With Europe–led by Spain, Greece, and Ireland–teetering on the precipice of financial disaster, can the United States be far behind?
“We can’t wait,” Republicans in this country seem to be snickering in their covens. And with the victory last week of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker against pro-union opponents who forced him to defend himself in a recall election, the once flaccid GOP is now energized and smelling the possibility they might even win back the White House in November.
What that means is that nothing which might ease the economic pain facing people in this country will get approved in Washington.Â Congress is divided. Belligerent Republicans control the House of Representatives, and the bellicose GOP Senate minority is secure in the knowledge that the majority Democrats can never get a 60-vote “super majority” in order to break the ritual filibuster that is filed against every initiative.
So, what else is new?
Political “message” bills are the new fascination. They have sprouted like weeds on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers propose bills designed to score talking-point-victories against their opponents.
House Republicans have refined this practice into an art and have passed nearly two dozen such bills. For example, there was a vote to let people use health savings accounts to pay for over-the-counter drugs, changing part of the administration’s Affordable Health Act in a way that would primarily benefit higher-income taxpayers. Who else would they favor?
Part of their strategy is to reduce the amount of revenue the government will take in to subsidize health insurance for low-income people. These bills are designed to please conservative voters, and will not even be taken up by the Senate.
Another ridiculous bill would prohibit the adoption of any major new government regulation until the unemployment rate falls to 6 percent or less. The rate has been hovering just above 8 percent for the last several months. It was a hefty 10 percent or so when President Obama took office, and Republicans hope it remains there because no Democrat has been elected president with unemployment above 8 percent.
What is most amazing is that ordinary low and middle-income White folks are buying into the anti-government rhetoric, even those White folks whose lives are improved by the government services they say they loathe. They condemn Pres. Barack Obama for bailing out Wall Street, yet they overlook his opponent’s–former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s record at vulture capital company Bain Capital–record of taking over companies and making them more profitable by firing thousands of workers. Go figure.
The fact of the matter is that Republican leaders would rather see the entire country go over the financial cliff than see America prosper under the presidency of Barack Obama. If there are enough voters willing to support this nihilistic philosophy, then America deserves the ruinous policies they are promising to enact. And don’t say I didn’t warn you that disaster is coming.
The alarming economic news on this horizon isn’t awakening House Republicans to the reality that a compromise on taxes and spending will be necessary to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. They’ll just accuse Pres. Obama of not doing what they didn’t want him to do in the first place.
“I see (House Republicans) demanding that their agenda be adopted and not much movement in terms of compromise,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told “Talking Points Memo” at the recent Netroots conference in Providence, R.I. “I don’t see them compromising.”
Early next January, a series of policies are set to take effect that will potentially plunge the U.S. back into a recession. If no action is taken, taxes will rise on virtually all income groups and large, automatic spending cuts will take effect. That’s what some economists call a “double dip” recession. The economy lapses back into another downward spiral before ever recovering from the original “dip.”
President Obama and Democrats promise they will not support a package to avoid the worst of that “over the cliff” outcome without new revenues alongside spending cuts. Democrats have maintained this posture since last fall when they swallowed trillions of dollars in debt reduction via cuts only, with no new revenue. The House GOP however remains adamant against new taxes.