Posts tagged: politics
We’re one week away from a massive cut in federal spending — cuts that will hurt millions of lower-income Americans who’ll lose nutrition assistance, housing, and money for their schools, among other things; that will furlough or lay off millions of government employees, reduce inspections of the…
Indeed, “Why not limit the mortgage interest deduction to $25,000 a year, so the rest of us don’t have to subsidize mansion mortgages?”
It’s interesting to think that the Clean Air Act has made such a huge difference, and yet it is now taken for granted by most Americans.
The “fiscal cliff” is a a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.
If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:
The child poverty cliff.
Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of American school-age children living in poor households grew from 17 to 21%. Last year, according to the Agriculture Department, nearly 1 in 4 young children lived in a family that had difficulty affording sufficient food at some point in the year.
Yet federal programs to help children and lower-income families – food stamps, aid for poor school districts, Pell grants, child health care, child nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and Medicaid – are being targeted by the Republican right. Over 60 percent of the cuts in the GOP’s most recent budget came out of these programs.
Even if these programs are preserved, they don’t go nearly far enough. But the Obama Administration doesn’t talk about reducing poverty in America. It talks only about preserving the middle class.
Yet unless we focus on better schools, better health, and improved conditions for these poor kids and their families, in a few years America will have a significant population of under-educated and desperate adults.
The baby-boomer healthcare cliff.
Healthcare costs are already 18% of GDP. Between now and 2030, when 76 million boomers join the ranks of the elderly, those costs will soar. This is the principal reason why the federal budget deficit is projected to grow.
The Affordable Care Act offers a start but it isn’t nearly adequate to limit these rising costs. The President and the Democrats have to lead the way in using Medicare and Medicaid’s bargaining power over providers to get lower costs and to move from a fee-for-service system to a fee-for-healthy outcomes system of healthcare.
But we can’t avoid the fact we have the most expensive and least effective system of health care in the world that’s spending 30 percent more on paperwork and administration than on keeping people healthy. The real healthcare cliff can only be avoided if we adopt a single-payer healthcare system.
The environmental cliff.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump another 2.6 percent this year according to scientists, putting the human race perilously close to the tipping point when ice caps irretrievably melt, sea-levels rise, and amount of available cropland in the world becomes dangerously small.
Yet Republicans (and their patrons, such as Charles and David Koch) continue to deny climate change. And the Administration is no longer pushing for a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax.
Yet unless we act to reduce carbon emissions, other major emitters won’t do so. The only binding pact so far is the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. never joined. And we’re taking no leadership at the international climate talks now taking place in Qatar.
Yes, America does face a cliff — not a fiscal cliff but a set of precipices we’ll tumble over because the GOP’s obsession over government’s size and spending has obscured them. And Democrats so far haven’t been able or willing to sound the real alarms.
[…] If you can name an issue, you can own the issue. And we must stop letting Republicans name themselves “pro-life” and Democrats as “pro-choice.” It is a huge distortion.
In my world, you don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare, that was used recently in a Colorado theater. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet. You don’t get to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose programs like Head Start that provide basic education, health and nutrition for the most disadvantaged children. You can call yourself a “pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative.” I will never refer to someone who pickets Planned Parenthood but lobbies against common-sense gun laws as “pro-life.”
"Pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative" seems to accurately describe most Republican policy statements. If only media would describe it that way.
Josh Levy from Free Press sez, “My colleague Tim Karr just released a report exposing the billions spent on political ads around the country — and how that money is pocketed by local TV stations. Are these stations offering any local news coverage to debunk the lies in these ads? Are they exposing the deep-pocketed interests behind the groups buying ad time? The short answer is: No. The local stations we looked at in the report provided no local stories exposing the special interests behind these ads, and only one station among the 20 surveyed devoted even a few minutes to investigating whether these ads told viewers the truth.”
“If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down,” Hanauer says. “This idea is an article of faith for Republicans, is seldom challenged by Democrats, and has indeed shaped much of the economic landscape. But sometimes the ideas we’re certain are true are dead wrong.”
Republican-speak: Ah, that chocolate cake is so moist and job-creator!