Some Political Comments

I just feel like I should write something down about the election we had earlier this week.

I'm really pretty irritated about the whole thing. The Republicans made a decision to do nothing but block and delay for the last two years. Because of this, the stimulus was smaller than it should have been, we have a shortage of judges on a number of circuits, all attempts at creating jobs have been watered down, the health care overhaul was much less ambitious (and, because of that, effective) than it should have been, and have generally just been a hindrance to getting things done.

Now they've been rewarded for that intransigence by being given a majority in the house. I guess we'll see how that works out, but the early signs are not encouraging, as everything the Republicans are actually talking about doing involves more truculence. And that isn't going to work out well for the country.

We (as a country) really need to get things done, and address the problems we have. The only good things about it are that that bully mentality might keep the tax cuts from being extended. Why is that a good thing? Because currently, the top 10% of the country owns over 80% of the money in the nation. Extending those tax cuts will exacerbate that (and, come to that, so will the Fed's current policy of quantitative easing), which is not going to help in getting out of this recession.

The two biggest parts of that, now that I think about it, are parts that aren't even getting discussed. Those are the estate tax (I prefer to call it the aristocracy tax) and the capital gains tax. The one needs to be restored, and the other needs to be bumped back up to a reasonable rate. Instead, everyone seems to be focused on the top marginal income tax rate. While increasing that will help, the other two would be much more helpful. (As a side note, creating a new, higher tax bracket for people making over, say, $1M/yr would be a great help.)

I was particularly struck with Boehner's comments, about living the American Dream by becoming presumptive Speaker. The American Dream, as I've always understood it, involved starting poor and ending up rich (I don't know his history, prior to being in Congress, so I don't know if that applies to him or not). What struck me about it is that those same tax policies, along with certain other ones pushed (or passive-aggresively forced on us) by Republicans, like neglect of infrastructure, de-emphasis on education, over-emphasis on military spending, that have made the American Dream damned near impossible. Going from the bottom quintile of wealth to the top quintile is currently harder in American than in any of the european countries from which the majority of Americans came (the OECD has this data, though I can't find it right this moment).

For current Americans, the American Dream is essentially still-born. It's very sad. The de-emphasis of education is probably the worst of this, because unemployment of college-educated people in the US, despite the current recession, is still below 5%. In fact, it has never gone below 5%. So it would seem like a logical point at which to attack unemployment is to increase the number of college-educated Americans. How do we get there? I really don't know, but I'm fairly certain that eliminating the Dept of Education is a step in the wrong direction.

I also worry about what's going to happen with the debt. Not because I think we need to try to cut it immediately, but because I'm afraid that we will try to cut it immediately. That's what Hoover tried, when the nation was in sorry shape economically, and it's what took us fully into the Great Depression.

Anyway, I'm hoping things get moving in the right direction, but when I hear incoming Republicans talking about investigations and government shut-downs rather than policy, I am not encouraged.

I should point out that, while almost this entire article has been aimed squarely at Republicans, Democrats have only been marginally better, particularly over the last ten years. They have been afraid to stand up for the little people (mostly) for a number of years. They lack the courage of their convictions (which is another way of saying that most of them (and I'm sorry to say, now that he's on his way out, that Feingold was one of the exceptions. Franken, surprisingly enough (at least to me), is another) don't have convictions), and don't call out lies and distortions. This is not a recipe for leadership.

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