I leave the philosophical musings for a moment, to bring you...our impending doom.
August 2nd marks the date the Treasury has set for a likely default if a decision is not reached on what to do about the behemoth deficit.
Obama has met with congressional leaders all throughout the week, and plans to meet again on Sunday to try and close the gap that is keeping the ideological right and left "far apart." Still, he expressed confidence that they would reach a decision before that looming deadline.
Well, at least he can still play the calm, collected leader in times of economic mayhem.
In the proverbial nutshell, here's the rundown: the right wants to slice and dice government funded programs while extending tax cuts, and keeping loopholes. Meanwhile, the left is against any government funded cuts and wants to raise taxes for the upper echelons and in general, increase taxes across the board.
While reading through various news reports on these meetings, I am unbelievably irritated at how many mention what political gains are at stake and how the negotiations are centered on party platforms more than on the key issues at hand. Now, I'm not mad that they mention this - it's true and should be mentioned. I'm just mad that they don't note that this is really fucked up!
The issues lie squashed under a colossal mound of party ideologies, fluff and empty promises - politicians literally sit, hovering over the economic quagmire like Aladdin on his carpet - the detachment is clear. You can bet if they were sinking into it, these meetings would be a helluva lot more productive. But again, we're the ones sinking - quietly. As I often like to point out, we have that lid somewhere, we have that lid that can close that atrocious abyss and we have the tools to close the gap - we just haven't used 'em since the days of yore. They're dusty and rusty, sitting in a closet, along with our dwindling rights, boarded up with apathy and ignorance.
Back to the halls of the mighty - this gridlock is nothing new. Right and left have been bickering non stop about the economy since the beginning of the year. The splintered body politic just can't seem to find a way to put left and right foot forward. We just keep pushing further outward into an ever more uncomfortable split.
As I noted, Democrats worry that cuts to federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security would not look good on that report card at the polls. Republicans worry that any tax increases would tarnish their shining star of no taxation.
Still, at the meeting on Thursday 6 out of 8 voted in favor of the most ambitious deal - equal to $4 trillion in savings.
This of course would mean that all is on the table: government funded programs, the tax code, maybe even corporate loopholes, but that last one's a tricky beast.
However you see our political system, there is no angle nice enough to obscure the tremendous impact big business has on our government. Like politicians, they talk a good game, about wanting to ease the swelling deficit, fiscal responsibilities, and overall economic growth. But as David Leonhardt points out in his NY Times article, "the [business] roundtable is actually part of the problem." He's talking about the lobbying group, The Business Roundtable, as the name suggests, a corporate roundtable of who's who constructed to lobby in the interest of their corporations. Allow me to be more crass: a roundtable of America's top 1% with hands deep in political pockets steering a country supposedly of the people, for the people and by the people - forgive my poetic musings.
Never mind the gridlock on Capitol Hill, the contradictory rhetoric in the corporate boardroom is ever compounding this incessant economic headache. Corporate lobbying accounts for huge additions to the deficit. They want to of course keep the corporate loopholes, hell, add more, and at the same time, bolster the sagging infrastructure, building new roads, bridges, tunnels, etc. Where they think that money will come from is a massive mystery...
So, let's do some quick math here for a second: we're reaching for $4 trillion in savings. If we add up the corporate lobbying, the extreme right and left rift, the narcissistic concern with party platforms and ideologies and our ignorant apathy...does that put a divisive dent in the lofty $4 trillion savings plan?
Calling on depressive realism, I feel that if that $4 trillion in savings does come to fruition, it won't be on the backs of corporate kings or the politicians they lobby to, but on the backs of the apathetic masses, the people, we the people.
Hmmmm...maybe time to find that dusty rusty closet...I'll give you a hint, it's not to your left or right, it's center, forward.