Monday, December 06, 2010

Are We Screwed?

Just a few weeks after elections that everyone in Washington insisted was about fiscal responsibility, we are in the midst of political fights in Washington on whether or not to extend historically low tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. It should be kept in mind, as I noted the other day, the same cohort for whom Republicans are lobbying for continued low taxation currently hold about 70% of our national wealth.

Meanwhile, these same Republicans, who wish to continue starving the beast of income so that fiscal responsibility can boil down to getting rid of the last, tattered vestiges of the welfare state, insist we just can't afford to extend unemployment benefits to the twenty million or so Americans who are without a job and no longer have any money coming in. The leader of the Tea Party is on record as favoring a return to our Founding principles - limiting the franchise to property owners, at a point when the percentage of people owning property is dwindling rapidly.

Since even the leader of the Tea Party - an alleged populist uprising against elites - is now publicly stating that people without property (which, I would guess, constitutes a significant portion of Tea Party supporters) should not be allowed to vote, the final scrap has been stripped away and it is clear (as if it ever were murky) that there is now not even a pretense of support for the general welfare, real fiscal responsibility, concern for the economic stability of the country, or supporting the policies most understand will actually drag the country out of the doldrums.

Even so, it seems the voices of those advocating even modest counter-cyclical spending, including extending unemployment benefits (if for no other reason than simple fairness, never mind complex economic ideas like the multiplier effect), while having the better arguments, simply have no constituency any more. Not even in the Democratic Party; certainly not in the Obama White House, which seems keen on surrendering to the Republicans in some self-destructive desire to appear even more bipartisan.

I have no idea what the future holds (as if anyone does), but unless we stop playing fantasy football with taxes and the deficit, and start dealing with the economic infrastructure, I believe that yes, we are indeed, screwed.

I wish I could find which Kevin Drum post I saw it in recently, but he said that our economic problems are not insoluble, and he is quite correct. The problem is the real solutions - solutions that would also serve our fiscal health as well - have no advocates in the corridors of power. The people, the nation as a whole, has no lobby with the pull of those few corporate interests that want to continue screwing everything up.

I do so hope the Tea Party will be happy with the results of claiming this election as their own.

Virtual Tin Cup

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