Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
With weeks remaining until the election, Republicans controlling the House and Senate will double down on their attempts to remain in power. Whether it’s another tax cut for the wealthy, or yet another continuing resolution which keeps the government open a little longer, the results will be the same.
Less tax revenue, more borrowing and increased federal debt. And less money for vital social programs, all part of their ongoing efforts to reduce our government to where it’s “small enough to drown in the bathtub.” While fiscal responsibility should always be a priority for Congress, Republicans are willing to use any means necessary to blow up the Federal budget as a pretext to their real goal; eliminating Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
And whenever they’ve had full control of Congress and the presidency, they’ve passed budget busting legislature like the 2001-2003 Bush tax cuts, the 2004 Medicare part D donut hole, and most recently last year’s tax cut which doesn't take full effect until after the mid-term elections.
The fact that the latter adds another $1.9 Trillion to the deficit, and their proposed tax cut 2.0 would increase the deficit by another $3.8 Trillion isn’t relevant to Congressional Republicans. What is relevant in the words of Grover Norquist is that they can; “... inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.”
While their take no prisoner’s attitude appeals to their supporters basest tribal instincts, ultimately it’s a distraction, one which allows Republicans to hide in plain sight the fact that they continue to “socialize the losses, and privatize the profits,” passing the risk for shady financial practices to the American people, setting the stage for another worldwide economic crisis.
With the Drumpf threatening more trade wars, and shutting down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall, the chances increase with every misstep. Meanwhile Republican leaders claim they have a plan to avert a government shutdown on September 30th, hoping to postpone that fight until after the midterm elections.
Having allowed our government to shut be down twice this year, once in January and again, briefly, in February and demonstrating a great reluctance to confront a President who thinks that government shutdowns are a “great political issue”, it remains to be seen how successful they will be.
One indication of just how clueless the Republican’s economic policies continue to be comes from an April 2011 letter to the Central Virginian. Where “Many of the world’s leading economists believe that this country cannot move forward on a psychological level when their government refuses to even admit culpability in the continued cover up of the greatest illegal transfer of wealth our nation and the world has ever witnessed.”
“Restoring trust is crucial to our economic recovery, and trust will not be restored until those responsible for the financial crash are held accountable.”
Since that didn’t happen, the political consequences of the 2008 financial collapse here and abroad were largely ignored. With Columbia economic historian Adam Tooze pointing out in his book, “Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World,” we are still living with the consequences of that crash.
The Fed’s decision to use taxpayers’ money to bail out the banks in 2009 and not the American people was intrinsically a political decision, one which has facilitated the upwards transfer of trillions of dollars of wealth from the middle class to the .1%
According to Tooze the Fed covertly provided close to five trillion dollars in liquidity and loan guarantees to non-American banks, along with roughly ten trillion dollars to foreign central banks through currency swaps. With an official at the New York Federal Reserve telling Tooze that it was like “a guardian angel was watching over us.” If the full scope of what the Fed was doing were known, there would have been a massive uproar.
Perhaps more accurate statement should be; this happened because our justice system has stopped punishing financial criminals, and has evolved into a protection racket — no matter who's in office or which party's in power.
Since 2003, the Justice Department has practiced a policy of deferred prosecution agreements, allowing companies to escape criminal convictions in exchange for promising not to engage in any further illegal activity, along with a nominal fine. Leading several federal judges to call it a “façade of enforcement,” a way to avoid the consequences of their illegal behavior because they are now “too big to prosecute.”
Actions which have fueled the resentment of people around the globe, an anger that was exploited in this country by plutocrats like the Koch brothers with their astroturfed Tea Party movement in 2009 and culminating with the Drumpf as the loudest voice in the room.
Tooze writes that “it is an open question whether the American political system will support even basic institutions of globalization, let alone any adventurous crisis fighting at a national or global level.”
Meanwhile, this administration and their G.O.P. cronies are busy hastening the next financial crisis along —doing everything possible to undermine our ability to deal with it. What often gets lost in most conversations about the Great Recession, is the magnitude of the damage that the 2008 financial contagion wreaked on democratic governments around the world.
According to Stanford University Business School Professor Anat Admati, the actions taken by our government and indeed governments around the world have contributed to a widespread breakdown and a lack of trust in any institution.” “What we witnessed here … is kind of ominous. It raised a lot of questions about who controls society ― corporations or the elected government.”
Nor is any coincidence that in the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in nationalistic and fascist rhetoric from political candidates and leaders around the world, particularly this administration. Or that the Republican’s messages have evolved from coded dog whistles straight into fear and conspiracy theories.
If we're going to have any chance of preserving what’s left of our democracy, now is the time to throw the Republicans out office. So get out there and cast your vote for Abigail Spanberger as your new 7th CD representative, and re-elect Tim Kaine as our Senator.
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