Grover Norquist, apparent beloved of Republicans, and known to be demonized by Democrats, has apparently bewitched the former Congressmen into signing declarations that they will, under no circumstances, raise taxes. I had thought that this was a terrible idea. If we continue to borrow money to meet our obligations, we will not feel the sting of how much it actually costs to run our country. We need to know what we are signing up for when we institute any new program, or continue to fund an ongoing subsidy.
I was going to suggest that we be billed the actual cost of running the government—every man, woman and child be required to pony up our share of the national debt, as well as the day to day costs of doing business. I had thought such a plan would be especially apt as the debt clock stroked $16 trillion—a round number that means no more and no less than any other, to be sure, but we do celebrate our round numbers. Then I saw the breakdown of that number, $16 trillion, per capita, and I got scared. If you don’t know, that $16 trillion means that every man, woman, and child in this country owes $50,000 to pay off the national debt, and that number grows every day. And that’s just to pay off the debt—never mind the cost of running the place.
Yet neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem incredibly worried about that. The Republicans say no new taxes, and we’ll slowly scale back some social programs, but we’re going to increase (INCREASE!) the size of the military, and we’ll deal with Medicare and Social Security in a bit. And the Democrats just say business as usual, raise taxes on those devil rich people so that the rest of us can be secure from cradle to grave, and that won’t be enough to keep us going for more than a few days, so we’ll need to borrow some more money (a lot more money), to get the middle class to start spending so that businesses will have a reason to gear up production so that we’ll all have jobs next week. Because we’ll have a lot of debt to pay down, plus those safety net programs we’ve got to fund, plus those college degrees that need getting, along with the forgiving of student debt when needed, and, of course, the paying for contraceptives.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans say that we are in need of what they are asking the government to provide, and it’s not too much to ask the American people to sacrifice in order to provide those services. Sacrifice is one thing, but for each person to owe more than the median income of the country seems a little bit ridiculous. That means that half the people in this country, man, woman and child, owe, right now, more than they make in an entire year! And the situation is set to get even worse, not better, as the interest on the debt continues to build with astonishing speed, and as both parties plan to get spending into high gear as soon as the pesky election is over and one or the other has free rein for another four years. And, though they give it lip service, neither party seems to be truly frightened at the huge burden we all have hanging over our heads. Just so long as the promises to each constituency are kept.
Maybe to the politicians, it’s only money, but the most of the American people, that debt represents an obligation to our children and our children’s children that needs to be met. We would no sooner willingly leave our children a country full of debt than we would leave them a suffocating burden of personal debt. Yet our choices in this election are few, and it doesn’t help that the Democrats are casting the Republicans as the party of the uncaring, when the truth is that there is not much difference between them.
The Republicans may choose to allocate a bit more to defense, and the Democrats a bit more to health care, but they are both placating their current base at the expense of the future. Everyone agrees that debt slows down economies for years to come, everyone agrees that we are in a world of hurt already—exactly when do they plan to do something about it?
It’s funny (and this may seem to be a side note, but is really telling): when the Republicans were holding their convention, and Isaac was trashing New Orleans, the Democrats were confused about how the Republicans could be partying while people were being drowned. Now that it’s the Democrats’ turn to party, the suffering survivors of Isaac barely rate a mention on the news. The Democrats are the party of the people, the party that cares about people, but there hasn’t been one lick of an idea about cutting the convention short, and spending the saved money in New Orleans. Not one mention of the survivors, dealing with the loss of everything they owned. At least the Republicans had the grace to offer a moment of silence for those who were weathering the storm.
The Democrats seem to be the party of the people when there is something that they choose to do about a particular situation. Then they are all rah!rah! and press conference. Otherwise, that situation doesn’t exist. And talk about pandering—in their party platform, they originally left out any mention of God, and they didn’t list Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A couple of mentions by reporters, and they immediately held a voice vote (notorious for their accuracy), and determined that the delegates had changed their minds and voted two to one to put those two words into the platform. A hue and cry over nothing? Perhaps. After all, the Republicans put verbiage in their platform that the right to life is sacred. But when the Democrats raised a fuss, they didn’t take it out.
So, when it comes to the Democrats, if the squeaky wheel gets the grease, who are they going to be listening to?