BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
We live in a world of inconsistencies, some of which have little logic and may reveal character flaws and ulterior designs. Our social and political environment seems full of such.
Two years ago Barack Obama was swept into office on a popular agenda of change, and this year the Republicans regained a share of power after saying “No” to all changes and obstructing any they could. The people spoke in 2008 saying that they wanted Washington to work in a bipartisan fashion for the good of the people. Even though the Republicans ran on a platform of “country first,” they immediately set out to defeat Obama on every front, make him look bad in every way they could, showing partisanship by attempting to block every move made. Now, the people’s voice is for a return of the harshest form of partisanship?
For the past two years the Obama Administration has refused to respond to public clamor for investigations of the lies concocted inside the Bush Administration to justify war and the approval of torture in violation of international treaties. Now, even prior to taking over the House, Republican leaders are talking about investigating the Obama Administration – for what? We suppose over anything that comes to mind – perhaps his former church preacher or some guy in Chicago who sometimes attended the same local civic or political meetings. More Whitewater baloney?
Republicans demanded tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% to 3% of the population, even though these same people have had increases in income of 10% a year the past decade while the incomes of middle class have decreased. S&P 500 corporations are sitting on more than $1 trillion in cash, but they are refusing to expand operations and hire people. Corporations have just finished their most profitable year in history and stock markets are up, but unemployment is at 9% among common people. But the Republicans want to lower corporate tax rates and only begrudgingly agreed to extend unemployment benefits.
During the last decade, Republicans in power ran up trillions in debt with unnecessary wars and with unnecessary tax cuts for the rich, but now they have become deficit hawks demanding that every measure which might benefit ordinary citizens in stress be paid for in full by spending cuts somewhere else. Republicans are deficit hawks in rhetoric, but they consistently force the military to spend extra money to buy unneeded and unwanted weapon systems made in their home districts or by lobbyist campaign donor companies.
Republicans do not believe in global warming and they pooh-pooh scientific research, particularly that collected by former Vice President Al Gore, yet some of their own constituents living on the eastern seashore are having to leave their cars parked on streets away from their homes because the rising level of high tides is now bringing water to their yards, driveways, and frontal streets. Although they have praised the first nuclear control treaty with Russia negotiated by their president, Ronald Reagan, Republicans are now blocking ratification of an extension of that same treaty negotiated by their nemesis, Barack Obama.
In 1985 the richest 1% held $8 trillion in wealth. In 2005 this same group held $40 trillion in wealth, a five-fold increase. During that same period the average American family found not its wealth, but its debt, increasing at an alarming rate. Some have referred to this as effects of “plutonomics.”
Republicans now support taxing worker health insurance benefits, home mortgage interest, and retirees’ Social Security checks, and then lowering tax rates for the rich and for corporations as solutions to deficit problems. Yes, really!
Republicans point to Reagan as their iconic conservative president, yet during his term of office the national debt increased more than under any president before or after until the second Bush presidency. Reagan’s “voodoo economics” claimed that when the wealthy were given tax cuts, prosperity would “trickle down” to the rest and that the result would be greater federal tax income and reduced deficits. Despite the opposite results for Reagan, the Republicans are still claiming that very same voodoo: cut taxes for the wealthy, increase prosperity, and reduce the deficit. What is it they say about repeating the same failed action over and over compulsively being the sign of a fool?
President Obama proposed continuing the tax cuts for everybody except the top 3% of our taxpayers [incomes over $250,000]. This would have reduced the projected deficit for 2011 by $400 billion, from $1.3 trillion to $900 billion, a sizeable reduction with no ill effects to the economy. Yet Republicans totally rejected this notion and stood hard for that 3% who are the wealthiest among us.
Could all this have anything to do with the hundreds of millions of dollars in business and corporate donations to Republican campaigns this fall? Why else? Why else would Republicans want to continue the taxes of billionaires at lower rates than their secretaries?
With government tax policies that clearly favor the wealthy, the dynamics of a “plutonomy” have been clearly present for several decades. Is it any wonder that America is drifting from a democracy toward a plutocracy in the character of its government? The minions of money can be selfish and cruel, and their tentacles reach far, wide, and deep.
– Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer