Our President is a modern-day Chamberlain; if only he can reach a “grand bargain” with the nihilists, cut social security some, let only a few more old people freeze in the dark, and give up on raising taxes, they’ll settle for Poland; they’ll give us budget peace in our time, beyond the current continuing resolution, and let the debt limit rise. Right.
All of this destructive activity is happening right before our eyes, while the media pretends this is only a political argument, with lists of competing economists, about how quickly the nation’s debt should be reduced. Gibberish.
When the President and Congress hand the richest people in America $120 billion now and make it more likely for trillions later, there is no serious debate about debt. This is not about debt; it’s about a redistribution of wealth, security and influence, from the poor and middle class upwards to the wealthiest.
As for the long-run deficit/debt issue: our media can’t seem to remember that every reputable study has shown the problem is caused not because seniors get too much care but because health care costs are too high and rising too fast — we pay providers too much, up to twice as much as other nations, to provide less than universal care. Solve that and the long-run deficit problem disappears; ignore it, and rising health costs endanger the whole economy, not just the federal budget.
Decades ago, when we understood we were at war, the ratio of government debt to the economy was vastly larger than it is today. We used deficit spending to win the war and save the economy. Yet we defeated the world’s most evil regimes and emerged as the strongest nation in the world. Despite that debt, or actually because of the foundations it set, we embarked on one of the greatest, most broadly shared expansions of human prosperity in history. Today’s nihilist coalition doesn’t want you to know that.