There are a multitude of catch-phrases and buzz-words politicians use to convey their message and solicit votes during campaigns, and Republicans in particular devise messages that invoke patriotism by using fear and loathing of America’s enemies whether from foreign or internal enemies. Americans have always pulled together during emergencies or times of trouble, and in this tenuous economy we need a concerted effort to rebuild confidence and achieve economic stability. The new catch-phrase Republicans are using to defend their Draconian spending cuts is “shared sacrifice” and for a change, they are staying true to their word.
During World War II, the government enlisted all segments of society to work for the war effort and every American sacrificed something for the good of the country. Children collected tin cans, women took on construction jobs, men enlisted in the military, and every citizen felt they had a part in the victory. Today, money and jobs are in short supply, people are losing their homes, and communities are hard-pressed to maintain police, fire departments, education funding and everyone is being asked to sacrifice something for the common good. In order to rein in spending and reduce the deficit, Republicans in Congress are selling their spending cuts as necessary to the health of the nation and say their cuts impact every group; they claim it is shared sacrifice.
Americans are beginning to understand that Republicans want everyone to share in the sacrifices except the wealthy and corporations. Conservatives traditionally force minorities to make sacrifices, but they have broadened the scope to include the poor, elderly, children, and now working-class families in an effort to spread the pain evenly. For one thing, sacrifice means giving something up voluntarily and sharing denotes all parties giving equally. Republicans are forcing 98% of Americans to give up services their tax dollars pay for, but they are not asking the wealthy or corporations to make any sacrifices whatsoever.
In Congress, Republicans are finding it difficult to force Americans to sacrifice for corporations and the wealthy because the Senate and White House are controlled by Democrats. In Republican controlled states though, governors and legislatures are forcing the masses to sacrifice everything to ensure corporations receive all the tax dollars and control of the government. Republicans are not using subterfuge and deceit to hand over control to corporations, and in many cases, Republican governors are flaunting the fact that they are giving corporations a free ride while forcing everyone else to make bigger sacrifices.
In many Republican controlled states that are facing budget deficits, governors have proposed funding cuts to education, law enforcement, and aid programs for the poor and elderly in an effort to reduce budget shortfalls. The same states are experiencing depressed tax revenues so they increased taxes on the poor, retirees, public employees, and the middle class. With all the spending cuts, added tax revenue, and shared sacrifice by 98% of the population, states should be on the road to recovery, but any savings or added revenue is being doled out to corporations to perpetuate the shortfalls. To add insult to injury, Republicans argue that the spending cuts, elimination of services, and corporate entitlements will create jobs as they lay off thousands of employees.
The country watched Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, give tax cuts to corporations that immediately caused a budget deficit, so he used it as an excuse to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees; he is not alone and is not finished. Walker also raised taxes on seniors, single mothers, and low-income residents as well as attempting to dismantle the state’s Medicaid system. In New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona, Republican governors are following Walker’s lead in drastically cutting Medicaid funding, and in Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, and Pennsylvania the governors are decimating the education systems to save money. In each of those states, the cuts to education and Medicaid will not cover the tax cuts the governors are giving to corporations and special interest groups. The result is less services, more people below the poverty level, and state budget deficits in perpetuity. It would be understandable if the Republican governors made cuts and raised taxes on everyone in their states, but they are doing the opposite in the name of fiscal responsibility, job creation, and shared sacrifice.
In a sense, Republicans do believe in shared sacrifice. In the past the poor and minorities shared in sacrificing for the good of the wealthy and corporations. Apparently, that sacrifice was not enough for Republicans and they have been kind enough to force elderly, children, and middle-class Americans to share the burden with the poor and minorities. Who are 98% of Americans sharing the sacrifice for? Republican governors and Congressional Republicans claim sacrificing government services is to reduce the budget deficit and control spending, but they are throwing our sacrifices into a bottomless pit of corporate greed. Despite Republicans’ claims, corporate entitlements are outpacing the spending cuts and they are complaining that corporate taxes are too high. Many Republicans in Congress favor eliminating corporate tax altogether like the new class of Republican governors are doing in their states.
Perhaps Republicans do not comprehend what shared sacrifice means, but that is highly unlikely. Any sacrifice is for the benefit of something, and since Republicans do not care about the government, they are forcing Americans to sacrifice money, well-being, safety, and old-age for a few greedy corporations and wealthy families.
Americans are generous, sharing people and have demonstrated that no sacrifice is too great to benefit the country or fellow citizens. In World War II the entire country mobilized to defeat a common enemy and during natural and man-made disasters most Americans step up and make sacrifices to help those in need whether with physical or financial support. There are groups who have fought and sacrificed so that every American regardless of race, gender, economic status, or religion enjoys the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution, but Republicans have stood in opposition every step of the way. Now they are forcing the middle-class to give their livelihood to corporations and the wealthy.
Many middle-class Americans sat passively while the poor were being sacrificed, and Republicans misread their passivity as acquiescence. They have awoken an educated mass of people who are politically savvy and have assets to fight corporate entitlements. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker and the nation have witnessed exactly what shared sacrifice looks like and when done voluntarily, shared sacrifice will overcome evil and fascism every time. The protestors on the streets of Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida are sacrificing their time and energy for all Americans. It is a travesty that a few old white teabaggers are holding signs supporting the Koch brothers, but it is encouraging that the teabaggers who support Koch Industries are in the minority; there is no accounting for stupidity.
There is going to be an accounting and it is going to be painful for Republicans. Many Americans were uninformed about Republicans and their corporatist attitude, but now that all Americans are being forced to share in sacrificing to the corporate greed-god, the silence is over. There are grass-roots organizations that have mobilized an army of enraged Americans and their numbers are growing as they learn they are being forced into poverty to help corporations.
All Americans would sacrifice anything to protect their family’s well-being, and most would sacrifice all for America. However, Republicans are learning that Americans are hard-pressed to sacrifice any more for corporations and the wealthy. Americans don’t mind paying for government services, but they detest Republicans taking our money and handing it over to corporations without any benefit. Americans have sacrificed enough and Republicans can either sacrifice corporate donations or their jobs. Based on their set-in-stone corporatism, they’ll lose their jobs.