By Ralph Nader / Nader.org
Raising the federal debt limit over the years has secured unconditional routine Congressional passage and was endorsed by presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. After all, it allows the U.S. Treasury to pay past and existing bills, not expand future spending.
Routine, that is, until the recent arrival of the mad-dog Republicans with their monetized brains indentured to the war-making military industrial complex and Wall Street speculators gambling with other people’s savings.
It wouldn’t have mattered if the Democrats campaigned in 2022 as did vigorous New Deal Democrats instead of campaigning like willing servants of corporate cash and political/media consultants conflicted with their corporate clients. Imagine, in New York, a state controlled by a Democratic Governor and Democratic state legislature, Republicans won four U.S. House seats previously held by the blundering Democrats. The GOP could have been vanquished. (See, winningamerica.net).
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Instead, the GOP squeaked through with a tiny majority to take over the U.S. House and let some 30 off-the-wall “crazies” turn the screws on their Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He hails from impoverished and neglected Bakersfield, California.
Fearing the crazies might dislodge him, McCarthy has accepted many of their cruel budget cuts as a condition of lifting the debt limit. Failing to raise the debt limit will result in an unprecedented default by the U.S. Treasury sometime in the early summer. Taken together, the GOP cuts represent a congealed and vicious assault against defenseless Americans. Of course, the avaricious plutocrats, with their hands deep in Uncle Sam’s pockets, have been shielded from any financial pain by the demands of these ruthless Republicans.
Congressional history has rarely witnessed such a corrupt, cruel and explicit drive to turn the delegated sovereignty of the people against the citizenry.
The Republican-demanded cuts totally exclude the vast, bloated military budget, which amounts to over half of the entire federal government’s operational budget, and don’t reduce the huge corporate welfare giveaways and bailouts. Republicans leave intact the huge gaping tax escapes for super-wealthy individuals and giant corporations. The latter bonanza implicitly rejects Biden’s revenue producing proposals to eliminate some of Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for the very rich like Trump’s family.
A partial litany of the latest heartless GOP horrors that will result from the budget cuts they are anticipated to propose include:
Reduced funding for nutrition programs for children; reduced Social Security benefits; increased processing delays from past GOP cuts in processing disability benefit decisions and retirement claims; cuts in Pell Grant award levels meant for about 6.6 million low-income college students; damage to federal child-care programs; and the potential elimination of some 170,000 Head Start program slots.
Fewer safety inspections of workplaces (by the already financially starved OSHA) fewer inspections of the railroads, and nursing homes. Tens of thousands of people could lose access to federally funded treatment for opioid addiction. Millions of people would not receive federal student loan forgiveness.
The GOP demands budget cuts to the health and safety agencies that protect the American people, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) air traffic control system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) programs for auto safety and the Federal Emergency Management’s (FEMA) emergency rescue programs.
The GOP message, camouflaged in attacks on the federal “bureaucracy,” is “hell for the people, but swell for the plutocracy.” Cutting the huge giveaways to the avaricious fat cats is off the table.
The first bill passed by the House GOP in January was to continue aiding and abetting giant tax evaders by repealing $80 billion over ten years that allows the budget starved IRS to go after the tax outlaws and promptly answer individuals’ phone calls.
Ironically, with all the verbal sparring between Republicans and Democrats, nary a peep has come from either party over the Federal Reserve’s trillions of dollars in printed money (called quantitative easing) to juice the stock market and subsidize the banks.
Even though the GOP is doing all this brazenly, mostly out in the open, the Democratic Party is unable or unwilling to use the powerful language and penetrating messaging essential to exposing the impact the GOP fangs will have on people where they live, work and raise their families. Imagine what FDR and Truman would have done.
The Democrats spend vast sums on television and radio ads with unmemorable self-anthems. They have the money to expose the GOP’s viciousness. What is the problem? Is campaign cash muzzling them? Could it be too many smug Party apparatchiks not being replaced with vigorous progressive strategists and communicators?
Are there too many safe gerrymandered seats, like those occupied by the GOP? Would more tough, young primary challengers change the debate? How about more animated, engaged voters? Could third-party competition wake up the slumbering politicians who refuse to listen to progressive citizen groups? Is there too much concentration of power within the House and Senate in just two so-called leaders? All of the above?
What’s your take readers?
There is another way for the Democrats to defeat the extortion effort by the GOP’s dangerous extremists who are playing hostage with American lives and livelihoods. Focus intensely on six or seven Republicans in the House who either are in Districts won by Biden or have expressed saner views on this gridlock. Focus also on those House Republican members who are retiring. All that Democrats need is a switch of six votes to get the increase in the debt limit approved, leaving the GOP to wallow in its unprecedented viciousness.
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, author, lecturer, and attorney noted for his involvement in consumer protection, environmentalism, and government reform causes. The son of Lebanese immigrants to the United States, Nader attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School.