Saturday, November 10, 2012

Representative, except when they're not

Remember how Republicans during the George W. Bush years would smugly admonish Democrats to stop complaining about Republican policies, because Republicans won the election(s) and therefore "the people" clearly wanted Republican policies to be enacted?

Evidently, turnabout's not fair play.

Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, conceded that some moderate Republicans are ready to give in to Mr. Obama on tax increases for the rich, but he said conservatives are not.

“A majority of Americans thought it was just fine to raise taxes on higher income people, but that’s more of an emotional response, more ’I’m in pain, I want someone else to pay,’” he conceded in an interview. But, he added, “how does that solve America’s problems? That’s counterproductive to go down that road.”

How does that solve America's problems?

Is he kidding?

Let me put it in a nutshell for you, John: the rich haven't been paying their fair share for the services government provides and which we all share.

Before you start whining about people having to pay for programs they don't use, we all pay for programs we don't use because we all use different programs. (Yeah, you really do, whether or not you believe it.)

More importantly, you know what one of America's biggest problems is right now, John? The insane debt we accumulated due to two unfunded wars shoved down our throats by the last Republican president and his Republican enablers in Congress (and yeah, a lot of Democrats too). Paying down that unplanned mountain of debt would help quite a bit. If the well-heeled could pony up $400 million to Karl Rove this last election cycle, they can damned well pony up a little more to help the nation. The marginal effect of those dollars on their lives is just that: marginal. A family getting by on $30,000 a year just can't afford to be slammed equivalently. We're in a crisis. How about the well-off show a little patriotism? Hell, how about just a little compassion?

Isn't it funny. how Republicans who decry "judicial activism" supposedly trumping "the will of the people" again and again are suddenly trying to play the wise, temperate adults in the room?

It doesn't wash. They haven't been wise, temperate, or in a lot of cases even adult over the last twenty years. They've pandered to their supporters' basest instincts on a host of issues and they're in no position to claim the moral or intellectual high ground now.

The people spoke on 6 November, John. You got reelected, but your would-be standard bearer, Mitt Romney, didn't, and your party lost seats in the Senate. Your party has bleated endlessly about respecting the will of the people. Well guess what? Their will has been expressed loudly and clearly, not just in this most recent election but in the last one as well. We're tired of subsidizing the wealthy at the expense of our national well-being. And as we've said again and again, it's not resentment against being rich that animates us: it's resentment against the clear reality that the wealthy have stacked the legislative deck in their favor for decades. When we were less indebted and the economy was chugging along at a faster clip, that was tolerable (though still immoral). Now? Not so much.

Yeah, there's waste that can be trimmed from the federal budget. It's going to be a mountain of a task identifying it, because the larding of governmental budgets isn't confined to discrete programs but rather permeates the bureaucracy (cutting funding wholesale to PBS wouldn't fix $700 wrenches and other procurement fraud in the defense budget, for instance).

But to take the obstinate position that spending cuts are the only solution on the table, and that marginal tax rates on the wealthiest citizens and businesses shouldn't rise a few percentage points ... that doesn't just defy the popular will. That defies good sense.

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