Witnessing the drama unfold as to whether the government will shut down or whether Congress will break the current gridlock is like watching clowns at a circus engaged in a water balloon fight.
Michele Bachmann actually said something useful in an interview I watched today on MSNBC. She pointed out that last week alone the government borrowed $99 billion just to pay its bills. I admit I haven’t had time to fact-check this __ certainly a smart thing to do when anything comes out of her mouth __ but whatever the exact figure is, it is very large and puts into perspective the current debate on how much to cut deficit spending.
The Tea Party claims its candidates were charged by those who elected them to cut $100 billion from current fiscal year spending. Somehow that has been reduced to $61 billion and now the debate is where the reductions should be made. Republicans have made it clear they are across the board for cutting anything which is beneficial to middle and working class citizens. I won’t bother even going into all of the programs they have demonized over the years and have on their hit list. Everyone already knows.
The point is that in the two weeks Congress has been bickering over the $61 billion, the country has borrowed three times that just to keep afloat. Let me add that in those two weeks $48 billion of that total borrowing was just interest, i. e. debt service on the debt.
Something is seriously wrong here.
And we know what it is: A bloated defense budget, two pointless wars, tax cuts to the rich, corporate welfare, bailouts for banks, tax loopholes for the wealthy, and incentivizing the destruction of our economic base, which includes everything from our disastrous trade and labor policies to subsidizing the export of whole industries, have made it impossible to balance the federal budget. Vast amounts of money are being spent for things that the public does not support and by any measure are contrary to the understood values and interests of the nation.
None of this comes up in any of the discussions I have been following. Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich have made the broader case for the huge imbalances that exist in society and in the economy, but what they have to say is being lost in the microscopic nitpicking over funding NPR, planned parenthood, Headstart, on and on.
The one thing that the Tea Party people have gotten right is that time is running out. The government is broke and quickly leading the entire country __ probably the world __ into the abyss of economic collapse.
So maybe it’s time for some serious discussion.
Isn’t it time to end the wars and bring the troops home?
Isn’t it time to walk away from our imperial fantasies and reduce our military?
Isn’t it time for the rich and mega-corporations to start paying their fair share?
Isn’t it time to reign in corporate power and their influence over our elected officials?
Isn’t it time for people to come first and government by the people to be reinstated?
Sometimes the devil is in the details and focusing on the tiniest minutiae is what needs to be done. Microscopes are great for looking at tics and bacteria. But they are pretty useless when it comes to finding a cow that is wandering over 300 acres of grassland. You can magnify a single bacteria a thousand times but it will not tell you that your entire herd is missing or that everything is dying on the farm.
The far right is certainly effective at getting the public stirred up about this or that. They know our hot buttons, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities. They know what pisses us off. They know how get us to focus on the details, at the expense of the big picture. Now there is way too much at stake to give in to these kinds of distractions. The devil is no longer in the details. It’s in the direction. It is time for our elected officials to seriously talk about and redress those things that have gotten this nation so far off track and heading in a direction which will ultimately be fatal to the America we know and love.