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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/3/09

Have the Democrats really changed?

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Message carol wolman, MD
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The 110th Congress went along with Bush on just about everything.  Their excuse was that they didn't have enough votes in the Senate to override a veto.  Even though the Democrats had a majority in the House, and a de facto majority in the Senate, with two Independents voting with their 48, they gave Bush war funding, bank bailout money, tax cuts for the rich, ecological degradation for the corporations- you name it.  Everything was for Bush, his wealthy friends and corporate clients.
The Democrats in the Senate had plenty of votes for a filibuster.  They only attempted it once, to block approval of some judicial appointments.  Bill Frist, the Republican Senate majority leader threatened to use something called "the nuclear option", whereby the majority can end a filibuster with a simple vote.  The Democrats backed down.
Now the Democrats have a Democratic president and a clear majority in the Senate- 56 Democrats.  Obama's stimulus package, with a fair amount of sensible legislation for We the People, sailed through the House despite solid Republican opposition. The same should happen in the Senate, where a simple majority suffices as well.  Obama certainly won't veto his own bill.
So why is MoveOn raising money for an ad to pressure Senate Republicans? 

Why am I getting urgent messages from True Majority?  Why did SaveOurEnvironment just send me this:

Last week, the House passed an Economic Stimulus Bill including funding for critical clean energy initiatives that will protect our environment and create jobs. Now the bill has moved into the Senate, but key clean energy and water initiatives are at risk of being cut from the bill.
Is it to make the threat of a Republican filibuster seem likely, to give the Democrats an excuse to "negotiate" away the people's money?  Is this how they will maintain the appearance of being the party of We the People, while continuing to benefit their wealthy friends and their corporate clients?
Now that the Democrats have a majority, they could easily use the "nuclear option".  So they do not have to compromise away whatever hope the stimulus package offers regular people to help weather the hard times ahead.
Many of us have been saying that the Democrats and Republicans are in fact a single party, hired via campaign money by the wealthy, with the job of plundering the middle class and poor to enrich the rich.  Obama is offering a change, which requires legislation.  Will the Democrats find a way to not pass it, while hiding behind the "other" party once again?  Will they sell us down the river even now, with ruin staring us in the face?
Even more sinister, does Obama already know that his package won't pass?  Is he for real, or is he a placebo, to make the people think he is for change, while allowing the Senate Republicans to block it? 
We all want to hope.  We all want to believe in the change Obama promised.  We all want to take heart from his early pronouncements and from this first significant piece of economic legislation.
But where will the money come from to pay for all this stimulus?  The tax base is shrinking, as the people are impoverished.  The corporations and banks continue to get bailout money with no strings attached, although Obama at least has expressed outrage over executive salary increases and bonuses on taxpayer money. 
There are several obvious places to get the money.  1) Defund the Pentagon.  Make peace, stop the wars, stop the war machine that has gobbled up our economy; 2) Restore progressive taxation.  One government study showed that the tax breaks for the rich are the single biggest reason for the huge federal budget deficit; 3) Prosecute the war criminals and confiscate their ill-gotten gains.  How many billions, or trillions, have Halliburton and Carlyle, the Cheney and Bush family enterprises, made from the Iraq war?
Has any legislation in this direction, sensible legislation to start rebalancing the federal budget and restoring the value of the American dollar, been proposed by the Democrats?  Not that I'm aware of.  One of Obama's campaign pledges was to INCREASE the Pentagon budget. 
Is business as usual still going on in the halls of our elected officials?  If so, we better notice it pretty quickly, and decide what to do about it.

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Carol S. Wolman, MD is a psychiatrist in Northern California. A lifelong peace activist, she is helping to distribute a Peace Plan for the Holy Land- email her for a copy. She also a film producer with Paradise Cove Productions, currently (more...)

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