A government shutdown looms tomorrow as House Republicans, Senate Democrats and President Obama play the game of budget roulette.
As usual the rhetoric flies as to which side is at fault with the president playing a sort of neutral arbiter.
Meanwhile the media reports on polls as to which side will take the greater hit if the shutdown actually occurs.
These 11th hour shenanigans are no big surprise and were fairly predictable considering last November's Congressional election results returned the House to the Republicans (with their newly arriving tea party ideologues a part of the mix) while the Senate remained in the hands of the Democrats.
The president, seeing his Democrat majority evaporate in the House, almost immediately pivoted to the right and froze the pay of federal workers for the next 5 years. Such a move was intended (one supposes) as an olive branch reaching out to the right. But predictably they condemned him for it as being too little and that it wouldn't significantly reduce the deficit (for which they were correct). However it did reveal once again this president's naÃ¯ve fantasy that he can work with and affect compromise with the other side as his magnanimity will produce a similar willingness on their part to work with him (yeah right).
But unfortunately this is part of the political maneuvering that transpires in this dysfunctional democracy of ours where real problem solving is never possible because the real reasons and real issues are never on the table.
That's because those elected to office are beholden to the big moneyed and special interests that underwrite their political campaigns. And of course these interests (who create the problems in the first place) are shielded from being held accountable by those same elected officials. Together they act in concert to deflect the blame and shift it on to others i.e. public employees, teachers, public service unions, Medicare, Medicaid, NPR et al.
To reveal what's behind our real budget problems and to find real budget solutions would require exposing the real culprits, the real perpetrators of malfeasance that bust the budget.
It is no mystery our current budget woes are a directly related to the financial industry meltdown that resulted from the subprime mortgage market bubble bursting in the fall of 2008 that subsequently created the great recession. The financial crisis was caused by reckless risk taking by these financial "masters of the universe" who became unhinged by the deregulations enacted by the very politicians they bankrolled to do their bidding.
Real problem solving would have brought strict regulations enacted to rein in the financial industry (as was done in the 1930's depression). No bailouts would have been approved to make the banksters whole again and these mega corporations too big to fail would have been broken up. That's what a responsible, properly functioning government of representatives beholden to the people's interests (rather than the big moneyed and special interests) would have done.
That didn't happen because those big moneyed and special interests wouldn't let it happen and a real investigation would have been an indictment of the politicians who enacted the legislation that gave them the legal cover.
So with no real solutions possible we get the current budget fiasco rhetoric that reflects nothing as to its real cause. We don't solve our budget problems (or any other problems) we just cover them up. It's like painting over a surface that is rotten underneath. Unless the rot is removed entirely the painting of the surface is just a veneer, a temporary cover that will deteriorate almost immediately.
The real tragedy is we the people have not been vigilant and have let this systemic dysfunction (now focusing on our budget woes) continue at our expense. It has been corrupted to the core. It needs to be uprooted, root and branch. Otherwise nothing will change and the political grandstanding will continue.