It now looks as though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is on board to raise the debt ceiling but that the Republican House really might allow the country to go into default, with devastating consequences to rich and poor alike. I assume not, but they insist they will not accept the McConnell proposal.
However the immediate crisis is resolved, the Republicans refuse to work with the President to tackle our long-term problems if that would mean anyone – even billionaires – having to pay anything to tackle our long-term problems.
Their solution was the Paul Ryan budget: turn Medicare over to private insurance companies and let seniors pay an extra $6,000 a year for coverage, which is not a tax increase on tens of millions of seniors, just the free market working its magic. (See the difference?)
It seems incredible that the Republicans refuse even to have the hedge fund manager who makes $100 million pay at the same marginal tax rate as his receptionist, but they really, really, really publicly state that this is a deal breaker – on the grounds that the hedge fund manager is a job creator.
The wealthy are job creators. They must not be taxed as they were under Clinton, when 23 million new jobs were created. They must be taxed as they were under Bush, and as they still are, when no new jobs were created at all.
Or maybe the notion is that, in the case of hedge fund managers, they will create jobs as they commission the construction of new yachts. But the first problem is that those jobs will be in Turkey. And the second problem is that what this country needs is not more yachts but infrastructural change that would lead to, for example, energy independence.
It is that kind of big goal that we need – energy independence! – and that will require a couple of decades of emphasis on publicly funded private construction (when was the last time a billionaire built or repaired a bridge? other than across his koi pond?) – which means more public spending (via your tax payments) and somewhat less private spending (via your MasterCard).
So, no, because of higher taxes you may not get to build the new yacht after all (sorry, Turkey). But, as a consolation, your country and your children get to have a future.
And people seem to be getting it. That maybe the best-off, especially, should be chipping in at a time of national crisis. That maybe the Republican approach of obstructing everything is not constructive.
In that context – the context of people ‘getting it’ – there’s this encouraging report from Jim Messina, who chairs the President’s reelection campaign. Look how many people have signed up. Look how many people have given $83 million, at an average of $69 each.
It’s going to be hard, but we just may be able to ‘win the future’ despite the truly astonishing Republican efforts to block absolutely anything the President wants to do – including ideas they themselves proposed once the President accepts them (like the bipartisan deficit reduction committee).
For all the wealth of the Koch brothers and of the corporate contributions that the Supreme Court has decided should be unchecked – and that it has decreed may remain secret* – for all that, and for all the zeal of pastors who consider Oprah an agent of Satan, and of well-meaning Tea Partyers who are angry and frightened and have bought the government-is-the-problem line (‘and it better keep its hands the hell off my Medicare!’) and who believe Iraq attacked us on 9/11 – for all that, we just might still win. And continue to make progress, albeit a lot slower than we’d like, toward investing in a brighter, fairer future. Watch Jim Messina’s brief video and be cheered.
*masquerading as ‘Citizens for Gun Safety’ even if it were funded by gun makers determined to allow concealed weapons in saloons . . . or ‘Citizens for Healthy Children’ even if it were funded to elect Republicans who voted repeatedly against health coverage for children.