Thursday, July 21, 2011

The People's Budget vs. The Plutocracy

The People's Budget vs. The Plutocracy

by John Atcheson

Increasingly, the debate in Washington about budgets and deficits is looking like little more than a kabuki dance, with each Party playing its part, and the press orchestrating the choreography to make it appear authentic.  The real issues and questions America faces are being ignored, while hypocrisy and duplicity take the stage.  This raises questions that are begging for answers.  Here’s a few worth considering.

How have the people been convinced that debt and deficits—medium and long-term problems to be sure – have suddenly become a short-term crisis?  Especially since every economist not employed by a right-wing think tank is practically screaming that austerity in the midst of a jobs crisis is a form of self-destructive economic insanity.

Why are we locked in a dance with disaster – a full-fledged economic disaster – over defaulting on our national debts?  At a minimum, a default would increase interest rates on everything, acting like a giant brake on our economy, and according to the CBO adding to our national deficit. Republicans claim to be playing this dangerous game of brinksmanship because the deficit poses a dire threat to our economy, yet their policies, their tactics, and a default will increase the deficit.  Can you say hypocrisy? 

How can Republicans get away with cynically posturing about the debt ceiling, after nearly unanimously voting for the Ryan bill, which requires raising the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars several times over the next decades?   For that matter, how in the hell can they have even a scrap of credibility on this issue when they ran up the vast majority of our debt.  Oh, and while we’re at it, why were Republicans silent on the debt for decades – indeed, Cheney famously said, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”  Apparently, deficits aren’t a problem until a Democrat assumes the Presidency.

Why are people blithely unaware of the dire implications and extreme hypocrisy  of the Ryan Budget?  This compilation of plutocratic pornography doesn't balance the budget until 2063 and runs up an astounding $62 trillion in additional debt in the meantime, mostly on giveaways to the uber-rich, paid for by cuts to programs that benefit working and middle class Americans.  The press reacted to this plutocratic wet dream by calling it “courageous.”

Why is a perfectly sound and popular solution to our budget crisis and our long-term debt ceiling being ignored?  The People's Budget eliminates the deficit by 2021, while protecting Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a variety of other social programs, using policies that the majority of Americans support.  Yet it is being virtually ignored by the Press and both Parties, while Ryan and the gang of six’s budgets get big play. Both of these budgetary absurdities actually cut taxes in the name of balancing the budget.  Huh?  Look, if the goal is simply to eviscerate government, then let’s have that debate, instead of trying to achieve it through a stealth attempt in response to a faux crisis.

Finally, how can deregulation and tax cuts for the rich be posited as a solution to the recent economic catastrophe, when these were the very policies that caused it?  Is the antidote for cyanide more cyanide?  We’ve tried this approach three times, first in the late 1800’s, next in the 1920’s, and more recently, over last thirty years. Each time it ended in disaster.  The first time resulted in the Panic of 1893 and the depression which followed it. The second caused the Great Depression of the 30’s. And our latest sojourn into rightwing madness resulted in the Great Recession.  That’s three times we tried conservative, laissez-faire policies featuring deregulation, low taxes for the rich and weak governments, and three of the biggest economic collapses in our history to show for it.  At what point do empirical facts trump rightwing talking points?

The answer to these questions is both sad and simple.  

Republicans have been running a 30-year scam to vilify government, glorify the private sector, distract the public with wedge issues, and take over the press, while Democrats have run like sissies from any hint of confrontation.

But Republicans have only been carrying their plutocratic overlords’ water.  Indeed, corporations have funded a coordinated takeover of the Republican Party,  the media, and the machinery of government.

This fact, ultimately, explains the answers to the questions above.

But there’s one question remaining. What is the source of Democratic complicity in this toboggan ride to national hell? Are they as cowardly as they seem, or are they simply playing their pre-appointed role in the whole sordid scheme. 

With every new pre-emptive compromise by Obama, with every weak-sister protest by Congressional Democrats – followed closely by capitulation – and with their collective silence on the People’s Budget, the answer to that question gets increasingly clearer by the day.

John Atcheson's writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, as well as in several wonk journals. He is currently at work on a fictional Trilogy that centers on climate change.  Atcheson's book reviews are featured on Email to:

Source URL:


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


No comments: