A Fantastical Sham

The economic crisis is a golden opportunity.

How else can you explain the rush to exploit budget problems as a jihad against collective bargaining and workers' rights as shown in Wisconsin? You might think that the entire state will disappear into oblivion if the sudden budget deficit isn't remedied by an austerity plan that has the lucky coincidence of busting up unions. 

The budget crisis in many states is starting to look like a Trojan Horse for the machinations of Republican-led legislatures and governors to use it as a chance to cut programs they loathe (anything social) under the guise of needed austerity. This is a hollow promise, because there's no way in hell any of these programs would come back to any kind of acceptable level; indeed, what's the threshold for declaring success for these cuts? In the state of Arizona, where funding for transplant patients has disappeared, does any reasonable person think Governor Jan Brewer is praying for the day she can make active? Why would a Republican have any incentive to have any program that goes to the public good? But it certainly makes more sense if someone suddenly comes up with a private plan to run this more efficiently: wouldn't that be a wonderful stroke of luck?

What an interesting thing it is that the right-wing--those master exploiters of fear--succeeded in terrifying and angering their base with stories of death panels, socialism, government takeovers and Sharia law, have used all those false issues to propel themselves into a majority in the House of Representatives and in governorships to undermine any and all social programs. It's a stunning thing to behold, really, to see how a party turns a negative (minority party status) into a positive and is within striking distance of getting back to the majority, all within a few years. Democrats could never pull that off at all. And now that the GOP is tanned, relaxed and ready to go, we see them not shying away from their agenda: kill anything Obama-related under the rubric of "no choice, we're in a budget crisis," topped off with a phony claim that the 2010 mid-terms gave them a mandate to do so. Again, this is expert manipulation, but apparently Democrats and their supporters remain oblivious to how this all works. Or how to fight it. 

Here's something also amazing: in the state of Arizona, Republicans have dominated the legislature for decades, but if you listen to any GOP representatives and senators, you might think they all just arrived on the planet yesterday to find a land ruined by financial irresponsibility. And across the nation, it seems to be the same thing where the GOP has ruled from state capitols. But if this is a party of fiscal responsibility, why are all these budgets in the red? How is it possible that all of these Republican legislatures have made the same uniformly bad fiscal decisions at the same time that somehow requires deep and deeper cuts to education and social services to remedy? Are we all under the same cosmic curse? These legislatures have given away the store to any and all land developers and screaming tax breaks to the point where the well is dry and the rent is due. Solution: those Cadillac-driving welfare queens we call public workers! Shame on them! Cut their payroll to get us out of a mess someone else created. Health services? Slash. Education? Slash. All the while telling us that it hurts them more than it hurts us. Fortunately their tax bracket cushions the blow. 

The budget crisis is a sham. All these fiscally irresponsible and GOP-led state governments have created a black hole of debt that should have discredited them, but have managed to escape opprobrium by deflecting the blame to everyone else. (The same tactic is used by corporations when they run into public-relations trouble.) It's the President's shamefully socialistic policies and out of control spending that is forcing them to cut social services and exterminate collective bargaining, so they claim. But this is a deeply cynical lie, and we're going to pay for it in ways that will make Wisconsin look like a walk in the park.