Thursday, December 22, 2005

How apropos - the Grinch breaks tie, steals Christmas

Interesting that Darth Cheney made it back to DC just in time to save Christmas for the rich, on the backs of the poorest Americans:

"The vice president votes in the affirmative," Cheney said from his seat on the Senate dais, having returned early from an overseas trip to cast his tie-breaking vote.

Is wishing Cheney an eternity in Hell not befitting the so-called Christmas spirit? Oh, well. There goes my giving mood...well, not really. I always try to get people the gifts they most need and deserve. This is no exception.

Said legislature, the "Return to Dickens' Era" bill, sets the stage for 2006's planned implementation of 70 Billion in tax cuts for the wealthy.

Forget ideology for a moment, and focus on practicalities as well as economics. The country historically does best economically as a nation with a strong, thriving middle class. You saw it under Clinton, Kennedy and FDR. On the flip side, during every Republican administration, our economy is characterized either by huge deficits, recessions, or both.

And yet every time a Republican become president, we try the same outmoded, failed supply side model. Every time. Since, well...Hoover. And we all know how great he did.

While Republicans point to a 4.1 percent increase in economic growth, they do so with a blind eye towards the fact that any economy built on borrowed billions from Asia is fragile in the extreme. It's illegitimate growth. Monopoly money masquerading as legitimate increases, where even a 40 percent growth rate would still spell diminishment.

Also forgotten? Said increase doesn't reflect the cost of what it took to get there: a few more million people without health care and jobs. Unfortunately (fortunately?) the unemployment rate stopped reflecting most of them awhile ago. Once your time for benefits runs out, so does your slot on the official unemployment numbers.

Oh, and it's unprecedented - even in the worst of administrations - to cut taxes during a time of war. Good reason for that - the cost of war needs to be funded somehow. Those crazy former administrations always thought funding the war should be done at home, rather than with foreign borrowed money.

But nevermind all that. Let's instead pass more tax cuts for the wealthy and ignore history.

The legislation, the product of a year's labor for the Republicans, would affect Medicare, Medicaid, student loans and other programs.

Home health care payments under Medicare would be frozen at current levels for a year, and Medicaid would be altered to make it harder for low-income elderly to qualify for federal nursing home benefits by turning assets over to their children.

The student loan program would be targeted for $12.6 billion in savings over five years, much of it from a change that would peg loans to a fixed interest rate. Business would be required to contribute $3.6 billion to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that protects certain pension plans.

As was the case with ANWR, the vote closely followed party lines.

Five Republicans defected on the deficit-cutting votes, including Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Gordon Smith of Oregon and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Snowe, Chafee and DeWine face re-election next year. Also in opposition were all 44 Democrats and Sen. James Jeffords, the Vermont independent.

Look, maybe you're not political. Maybe you're just cold, despairing and trying to make a few bucks to buy some last minute cologne and a cheap DVD player for your jerky brother. What the government just did to you will mean that next year, or the year after, you won't have to worry about those gifts. Instead, you'll be focused on more important issues -- who to quickly marry in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

But, hey. Who follows politics? They're all crooks, right? Except those 45 who voted against harming the middle and poor classes. The ones who actually think getting a college education and medical care in old age are still things that should be available to working people.

I'm just crazy enough to believe that maybe they do care -- or atleast, vote as if they care - about the future for all Americans, not just the wealthiest one percent. And that we need more like them, immediately.

I'm also crazy enough to believe that if all of us don't start caring now, and doing something about it, in the not-so-distant future, Dickens era is going to appear quaint and sweet in comparison.
Sherwood Brown on your side?

Are you sure?

I've never met a pol or an aspiring pol that was on anyone's side but his own.
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