The big story so far today is House Democrats' refusal yesterday to take up President Obama's tax deal with Republicans. While this is undoubtedly a big story, it's not the only one and may not even be the biggest story coming out of Washington. It may come as a shock to some in the media, but there are two parties in Washington. While Democrats are refusing to accept what they believe is a bad deal, the other party -- known as "Republicans" or "the GOP" -- are refusing to accept anything, holding fast to a promise to stop everything in Washington until congress agrees to borrow an insane amount of money to give the wealthiest 2% in America a tax break.
The GOP argument is that these tax breaks are good for the economy. Look around you; that argument is obviously untrue. Those tax breaks exist now and the economy sucks -- it's like swearing that grizzly bear repellent works, while you're being torn apart by grizzlies. But tax cuts are Republican's snake oil; good for what ails you, from inflation to deflation, from unemployment to labor shortages, perfect for bad economies and good economies. The reason is simple -- they don't like social programs like Social Security and Medicare, so they want starve government of revenue to make these programs unaffordable. If GOP opposition to having the very wealthy pay their fair share demonstrates one thing, it's that GOP hair-tearing over deficits is a false panic. They want deficits. If you doubt me, look at what they want to cut: not taxes, but -- at the moment -- vague and unspecified spending. When they're talking about "spending," they really mean social programs and aid to states, since they've made it clear that one of the biggest contributor to the debt -- our bloated military -- is off-limits for cuts.
No, Republicans aren't worried about deficits, they're worried about very specific spending. Other than that, they really don't give a crap about anything. Certainly not you or me -- unless you're in that top 2% who are the only people they represent. For example, let's say you were a worker at Ground Zero or a first responder to 9/11. You spent a lot of time breathing in toxic crap and now you're sick -- maybe even dying. The GOP doesn't give a crap about you.
And they proved it.
[New York Times:]
Republican senators blocked Democratic legislation on Thursday that sought to provide medical care to rescue workers and others who became ill as a result of breathing in toxic fumes, dust and smoke at the site of the World Trade Center attack in 2001.
The 9/11 health bill, a version of which was approved by the House of Representatives in September, was among several initiatives that Senate Democrats had hoped to approve before the close of the 111th Congress. Supporters believe this was their last real opportunity to have the bill passed.
Republicans held firm to their promise to pass nothing until the rich got their tax cut and if that means that 9/11 workers have to suffer needlessly, then suck it heroes. Fire the filibuster cannon! "The attacks of 9/11 were attacks on America," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in response to the obstructionism, "and we have a collective responsibility to care for the heroes, from all 50 states, who answered the call of duty, saved lives and helped our nation recover."
Apparently, that responsibility extends only to 98% of Americans, as far as the GOP is concerned. If you're rich, you're off the hook -- and far more important. While beating a populist drum, the Republicans have never made it clearer that they're the party of an American aristocracy. "The politics of this really are astounding," writes Steve Benen. "For all of the Republicans' professed concern for Ground Zero and reverence for the attacks of 9/11, when it comes time to help thousands of 9/11 heroes who need medical care, Republicans not only oppose the bill, they're so offended by it that they won't even let the Senate give it an up-or-down vote."
At this point, it should be clear to anyone that Republicans are fundamentally unserious about anything other than tax cuts for the wealthy. If you aren't in that top 2% and you still believe Republicans have your best interests in mind, then I don't know what to tell you. Get help, I guess. You're having some sort of cerebral event or you have a habit of putting whiskey on your corn flakes or something. Whatever the cause, it's clear you have a very serious problem on your hands.
Still not convinced? The GOP also blocked the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" yesterday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants it repealed, the Pentagon wants it repealed, a majority of Americans want it repealed, and a recent, congressionally-mandated study shows that, yeah, it ought to be repealed. Never mind all that, it will not be repealed, because those rich folks haven't gotten their tax cut yet. That's the only thing that's important. Those deficit-ballooning top-end tax cuts.
We aren't too broke to pay unemployment benefits yet, but we're getting there. All it takes is just a little more deliberate fiscal irresponsibility. Don't worry America, Republicans are on the job. They'll bankrupt this country yet.
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