Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tension


[Most, maybe, but not all.]

I guess there'll always be tension between those who want to keep all their money and those willing to spend it on the future; politically speaking, I suppose that's as it should be. But there was never a more clear example, in my lingering lifetime, of the difficulty in figuring out where the balance is.

I didn't watch the SOTU address. Long since, I've tired of watching congresskind rise out of their seats and fall back like popping corn; and the message itself, while not unimportant, tends to be more about show than action. Still, reading about it after, I think the point is well-made: if we stop spending on what this country needs, we're screwed.

The President may have put it more delicately.

But there's the essential problem with teabaggerism and the Republican party it's come to dominate, policy-wise (using the word "policy" as loosely as can be done without dissolving its meaning like two lumps in hot tea): not to put too fine a point on it, but what they propose will kill us. I've said it before. It's happening already, in the land of tea-drinkers.

I don't like the amount of deficit spending we're doing, and I don't like the mounting debt. Who does? (Unlike Ms Bachmann and the teabaggers who consider her the second dipping, I recognize the origins in the Bush administration, and the need for Obama's efforts to stop the bleeding; nor do I attribute the parts of the deficit to BHO that belong on the tally-sheet of GWB.) But the simplistic and narrow approach of the Rs is simply untenable. Look around: state after state is on the verge of bankruptcy, cutting more and more essential services, leaving education in the ditches already clogged with the unemployed and uninsured. What a pyrrhic victory, were they to achieve budgetary balance at the expense of our future. The solution, long term, must include much more than cutting taxes and spending.

But it's easy, like Michele Bachmann does, to talk about burdening our children with debt, and to claim, as she does, that we're verging on being the last generation of liberty in this country. It's much harder to consider the burdens of living with no viable education system, roads, health care, cops. Which, to some degree or other in state after state, is happening all around us. You'd think it would give pause.

As I have in the past, I fault the hard left as well: mention raising the retirement age a year, incrementally, over the next ten years, and they won't hear of it. Indexing social security and medicare to financial need: the same. It's as reflexive as maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy and keeping defense spending off the table for the hard right. (At least, though, their concerns are about people in need. For teabaggers, it's about the me and now.)

We simply can't get there without some of both, and Obama said as much. Republicans? Call us when you agree with us 100%.

Sadly, solutions -- while obvious -- are a pipe dream. Other than President Obama, who's hardly free of double-speak himself, and a few lonely Democrats and maybe one or two Republicans, no politician is willing to say what's necessary, much less do it. Teabaggers continue to believe in magic, Fox "news" and the rest of the RWS™ continue to sell it to them, wrapped in fear and lies. For too many Democrats, it's simply impossible to separate those in dire need from those with no needs.

The SOTU highlighted the dilemma. The nonsensical response shut off the lights.


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