Everyone in Washington looks as happy as cherrystone clams at high tide this morning after the budget compromise that prevented a shutdown of the federal government.
“Today Americans of different beliefs came together again,” said President Barack Obama.
“We made history instead of repeating it,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, he who wants to eviscerate Medicare/Medicaid, called the budget plan “good news.”
All this patriotic and chest-swelling bipartisan pride is about what may be the biggest heist in history. In this unarmed robbery, the rich stole from everyone else, and in particular the poor.
Obama’s delight in compromise ignored the sad fact that the $38.5 billion in cuts serving as centerpiece of the compromise will mean decreases in spending in the following crucial areas:
- Head Start, which prepares poor and disadvantaged children for school.
- WIC, which gives federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income mothers, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.
- Infrastructure projects and programs to improve roads, bridges and mass transit
- A program that provides international aid that directly and literally saves lives from pandemic diseases
- Proven work and income supports that lift families out of poverty
- Support for education, especially in low-income communities
It doesn’t take an Aristotle to see that these cuts will hurt people already suffering and postpone repairs and improvements to the infrastructure that could boost our economy.
And none of it would have been necessary if the Democrats and Obama had not compromised with Republicans last December to extend temporary tax cuts for the wealthy and instead allowed them to expire. Remember that at the time, they controlled both houses of Congress. If the Dems had forced the issue during the campaign season, they might have had an issue that appealed to voters and done better in last November’s election.
Put the two compromises together and you have a net transfer of wealth of $38.5 billion and counting, all of it going up the economic ladder from the middle class and poor to the wealthy, who already were doing well, having improved their share of all of America’s wealth by 70% and their share of total income by about 66% over the past 30 years.
Most of the media coverage of the compromise this morning reported on the drama of negotiation and the exuberance of avoiding a shutdown. Very few reporters bothered to list the cuts. Nothing devious there—it’s just the standard media preference for focusing on personalities and the drama of struggle over considering the details of issues.
But I did find it interesting that in all the “sound and fury” and “cries and whispers” reported in the media leading up to and immediately following the budget compromise, there has been virtually no mention of the fact that the Pentagon’s budget is being increased by $10 billion. That means that instead of dedicating $10 billion to helping people in need, we are going to buy more guns, bullets and planes and shoot up Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and wherever else we are making a muck of things.