NOTICE: Last week, I announced the second annual Elderblogger Meetup at my home, scheduled for Saturday 15 October. I've received only one confirmed attendee and will do this only if there are at least 10 people who commit to come. The deadline to RSVP is Friday 5 August.
With yesterday's Senate vote on the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress at last raised the debt limit of the government thereby avoiding default.
This prolonged fight, some of it from the Republican side the definition of insane, did not need to be. This is the first time in the history of the U.S. that the debt ceiling has not been raised as it should be, on its own.
According to the Village – the mainstream media that so widely misreported and misinterpreted the facts – pretty much everyone voted yea while holding their noses. Even the tea partiers wanted draconian budget cuts they didn't get.
The general public sees the months of wasted time in terms that are devastating (we can only hope) to Congress.
In a survey conducted between 28 and 31 July by the Pew Research Center, 72 percent of 1,001 adults described the clown show in Washington with terms shown in this word cloud.
Only two percent of those polled offered positive terms and only 11 percent were neutral.
What else did the legislation give us? Worst of all, zero revenue – no new taxes – along with some cuts that will be harmful to the poor and to elders. The day before the Senate vote, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont explained why he would vote against the bill:
Why is there no one else in the Senate with the passion and conviction of this lonely voice who never fails to speak up for the people instead of corporations and the rich. (Hat tip to one of my senators, Jeff Merkley, for joining Sanders with a no vote.
The best that can be said for the legislation is that there are no cuts, as were included in earlier debt ceiling bills that failed, to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But that doesn't mean anyone can breathe easy.
The bill creates a new, 12-member Joint Congressional Committee – a so-called super committee - composed of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from both Houses of Congress that is charged with recommending $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction cuts by the end of this year.
If the committee is able to agree on cuts (I highly doubt it), it must be voted on with almost no debate and no amendments at all. That pretty well cuts out participation by the other 523 other members of Congress in governing. This can't be good.
Thanks to relentless misreporting by the Villagers over months (and years) that Social Security contributes to the deficit, that Medicare (not health care costs) is the problem and that we can save America only by destroying these two programs and Medicaid, you can be sure that all three will be on the chopping block in the committee.
It could have been so easy if there were reasonable people in Congress not beholden to corporations:
- Medicare for All
- Eliminate the Social Security salary cap
- Let the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire
- Fix corporate tax loopholes
- Raise taxes on the highest earners
- Create a temporary jobs program a la the WPA and CCC
Countries that cannot raise or collect taxes are called banana republics. In our current global troubles, think Greece.
Meanwhile, with all the problems we have, Congress has recessed for five weeks until after Labor Day and just 11 weeks later, they will close down again from Thanksgiving to New Years.
Nothing good is happening.
My email inbox is overflowing with more than a thousand unread messages. I cannot possibly read those and keep up with the daily deluge so I am declaring Email Bankruptcy today and deleting them all.
A large number being trashed are newsletters and other alerts I subscribe to, but I've undoubtedly missed some personal and TimeGoesBy-related messages. If you believe it is important for me to respond to a message you've sent and have not heard from me, you will need to resend.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Madonna Dries Christensen: Gone But Not Forgotten