Facing possible government shut down, active military not getting paid, closing of national parks and monuments, layoff of all “nonessential” personnel, that was the scene last week as both congressional parties argued over a few billion dollars in a budget consisting of trillions. And while Donald Trump, rumored to be making a bid for the White House in 2012, was again bringing up the controversy of President Obama’s birth certificate and bashing him for being president yet never having done a deal, i.e. lacking the negotiating power learned, in business, we, as a nation, have a bigger problem. Government shutdown now averted at the 11th hour, budget haggling continues as congress battles over how to raise the national debt limit; democrats calling it financial Armageddon if an agreement is not reached and the US begins to default on its loans. Default means within months skyrocketing taxes, immediate impacts to social security, Medicare, a plunge in the stock market that makes the crisis we’ve experienced up till now a minor blip, followed by the collapse of the global financial system. From arguments over the president wanting a so-called clean bill to bickering about what to cut, budget plans by both sides, partially revealed, don’t sit well with the opposing party or the American people.
It’s fast becoming a case of here we go again President Obama characterized as wanting to tax America out of it’s debt problem, by raising taxes on those making 250,000 or more annually; simultaneously republicans saying you can’t do that wanting to make deeper cuts turning Medicare into a voucher program, placing caps on food stamps and housing assistance. GOP Paul Ryan appearing on the morning shows talking about saving Medicare for the rest of us, stating they want to give it to those who need it, not those who don’t, assuring all it won’t change for those 55 plus but the rest of us have to understand it’s going to look different. What doesn’t look different is Washington, still wanting to save money on the backs of the needy, proposing deep cuts to social services leaving corporate tax rates, wealthy tax rates unchanged, though promising this time to close loopholes. And while the powers that be fight it out the American people are left in the balance government workers and military service men wondering how long they will continue to receive a paycheck, social security and Medicare recipients unsure whether they should be scared or not over the potential loss of their benefits and tremors running throughout the already fragile financial recovery. Some calling it playing chicken with the debt limit, noted as extremely dangerous because it makes foreign investors and global markets nervous.
Forgoing the criticism of Donald Trump about the president’s deal making skills, what he would be able to accomplish if he were president, bragging in an interview oh there would have been a deal, no one has noticed that’s not the largest hurdle. The overwhelming trouble in Washington is politicians who think budget talks are a time to push their agenda on how they, not their constituency, think the country should be run; example, bringing abortion rights into the equation with the rider to de-fund Planned Parenthood or continuing debates over the validity of public broadcasting with a rider de-funding it as well. The rider to reduce funding to the EPA is something that should be unthinkable after the BP oil spill, upon discovery of the abysmal condition of most oilrigs and oil refinery operations both in the Gulf Coast and across America. Something that should be a non-starter considering concerns over numerous natural gas line explosions in 2010 alone, the possible chemicals leaked into neighborhoods and water supplies from hydrofracking. Budget talks are no place for rider attachments removing gray wolves from the endangered species list, any of these things, because they have nothing to do with reducing the deficit, have no real impact on government spending. So called Christmas tree bills are nothing new neither are riders; what has changed is the business as usual attitude of including unrelated items, the unwillingness to find appropriate ways of brining these discussions to the congressional floor. Astute onlookers also see de-funding Planned Parenthood as step one in overturning Roe V. Wade. The debate over public broadcasting is silly considering the person spouting the controversial comments to every bit of the wrong people was fried, the issue brought to light, an issue that should in no way effect Sesame Street, children’s educational programs, independent news and informational programming for everyone. Again having no lasting effect on spending.
Real deficit reduction, real debt control has to come from other places, places such as reforming not government itself, as analysts shrewdly point out the republican budget, dubbed, the Paul Ryan plan will, but bigger thinking. Not slicing healthcare reform and Medicare to keep tax breaks for corporations, making profits almost as unfathomable to comprehend as the national debt itself, taking from seniors, disabled, the poor to give tax credits to millionaires even billionaires. Meaningful debt reduction starts with reforming the tax code, implementing the sliding scale income taxes, corporate taxes were always supposed to be. In the first half of the 20th century corporate taxes consisted of about 30% now they consist of about 6%; no wonder we have a deficit, no wonder we need to turn that around. If you’re a billionaire, millionaire of course you pay more than the person earning 30,000 or less per year. If you’re a corporation turning profits of billions, millions of course you pay more than the mom and pop chain of 3 diners, retail stores; that’s how it’s supposed to work. Instead huge conglomerates, mega corporations are being given tax breaks, in the hopes that they’ll hire additional workers, excessive tax credits due to green energy renovations, the recession, as was the shocking case of GE. For those who read my pieces regularly you no doubt saw the one describing annihilation of unions, real solutions rendering it unnecessary, read about the billions given to GE on top of zero taxes paid along with the projections of what could be achieved putting that money back in the pockets, the treasury of the United States government.
