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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US: not again « Previous | |Next »
April 8, 2011

History is repeating itself in the US as the US government is on the edge of shutdown once again. Remember Newt Gingrich, his Contract with America in 1994 and the government shutdown in 1995?

Currently, there is a spending fight between Republicans and the Obama administration over both budget cuts and disputes over policy issues like environmental regulations and abortion. The Republican House and the Democratic Senate cannot come to an agreement about how to fund federal operations for the next six months.

The current situation is that the Republicans want a cut in the federal deficit of $40bn. The Democrats made a compromise offer of $34.5bn on Wednesday. The new sticking points are mainly the areas where the Republicans want cuts – abortion programmes and environmental protection, on which the Democrats refuse to give way. Shutdown threatens and its not just political theatre.

The problem for the Republicans is that the Republican tea party members are not controlled by the Republican leadership and the former are quite hawkish: they are will push harder to get what they want and are probably willing to go in guns blazing threatening the functioning of the country to get what they want. They want a debt limit and they are prepared to put social issues on the front burner of future series of budget battles.

Ever since the Supreme Court affirmed women’s abortion rights, Congress has worked to chip away at them. Those efforts have largely been led by Republicans.

A deal was cut and shut down avoided. However, Republicans have signaled that they will again demand fundamental changes in policy on health care, the environment, abortion rights and more, as the price of their support for raising the debt ceiling.

The Republicans regularly trot out new members to offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget that are couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and the Republicans somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. As Matt Taibbi observes:

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.

This is a political game that gets played out in the media over and over again, and everyone in Washington knows how it works.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:19 PM |