Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is There Such A Thing As A Reasonable Compromise With Total Catastrophe? Worries Over President Obama's Upcoming Speech on "Deficit Reduction"

Everybody is talking about the announcement that this Wednesday President Obama is delivering "a major speech" laying out an aggressive plan for deficit reduction. The language of the announcement has everybody spooked, me included.

But I am adopting a wait and see attitude for now, hoping for the best. After all, he could re-cast "deficit reduction" as a matter of raising revenue, making corporate tax-cheats and the lucky rich pay a fair share for once in the taxes that pay to keep the America that has served them so well intact to the benefit of all. He could also change the terms of the debate, pull out of the gravity well of GOP frames in which he disastrously got caught in the recent government shutdown drama, and re-frame "deficit reduction" as a matter less of cuts than of investments that create jobs and grow the economy out of deficit.

This would constitute "a major speech" indeed, and a popular, ethical, economically sound, and winning proposal, a perfect foil to the brutality and illiteracy of proposals coming from the Teatard Right.

But, given the ominous references we are hearing to reforming entitlements, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to be rolled out in the speech, it is hard not to expect the very worst, frankly.

Again, it wouldn't be a hard thing at all for Obama to sketch out an incomparably more reasonable more reality-based more fair-minded raft of proposals than the flabbergastingly cruel and nonsensical proposals of doll-eyed dolt Paul Ryan. But the problem is that Randroid Ryan's proposals are actually so bad that the "reasonable" compromise between Ryan and Obama would still be sure to be a complete moral and fiscal catastrophe for the country.

One thing that must be grasped is that to undermine the universality of entitlement programs in the spirit of parochial cost-savings, for example, risks the fatal undermining of the very nature of these programs. Everybody must be invested in these programs, as part of what it means to be a citizen and a participant in the American compact, including those few who would not need them to survive in a medical emergency or upon retirement.

No Democratic President should be complicit in the erasing of the bright line that protects these programs the battles for which define the legacy and pride of our party and our nation. Hell, we should always only be pushing for the widening, not the circumscription, of these programs. I'm for single-payer healthcare, I'm for Medicare for all, via Buy-In and lowering the retirement age, and I'm for all this even now, especially now, in our present distress, because these policy outcomes are not only morally but practically the right thing to do if one wants both fairer but also most cost-efficient administrative outcomes.

Any "reasonable compromise" that constrains the nihilism of Randroid Ryan's GOP "plan" but still relinquishes the universality of the promotion of general Welfare (see, Constitution, Preamble) will share with Ryan's effort the crucial and lamentable consequence of a disastrous dismantlement of the American aspiration to administer the civic scene out of which an equitable, diverse, and consensual civilization is substantiated.

Obama will offer Republicans a lot of rope to hang themselves with on Wednesday, to be sure, and plenty of wiggle room for himself, and these moments need not yield panic that he is out to sell the store, but there should nonetheless be illustrative policy proposals in the speech that, as it were between the lines, reveal to what extent his opportunism as an Executive facing the demands of re-election in a divided government filled with ignorant sociopaths under profoundly difficult economic circumstances is leavened by principles at the heart of the Democratic party of which he is presumably the leader. I'm worried, but I'll be paying attention.

1 comment:

jollyspaniard said...

In the long run the Republicans are pushing a budget that commits the USA to a brown energy future. That will quickly become a very hard sell. They are selling a Environmentalists are responsible for the high price of oil narrative which a few on the radical fringe are accepting but I don't think will gain purchase in the centre.

I'm hoping Obama doesn't compromise on energy and the environment the world really needs America to make that shift. I'm half expecting social programs in the USA to be cut to the bone before any cuts (or even a spending freeze) in military spending or more progressive taxation are considered. Keep in mind that all this is happening to the backdrop of *increases* in military spending, 30 billion of new spending for upgrades to America's nuclear weapon's arsental went through in the lame duck session.

Meanwhile Saudi Arabia has started exporting low quality crude and oil is stratosphericaly expesnive. The bipartisan consensus in the states is to keep subsidising oil companies, increase military spending and cut social programs. This seems like a suicide pact to me.