Tangible debt reduction likewise begins with no corporate offshore bank accounts funneling piles of cash away from taxation, a cap on personal offshore bank accounts both in number of accounts and dollar amounts, so no one is getting rich finding clever ways evade their fair share of taxes. One move that could nearly eliminate the nation debt foreseeably in our lifetime; couple it with the changes laid out in the preceding paragraph and it becomes a 90th percentile certainty. Another closeable citizen loophole people working under the table, off the books jobs earning a small fortune while laughing in the face of Uncle Sam; no, it’s not about going after parents trying to get by or college students trying to pay for school, but people amassing wealth, not just making ends meet, illegally. On a similar note, how many celebrities, ball players, reality TV stars are accused of tax evasion, owing the IRS back taxes, that stops immediately. Perhaps rather than handing them a prison sentence they, not poor welfare recipients, should be institutionalized in unused jails forced to get no less than 2 medial jobs working until their debt is paid. Carl Paladino might have made governor of New York with that one. Speaking of politicians, they too need to pay their taxes stop being allowed to use their government connections, their political understanding not only to side step paying taxes but avoid getting caught not paying their taxes.
Yet instead of writing any of this into law, upholding what America stands for, being an example of how we should treat the least among us, congressional members are acting like children not in their bickering, their refusal to compromise, but in their unwillingness to share, to make those with the most contribute fairly. They act like schoolyard bullies snatching lunch money, beating up kindergarteners huffing and puffing they’ll cause a government shut down if they don’t get what they want; implying a threat that they won’t approve raising the debt ceiling unless their demands are met. Wanting to gouge social services, create their abundance by prying it from the needy; whatever turning Medicare into a voucher program will look like it’s an action that incidentally will drive healthcare costs up not bring them down, presumably because doctors will no longer be assured what little payment they receive from Medicaid and Medicare. Right now multitudes of doctors refuse patients carrying national, social welfare insurance plans for that very reason. If you’re an adult forget getting on Medicaid, regardless of how little money you make, apart from a significant disability forget it, forget if your health will decline, you could lose the ability to wok or could die from lack of medical treatment. Further, who does Paul Ryan and the members of the GOP think the under 55 Medicare holders are, who does he think the under 55 persons who need it are; they are the disabled, persons receiving spousal or child benefits.
Actually fixing Medicare starts by cracking down on fraud, a ring of supposed medical practices in multiple states consisting of nothing but office space and doctors, individuals posing as doctors, billing Medicare for millions if not billions of dollars worth of equipment, medications, office visits and procedures never given, done or seen. Just one case of the unscrupulous that took too long to catch. Double billing is an all to common occurrence due to clerical errors, incompetence and just plain carelessness. When it’s not that it’s desperate doctors abusing the system in order to keep struggling practices afloat. Overall healthcare costs, particularly those associated with Medicare/Medicaid, would be greatly reduced if medical errors were reduced, a stoppage put on doctors removing the wrong limb, operating on the wrong knee, replacing the wrong hip, nursing staff mixing up medications for mom and baby, switching dosages meant for children and adults, dangerous infections spread by doctors and hospital personnel not washing their hands.
Beginning to fix social security entails halting the creation of more supplemental security income, social security disability cases caused by letting employers design their businesses in such a way there is no place for the developmentally delayed, mentally ill persons to work with less and less part time positions, nearly non-existent on the job training. Creating growing hardships for ordinary people trying to find work due to all the skills wanted before even being considered for a position, the maddening amount of multi tasking required for nearly every job. More individuals working means more people paying into the social security and Medicare systems; however, culture and government both have allowed firings based on minor infractions, legal activities such as smoking in ones own home. Young people, people changing career fields have the hardest time finding work because of the experience catch 22, can’t get a job without experience; can’t get experience without a job. The foreclosure boom drowning the housing market aided by banks possessing zero quality controls doctoring fraudulent, nonsensical documents to sue delinquent homeowners in court, no one the wiser until 60 Minutes did a report. It all goes together; it all adds up to the corner we are currently backed into.
Once again instead of implementing any of these policies, making baby steps toward needed regulation, looking into what reputable news outlets have uncovered, social safety nets have become the latest chew toy in the battle over coming election seats, battle over whose agenda is best for the political climate, a faction of one political party, not America as a whole. And yes if Donald Trump were president there would have been a deal with all the riders mention above, likely more and no one batting an eyelash, no one standing up saying it’s wrong, no one saying there is a better place to do this. Yes if Donald Trump were president we’d have no hint of healthcare reform, seeing as he called the Obama plan ridiculous. Yes if Donald Trump were president we’d have more tax breaks for business, still no more jobs than we have currently and a bunch of politicians who still don’t get social services, national budgets and the financial well being of America are not chew toys and they aren’t young puppies. They are gown ups who should act like it.