Last weekend America was treated to a spectacle right out of Alice in Wonderland. A budget compromise that left the blood and hopes of the poor and needy on the floor was pitched by the Democratic Congressional Committee as a victory by limited the slicing and dicing of the federal budget to “only” $38 billion while tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires remain the most sacred of cows.
The Democratic Party controls the Senate and the White House. The Tea Party Caucus of the House of Representatives, headed by that anti-genius Michelle Bachmann, consists of 85 members, at most. Yet the Tea Party, playing Pinocchio to the Koch brothers Geppetto, has hijacked the national debate on policy, budget and the future of this country.
Somehow the Democratic Party has mastered the art of the Rope a Dope, minus the rope. And as a result the defeat of the horrific proposal to defund Planned Parenthood is viewed as a triumph. The mindless ambition of the G.O.Tea Party to defund the newly minted national healthcare program is a shortsighted as it is Neanderthal in motive and intent.
The fact that these proposals ever saw the light of day is shameful. Viewing their (very) temporary defeat cannot possibly be seen as much of a victory.
We continue to wait for President Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party to come to their collective senses and realize that there is no bargaining with maniacs. We are watching the fabric of the social net being shredded, bit by bit, and deferring the next thrust of the blade is not a cause for celebration.
And still, there is no collective voice from the party that controls the White House and the Senate that says “enough is enough”.
I have written previously that the budget agenda of the G.O.Tea Party is not about fiscal matters but rather it is about a social agenda that is slanted towards meanness and away from compassion.
The G.O.Tea Party barely blinked at the near billion dollar cost of the Libyan incursion but it froths and foams at the mouth at the mere thought of millions going to NPR or Planned Parenthood.
Indeed, the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood is a textbook example of the disgrace that is the G.O.Tea Party. The attack on this universally acclaimed women’s healthcare program began with the lie that federal funds were being used to fund abortions.
It’s a lie because the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prevents the federal funding of abortions. It is also a distortion in the bargain because less than 20% of the services of Planned Parenthood involve abortion. The rest of that organization’s programs involve birth control, sex education and basic healthcare for women who cannot afford it elsewhere.
When Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood in 1946 it was seen as a progressive and positive step in providing healthcare, birth control and sex education for women – all of which are indispensable elements in the liberation of women.
Who could imagine that less than 70 years later there could be a serious proposal by a major political party to defund the laudable efforts of this organization?
While we have read muted protests and muffled objections, I continue to wait for leaders of the Democratic Party to draw the line in the sand and say “no more”.
In the instance of Planned Parenthood, it is shocking to see female members of the G.O.Tea Party (like Michelle Bachman) ranting against Planned Parenthood like a cheerleader from some forgotten nightmare – and no element of the progressive women’s groups and organizations will confront these abominable policy proposals being advanced by women.
It is clearly past the time to take the Tea Party and its cohorts and fellow travelers seriously. Wishing and hoping that they will go away is a waste of valuable time. Their agenda is as clear as it is despicable.
Dismantling social services while labeling them “entitlements” is a bit or rhetorical trickery that belongs in the circus but not on the national stage. The quality and availability of social services are what define a country and a society – they are not privileges or favors from the wealthy to the poor.
Portraying taxes as punitive by their very nature is not only wrong; it distorts the notion of a social contract. Companies like General Electric spend millions of dollars, not on research and development, but on tax departments that too often successfully reduce their tax obligations to zero – this is corporate social irresponsibility and we all pay for it.
Yet the G.O.Tea Party and its Koch brothers financiers believe that this is kind of business agenda that make sense for the future.
The current political arena seems like some bizarre version of a “Night of the Living Dead” scenario, except that it is taking place in broad daylight.
It is time to be afraid, very afraid.