Pandering Away America's Future

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Republicans and Democrats are both pandering away America's future. Who they pander to and for whose benefit, is what distinguishes them from each other.

Republicans are pandering to wealth and corporations, the Koch Bros for example, offering 88 million dollars to Republicans for the 2012 elections. Its like saying to the GOP, you don't need to appeal to a majority of voters, you can buy the elections, instead. Democrats on the other hand, while looking for support from billionaires like George Soros, are actually dependent upon regular non-wealthy Americans for votes, which is one reason Unions are important to Democrats. Both Party's politicians however, are dedicated far more to the 2012 elections than they are to rescuing the nation's economic future, with few exceptions. Voters do have a clear choice, though.

By traditional and historical definitions, conservative used to mean equality in the eyes of the law, for all, regardless of race, color, creed, or religion and leveling with the American people, as in Lincoln's day. Conservative should mean living within one's means and not foisting one's own debts upon the children, G.H.W. Bush's day. Conservative used to mean powerful, yet efficient, military defense under very tight civilian control and oversight, Dwight D. Eisenhower's day. Conservative used to mean middle class, middle American values, Ronald Reagan's day. One has to scour the GOP elected official roster to find the few Republicans who continue to honor those definitions as a whole, today, outside paying lip service to them.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and his legislative lock steppers are a perfect example. Walker did not get elected on union busting, nor did he even hint at the prospect until after elected. That is a lie of omission to the voters, no matter how you cut it. To get elected in 2010, Wisconsin Representative, Ed Brooks (R) told the unions who endorsed him and even contributed to his campaign, that he would not support any vote to curtail collective bargaining, if elected. This week, Brooks voted to end collective bargaining. A lie to get elected, no matter how you cut it.

House Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell continue to say one thing, and do another on deficits. They keep preaching that we must act in a huge and decisive way to halt deficit spending, but, when their legislation comes up, it contains a paltry $61 billion in cuts against 1.5 trillion overspending. It's like trying to move an elephant by whipping it with dental floss. Worse, they insist on maintaining tax benefits and cuts for the Koch Bros., while squarely laying the burden of those $61 billion spending cuts on the backs of middle class and poor school kids, the under-employed, public broadcasting middle class audiences, and women seeking reproductive health services. (The Koch Bros. have promised 88 million dollars to Republican campaigns and advertising in 2012. No great surprise there, eh?)

Wisconsin Republicans for weeks on end said their legislation to end public union collective bargaining was entirely about deficit reduction. And yet, this week, they removed the entire budget deficit reduction portion of their legislation from the vote, in order to pass the union busting collective bargaining proposition, without a single Democratic vote or draft of the legislation, or discussion or debate on the issue, while declaring the vote an emergency measure in order to sidestep several laws. By removing the deficit budget proposal from the voted upon measure, they demonstrated for all to see, that collective bargaining was never part of the deficit reduction plan for deficit reduction in this year's budget (negating the emergency provision), in direct contradiction to what they had been telling the public for weeks previously.

Gov. Walker's poll numbers have dropped sharply. He won election with 52% of the Wisconsin vote, but, the conservative polling organization, Rasmussen's most recent poll showed Gov. Walker's approval rating at 43% of likely voters and negative reviews at 57%. If elections were held today, Walker would not have a chance of being elected governor, now that the public knows what his hidden agenda was.

Which begs the question, whose interests are Gov. Walker's and his Republican legislators benefitting, if not the Wisconsin public? Look no further than the Koch Bros, and the hard right wing PAC's like Freedom Works, founded and funded in part, by the multi-billionaire Koch Bros. Its not hard to see the rationale here. The Wisconsin Republicans alienating voters and the middle class, no longer believe they need to worry about their actions, since the Kock Bros. will pony up enough money to literally dominate the media message in 2012 painting the false picture that voters really don't have a choice but to reelect them, despite their actions in the past. This was made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizen's United case ruling, 14 months ago.

Why the unions? Because the Citizen's United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling opened the flood gates of money from both corporations and unions to vie for election advertising space. End the unions, and what we have left is the money from corporations controlling election period media advertising space. In other words, these actions have nothing to do with balancing the budget or being fiscally responsible. Those are curtains hiding the little man in the booth at the controls, Mr. Corporation, who now owns the GOP and nearly every Republican with any desire to be reelected.

