Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Curtain Rises on Act Three of Beltway Budget Noh Play

The high-pitched whine of a Japanese flute or a manicured politician, the discordant screech of an ancient stringed instrument or an aged Lothario masked in tanning-bed orange, and the deep thud of a traditional taiko drum or a pot-bellied fixer signalled the curtain had risen on Act III of the intractably stylized posings of the Washington Beltway budget Noh play.  All the players wore masks, all the movements were choreographed, and all the drama was excruciatingly monotonous.

The House passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government for another three weeks, Democrats having surrendered another $6 billion toward the Republican goal of crippling the government with $61 billion in cuts to vital services.

While Republicans preened and strutted their celestial peacock dance, and Democrats swooned and trudged in their forlorn ghost rags, the American people told a new ABC/Washington Post poll that they were sick of Republicans holding the government hostage, and they wanted the budget shortfall addressed with a combination of cuts and tax increases.

None of the Noh players listened.

Congressional Republicans categorically refuse to examine revenue reform, and Democrats mutely comply.  The Beltway politicos are content to allow hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans to suffer crippling cut to education, health care, and the elimination of government business and industry oversight so their plutocrat masters can get seventy-two coats of hand-rubbed lacquer on their new private Airbus 380s.

Tired of the budget impasse, 56% said President Obama should try harder to reach an accord with Republicans. However, 71% said Republicans hadn't been willing enough to compromise with the President.

On the budget, the public stood behind the President.  Americans said that should there be a government shutdown, 45% would hold Republicans responsible, compared to 31% who would hold President Obama responsible. Americans trust the President more than Republicans on handling the economy by 46% to 34%; on balancing the federal budget by 45% to 35%; and on protecting workers' rights by 45% to 39%.

47% of Americans believed the President better understood their economic problems, compared to 35% who thought Republicans did.

Most importantly, 67% believed taxes or a combination of taxes and cuts was the best way to address the federal budget deficit, while just 31% believed that cuts alone were the way to go.

Every major poll in the past week demonstrated that Americans believe that some sort of revenue reform was necessary to address government debt and deficit.

Nonetheless, the masked players on the nation's budget stage have no intention of raising revenue. Republicans will not raise taxes on their rich patrons, and they will continue to compete among themselves to show their masters who is the most loyal servant. Congressional Republicans will fight each other to be first to strip away yet more government oversight, consumer protections, and vital services and to deliver the next tax subsidy. Congressional Republicans are playing to one audience and one audience only: their GOP plutocrat masters.  In this, they are no different from the white supremacists, Neo-Confederates and gun-toting militia thugs who form the phalanxes beneath the GOP's elite. On the GOP side, everyone believes in toadying up to the plutocrats. In their medieval plutocracy, each vassal commits competing heinous acts of depravity to prove his loyalty and win tokens of recognition.

So far, Democrats have willingly gone along for a chance at a few of the table scraps.

Although the third major national poll in a week showed Americans contempt for the Republicans' cuts-only, coddle-the-rich approach to governing, Republicans are barrelling full-speed ahead with their Roadkill of America plot. They will stop at nothing until they either shut down the government, or destroy it and clear the field for their masters to take their places as the new feudal overlords of an impoverished fiefdom.

The new Continuing Resolution runs out in three weeks. Republicans and Democrats have each signalled they will no longer countenance stop-gap funding measures. The screeching and posturing goes on. Everyone is still wearing their masks.

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