Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | July 14, 2011

Thoughts on the Debt Ceiling Discussions


For the past week I have been following the mess in Washington with the discussions over raising the government’s debt ceiling and I am dismayed at how politicians on both sides – but especially on the Tea Party-encouraged GOP – are using this as a political game in which they only focus on the upcoming presidential elections.

On the Republican side, people like Rep. Eric Cantor and
Speaker John Boehner (with the support of their so-called base) are playing
with the country to make a point. Their excuse is that they want to neuter ‘big
government’ and bar any tax increases for big corporations, but what they
seemingly are interested in is removing the President’s teeth.  Congress Democrats want to show the rest of the country how evil the GOP is with their ideas of basically doing away with time-honored programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which give our retirees some comfort as they approach the end of their lives.

What makes me sick about all of this is that our political leaders are supposed to represent us – the millions of voters who believed in them by putting or keeping them in office. Instead, they are basically ignoring the people in favor of political gain.

Let me tell you a thing or two about that: it doesn’t work. Many ‘blue dog’ Democrats went against the Health Care law (basically making it toothless without a public option) in order to defend their seats in Congress. When the midterm elections came around, conservative districts – including Staten Island – voted them out of office anyway. If we look back, the GOP tried the same strategy against Bill Clinton back in 1996 and ended up failing – and losing seats in both the House and Senate.

While Congress ignores the people, President Obama makes small strides among his supporters. A recent report by the New York Daily News stated that Obama’s reelection campaign raised has so far raised $ 86 million – which soars over the coffers of any other GOP hopeful. The piece noted that most of the donations came from ordinary folk who pledged as little as $ 50. In the meantime, top Republican contender Mitt Romney got about $ 18 million – which proves that in spite of all the turbulence and slow economic recovery, plenty of people still want to keep Obama in office instead of risking some pro-Market president.

I believe there are two things going wrong with the way things are. Giving tax breaks to the rich doesn’t work. The GOP contends we have to protect job creators, but as far as I know big corporations are still laying off workers while sending jobs overseas while making billions in profits. In the meantime, the middle class is slowly disappearing – I believe that everyone should pay their fair share.

Also, the size of our military machine is unfathomable. Why do we need military bases in Germany, Korea and other countries? World War II ended almost seventy years ago, and the Cold War is now reduced to two banana republics in the Caribbean and Asia. Why keep over 500,000 troops on the taxpayers’ dime? I honestly don’t get it.

So let this little rant of mine serve as a warning:  Senators and Congressmen and women, please come into some kind of agreement favorable to voters, not your own selfish ideals. Or else there will be hell to pay come the next election.

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