Monday, June 6, 2011

The Age of Greed

"The shaky U.S. economy...is a major liability for President Barack Obama"? Senate Republicans spent 2009-2010 saying "no" to almost every piece of legislation, threatening filibusters by their 41 members. Then, in the last election, they blamed Obama for the state of the economy, even though the 2009 deficit was already projected to be $1 trillion before Obama even took office. Republicans have opposed any efforts to increase revenues, preferring instead to blame the high debt on spending on social programs.

And now, for their agreement to raise the debt ceiling, the House Republicans want to hold hostage any programs which assist the middle-class, poor, seniors, children, or the sick. They call these programs welfare. In addition to Social Security and Medicare, these programs include, as Representative Jim Jordan has listed, Medicaid, food stamps, Section 8 housing assistance, weatherization help for home owners, Pell grants to help students afford college, low-income home energy assistance, school breakfast for children from low-income families, the Job Corps training program for at-risk teens and young adults, Head Start for preschoolers, urban development block grants, and AmeriCorps.

Republicans have also refused to allow negotiation on drug prices for Medicare, preferring corporate welfare over cost containment, and preferring to see the debt rise higher to justify their agenda.

While the wealthy enjoy a 15% tax rate on income from capital gains and "qualified" dividends, middle-class workers are treated to a 25% tax rate on their labor, in addition to payroll taxes to fund unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security.

Continuing to blame the national debt and the huge deficits on Obama, on social spending, on government regulations and oversight and environmental policies, on high taxes on the wealthy and other "job creators," and on mythical freeloaders of a welfare state, is the Republican plan to win the 2012 elections. Theirs is the politics of Ayn Rand, where selfishness is king and social responsibility is anathema. Welcome to the age of greed.

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