I had decided to stop paying attention to the Republican’s culturally-punitive, draconian, and penny wise/pound foolish budget cuts, trusting that the Senate would create a better proposal and, if not, the President would veto stupidity run amok. Now, however, I’ve decided that may not be wise, since all of Congress (which includes the Senate…), as well as the Chief Executive, appear to have their own agendas and none appear to have the American public’s best interest at heart.
Let me first address the Budget conundrum: the federal government has been spending money like the proverbial drunken sailor for many years now. Some of the things money was spent on – like enhanced prescription coverage for those on Medicare – were deserving, sensible. Other things, like unproductive wars, were not. It’s fair to blame the Republicans for a lot of this, but the Democrats, who can’t seem to agree on a lunch menu, let alone a party policy, have done their fair share to contribute to the mess.
At this point, assessing blame is beside the point; we’re in a pickle and there’s no denying it. Both the national debt (money the government has borrowed from other countries) and the national deficit (the difference between what the government spends and what it takes in) are both enormous and genuinely threaten the nation’s functioning. The question is: how should our leaders address these very real financial problems without endangering the welfare of the nation?
Keep in mind that more than 75% of federal funds go to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – what the Republicans like to refer to as “the entitlement programs,” because in their hearts of no-heart, they don’t believe anyone is entitled to anything. Every sane person knows these three programs are vital to the day-to-day survival and health of millions of Americans. However, it is also well known that the administration of these programs is deeply flawed and rampant with fraud, waste and mismanagement. Also keep in mind that the government has depleted its income, its revenue, by not taxing the richest 2% of the population in a manner proportionate to their incomes.
Common sense would seem to indicate that the way to resolve our financial dilemma would be to overhaul the three vital social service programs and increase taxes on the richest Americans. (Finally legalizing marijuana would also make a lot of social and financial good sense...) Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, Congressional Republican representatives don’t see it that way. They want to (so far) avoid the infamous “third rail” of government spending (“the entitlements”), as well as refuse to raise taxes on the rich. Instead, they’ve aimed their cutting shears at programs within the 20% of government spending that remains. And they are using this opportunity – in the name of fiscal responsibility – to attack funding for things they’ve long disapproved of, particularly in the areas of women’s rights and education (which includes public broadcasting).
An editorial in today’s New York Times, “Waging War On Women,” does an excellent job of summarizing all the ways in which Republicans want to try to balance the budget on the backs of women and children – particularly poor women and children. This threat to funding for family planning, access to abortion (which is still legal in the USA, not so's you'd notice) and nutrition is very real and just another reminder of how much Conservatives hate the poor and fear independent women.
In addition, a post by PBS President, Paula Kerger, that appeared on The Huffington Post this week, details the educational importance of public broadcasting. The Republicans want to cut all funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which they have long believed is a tool of the Radical Left. Keep in mind that PBS’ NewsHour is the most respected, most trusted, and most watched evening news program in America; countless polls have shown this. Also remember that PBS offers cultural programming that is unparalleled anywhere else on television.
The Republicans also want to kill another of their pet bogeymen: The National Endowment for the Arts (another left wing tool, of course). The elimination of the CPB and NEA would kill public broadcasting and other national arts funding. As if we weren’t already an ignorant, boorish nation.
Indeed, all of the Republican budget targets aim to diminish health, personal freedom, education, cultural development, environmental and energy initiatives, foreign aid, and anything else that contributes to quality of life, personal growth, national stability, and international leadership.
I beg you to read the two pieces I’ve linked, to check out just what Congress has sent (and is still yet to send) to the Senate, and contact your senators, as well as the President, and let them know this is not in the best interest of the country and not what you want as a civilized, voting, American citizen.
I know things are falling apart worldwide and the end is relatively nigh, but do we have to end in social darkness and misery and pain? Let’s all of us, please, do what we can to prevent this. It's time to get angry!