Republicans appear to believe from polling data that the American people don't really pay attention to politics until 6 weeks before an election. If they can control the electioneering advertising space with Corporate and wealthy donor dollars during those 6 weeks, in the absence of Union dollars opposing them, they can reelect even the most unpopular Republican by painting any challenger as worse in the media just before the elections. That's the theory and rationale. Whether it proves to be a valid theory and rationale remains to be seen. Abraham Lincoln famously said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people
some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the
time." If Lincoln is right, this theory and rationale will fail. But, most Republicans are acting as if it will succeed.

The Republican budget plan authored by Paul Ryan (R) provides the largest tax cuts in history for
the wealthy, raises middle class taxes, ends guaranteed medicare, privatizes
social security, and erodes health care
in America, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBBP). Who does Rep. Paul Ryan's deficit reducing and debt increasing budget benefit? Corporate and wealthy Americans. Who will it hurt? The middle class, the poor, and their children. In other words, his budget is designed to reduce current deficits at the expense of the working and unemployed middle and lower class income earners as well as retirees in the future, while dramatically increasing the wealth of the wealthiest.

There is an added benefit to Paul Ryan's plan for America's business community. The poorer American workers become and less services they can receive from the government, the more desperate these workers will be to take any job offered at the lowest wages with little to no benefits. That will radically improve profitability for the corporations and business owners in the long run. The Koch Bros. have their ducks in a row where their industry's future billions are concerned.

Unions are the voice protecting overtime pay, a 40 hour work week, paid vacations, paid sick leave, employer contributions to health care plans and retirement plans, in other words, those defining characteristics of a middle class work life and aspiration. Unions are the election period voice defending laws against child labor, indentured servitude, and perpetual indebtedness to Company stores (Truck System). Unions are the voice underwriting continuity in a great many of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's laws preventing discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, and religion. Unions are the deep pockets capable of standing toe to toe with the Koch Bros. and U.S. Chamber of Commerce to defend worker's rights and standard of living wages. It is therefore, absolutely clear why Republicans on the receiving end of Koch Bros. millions in campaign advertising contributions are intent on busting the pocketbooks of the Unions. 

On what principle can anyone believe that the middle class will be better off in the absence of collective bargaining unions as a political voice, countering the historically demonstrated exploitations of workers by employers? On what principle can it be said that the Wisconsin Public Service unions did not meet Republicans half way in conceding Gov. Walker's proposals on health care and pension contributions? The unions conceded his every demand as part of the deficit reduction proposal. It wasn't the Unions who were unwilling to negotiate and compromise. It was the Republican leadership that insisted on getting  everything Republican's Kock Bros. contributors wanted, and the Union workers get nothing they wanted.

When GM and Chrysler went under, who can honestly say the unions did not concede enormous gains in order to salvage the future of the corporations that employed them? Even if all union concessions were not voluntary, the unions did not strike GM or Chrysler, but compromised and conceded instead. Attempts to paint the Unions as the bad guys in all this, is just factually wrong and false.

The Union's position of receiving more benefits than the states and municipalities can now afford, is a direct result of the combination of the Great Recession of the Bush years which both reduced state and municipal revenues by way of growing unemployment and increased demands for public assistance for those unemployed. Then add to these, Republican victories in 2010 like Gov. Walker's, won on lies or lies of omission to the voting public, which now conspire to force the middle classes to shoulder the burden of deficit reduction, while the corporations and wealthiest campaign contributors walk away with tax cuts and preferential treatment. These are the conditions that resulted in unions receiving more benefits than government can afford. And appropriately, the unions have demonstrated an open willingness to concede some of their past gains without a fight in order restore fiscal balance to their places of residence. By all principles of fairness, it is not the Unions that are the 'bad guy' players in all these current events. One need only look to the Koch Bros. and Freedom Works, and their puppet elected representatives to find the 'bad guys'. 

The Wall St. Corporate banks, the CountryWide Real Estate corporations, the Republican tax cuts to the wealthiest and deregulation of the last decade, along with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, a Republican sponsored law to overturn the long standing economy, worker, and investor class protection law called the Glass-Steagle Act, are primary players in bringing about the Great Recession that now has so many Americans unemployed and not paying taxes, and in need of public assistance to the point of creating deficits for federal, state, and local governments. No one was screaming about Union benefits before the Great Recession in 2006 and 2007, when states and local governments were in the black or within easy reach of being in the black with small increases in tax rates for the upper income earners (California excepted, of course).

