Saturday, December 21, 2013

138.5 - Outrage of the Week: the budget deal

Outrage of the Week: the budget deal

I expect you know that a budget deal to keep the federal government functioning for a time, anyway, has been finalized. Apparently, everybody in DC loves it - well, okay, not the purity police of the right wing, which opposes pretty much anything that doesn't involve handouts to Big Business or more and bigger toys for the Pentagon to play with, but pretty much everbody else. The GOPper leadership, the Dimcrat leadership, the Amazing Mr. O, everybody says "oh wow, isn't this fantastic, we actually had a kinda sorta at least a symbolic compromise and after all, isn't that what's really important?"

Before the House vote, Rep. John Fleming, a GOPper from Louisiana, said "I'm one of the most conservative of the caucus, and I'm leaning yes on this." He added that he didn't hear "any major objections" among colleagues. "We've actually found a compromise that does not assault the values of either side," he said.

Well, I can't speak for the politicos and pundits, but I can say this: It assaults my values! It is, in fact, the Outrage of the Week.

It assaults my values when it recovers only half of the sequestration's cuts for 2014 and only a quarter of those for 2015 - and half of that recovery is going to the military even though the US spends more on the military, on weapons, on wars and preparation for wars, than the next nine biggest spenders combined and indeed spends nearly as much as the entire rest of the world combined.

It assaults my values when it does nothing about an extension of unemployment benefits, meaning about 1.3 million Americans will lose those benefits this week, leading to 300,000 fewer jobs next year through the loss of that stimulus.

It assaults my values when it cuts pensions of federal workers and military retirees but leaves gaping tax loopholes that benefit the richest untouched.

It assaults my values when, as expressed in this deal, we are still so damn concerned with deficits even as one in five children are growing up in poverty in this country, with nine percent of all children in the country living with unemployed parents, nearly double the rate of five percent in 2007, before the recession brought on by Wall Street greed.

It assaults my values - in fact, the whole stinking thing assaults my values.

It assaults my values that we nickel and dime programs for the poor while income inequality balloons to the widest gap since the Roaring '20s, with the richest 1% of us getting nearly 20% of all household income.

It assaults my values that raising the minimum wage is even as issue that needs discussing, when the current federal minimum is worth 23% less than it was in 1968 - and if it had kept pace with the increase in worker productivity, it would be nearly $25 an hour.

It assaults my values that we mock, deride, humiliate, and scorn people on Food Stamps and are now talking about an $8 billion cut over the next 10 years - on top of the $5 billion cut that came in November because the White House and Congressional Dimcrats never put pack the stimulus money they took out of the program - even as hunger persists. And worse, that we're going to be expected to be happy, to celebrate, that the cut is "only" $8 billion.

It assaults my values that the epithet "takers" got so much as a fingernail hold on our national political discussions.

It assaults my values that even as the portion of the economy going corporate profits hits record highs, the portion going to wages hits record lows. That even as profits in the manufacturing sector soar, wages in the same sector have fallen 3% in real terms since 2009.

It assaults my values that no one has gone and no one will go to jail over the fraud committed and still being committed by the banks against homeowners and others over the mortgage crisis. That those same giant banks, which by being "too big to fail" required that we bail them out of their recklessness and greed, are now even bigger, with an even stronger grip on our economic lives.

It assaults my values that 25% of all people with jobs still qualify for some form of public assistance.

It assaults my values that poverty, that hunger, that homelessness, that unemployment, that underemployment, that desperation and despair persist when they don't have to. When we do have enough to make sure everyone has enough. We have the resources, we have the technology, we have the abundance. We have what we need to see to it that everyone has enough. Not luxury, not the life of Riley, but enough.

It assaults my values that we don't do that, the fact that we are so pathetically far behind other developed countries, that we rank so low among other developed countries.

Talking about the budget deal, Katrina vanden Heuvel said it well:
Advocates of compromise for compromise’s sake argue that everybody sacrifices something in a tough negotiation. This is an easy mantra to toss around when you’re talking about sacrificing political cover as opposed to, say, a roof over your head.
The fact that we are supposed not only to make those compromises, but to regard them as inherently good things simply because they are labeled compromises, is an assault on my values. It is, this week and every week, an outrage.


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