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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/8/11

The Crazies versus the Sleepwalkers - Big Budget Showdown

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By Michael Collins

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The Republican crazies are in a celebrity death match with sleepwalking Democrats.  It is a fabricated drama amounting to not much of anything in terms of the nation's well being.  The stakes are supposedly the shutdown of the United States government at midnight this Friday.  But the most pressing issue isn't discussed on Capitol Hill.

Why can't anyone in a position of power mention the unmentionable? There have been no net new jobs in the United States since 2000.  There were 137 million employed citizens that year.  There are 139 million employed citizens today.  This comes into clear focus when you consider the size of the workforce for 2000 and 2010; 143 million versus 154 million respectively.  There are actually fewer jobs in proportion to the workforce.

Isn't this a worthy topic?  Shouldn't the story be carried nightly on a major network with a title like:  Jobless America, Day 4112

Apparently not.  Congress and the Chief Executive don't have to worry (they'll still get paid).  Members of Congress have perpetual income once they've been initiated into the elect.  If they win, the members, along with family and friends, do quite well.  If they lose, they will likely do even better with a lobbybing firm.  The presidency represents the most spectacular welfare program ever.  Lifetime guaranteed income, personal security details, free health care,  honoraria in the form of cash, and other benefits are a flow down a never-ending river of largesse.

Citizens have no such guarantee.  Despite a willingness to do real work for long hours, at stagnant wages and shrinking benefits, nobody pays attention when more than twenty million or so are jobless.

Ignoring a jobless economy insures that an unacceptable problem for those who work gets mentioned only in passing -- flat incomes over a decade.

Celebrity Death Match

Instead of a serious, no holds barred effort to revive the economy for citizens, the Republican and Democratic wings of The Money Party are fighting over which bad budget will be adopted.  The Republican budget would make Ebenezer Scrooge smile in his grave.  They want to privatize Medicare, trash Medicaid, drop supports for the poorest of the poor, and dig the grave for Social Security.

Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, is the mastermind behind this affront to the people, the Republican budget and the one-week bill debated now.  Ryan's congressional biography says that, "he works to bring fiscal discipline and accountability to the federal government." Ryan worked in the private sector for less than two years as a marketing consultant for a family owned business while he completed his undergraduate degree

The 41-year-old budget expert never managed or owned a company.  He has never met a payroll.  From 1992 until his election to the House in 1998, he has worked either for US Senators or as a speechwriter for Republican luminaries.  He served seven consecutive terms in Congress from 1999 through the present.  Almost all of his professional experience is as a political aide or politician, nothing else.

Right now, the Republicans are on the floor of the House claiming that their one week compromise to avoid a government shutdown will allow "our troops" to be paid.  Of course, the best gift to the troops would a return home from pointless wars overseas.

The Democrats are firing back that the Republicans should consider not just soldiers, but all citizens as they urge a broader settlement of the budget conflict.  The Democrats are happy to give up most of the social contract between citizens and government, just not all of it. That would tarnish their image.

But neither side focuses on the core issue, citizens can't support themselves without jobs.  The public can't support the government services it pays for and needs with twenty million able bodied citizens out of work.  And those fortunate enough to have work, can't survive without wage increases, a problem that started before the jobless decade.

The Crazies versus the Sleepwalkers

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