How About Some Straight Talk For A Change

September 28, 2009

There is nothing more disappointing about liberals than their historic unwillingness to fight back when the right wing uses every trick in the book to gain political advantage and despoil legitimate policy reforms. President Obama pledged to “call out ” those Republicans who indeed did lie, but so far neither he nor his surrogates have had the desire to fight back- not with partisan invective but just the facts.

So here is my modest attempt to help the much too kind liberals, “call out” the far right and set the record straight on an ever growing list of misstatements, commonly called lies.

Death panels are a fiction of the Republican naysayers who claim that the government is intent on speeding the demise of grandma and grandpa; in reality death panels are groups of insurance company executives sitting around a table in corporate headquarters going over the claims of a patient who is in serious trouble or may in the future be in serious trouble, and then denying them coverage. That is a death panel.

Socialism is an economic system in which the government takes over most, if not all, of the major economic assets of the country, provides cradle to grave personal security programs and supports high taxes in order to pay for these generous benefits. Temporarily helping banks and car companies get out of hock with government intervention, providing a public OPTION in health care to those without health care and providing modest tax CUTS to the middle class is not socialism, it is just plain and simple crisis management to help a country avoid another Great Depression.

Deficit Spending and National Debt have become the rallying cries of the right. But you’ll never guess who created mountains and mountains of deficits and debts over the last 30 years; it was the Republicans from Reagan to Bush to Bush. Just in case memories are short, the only surplus to occur in the national budget was in the final years of the Clinton administration. Everyone of these fiscal conservative presidents jacked up the deficits and took this country further and further into national debt. Now all of a sudden when it suits their fancy, the right is concerned about deficits and debts. Just remember, they are the experts on how to get this country into a financial sinkhole.

Tax increase fear mongering has always been the ace in the hole for the right. Give them credit, the Republicans have been masters at scaring the beejesus out of Americans on taxes. Of course, the Republicans conveniently fail to mention that cutting taxes is really about helping the rich and that during their time in power wages and personal wealth for the middle class flatlined. When the right is faced with taxes on the rich, they shout out “class warfare,” but when they stick it to the middle class, it’s all about helping the economy grow at some distant and unnamed future date.

When Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina yelled out ” You lie ” at the President, he was rightly admonished by the House of Reprentatives and even some embarrassed members of his own party. But Wilson’s outburst was just one sad episode of bad manners, while everyday the right bends the truth or simply lies to get back into the game. It’s time for liberals to call a lie what it is – a lie.


Short Memories

August 4, 2009

As Obama’s health care reform winds its way through the labyrinth that is the American governing system, the key issue framing the debate is not the well-being of our citizens, especially those who live on the edges, but the cost, and particularly the deficits and debts that any reform will likely create.

It is perplexing to note that the American public barely flinched when billions was spent on what most now agree was a needless invasion and occupation of Iraq. When this foreign policy fiasco comes to end it will probably cost the taxpayers of this country well over a trillion dollars ( some say $ 3 trillion) and more importantly the lives of over 4600 brave American men and women.

Just as perplexing is the fact that the Bush administration left the incoming president with a $ 1.3 trillion deficit, largely the result of the war along with some accounting tricks that kept the real cost of the war off the budget books. Americans it seemed were content to shoulder the cost of the war by hiding behind their support for the troops.

Now that the Great Recession has hit, Americans have become born again fiscal conservatives, ever conscious of deficits and debts, even though the Obama health care plan seeks to keep people alive and financially secure rather than send our best and brightest to war.  Much of what you hear in Washington and now around the country is the cost of the plan, the implications for the yearly deficit and the long term national indebtedness.

Of course behind all this concern with costs and deficits and debts is taxes. Americans have bought into the no new taxes mantra that has been around for well over thirty years, and point with pride that during the Iraq war with all its expenses, they got a tax cut not a tax increase. Never mind that the Bush tax policy was a rich man’s bonanza and created yearly deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars, while ignoring valuable infrastructure of all shapes and sizes and leaving  helpless critical spending needs in education, the environment and certainly health care.

So the short hand conclusion that comes from all of this is that Americans are OK with foolish military spending on a foolish foreign war. But when it comes to the health of the nation, every penny has to be watched and the government must be put under the most intense scrutiny because they must be wasting our money.

It is good for a democracy to have citizens that are fiscal watchdogs who take an interest in where their money is being spent; its just that these fiscal watchdogs can’t have short memories and forget how we misspent trillions in Iraq and didn’t get much of anything in return.