We have become Old Europe

There is really not much more that can be said about the deal between our supine President and the amoral Congressional Republicans to continue the regressive Bush tax cuts.

Senator Bernie Sanders explained the disastrous policy behind this deal:

Sanders Statement on Tax Cut Deal

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement today on the agreement announced Monday between the White House and congressional Republicans:

“In my view,  it is a moral outrage that at a time when this country has a $13.8 trillion national debt, a collapsing middle class and a growing gap between the very rich and everybody else that the Republicans would deny extended unemployment benefits to 2 million workers who are desperately struggling to pay their bills and maintain their dignity. It is also beyond comprehension that the Republicans would hold hostage the entire middle class of this country so that millionaires and billionaires would receive huge tax breaks. In my view, that is not what this country is about and it is not what the American people want to see. Our job is to save the disappearing middle class, not lower taxes for people who are already extraordinarily wealthy and increase the national debt that our children and grandchildren would have to pay.

“The immediate political task in front of us is to rally the American people so that in the next several weeks we can find at least a few Republicans who will join us in saying no to increasing the deficit by giving tax breaks to the wealthy and no to holding the unemployed and the middle class hostage.

“I believe that we have the American people on our side on this issue.  My office, and I come from a small state, has received more than 600 calls today, 99 percent of them in opposition to this so-called compromise that the president negotiated with the Republicans.

“I will do everything in my power to stand up for the American middle class and defeat this agreement.”

Outgoing Governor Ted Strickland explained the politics of the President’s cave-in:

“I think there is a hesitancy to talk using populist language,” the Ohio Democrat said in a sit-down interview with The Huffington Post. “I think it has to do with a sort of intellectual elitism that considers that kind of talk is somehow lacking in sophistication. I’m not sure where it comes from. But I think it’s there. There’s an unwillingness to draw a line in the sand.”

But his frustration was evident as the discussion progressed. Talking, unprompted, about the debate over the expiring Bush tax cuts, Strickland said he was dumbfounded at the party’s inability to sell the idea that the rates for the wealthy should be allowed to expire.

“I mean, if we can’t win that argument we might as well just fold up,” he said. “These people are saying we are going to insist on tax cuts for the richest people in the country and we don’t care if they are paid for, and we don’t think it is a problem if it contributes to the deficit, but we are not going to vote to extend unemployment benefits to working people if they aren’t paid for because they contribute to the deficit. I mean, what is wrong with that? How can it be more clear?”

“I saw what CNN said after that meeting yesterday. A line saying the president said he should have been willing to work with the GOP earlier. What? After all of this you don’t realize these people want to destroy you and your agenda?” he asked. “How many times do you have to be, you know, slapped in the face? Look what they did with health care.

“I mean, I understand a reluctance to reach the conclusion that I think a reasonable person can reach: that [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell was speaking the truth when he said his goal was not to govern, not to develop public policy, but his goal is to defeat this president in 2012. And I think when the base understands that that’s what’s at stake, the base is going to be much more willing to engage and to join the fight. The base is going to be less willing to join the fight if they don’t see the clear differences. The differences are there, for God’s sake.”

The only thing I have to add is that the ruthless, scorched-earth policy by the plutocrats of this country and their wholly-owned subsidiary, the GOP, at one time would have been considered un-American. Alexis de Tocqueville, that old European oft-quoted by those of American Exceptionalism tendencies, had this to say about the good-ole’ days when Americans were not the selfish plunderers that the aristocrats of the ancien régime were:

“I do not think, on the whole, that there is more selfishness among us than in America; the only difference is that there it is enlightened, here it is not. Each American knows when to sacrifice some of his private interests to save the rest; we want to save everything, and often we lose it all.” Democracy in America vol 2, Ch 8 (Henry Reeve translation, 1899 rev.).

And yes, indeed, the New Right has been dragging the rest of us, kicking and screaming, back to Dickensian times, when the rich believe their only obligation to the public weal is to provide workhouses. And the person we elected to stave this all off, now lectures us for being unrealistic. Nothing would get done, he explains, unless he does exactly as demanded by the Republicans (who resemble European anarchist bomb-throwers more and more). And by doing exactly as the Republican minority says, maybe, just maybe, they won’t destroy this country like they threaten. In conclusion, as we become more the image of the Europe we rebelled from, we can only hope, like the underclass of those times: “God bless us, every one!”

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