If Republicans had been honest with the voting public about their war on the middle class working families in this country in 2010, they never would have been elected. Hence, the obvious necessity for the GOP to lie and raise as much money as possible to dominate the media with their lies, in order to get elected. What part of this political reality does any working class high school educated American not understand?  From claims of Death Panels to Obama's not being an American, Republican officials and supporters alike rode a wave of lies and misinformation to electoral victories in 2010. Their now revealed agenda is a clear case of the opposite of that wisdom, that the truth shall set you free. For Republicans, the truth about their contributor's agenda can easily become a political prison. Hence, the need for a billion dollars to campaign with to hold on to Republican victories in 2012 and increase them.  

However, I don't think for an instant, that rushing out to replace Republicans with Democrats in 2012 is necessarily going to rescue our nation's future from greedy political puppeteers behind the political curtains. Democrats are subject to the very same kinds of campaign finance pressures as Republicans are. By electing Democrats though, voters gain representatives who at least philosophically embrace the idea that the nation's economic health depends upon the well being of the working middle classes, as well as their corporate and wealthy employers. But, by electing Democrats, voters exchange one set of future busting problems with an entirely different set.

By electing Democrats, voters give even greater resolve to Republicans to lie, cheat, buy, or steal their way back into power. This is what the historical minority Party has to do since, their philosophy is not shared by the majority of voters, hence their historical record as the minority Party. It is truly amazing how quick Americans are to repeatedly trust Republicans in office, only to have their standard of living and future prosperity even further compromised.  

Second, Democrats will defer deficit and debt challenges in order to buy working class votes with increasing social and safety net benefits in demand today, even though they will contribute to bankrupt the country a decade from now. (Republicans are not immune from this attempt as their Donut Holed Rx Drug Medicare coverage law proved. But, Republicans don't make a habit of it.)

Third, Democrats have absolutely no sense of priority when it comes to spending cuts. Just look at Democrat's defense of National Public Radio funding. If Democrats cannot prioritize away Public Broadcasting System cuts today, to save our economic future 10 years from now, what can they possibly justify cutting if they regain budgetary power again? I listen to National Public Radio (funded in part, by the Public Broadcasting System) every time I get into my car to drive anywhere. No one appreciates the outstanding programming of PBS more than I, and my daughter who was raised on PBS programming. But, if my daughter is to shoulder her own tax burdens in her working life, instead of both her own and mine, funding for PBS has to end. Its a simple matter of defining wants and needs. Something Democrats seem incapable of doing when given any choice in the matter.

So, what is a voter to do? If I were a Republican, I would write my Republican representatives and tell them "I am a Republican no more". If I were a Democrat, I would write my Democratic representative and tell them "I am a Democrat no more." I would end my note with the declaration that I have joined the ranks of the Independent voters, and my vote will go to whatever candidate, regardless of party, who demonstrates an appreciation for dealing with the challenges of the present and future at the same time, salvaging both together. There is a way through these challenges that manages and preserves the blessings of middle class quality of life both in the present and future. But, that path requires a dedication to solutions based on needed priorities instead of political priorities, and a faith in the voting public that they will reward candidates on this path.

I am in independent voter, and my vote is up for grabs by the candidate with the highest bid to protect the public's interests today, and our son's and daughter's interests tomorrow. Let the bidding begin. I won't vote for liars like Newt Gingrich who says patriotic duty and love of country are what made him cheat on his cancer fighting wife. Such a basket case can justify any action for any purpose.

And I won't vote for candidates who see the future and present as mutual enemies when it comes to fiscal responsibility and management. If push comes to shove, and I can find no candidate winning my vote's confidence, I will vote against whomever is currently in office. The rationale is that I cannot approve of the results our government while they have been in office. For this reason, I am a dues paying member of Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy. A legacy of leaving challenges unresolved is not a sign of an effective or competent politician.

In general, Republicans are willing to lie to me to win the money backing of corporate and wealthy interests. There are exceptions. One Wisconsin Republican Senator campaigned on not busting unions and actually voted against Gov. Walker's legislation yesterday. He will no doubt feel enormous pressure and retaliation by his own Party for that vote. I am sorry I did not catch his name. In general, Democrats can't decide on who to alienate by spending cuts, and their desire to pander to all Americans with a wish, want, need, or desire, makes them extremely dangerous to my daughter's future as a working American over the next 70 years or so. But, there are exceptions. Erskine Bowles is one such Democrat, though he is not running for office in 2012, as far as I know.

I am prepared for the 2012 elections. Are you? Do you have a voting strategy that has at least a hope of electing someone who is honest, and with a driving and demonstrated desire to solve the national, state, and local challenges facing all Americans, both today and tomorrow? If not, you are welcome to borrow mine, no charge.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on March 11, 2011 1:59 PM.

Deficit: Fix It ? was the previous entry in this blog.

No Nukes is the next entry in this blog.

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