Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dysfunctional Democrats

Congress is fleeing Washington for their local districts to campaign for the upcoming Midterm elections. But an overwhelming majority of Americans are not likely to vote November 2, despite the fact that the outcome will have serious consequences for them.

Republicans are counting on the Tea Party movement to put them over the top in many key races. They are embracing so-called Tea Party candidates who believe evolution is a myth, float "second amendment remedies" to win back government and talk of repealing the Civil Rights Amendment. "The political class is really dysfunctional," former Florida Governor Jeb Bush observed in an interview on MSNBC. Well governor, if Democratic voters sit out this Midterm election, the young, Hispanic, African American and blue-collar workers, you haven't see anything yet!

Should Republicans gain control of one or both houses of Congress they will set about to dismantle President Obama and all of his legislative achievements. They will work to unwind regulatory reform and oversight so that Wall Street firms and the banking industry can return to their profitable practices of the past.

Republicans will immediately attempt to repeal the historic Affordable Care Act and bring and end to health care reform. That means insurance companies will again be able to set lifetime caps, will be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, and will be able to bar parents from keeping their children on their health care policy until they are 26. That also means that more than 30 million uninsured Americans will have no health care coverage, other than the local emergency room. And it means that health care costs will continue to skyrocket for all Americans.

Republicans will bring a halt to stimulus spending, much of which went to help states keep teachers, policemen and firemen employed. And Republicans will attempt to make major cuts in education spending, just at a time when America's students are falling behind many of those in other countries.

How will Republicans turn the American economy around? Start with extending all of the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year. Doing so will add $4 Trillion to the US deficit over the next decade. President Obama proposed not extending the tax break for the wealthiest 3% of Americans, families with more than $250,000 in income, which Republicans opposed even though it would have saved $750 Billion over the decade. Yet the GOP continues to blame Democrats for the deficit. Meanwhile, Republicans have proposed building an expensive missile defense system which would set off another costly arms race with the Russians.

Republicans will roll back more than just banking reform. They will work to overturn government supported environmental regulations and initiatives, as well as efforts to develop alternative fuels. Instead, it will be "drill baby drill." They will also seek to restrict or overturn social reforms, including such controversial issues as immigration, civil rights, "don't ask-don't tell" and Roe vs. Wade. And many Republicans are on record for privatizing Social Security and altering Medicaid and Medicare.

If that is not enough incentive for Democratic voters, GOP control of the House will lead to several expensive committee investigations into a whole range of issues. For instance, whether President Obama was actually born in America, whether the 14th Amendment should be repealed and whether Congressman Joe Sestak was offered a job to stay out of the Pennsylvania senate race.

For sure, President Obama has made some mistakes. But he has also had several meaningful legislative victories. Some in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are unhappy that President Obama's reform measures did not go further, so they have threatened to sit out the Midterms. This spurred Vice President Joe Biden to ill advisedly call them "whiners." But if these dysfunctional Democrats fail to vote this Midterm, they will only have themselves to blame for the chaos that will ensue to the detriment of the American people.

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