Making my own rules here, so let me offer just a couple of political comments, even in view of my preference to leave the analysis to the many who do so on a regular basis.
On Wednesday the president threw his budgetary notions into the caldron, joining a fight that is likely to bring out the worst in our governmental structure. It will, you may be sure, be very nasty, indeed.
For those of us who actually watched his speech — not carried on most of the networks — he outlined a scheme to carry the nation toward some semblance of solvency, but did not, as I noted to a friend, advocate gutting Social Security or Medicare. His approach is a thoughtful consensus on modifications, which is hardly akin to pulling the plug. Rather, he said he is targeting the wealthy for far heavier contributions; i.e., increased revenues through higher taxes, specifically those in the renowned upper two percent. Turns out that taxes on that group, as well as on American corporations, are the lowest of any developed industrial nation in the world, despite the complaints of their client, the Republican party.
That is a gutsy move when you think about it, given that corporations are now free (thanks to the conservative Supreme Court) to lobby as actively as they please in the coming elections.
So does he mean it? Is there an even chance that he will hold to his position, especially in the face of the shrill criticism that is sure to come? That he knows is sure to come? I hope so. But this is what I admire about the man. He sincerely believes in the country he was chosen to lead, quite apart from seeing himself as the vassal of the privileged, which sadly defines his predecessor.
Some analysts over the past couple of days have argued that there is little effective difference between the administration’s approach and that of the Republican-driven House. Yet Obama’s call for higher taxes for the rich is a jaw-dropper that will gain added resonance as people cut checks for their own returns this weekend, especially with the recently gained knowledge of corporations that pay relatively little in comparison.
In his speech, the president invoked the word “fairness” several times, a word or concept that rarely appears in the lexicon of his opponents and naysayers. Hopefully, the word “justice” gets even more play in the months ahead.
One of the comments that surfaced during the waning years of the Bush administration suggested that concern for government finances was over-wrought, asserting that deficits were simply a part of how the world works. In those days politicians gained no traction whatever by raising the matter as a campaign issue. So nobody talked about it, I would guess, because national money was casually equated to breakfast table fare. Where, you might — and should — ask was the panic in, say, 2006, even as a billion dollars a month were being dumped into Baghdad with the gleeful approval of both parties?
So now, with the credit cards completely maxed out and a new guy to blame, the hue and cry are raised and a gold-plated political issue is born. If it wasn’t so serious, you’d fall down laughing. And shades of Reagan-esq drip-down economics and the Laffer curve, the Republican party brilliantly advocates tax cuts for all and the elimination of life-saving social programs, which they fiercely resent having to help pay for. (This is why I stay away from political discussions. Ya gotta be crazy.)
And what to do? You’re asking me? I really don’t know. It would certainly help if we could get talented people involved who were not joined at the hip with Tea party morons, and again, if that word — justice — was present in discussions aimed toward a resolution.
In the meantime, we’re going to a Red Sox game this summer and we’ve already paid for the tickets with money drawn from our own supply. That’s based on a “pay-as-you-go” policy that came from the Bill Clinton days, who, as he generated press with one Monica Lewinsky, managed to create a budget surplus in his final three years in office.