Today (April 10, 2012) is a good day to watch the United States Congress. It is about to put on a show that has all the trapping of a hit film epic:
Twists and turns;
And of course, Hollywood’s best device to capitalize on maximum profits,
The senate will be voting tomorrow on opening debate on a gun control bill that makes already-existing federal background checks on gun purchasing from licensed gun dealers universal to all gun sales. The legislation exempts gun transfers to friends and relatives.
Congress will also be exploring the president’s budget proposal which includes some modest (and unpopular) adjustments to Social Security and Medicare, in exchange for closing tax loopholes used by huge corporations and very wealthy private citizens. it also includes an increase in taxes for the very wealthy who typically pay a lower income tax rate (typically 15% or less) than their middle class employees making 100 times LESS than these gazillionaires.
The gun background check legislation is backed by perhaps 90% of Americans, and yet has a less than total chance of passage in the senate. Even assuming that it does pass the senate, it’s destiny in the GOP-controlled US House of Representatives is even LESS secure. The reason for this are multiple, but perhaps the biggest problem is that corporate America is slowly but surely “buying” control of the US government through super-pacs and campaign contributions.
There are democrats from conservative states that will face a re-election challenge in 2014 if they vote for the background checks from GOP candidates financed by these corporate-funded super-pacs. Equally, some republicans in the House face a challenge in the form of a forced primary election campaign against a very-well financed tea party candidate. Either way, corporate America, which make huge profits on everything from oil to guns to ammo to drugs to insurance to banks to power generation, etc. will line the moneybags of the super-pacs with endless massive funding for folks willing to promote their “Profits before safety…ANY safety” agenda.
President Obama took a VERY bold (and for him, a very dangerous) step by proposing a budget that addresses how yearly cost of living allowances are calculated. He proposed a long-sought-after GOP idea to tie the yearly annuity CPI increase to a “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI), instead of the standard CPI. This “chained” CPI” is a mathematical calculation device invented for the sole purpose lowering CPI payments. It’s premise is that as certain consumables increase in cost, seniors will simply find cheaper substitutes, or not buy them at all.
Conservatives say that the present CPI is not realistic because seniors don’t buy a lot of what the CPI is based on. And while there may be some truth to that, the “chained” CPI is even LESS realistic because seniors on social security are probably already buying the cheapest items they need. Liberals point out that certain important items such a housing, medications and medical equipment are not realistically available in “cheaper” brands.
Thus Obama, in one fell swoop, has managed to piss off people on both extreme sides of the aisle, which begs the question: Why would Obama, who is an intelligent man, do such a thing?
The answer to that question might be strategic genius on his part. First, he has placed reductions in spending on programs like social security and medicare are on the table as long as tax increases on the very rich are also there. Second, he demonstrates that his proposals favor neither conservatives nor extreme liberals, thus showing his balanced approach. Both work in his favor and against extremism.
But what is most likely is that he and his advisers realize that there is absolutely no way republicans in either the senate or the house will accept any new taxes on the wealthy, nor the closing of obscene and insane loopholes that only the very wealthy corporations and gazillionaires enjoy at the expense of the rest of the country. By showing that he is willing to compromise and upset the most liberal arm of his own party, while republicans STILL say “no way!”, sets republicans up as extremists, and that fact can be politicalyl exploited during the 2014.
Remember that EVERY congressperson in the House is up for reelection next year, and if the GOP still looks as extremist, big-business-oriented and anti-middle class as the Ryan budget is, and as many Americans thought they were during the 2012 presidential elections, they may well lose control of the House and their filibuster capabilities in the senate in 2014.
So…if this is the real Plan behind the Plan, it will be akin to providing enough rope to the GOP to hang themselves. Or put another way, they will screw themselves to death. Either way, it’s got what every great movie has….violence and sex.
Ya gotta love it….. 🙂