“I’ve been thinking a lot about Medicare the past few weeks as I care for my father. I just don’t know what America’s seniors would do without this lifeline.
Although we may no longer be in an election year, the battle continues for working and middle class families and to protect our most vulnerable seniors and kids.
Another budget showdown is looming. Washington Republicans continue to fight for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other vital programs like Food Stamps and Head Start, while protecting tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans.” [e-mail Berkley, 9/27/13]
First, the over-heated rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act is ominously similar to the complaints about Medicare from the right wing. To have the government facilitate medical insurance for elderly people is seen in altogether too many minds as an example of ‘parasitic’ government. So are the programs mentioned in the last paragraph — Social Security should be privatized, Medicare should be changed to a coupon/voucher service, Food Stamps (SNAP) should be eliminated, and Head Start dismantled.
Berkley also touches on the essential problem for Republicans: How to continue to tout the Cult of Individualism while subsidizing corporate activities?
And we are subsidizing corporations — the libertarian Cato Institute calculates that a family with an annual income of $72,000 is backstopping U.S. corporations to the tune of $6,000 per year. From Cato’s perspective this is another assault on the Cult of Individualism, from the left it’s an attack on the American middle class. Common Dreams itemized the expenses.
There’s another issue for the GOP in this morass: The party, which lauds itself as the Party of Business, is engaged in a government shut down strategy which is patently anti-business.
From the polar opposite position to that articulated by former Representative Berkley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbies aren’t happy with the shut down strategy either:
Even though many of the CEOs believe federal spending is excessive and a large budget deficit puts U.S. economic health at risk, they want Congress to pass the spending bill and raise the limit on government borrowing.
“On Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 235 other business groups joined the push. In a joint letter to Congress, they urged lawmakers to fund the government past the deadline and to “act expeditiously to raise the nation’s debt limit.”
The letter also said, “It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy.” [Reuters]
Not that some, or indeed any, of these organizations would espouse Berkley’s position, but they do understand that shutting down the government is economically counter-productive.
Worse still the House Republicans have launched their own version of the old Milton Bradley game: “Time Bomb.” It really doesn’t quite work to celebrate a government shut down, initiated by the House demand that the Affordable Care Act be delayed (when the marketplace exchanges go up tomorrow) and then claim “it’s the other guy’s fault because they aren’t tossing the time bomb back to us fast enough!”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) puts this more nicely:
“Despite pleas from the House of Representatives for quick Senate action that same vocal minority was determined to waste the dwindling hours before a government shutdown. Although every minute that passes puts this country one minute closer to a shutdown – a shutdown that could shatter our economy – they continue to obstruct and delay. But a bad day for government is a good day for the anarchists among us.” [Reid e-mail 9/27/13]