Saturday, July 23, 2011

Doing All the Wrong Things to End the Dive

All the top athletes were in  the armed forces during World War II, so that boys growing up in those years had only the military to hero-worship.

One of my heroes was a family friend who was an Army Air Force test pilot.  When he had leave to visit his father, a retired career officer himself, there would be a big picnic at his parents' home in northern Kentucky.  My hero seldom talked about his work, but one evening, under prodding by his Dad, he began talking about the maneuvers he had to perform when testing aircraft.  He drifted into talking about a power dive in an experimental plane that failed to respond to any of the controls.  Mere seconds away from a deadly crash, he remembered something an aircraft engineer told him never, ever to do.  He did it.  The plane pulled out of its dive. He said he never mentioned the episode to his fellow pilots.  "You could try that 50 times," he said, "and you'd crash every time."

Our country's economy is in a suicide dive right now and our so-called leaders are doing all the wrong things. Presumably they're expecting a lucky miracle like my boyhood hero's.  What they're heading for, though, is a deadly crash.  The problem is, their metaphoric test plane has passengers: the American public.

Dr. Kidglove, who "governs" by giving the minority party everything it wants, has sought to persuade them to raise the nation's debt ceiling -- a routine practice that Congress has performed countless times before -- by sacrificing the nation's sick, poor, aged, military veterans, jobless and helpless.  That's a lot of common folk.

In return, he got . . . nothing.  No revenue increase.  Zero.

The deficit bogeyman is the result of two things: our endless wars and the Bush-Obama tax cuts for  the rich in 2001, 2003 and 2009.  Extending them will add $612 billion to the deficit over the next ten years.   Simply letting those cuts expire (restoring  tax rates to the level of the prosperous 1990s) would wipe out the deficit in ten years.  Ending all our wars and cutting the military budget accordingly would wipe it out in 18 months.  None of the "deals" kicking around Washington considers these possibilities. 

The tax-cut puppets of Big Business say they want to pare the size of government.  But if they force default, the size of government necessarily would increase.  Default would destroy the nation's entire credit system, toss government bonds into the high-risk pool, wipe out billions in "safe"worker and retiree savings, send unemployment soaring above 20%, and immediately make "big" government more, not less important.  It would become the employer of last resort.  The American default would send ripples around the world, toppling markets abroad as well.

A recent government audit of the Federal Reserve disclosed that the government made $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst recession in 80 years -- caused by those same banks. And now we're going to pay down the deficit  by cutting out the social safety net that should, in fact, be strengthened as part of a massive government bailout of people, not banks.

Instead, Dr. Kidglove offered Speaker Boehner the entire candy store.  Boehner surveyed the merchandise and walked out. Some guys can't stand the sight of no blood.

What an ugly spectacle is Washington: a bad president, desperate to be re-elected, embracing a worse Congress in a danse macabre.

And it's our lives they're gambolling away.

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