Friday, July 08, 2011

What's to Negotiate?

Bubblehead: Yes, I exaggerate. I would think most people reading “a defense budget hundreds of times bigger than any other on earth,” would recognize that as a gross exaggeration, similar to “I told you a million times…” Perhaps it would have been more obvious had I said a million times bigger, but I didn’t. In fact, as near as I can determine, no one actually knows what the defense budget is, and I mean no one at all, including those who supposedly specialize in such things. While it might not be hundreds of times bigger it is certainly, without exaggeration, the largest by far of any other. It is often said by different observers that it is larger than that all other nations combined. I believe it probably is. No one knows what it is because there seems little or no agreement as to what all should be included in the phrase “defense budget.” Does it, for example, include the Homeland Security budget? Does it include unfunded “wars?” Does it include each and every troop stationed all around the world for various purposes? How much of the FBI and CIA budgets is spent on defense? And you cannot really compare our defense budget to other nation’s defense budgets because they often lie about it, as we do. There is also, in my opinion, a real question of whether all the military stuff being built is really being built for defense or merely to keep the military/industrial/political complex running. Also, when they seemingly lose nine billion dollars, does that count for defense? Anyway, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that our “Defense Budget” is highly questionable, obscenely bloated, and could be substantially decreased with no loss of security at all.

As usual, I don’t understand what is going on. What is there to negotiate? We already borrowed and spent the money. We have to pay it back. It seems to me that should not be negotiable, unless, of course, you deliberately want to have us default for the first time in history on our debt, an act with consequences so grave as to be as yet unknown. Are we really negotiating as a third world country, having been raped by the World Bank, over not paying, or paying a reduced amount? The debt limit has been raised routinely for years, some nine times, I believe, just during the Bush administration. Never before has there been any negotiating over whether or not we would pay our bills. Is this what the so-called Tea Party “ideology” is all about, not paying our bills? Or is it really to destroy President Obama at all costs? If you are honorable and honest you pay your bills, period, as we always have. If, after paying them you later want to consider where the money will come from to do so, and argue endlessly about it, that is all well and good, but not paying
them is not an option and should not be used as a threat to the solvency of our nation. I believe that at least some of the motivation for refusing to raise the debt ceiling has to do with the Republican’s stated intention to make Obama a one term President. The more they can keep him from succeeding at anything the greater will be their chances of once again regaining the White House. Indeed, Bachmann has acknowledged that the more unemployment we have the more it will help her candidacy. Since Republicans have controlled the House they have not passed even one law that would help erase unemployment, and have in fact resisted doing anything to help. Frankly, I personally believe there is an element of racism involved. If Obama were not a Black President, a fact they cannot bear (and I’m sure will not admit), this kind of pressure would never have been so intense. Having failed so far to make him into a permanent Presidential Stepin Fetchit, they cannot believe he is actually resisting their outrageous demands for more tax breaks and corporate hand-outs.

This is not to say there is no “ideological” element at all involved in the Republican (and especially Tea Party) attempt to sabotage Obama. Clearly ideology is involved in their assault on Social Security. Republicans have tried to sabotage Social Security since FDR managed to pass it in the first place. Social Security has nothing to do with the national debt, it did not contribute to it, and has nothing to do with the fact that it has increased, except in a rather nefarious round-about way. That is, over the years Congress has borrowed some two trillion dollars from the Social Security Fund, and now they do not want to have to pay it back. In effect they have stolen two trillion or so from American taxpayers and want to welch on their debt. Similarly they cling to their pathological fear of socialism and absurd belief that privatization and the free market is the answer to all our problems. It is this silliness that keeps us from having health care we can actually afford and making millions go without it entirely. As they seem to be opposed to anything that might benefit either the poor or the middle class I can never decide whether they are truly stupid, merely ignorant, or basically just greedy and mean-spirited. I suspect you might find a mix.

I think Obama has made another mistake in his dealings with them over the debt ceiling. He should have said, no negotiations at all over raising the limit, if you want us to default go ahead and refuse to raise it. I’ll watch when the 54 million or so on Social Security recipients don’t get their checks. Good luck with that. But it is moments like this when he does seem to meekly enter into the Stepin Fetchit mold, giving in even when he doesn’t have to do so. When Republicans demand even outrageous concessions, instead of telling them to “piss off,” he tends to say “Yessah Boss.” Let’s hope he may finally have realized the futility of trying to appease the unappeasable and insists they grow up and act like adults.

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