President Obama is getting ready to force the hand of Republican leaders who claim to be all about deficit reduction. They're somehow also all about maintaining historically low tax rates for giant corporations and for the richest one percent of American citizens, but then, self-contradiction is nothing new to the GOP.
In a new CBS interview, the president says "I'm going to call them on their bluff.", referring to Republican leaders like Senator Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner, who have time and again used the deficit as an all-purpose excuse for blocking public-spirited efforts by the president and his party to return some economic stability and socioeconomic justice to the American scene. The White House will soon introduce its own deficit reduction plan and challenge the GOP to do the one thing it has been most unwilling to do during the Obama presidency: let an initiative of his move forward for the good of the nation, regardless of partisan politics.
After winking and nodding while the budget surplus left behind by Clinton-Gore and the Democrats in 2000 mushroomed into a huge deficit after eight years of Bush-Cheney corruption and mismanagement, all it took was another Democratic administration in office to get Republicans talking deficit reduction. Not with any sincere hope of reducing it, mind you, but as cover story for being "The Party Of No" , putting ruination of the Obama presidency above and beyond restoration of our dilapidated nation.
And note that anyone who claims the deficit explosion from 2001-2008 was unavoidable due to the two wars Bush-Cheney misled America into is either lying or continuing to be misled. Those wars of course were and are a huge financial drain. But they were also horrendous distractions from other major developments on the deficit-causing front that Republicans don't like to own up to. Actions undertaken by a national leadership team spawned by Big Business and Big Oil, actions that upon careful analysis demonstrate no goal effectively accomplished or benefits derived, other than the redirection of hundreds of billions of taxpayer and government dollars...to Big Business and Big Oil.
The simple truth is that the deficit would be a fraction of what it is now if not for an audacious series of profiteering power plays called by Bush-Cheney and run with discipline and determination by a Republican team in lockstep with the ruthless raid on taxpayers and U.S. Treasury dollars - deficit be damned.
They pushed through outrageous, unnecessary tax cuts and loopholes for rich people and Big Business that did absolutely nothing to "stimulate the economy" as their lies claimed they would - in fact doing the very opposite. They threw countless billions into privatized outsourcing of government functions to old business cronies like Cheney's chums at Halliburton. They deregulated every major industry in America and looked the other way while Bush's Texas Oil buddies at companies like Enron ran rapaciously amok. And they were complicit conspirators in the export of much of America's manufacturing sector, and job base, overseas.
It was clear to anyone with a little objectivity and some time to consider the facts that it would take the Obama administration years to climb out of the hole that was dug for the budget, the economy, and the "American Way Of Life". Since taking power just over eighteen months ago, the president and Democrats in Congress have been single-minded about trying to reconstruct much of what was decimated and deconstructed for eight long years. And if they get the kind of public support they need and deserve, there's no reason why socioeconomic reconstruction and deficit reduction cannot coexist.
Still, In all honesty and to the great distress of many on the Left, including me, they have heretofore remained too timid, too deferential to GOP obstructionists, and too tethered to the mega-corporate powers that have ruled the roost for so very long in America. More boldness, however measured and pragmatic, can only help the cause by sharpening the Big Picture that's still fuzzy for those whose vision has been blurred by Republican rhetoric.
That said, given the way that the roost is ruled, rigged and wired to self-destruct if those who rule it from way behind the scenes feel too threatened, the Democratic Party and its committed, charismatic leader are doing a decent job of taking most of the important incremental steps forward that they are able and allowed to.
But even incremental reconstruction takes a lot of time and a hell of a lot of money. Much of that federal dough that was redirected to private and corporate wealth must slowly be channeled back to working and out of work Americans, back to at-risk elderly, poor and uninsured Americans, back to environmental protection and infrastructure rebuilding, and into the building of a Greener, energy-independent future for the nation.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party exploits the general public's impatience with the painfully slow pace of reconstruction, devoting all its energies to further slowing and subversion of the process. They suddenly claim deficit reduction is Public Enemy Number One, while deriding federal efforts to help victims of the recession they caused as an overreach of "Big Government". They choose to divide and distract the country with lies solely to prevent redistribution of even some of all that illegitimately accumulated private and corporate wealth.
There's no better evidence of that, and of the Herculean level of hypocrisy in today's GOP, than their plan to fight tooth and nail in the coming months to renew the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the rich that are due to expire at the end of this year. They will lie through their teeth about taxes, plain and simple. Even though the entire fight will be over undoing tax cuts for the super-rich, they will keep telling fearful working and middle class people that they'll be next - A Big Lie that every Republican candidate across America will repeat incessantly until Election Day.
This is going to be quite a battle, and it's unfortunate that President Obama heads into it with a couple of major handicaps. First, he, his administration and the Democratic Party continue to be unwilling to relentlessly, mercilessly connect the dots for the public about the lasting damage that the Bush-Cheney-Republican crowd did to the the economy and the country - and the resultant long road to Reconstruction made longer as holdovers from that crowd keep stalling forward progress every step of the way.
Second, by remaining mired in two sinkhole wars that eat up so many billions, it's awfully hard to succeed in fighting to reduce the deficit, while still taking care of America's desperate domestic needs.
Not impossible to succeed, especially not if the Democrats get the strong, active grassroots support they will need. But awfully hard. Reconstruction usually is, especially on this scale.