I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of time criticising conservatives and their Republican veneer, who infest the halls of power. Many years ago, I spent two Presidential terms bemoaning the deplorable conduct of the authoritarian George W. Bush.
With two unnecessary, and unpaid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he dramatically increased the federal debt. Traditionally, during war-time, people are asked to sacrifice by donating their labor, their incomes and sometimes their lives in their duty to their country. These wars were different in many ways.
The soldiers fighting in these two countries were not drafted, they volunteered for service, often to get benefits like education, housing and medical. Many gave their lives in a fruitless exercise in foreign adventurism, two purposeless wars, neither of which were won in any traditional way.
Iraq is still wracked with violence, its government barely functional. The cost of the war is running over $800Bn to date.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban is anything but defeated, and in many areas is resurgent. We are due to leave Afghanistan in 2014, and the question we need to ask is, why did we spend $486Bn (to 2011, final cost estimate > $600Bn) on a war with no clear goals, with no decisive victory.
What did we accomplish other than to feed a bloated military machine, to fund corporations like Bechtel and Halliburton, to create mercenary groups like Blackwater, and naturally to hand oil contracts to large oil companies? In addition, more than a hundred thousand civilians died as a result of these wars, countless civilians are left without husbands, wives, parents, children, and vast numbers without limbs, ears or eyes.
This added at least $1.2Tn to the national debt, a debt not paid for in any way by the American people, and especially the wealthy, who only benefitted through their holdings in companies like Boeing, McDonnell Douglass, and ATK.
There were no tax increases to help pay the costs, no national draft, no volunteers working factories as there were in the Second World War. As far as the nation was concerned, there was no war, it was a distant form of entertainment, of which they soon tired.
President Obama had to take the courageous steps toward ending these two boondoggles, as well as the opprobrium for running up the debt. Republicans disingenuously blamed Obama for the two disastrous wars forced on his Presidency by the Bush/Cheney regime.
Instead of doing what he should have done, which naturally was not to go to war in the first place, but when he did, to pay for that war through tax increases, he introduced the Bush Tax Cuts. According to an editorial in the New York Times, the cost of the cuts to the Treasury between 2002 and 2009 was about $1.2Tn.
Together, the wars and the tax cuts cost the Treasury about $2.6Tn. When President Clinton left office, there was a surplus on the budget. That surplus vanished under George Bush, who spent the money faster than he could get it in.
The economy came close to economic collapse in 2008 with the toppling of Lehman Brothers, creating a world-wide calamity that threatened a global depression that may well have dwarfed that of the 1930’s. Consider that the economic displacement and social unrest created the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and dozens of other petty despots. There is no reason to believe that anything would be different were it to happen today.
This is how conservatives work, they create catastrophe and mayhem, handing money to the wealthy, destroying the Middle Classes, then hand the entire debacle to a Democrat, and find a way to blame him for the mess. They are incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions, once again demonstrating their ineptitude and incompetence when handed the reins of power.
The lack of leadership in the House of Representatives was clearly demonstrated to the nation, and to the world this last week with the negotiations over the fiscal cliff. Many Republicans were delighted that they would be forcing the nation to take on draconian spending cuts and tax increases at a time when the economy is still nervously recovering from George Bush’s disastrous term in office.
John Boehner, Republican Speaker of the House, appeared to be incapable of marshalling his forces in voting on the fiscal cliff deal. As it is, only a third of his caucus voted in favor of the tax deal. Reports emanating from the House indicate that there is almost no leadership by Boehner and his chaperon, Eric Cantor.
This Congress under Republicans leadership has shown itself incapable of doing work of any significance other than rename the occasional Post Office. Disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy is now stalled in the House, put off for another week, while Republicans decide whether to help their fellow Americans or not.
Chris Christie, ironically Republican Governor of New Jersey, was outraged at this blatant stab in the back of his state, in dire need of federal assistance after the hurricane. Whenever disasters happen in this country, Congress steps up and provides assistance, as it did after George Bushes disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orléans. This is the first time is a century that the House has refused to pass disaster assistance for one of its states.
The irony is that the North East provides vastly more in taxes than it receives in benefits, and they are always among the first states to volunteer assistance to other states. The disgraceful behaviour of this Republican Congress is just beyond belief. In their antipathy and hatred towards their own nation, they are throwing their own citizens to the wolves, leaving them to wallow in misery, while receiving a pay raise for themselves.
Despite their losses in the presidential, and senate races, and their loss of the majority vote in the house, they revel in the notion that they can bring this nation once more to the brink with the onset of the Debt Ceiling in a few weeks. They are convinced that they will receive billions in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, programs for the working people of this country.
Many Republicans have openly stated that they want to see Washington brought to its knees by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Their belief that perhaps a few lawns will not get cut, or teachers furloughed for short periods is all that will accompany a shut down of government shows their inability to comprehend the impact that their decision will have on employers, workers, and global markets.
These people are playing with the full faith and credit of the United States government, a move that could see the country’s debt downgraded, and borrowing costs rise, which would entail an increase in the national debt. People across the globe would be less willing to invest in the United States if they see political dysfunction.
That could have a dramatic influence on the countries balance of payments, on the economy, and ultimately on the workers of the country. But then, conservatives have little interest in the workers, or the poor, the elderly, the children or any vulnerable group. That is their defining ideology, the worship of the wealthy, the powerful, the authoritarians of history.
The budget negotiations are also in the offing, and appears to be another battle. Essential parts of the nation’s infrastructure is in peril, including education, infrastructure, and Obamacare which kicks in next year. This Republican Congress creates an unnecessary crisis every few weeks or months with tiresome regularity.
These Republicans are not playing with a full deck, their extremism appears to have addled their brains, to destroy any semblance of common decency, of morality. The nation perches on a perilous chasm. It will not take much to push it off.
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