So that’s how it ends. As NBC News White House correspondent Chuck Todd told Chris Hayes last night, the “price” for keeping Congress from cutting its minimal support of Planned Parenthood, was to make further cuts in other programs so that different poor and/or elderly and/or sick people get hurt.
And, again, we are told this has to be done. The government “needs” to cut its spending during a recession. Just as we “needed” to continue huge tax breaks for the wealthy supported by people who claim to be dedicated to reducing the federal budget deficit. And the programs that “need” to be cut are the ones who aid the people who need the government’s help the most.
Scrooge could not have said it better.
Your blogger has decided to allow something other than today’s news to enter his cranium, lest he explode or otherwise injure himself. It may not be possible, though.
As it turns out, volume one of the vaunted Autobiography of Mark Twain, which Garrison Keillor decidedly did not like, but which your blogger enjoyed, ended with a 1906 letter from Helen Keller to Mr. Clemens (the author, not the steroid taking pitcher) thanking him for participating in an event in New York to raise funds to help the “adult blind” get useful employment.
The true message of New York is not the commercial ticking of busy telegraphs, but the mightier utterances of such gatherings as yours. Of late our periodicals have been filled with depressing revelations of great social evils. Querulous critics have pointed to every flaw in our civic structure. We have listened long enough to the pessimists. You once told me you were a pessimist, Mr. Clemens; but great men are usually mistaken about themselves. You are an optimist. If you were not, you would not preside at the meeting. For it is an answer to pessimism. It proclaims that the heart and the wisdom of a great city are devoted to the good of mankind, that in this the busiest city in the world no cry of distress goes up, but receives a compassionate and generous answer. Rejoice that the cause of the blind has been heard in New York; for the day after, it shall be heard round the world.
Yes, Mr. Clemens, the force of Miss Keller’s words will last a thousand years; at least one hundred years so far. But, alas, Mr. Clemens, these one hundred years later, compassion has become a dirty word.
As has rational thought.
And here is Secretary Reich’s further amplification on this point in his own blog:
All the while, [President Obama] and the Democratic leadership in Congress refuse to refute the Republicans’ big lie — that spending cuts will lead to more jobs. In fact, spending cuts now will lead to fewer jobs. They’ll slow down an already-anemic recovery. That will cause immense and unnecessary suffering for millions of Americans.
The President continues to legitimize the Republican claim that too much government spending caused the economy to tank, and that by cutting back spending we’ll get the economy going again.
… And he continues to draw the false analogy between a family’s budget and the national budget.
He is losing the war of ideas because he won’t tell the American public the truth: That we need more government spending now — not less — in order to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.
That we got into the Great Recession because Wall Street went bonkers and government failed to do its job at regulating financial markets. And that much of the current deficit comes from the necessary response to that financial crisis.
That the only ways to deal with the long-term budget problem is to demand that the rich pay their fair share of taxes, and to slow down soaring health-care costs.
And that, at a deeper level, the increasingly lopsided distribution of income and wealth has robbed the vast working middle class of the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going at full capacity.
President Obama remains, for many of us, a source of hope and inspiration. He is eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful, and well equipped for the tasks at hand. He has been dealt, unquestionably, a difficult hand, dealing with as low rent a Congress as can be remembered even for those with memories that stretch back to the mid 1960s. Indeed, if you did not vote last fall, or, worse, voted for a Republican, you really have no right to complain. You were warned what might happen and what happened was worse than what was imagined by most.
Still, when the President says that the agreement reached last night insured
a budget that invests in our future
beginning to live within our means is the only way to protect those investments that will help America compete for new jobs — investments in our kids’ education and student loans; in clean energy and life-saving medical research. We protected the investments we need to win the future
he knows better and is being generous to people who will not even think about reciprocating the gesture. They will, instead, tell their supporters that the President is a Muslim from Kenya who wants to impose a new socialism on them.
Even while hoping that this agreement was not reached to protect the high school class whose trip to D.C. the President oddly suggested last night was at least one factor, the landscape he faces, thanks at least in part to all those who stayed home last November, is not a good one. It is even more insane than the public it purports to represent, and just as racist. Moreover, our friends on this side of the political divide need to recognize that our views do not command even the hint of a majority in either house, nor, more than likely, in the rest of the country, as reflected in the opinions of the increasingly idiotic people with whom we live.
So this will go on and, as Secretary Reich says, the bullies will not be satisfied by concessions. Unhappy with the President as you may be, the only way out of this will be his re-election with coattails that restore Speaker Pelosi and somehow hold the Senate. In the meantime, teeth gritting will have to become fashionable.