So the world is about to end. Not on December 21st 2012 but as a result of the Fiscal Cliff…
No. As usual it’s a lot of hype. There will likely be some kind of compromise reached and it will likely involve cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; maybe Food Stamps too.
With the recent momentum Democrats have gained Republicans will likely relent and raise taxes a little. They may also find a way to only tax those just under the highest incomes, but above a certain income level though. Funny thing I’ve learned about Social Security though (which it seems Obama has agreed to cut) it’s only taken from up to the first $110,000 earned from a paycheck. Meaning its effect is not really even existent for those of the highest incomes when compared to those of lower incomes (See reference article). Either way the highest income group likely finds a way out of it for opulence’s sake. Therefore, I’d have to ask, why are conservatives asking it be put on the table. It doesn’t really even effect their financiers. It seems to me like they just found a place to cut spending and are making a big deal of it. As though Social Security payments aren’t small enough already…
The first time Obama ran for office my thinking was “He has no experience but he may appoint a good cabinet.” That didn’t happen and may never have been his intention. So now, over time, he’ll likely just sell us out slowly. Seriously, once elected he could have forced the banks to change management like he did the auto industry. He didn’t though since he was either thanking them for paying for his 2008 campaign (he was the first candidate to deny public funding) or hoping they’d pay for his next one. Either way, the banks faced no repercussions and will continue doing what they did before; straight into another crisis as financial crime has been given incentives instead of punishment.
As far as President Obama’s compromises, in the first term he wanted re-election so he had to play ball. Now in his second term re-election isn’t an option so he has the flexibility to show a lot more teeth on many more things. True, politics are still involved but the President is now in a much better position to act on whatever his agenda may have been when he ran for office in 2008. Yes, politics often requires compromises but there are limits. Furthermore, though there might be small compromises offered now, comparatively speaking, how much has already been compromised away over the past few decades in small increments?
Nevertheless there’s a problem and it’s not with the Republicans. Yes, they have been unwilling to compromise about many things forcing the Democrats to compromise; further screwing over “Main Street.” However, the problem I see is actually with the leftist base. When Democrats compromise the usual constituent response is “There was nothing they could do…” or “They had to…” etc. When Republicans show unwillingness to compromise there is hate speech iterated. Why isn’t this dissatisfaction shown towards failed Democratic action like it is against successful Republican action, or just their proposed policies. True the dissatisfaction may be less severe but that doesn’t mean the left should turn the other cheek.
Personally, I think both parties are terrible at this point. If you want to play the “two-party game” however you should at least be willing to do more than just march in support of proposed policies from “your team;” or against those you dislike from the “other side.” The left should be just as willing, if not more so, to get out and march against policies where candidates compromised to their constituents’ discontent. Sure, compromises happen and sometimes they really suck; That’s life. This doesn’t mean you should just accept the defeat with a hanging, sorrowful, shake-of-the-head though; putting it behind you.
I’d say the best case scenario would be to stand up and make a statement no matter what. Does it really matter if it’s just for publicity as the bill may have already passed? The statement can get attention and it’s a way of organizing and building support (hint, hint).
The same goes for internet activism. I’ve seen so many memes against DOMA, Republican policies that curtail women’s rights, anti-union measures, efforts to cut benefits, etc. I usually agree with them. However, where are the memes from the left criticizing the Democrats when they cave and relent because “There was nothing that could be done.” The only memes I see in that vein are memes which are created by radicals who already hate both parties and may not even vote so politicians don’t really care about what they think anyway.
Now to address the potential feedback of “But what good will protest-after-passage accomplish?” Well, for one thing it holds the politician accountable to their constituents. They can’t just brush off a compromise if they are reminded of it through public display. In an ideal world the process for recalling a failed candidate may be far less complicated. Until that day comes however public disapproval, with media coverage, is quite useful.
As far as the Fiscal Cliff goes, Obama should just refuse deals and let it come. At this point it would show a lot more backbone than we’ve seen thus far. Over the edge of the Fiscal Cliff would be cuts all across the board and no one would really be able to complain about the other side getting preferential treatment. Taxes would go up, entitlements would drop, and defense spending would be dropped a bit too. It’s not like the President has to worry about re-election…
By the way if defensive spending were cut it would be a perfect real-world indicator that we don’t need to spend as much as we do on “national security”; and that maybe things aren’t as scary as they are made out to be.
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Note: I am adding this to this post after it has already been posted for a day. I wanted to acknowledge and correct a mistake I made. Above I said “Taxes would go up, entitlements would drop…” I have been corrected about how Social Security would neither increase nor decrease. Bush-era tax cuts would expire, as would middle class cuts. Any increases bookmarked would not be made. Please excuse the error. Thanks.