Point of View Columns

Read ‘Em and Weep!

There is very little to misunderstand about the G.O.Tea Party agenda when it comes to the federal budget. We have been subjected to a non-stop barrage of statements claiming that balancing the federal budget and eliminating the deficit should be the two most important goals of Congress and the President.

Other priorities like education, infrastructure, the environment and a reliable social safety net have been rendered invisible. The are The Priorities That Shall Not Be Named.

If the Republicans were truly serious about reducing the budget deficit there is no way that they could logically support extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – who are among the wealthiest people on this planet. But their unblinking and unbending and unending commitment to keeping extraordinary wealth sacred was never clearer than during the tax bill negotiations with President Obama in December of last year.

And now the battle for the heart, soul and wallet of America begins in earnest. Keep in mind as you read on that a balanced federal budget is not mandated by law, the Constitution or all economic theories.

Many would argue that the size, growth and vibrancy of the American economy are more important to the future of the United States. But consider what the Republican budget proposals would accomplish:

1. Virtually eliminate federal funding for the National Public Radio and the Public Broadcast System.

2. $1.3 billion will be cut from community health centers around the country and estimates are that more than 3 million people will lose access to health care.

3. Nearly $1 billion would be cut from programs providing food and health care assistance to mothers and children.

4. By cutting funds for Head Start more than 200,000 will lose invaluable access to pre-school programs.

5. By cutting federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood there will be fewer resources available for that organization to provide cancer screenings and other women’s health care services.

6. Tragically, it is estimated that the proposed Republican budget cuts that propose to reduce by half the number of veterans who get housing vouchers and it is estimated that 10,000 veterans will be homeless as a result.

There might be argument over exactly how much pain will be suffered by the American people, but there can be no doubt that there will be pain. And, by the way, whatever happened to the notion of shared sacrifice?

Remember that the tax compromise in December of 2010 reflected a stubborn, adamant and unshakeable stance by the Republicans that tax cuts would have to be extended to the wealthiest Americans in this country.

These are Americans who don’t have to worry about getting housing vouchers and they wouldn’t be caught dead in a public health care clinic. There is no sacrifice being contemplated for the wealthiest Americans who can afford to send their children to chic pre-schools and don’t worry about the cost when their housekeeper goes to the gourmet supermarket.

Now there are Republican doomsayers roaming the countryside claiming that, without a balanced budget this country cannot survive.

Certainly reckless and wasteful spending should be eliminated. And just as certainly the United States is not a private corporation – a balanced budget does not determine the fiscal health of this country or the quality of life of its people.

The economy will not grow and become more robust and vibrant if these cuts – and the many more that are threatened – become a reality. We are being hoodwinked and bamboozled by right wing of the right wing G.O.Tea Party hucksters who are using the Trojan horse of a balanced budget to attack every single aspect of government that helps, assists and aids.

They are determined to create a federal government that no longer serves but only enables the rich to get richer, everyone else be damned.

Right now its winter in America – we need to make sure that this season doesn’t last.

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Point of View Columns

Wolves in Wolf’s Clothing

Since its raucous birth in the spring of 2009 the Tea Party Movement has bawled and brayed that its foundation is based upon principles of fiscal probity. Balancing the federal budget was the one banner under which all of the Tea Partiers marched and the budget became the field upon which all battles would be fought.

Most reasonable people would agree that reckless financing is not a good way to run a government – federal, state and local. But most reasonable people would also agree that government is not a business and it exists to serve and service the people within its jurisdiction, not turn a profit.

When the federal government incurs debt in order to provide services and to insure that this country is prepared for the future, it is not wrong and it is not evil. It is what government is supposed to do.

Much has been made of the metaphor of the “typical” American family that keeps its finances in order and never, ever, ever lives beyond its means. Of course that is a myth of absurd proportions.

While too many Americans live beyond their means by floating on flimsy credit on the seas of debt, even prudent families borrow money for important items that cannot be covered by day to day revenue – housing (mortgages), education (college loans) and transportation (automobile loans).

The fact that the federal government would borrow in order to provide for infrastructure maintenance and development, health, education, defense and countless other invaluable and indispensable services should not be the cause of alarm.

A reliable infrastructure is crucial to commercial progress. An unhealthy and uneducated nation simply cannot compete in the global marketplace. And while defense may seem to be an obvious function of government, there has to be something worth defending in the first place.

But the Tea Partiers and the G.O.Tea Party and the right wing of the right wing have beaten the budget drum slowly and loudly. No service and no cause is too important that it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of a balanced budget.

Yet no one mentions to these naked emperors and empresses that it will be impossible to take even baby steps down the road towards a balanced budget as long a gargantuan tax cuts are doled out to the richest of the rich in perpetuity.

You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winning economist to realize that the Holy Grail of the Tea Partiers and their ilk is not a balanced budget. Their goal is the dismantling of government as it has existed for the last half century, in the process eviscerating and eliminating programs that have goals and objectives that are contrary to their belief system.

Their goal is rolling back the socio-political agenda that has given rise to civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, environmental guardianship and investment in the future.

The Tea Partiers and the right wing of the right wing have not been subtle as they seek to wield a cleaver to the federal budget with Viking-like precision. Two weeks ago the Republican led United States House of Representatives (infused with the fury of over 80 Republican freshmen) voted budget cuts that would virtually cripple the Public Broadcast System and Planned Parenthood.

The total expenditures involved are miniscule in the context of the trillions of dollars in the federal budget or the $100 billion budget cutting goal of the Tea Partiers themselves.

But there must be blood. And the blood sought is clearly flowing through the veins of programs and initiatives that help men, women and children who need assistance.

Not just impoverished Americans but young people who want to go to college and young families who want their children to have the early childhood advantage of Head Start. There are programs on the killing floor that will repair and build an infrastructure that will help the entrepreneurs of the future compete rather than migrate to China, India and Europe where those expenditures and investments have been made for over two decades and counting.

Meanwhile Midas-like Wall Street bonuses and bloated farm subsidies remain intact and untouchable. The accretion of wealth is glorified and tomorrow is supposed to take care of itself.

No family and no country can survive with that kind of plan. The Tea Partiers don’t have a plan – they have a vision and the consequences of that vision could be awful not only for today, but for many tomorrows to come.

Say this for the Tea Partiers. They haven’t tried to deceive. Indeed, they are wolves in wolf’s clothing.

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