Sunday, May 01, 2005

Michael: The Vision Thing

GOPigI’m sick to death of Republicans maligning Democrats as being obstructionist and not having any ideas or solutions of their own. It’s gotten so bad that even some Democratic consultants and pundits, who really ought to know better, have joined the refrain.

The truth is that the House has been turned into a rubber stamp machine for the Republican Caucus. New and draconian rules of proceedure prevent Democrats from submitting bills, and they are often restricted from even being able to offer amendments to GOP legislation and get an ‘up or down’ vote. Yet those hypocrites complain about not getting a ‘fair’ vote on Bush’s theo-facsist judicial nominees.

How can the minority have anything to say if they don’t even have an institutional voice? Voting on and debating bills makes news; announcements of the bills the minority party would have liked to have a vote on seldom does. Even so, they do try. Saying that Democrats don’t offer America ideas is like raping a woman and then calling her a slut.

Nor is the agenda the GOP is pushing focused on the lives and concerns of average Americans. Social Security ‘reform’, the central issue of the GOP this year, proposes counter-productive changes for a system that won’t experience any difficulties for over a decade and is perfectly solvent for a least a generation. Yet when there is a real crisis, it goes begging for attention from the GOP. For instance, the vastly larger and immediate crisis in Medicare is going unaddressed. Apparently, there is no political upside to dealing with that crisis.

The federal budget deficit is ballooning out of control, and instead of addressing it the GOP is using accounting tricks to disguise it. Their trickery might confound what passes for the press these days and the average American, but it won’t fool the central bankers who set our de facto credit rating in the world. Our trade imbalance grows ever more alarming and has contributed greatly to the over 30% slide in the value of the dollar against the Euro recently, yet the GOP does nothing to rectify the problem. It seems a common pattern for the GOP is to only take on the most tractable issues and ignore our most pressing problems. The GOP has become quite practiced a fiddling quite entertainingly while Rome burns.

The GOP has built its ‘revolution’ on tax relief, but I sure haven’t seen much of it. The GOP mortgaged our future and cut vital programs for our veterans and seniors to pay for ending the dynasty tax that would only affect a tiny percentage of very wealthy Americans when they die. When presented with a Democratic alternative exempting all small businesses and farms (the excuse GOP pols used to justify their actions), they brushed it aside. GOP tax ‘reform’ looks a lot like an excuse for eliminating taxes on non-labor income, i.e. the income and assets of the wealthy.

“Tort reform” was also high on the GOP’s agenda. The GAO estimated that liability caps on malpractice awards would reduce medical inflation by less than 1%, at the expense of those most harmed by our medical system. Despite the weakness of their case, the GOP pressed ahead and acted as if they had solved the health care crisis in America. In reality, they won’t go near the issues of affordability, portability, or universal coverage as that might alienate the health care industry. And then they accuse Democrats, who have put forward several viable plans to make health care more affordable and accessible during the Presidential campaign, of not having any vision.

I will admit, the GOP does have a vision. They call it the ‘ownership society’. What it really amounts to is shifting the risks of our free market system to those least able to bear it, the workers and families of America. Their vision is little more than a rehash of Gilded Age America where big business cavorted unfettered over the broken lives of American workers, and the wealthy felt no sense of responsibility for the public welfare.

From bailouts and monstrous tax handouts to favored industries to limiting the liability of industries with no consideration returned to the public in exchange, the GOP has proven that it’s only real vision is one in which their donors’ dividends and equity are on the march.

Yes, the GOP has a vision for America, but it’s no place I want to live.

1 Comments:

At 5:54 PM, Blogger battlebob said...

This is from the DCP blog.

ALL of these domestic items are placeholders. As long as the Republicans keep the national political conversation focused on domestic issues, the Republicans are perfectly positioned to stomp/tromp/romp over the Democrats again in 2006.

Why? Because the Democrats, being on the defensive on domestic issues, are not devoting a single minute to developing a homeland security/national security agenda.

And guess what trumps everything else at the polls? Security.

So the Republicans will be happy to talk about domestic issues until the cows come home, about the end of August 2006, when the Democrats will be surprised (not again....although Charlie Brown never learned anything either) when the Republicans suddenly pivot onto security issues and the Democratic candidates are left floundering in the dust (of Iraq, etc.)

After watching this pathetic routine for several election cycles--this pretending that if we just ignore security, somehow it will go away, like the wonderful vote for the war in the fall of 2002--I wonder if anyone in the Democratic Party will ever wake up.

Any poll that you look at will tell you that while Democrats lead Republicans on a wide range of domestic issues, there is simply no contest on security. The Republicans lead by double digits.

It's not like it's rocket science to come up with some of the baby steps towards a credible security policy, starting with homeland security.

Why do we not hear Democratic members of Congress standing up on the floor and saying, Why are the Republicans wasting our time here on the floor blathering about a phony plan to privitize Social Security when they should be telling us how they are going to protect our country from terrorists?

Why aren't we talking about why, more than 3 years after 9/11, a government panel reports that we have done almost nothing to prepare for the explosion of a terrorist nuclear weapon in one of our cities, even though we know that proper preparation could save hundreds of thousands of lives in the event such a calamity occurred?

Why has Bush failed to come up with a policy to keep toxic railroad tank cars out of our big cities? And when the District of Columbia had the temerity to pass a local law banning these toxic tank cars, why did Bush (and the CSX Railroad) take the city to court to overturn the law? (The district judge upheld the law after noting that Bush's lawyers had failed to present any evidence that the federal government had taken any steps to deal with this hazard.)

Leaving aside the terrible set of questions about why we invaded Iraq in the first place, why has no one been held accountable for sending our troops to Iraq without adequate body armor and unarmored death-trap vehicles?

And why, despite all the evidence that has come to light, leading straight up the chain of command to Donald Rumsfeld and our disgusting excuse for an attorney general--a man who authorized torture in violation of international law--why have only the lowliest soldiers been scapegoated for Abu Ghraib, while all of their superiors are walking free?

Why did President Bush decide to give George Tennant--Mr. "slam dunk"--the Presidential Medal of Freedom after Tennant presided over the greatest intelligence failure in U.S. history? (Some people complained after Tennant's award that Bush's action degraded the meaning of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But I have not heard of a single recipient of the PMOF returning the medal in protest.)

Almost every day, we learn something new about the ACTIONS of the Bush administration (not the WORDS) that shows that Bush has failed to take even the most rudimentary steps to protect Americans at home, or to protect the very bodies of our troops whom he has so casually thrown into harm's way.

There's no shortage of ways Democrats could tear Bush apart on security issues, and put forward positive plans for action.

Will it ever happen?

 

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