Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tea Party Tories vs. Republican Pragmatists

The Plain Dealer carries a Washington Post article that briefly mentions one of the most despicable acts I've ever seen by the U.S. House of Representatives:
The Republican-controlled House voted Tuesday night to slice federal spending by $6 trillion and require a constitutional balanced budget amendment to be sent to the states in exchange for averting a threatened Aug. 2 government default.

The 234-190 vote marked the power of deeply conservative first-term Republicans...

In Washington, there are very few Republican pragmatists left. Over the years, I have often disagreed with Republican pragmatists, but—this has to be said bluntly—at least they're not nuts like the tea party Tories. Of course, there are different kinds of Republican pragmatists. Some are moderates, some are conservative. But they're not totally nuts.

There were conservative pragmatists during the Reagan era who listened to the conservative radicals of the era but refused to throw millions of poor and middle class Americans under the bus. The conservative pragmatists did damage but at least the damage was limited.

There were moderate Republican pragmatists during the 1960s. Some of them were courageous. Despite putting rules in place for this and limitations on that, they helped pass important legislation of the era that ultimately benefited a large majority of Americans.

For those of us who were paying attention, there were certainly radical conservatives in the 1960s who were totally nuts. Some followed an angry George Wallace. Some were members of the ridiculous and much caricatured John Birch Society (I have previously written how John Birch members would hand out dimes on Halloween along with right wing leaflets for children to give their parents).

To repeat the above, on July 19th, 2011, the nuttiness of the tea party Tories manifested itself in a vote in the House to cut the US budget by $6,000,000,000,000. Pardon the zeroes, but to simplify, and repeat once more, that's $6 trillion dollars 'trimmed' from the US budget. Right wing Republicans in recent years have found all kinds of cute ways to make something unreasonable sound just fine. Cutting $6 trillion is not fine. There are two issues here. The first one, which is actually the more critical issue in the long run, is that such a budget cut would increase the power of the super wealthy and decrease the power and well being of everyone else. It would continue the erosion of democracy that we have seen in the last ten years.

The second issue is the one that hits home if voters bother to think about it. Cutting the budget that severely means putting a lot of people out of work.

If you don't have money for teachers, you put a lot of teachers out of work.

If you don't have money for law enforcement, you put a lot of police officers, agents and investigators out of work.

If you don't have money for fire trucks and overtime during fire season, that's a lot of fire fighters out of work and lot of property destruction.

If you don't have money for highways, you put a lot of highway workers out of work and you pay a lot of money and repairs for tires and vehicles.

If you don't have money for research, you put scientists and engineers out of work who are needed to make the US competitive.

If you cut down the number of people in the military, you put tens of thousands of soldiers on the street without a job because the budget for helping them get the necessary education, health care and housing is too pitiful to do them much good, since all of the above people would also be out of work.

Since early 2007, when Bush was still president and failing to mind the store as banks and financiers ran amuck, most Americans have experienced economic troubles that our country has not experienced since the 1930s. Those troubles will continue if Republicans keep cutting jobs at the state and federal level. Private industry cannot absorb the number of people who would be out of work if the tea party Tories at the state and national level continue to have their way.

In the end, the tea party folks are phonies. They have far more in common with Kenneth Lay, Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump than they do with average Americans. The tea party folks don't care about you and I. They care about the wealthy, the privileged, and the well-connected. Real American patriots in 1776 were fighting against the rigged and gamed system that the British Tories were pulling on Americans with the substantial help of George III. A rigged and gamed system is exactly what tea party Republicans want more of.

The Senate, with the help of the White House, appears to be leading the way to a less onerous bill (with a crucial nod from some pragmatic Republicans), though that bill is not likely to help us move forward through what is likely to be a difficult period in the next few years. But it is preferable to the bill tea party radicals want to pass. 'Preferable,' but largely useless in terms of what our country needs.

In the end, thanks to the tantrums of the tea party radicals, we're in trouble. There is no way for our economy to continue to move forward without serious attention to our infrastructure and considerable reform of business as usual.

Tea party folks are business as usual Republicans. They make noise, but at the end of the day, they shovel billions into the pockets of those who need it the least and those who continue to ship American jobs to other countries such as China. We cannot solve our economic future by leaving it to corporations that make useless toys, finance costly scams, or treat Americans as easily manipulated cash cows, while leaving millions of people out of work.

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