Why do our elected politicians so often work against our wishes and interests?
Why are they protecting the very thieves and shysters who got us into this mess?
As Noam Chomsky recently pointed out, a large majority of the population now favors addressing our incredibly large deficits by taxing the very rich (72% favor it, 27% oppose it), according to a WashingtonPost-ABC News poll. Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69% opposed to cutting Medicaid, 78% opposed to cutting Medicare). But the likely outcome, in Congress, is, in each of these cases, just the opposite. Why is that?
The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) surveyed how the public would eliminate the deficit. PIPA director Steven Kull writes, "Clearly both the administration and the Republican-led House of Representatives are out of step with the public's values and priorities in regard to the budget."
The survey illustrates this deep divide: "The biggest difference is that the public favored deep cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose increases. The public also favored more spending on job training, education and pollution control than did either the Administration or the House."
The final "compromise" -- more accurately, capitulation to the far right -- is the opposite (to what the public wants) throughout, and is almost certain to lead to slower growth and long-term harm -- to all but the rich and the corporations, which are enjoying record profits.
Not even discussed is the fact that the deficit would be eliminated if, as economist Dean Baker has shown, the dysfunctional privatized health care system in the U.S. were simply replaced by one similar to that of all other industrial societies,' which have half the per capita costs but health outcomes that are comparable or better.
The financial institutions and Big Pharma are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, of course -- though the thought seems hardly utopian. Off the agenda entirely, for example, are other economically sensible options (favored by most people), such as the re-implementation of a small financial transactions tax which in years past has generated many millions in tax revenues.
Meanwhile new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street: Quite incredibly, for instance, the House Appropriations Committee actually cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to act as the prime barrier against financial fraud. Meanwhile, with so many Republicans gunning for it, even the Consumer Protection Agency is unlikely to survive intact. The obvious conclusion that any rational observer must draw from this? Our elected officials are more concerned with reducing our protections against those who would cheat us and steal from us, than they are with protecting us from such people! And why would that be, except for the fact that it is these very people who provide the bulk of their re-election campaign funding?