One of the features of negotiations is having two sides that are willing to make concessions in a trade-off scenario to come to a conclusion that satisfies both sides of the bargain. Whether it is hostage negotiations or the simple act of a retail purchase, each side must give something of value in order to complete a deal. The beauty of the two-party system in American politics is that even though the two parties are ideologically disparate, and in most cases, polar opposites of each other, they can, through compromise and sacrifice, come to the best decision for the country and all the American people.
However, for the past two-and-a-half years, there have been no compromises and Democrats have given everything to Republicans who take concessions from Democrats and tax dollars from the American people to repay the wealthy and the corporations they own. The current budget talks going on now in Washington are more of the same, with Republicans demanding Democrats go along with Draconian spending cuts, a Medicare privatization scam, and more tax breaks for corporations, the oil industry, and millionaires and billionaires; in return, Republicans are giving nothing except more of Americans’ tax dollars to rich people.
Yesterday President Obama gave a press conference and chastised Republicans for not leading and being unwilling to compromise for a balanced approach to addressing the budget deficit and increasing the nation’s debt limit before the August 2nd deadline. President Obama’s simple message to congressional Republicans was to stand up and lead, and for a change, the president spoke in harsh terms condemning the GOP’s approach of “being in one week” and “out one week.” Obama challenged the recalcitrant Republicans to make compromises that are necessary for a truly balanced approach, and although the president was absolutely right, he forgets that when he addresses Republicans, he is talking to petulant, spoiled rich kids who have no intention of conceding or compromising on anything. Of particular note was the president’s assertion that Republicans in Congress were “irresponsible children unwilling to sacrifice their desire to score political points for the good of the country.” Republicans have no conceptual understanding of doing anything for the good of the country and that is the problem that is causing undue pain and suffering for 98% of Americans.
The president also expressed some misguided optimism that Republicans would eventually do the right thing, but if history is any indication, they will not concede their anti-tax stance because it is not in their nature to ever do the right thing by the American people. Although Obama expressed concern that Republicans are not willing to compromise their “no tax hikes for the wealthy” position, he gave Republicans credit they certainly do not deserve. President Obama said, “A lot of people say a lot of things to satisfy their base or to get on cable news. Hopefully, leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and do the right thing for the American people. That’s what I expect to happen this time. Call me naive, but my expectation is leaders are going to lead.” The Republican’s notion of leading is to hold the line on no tax increase for corporations, oil industry, or millionaires and billionaires, and to slash programs crucial to the well-being of the American people. The Republicans are holding the debt ceiling increase hostage in order to destroy Medicare, and they are unapologetic about their intentions to send the nation into default unless they are allowed to put seniors and the poor out on the streets with no available health care options.
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the purveyor of death to America’s poor, middle class, and elderly sums up the entire Republican Party’s position in refusing to consider closing tax loopholes for the oil industry and corporations, or increasing taxes by 3% for 2% of the nation’s wealthiest people. McConnell blamed Democrats for the lack of progress on negotiations by insisting on an increase in taxes. McConnell said, “So far, they’re saying that it’s essential. We think it’s a job-killing step that shouldn’t be taken, and Republicans are not interested in going in that direction.” What McConnell doesn’t say is that the tax increases will not affect 98% of Americans or that tax increases DO NOT kill jobs; never have and never will. In fact, during the Clinton Administration the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was 3% higher than today and it was an unprecedented period of economic prosperity and job creation.
The tax increases Democrats are seeking are for the very wealthiest Americans making $250,000 a year for individuals, and closing tax loopholes for corporations and the oil industry who pay little or no tax on profits. President Obama said that, “I think it would be hard for Republicans to stand there and say the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we are not willing to come to the table and get a deal done.” The president is trying to shame the Republicans into making compromises on tax increases, but he fails to recognize that Republicans have no shame. Their consistent assertion that raising taxes will place undue pressure on the American people is laughable and nothing but more lies. Working class Americans do not make the kind of money to be affected by a tax increase on the wealthy. School teachers, police and firefighters, construction workers, or any American earning a living wage does not come close to the wealthy’s income bracket. According to the latest Census Bureau statistics, “The real median household income in 2009 was $49,777, not statistically different from the 2008 median.” That figure, $49,777, is for an entire household, and the Democrats are asking for a meager 3% increase for an individual making $250,000 per year and $500,000 for a two wage-earner household.
It was refreshing to see the President take Republicans to task for their refusal to compromise or negotiate a budget deal, but unfortunately, it will take more than a stern lecture. President Obama should hold weekly fireside chats during prime time on every television network when teabaggers and Republican supporters are sitting on their couches eating potato chips and swilling beer and soda to inform them of the facts about Republican’s lies and assertions. Republicans have not changed their talking points for 30 years about taxes killing jobs or that rewarding the wealthiest Americans will help the working class, and they will continue until the truth is beaten into their supporters greedy, thick, Neanderthal skulls. It is still supremely curious why any idiot making under $35,000 a year would fight tooth-and-nail to give wealthy people making a minimum of $250,000 for an individual more tax cuts. It is also unbelievable why teabaggers making Social Security retirement wages protest raising taxes on corporations and the oil industry that pay little or no taxes on billions of dollars in record profits every single quarter. However, conservatives are just not smart enough to think any issue through past the current sophistry they hear on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh’s radio show. In fact, it is so easy for Republican supporters to have Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, or Michele Bachmann tell them what to think and how to vote that they will never think for themselves. They will still be scratching their heads in amazement when they are without food, shelter, or a job, but the good news is they won’t have Republicans telling them tax increases for the rich will kill jobs because a television will be a luxury they can ill-afford.
All the while, the wealthiest 2% of Americans will be rolling in the tax dollars we middle class Americans making $49,777 or less a year give them and laughing all the way to the bank with McConnell and his lying Republican blackmailers carrying their wheelbarrows full of cash that Democrats negotiated away to save America’s economy. No-one can say that President Obama didn’t try to shame Republicans into negotiating honestly or warn Americans of the impending doom, although there are those on the left who will try.