Take Barack Obama. I admire greatly that he is a practical decision maker. I truly value that he is philosophically in tune with my sense of fairness and equality and such matters. Given my feelings about our president of whom I am a strong supporter (surprise!), examples of my inner conflict are not infrequent.
Drones. What a great technological advantage they provide our nation at this time and how great that we need to send fewer humans to battle. There is always collateral damage in wartime so I am kind of okay with their use. But what if other nations were to possess weaponized drones? A certainty at some point. And suppose Romney were president. Happily, a certainty, he’s not.
Keystone Pipeline. Having spent some time in Oswego this past summer talking with members of that community, this is a really big deal for them. Signs in front of homes provide graphic demonstrations of a deep split in an economically vulnerable area of New York. Fracking is the new f-word to most progressives. Still, Joe Nocera (NY Times editorial earlier this week) wrote that an energy expert at Stanford University pointed out, So long as the demand is there, energy producers are going to search for new supplies of fossil fuel – many of them using unconventional means like tar sands extraction. . . With growing global demand, the economic pressure to develop unconventional resources is enormous and not going away. Can environmental groups expect to win a series of fights for decades to come, when the economic forces are aligned very strongly against them in each round? The answer is obvious: no. The emphasis should be on demand, not supply. If the U.S. stopped consuming so much of the world’s oil, the economic need for the tar sands would evaporate.
Sequester. This ‘deal’ was approved because nobody in his or her right mind would ever allow it to happen. I have been on record all along as believing it won’t happen–can’t happen. Not because the sides will get together around a cozy fireplace and work things out. Rather, big business will, behind the scenes, cause the GOP to submit to postponing or caving. There are respected progressives who see the sequester as a one-time opportunity to reducing the military budget, recognizing we live in a far different world from the time war-making had not evolved to today’s standards.
The origin of the sequester is commonly attributed to the 2011 Budget Control Act. Its roots are in Reaganomics: his starve the beast strategy aimed at shrinking the role of government over time. Recognizing it would be almost impossible, and politically damaging, to eliminate social programs, Reagan preferred to reduce funding, rendering these impotent. Alan Greenspan testified before the U.S. Finance Committee: Let us remember that the basic purpose of any tax cut program in today’s environment is to reduce the momentum of expenditure growth by restraining the amount of revenue available and trust that there is a political limit to deficit spending.
W. Bush jumped at the opportunity: Tax and deficit spending were attempts to starve the beast. So we offer a tax relief plan that provides a new kind-a fiscal straightjacket for Congress.
Starve. Straitjacket. Sequester. Call it what you may, they add up to the same thing–arch-conservative thinking that advantages the wealthy at the expense of America’s poor and working middle class. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, Planned Parenthood. Never before, however, the military.
This is what is driving neocons up a wall. It’s the main reason they fear Chuck Hagel walking the corridors of the Pentagon making decisions about cuts to the military. Republicans have come to realize that President Obama suggested that Congress vote to approve a sequester deal that ignores the social network but jeopardizes weaponry. He knew precisely what he was doing.
So, do I favor the sequester? Nobody does, but . . .
Each day we learn more and more about economic disruption and harm that the sequester will bring to everyday life. Not good. On the other hand some very well meaning progressives want to see it happen. Forgoing sequestration would be missing a great opportunity.