Obama spoke yesterday, Friday, June 8, 2012 asking Congress to pass a section of the jobs bill related to infrastructure so we were treated to the usual suspects from the GOP pontificating on CNN. We had the entire triumvirate of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor (or Paul Ryan – I have a hard time telling them apart), with a distinctly Southern flair, bemoaning everything Obama has ever done since he entered office and everything he has ever wanted to do. They besmirched the stimulus again, predicted that the Affordable Health Care Act will soon go down in flames (which it may indeed do), and renewed, at the risk of fatal tedium, their vows to make sure taxes don’t get raised.
While it is true that Obama can perhaps be faulted for suggesting that the private business sector is healthy, it is certainly healthier than the public business sector which is suffering from difficulties with state and local budgets. At least private business seems to be percolating at a slow boil. Actually the Republicans like to constantly drive home their desire to see business regulations go away, so this also is part of their endless litany.
Then, bizarrely, after their many attacks on the safety net and the “deadbeats” who use it, they promised to save Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to create beaucoup jobs and to pass the “Perfect” Health Care Plan for all Americans.
They must believe we are all deaf, dumb, blind, memory deficient, and nuts. The GOP by itself does not have any answers for America. They are reactionary and they are haters. Don’t believe them and don’t elect them.
None of the petty nitpicking that is going on so far in this election matters. What matters is that we are choosing the future of America on almost every front.
Business – We need jobs, we need business and it would be reassuring to retrofit America so we could live the 50’s again (a more enlightened 50’s, I hope), but I don’t think we can do that. I don’t think Americans can shrink the economy and their wage requirements enough to make doing business in America profitable even if we trash every union in sight. American workers did not chase business away by being greedy and they probably cannot bring it back by working for peanuts. We will have to build new businesses.
Energy – Business is tied to energy. The Republicans feel that if we find and use every drop of oil and coal and gas under the earth’s surface, if we, in a sense, erase the dinosaurs, we will become the factory haven we once were and America will thrive once again. They earnestly believe that ending our dependence on foreign oil is the key to America’s future. Guess what? Democrats believe this too, but they see that if we work around fossil fuels as much as we possibly can, and innovate and invent, we can end our dependence on foreign oil, but we can do it in a way that will usher in a future that will include energy sources that are not disappearing and that do not pollute (although every positive arrives with some kind of negative in tow). This is why we need to compromise with some drilling, some innovating, and a common picture of the future. We should not want to retrofit America; we should want to reinvent it.
Regulation – Regulation is not helping the American business climate. Both Republicans and Democrats believe that we may have too many regulations on business. What we don’t agree about is how much regulation and which regulations to cut back on. And instead of doing the detailed work of sorting through our current regulations we are grandstanding. Republicans want to get rid of all regulation on business. They know this is unwise, they know the lessons of history as well as the Democrats do, but they still insist that we follow this extreme path. They are desperate to go back to what they see as the only way America will ever be affluent, go back to the 50’s. Why can’t they believe that America can find a way to an affluent future that differs from the past? Is it because it will take too much time and America might fail in the meantime? This is why we need to work together to lessen the stranglehold of regulations on business, if there is one, without just turning the American business scene into the Wild West.
Benefits – Yes when business was thriving we could afford all the benefits we wanted and people paid their workers with benefits instead of salaries. People depended on their benefits and now, in less affluent times, they have become too expensive and businesses have yanked them away, or cut them back. Now the government, without a healthy business sector to back up its prosperity, is finding its benefit promises onerous. This time the entire nation is depending on these benefits. If you yank them away you send Americans into homelessness, illness and perhaps death. If we don’t yank them away you are afraid the American government will go bankrupt and America will never be prosperous again. We either rise together or sink together. We can’t afford an America that only takes care of business and does not take care of people. People are the government. Cut benefits back until times improve, but they are pretty bare bones already so they can’t be cut by much. Getting rid of all our safety net will not bring back business; it will not bring back widespread prosperity. It is short-sighted and mean-spirited.
Environmental concerns – The GOP is in denial about environmental concerns largely because they also see these concerns as chasing away business (do we see a theme here). No American can afford to be anti-business. Business fuels America more than oil, or gas or any other substance we call fuel. But if we destroy our soil, our air and our water it won’t matter if we have businesses. Life will become a deadly grind with no beauty to relieve it. The only businesses we will need then will be ones that create bio-domes we can live under or space ships we can escape in. If we dial back our environmental rules for businesses will they return to do business in America? I doubt it. Are there possibly too many environmental penalties and rules? We could explore that in great detail if we could actually talk to each other.
Immigration – Immigration issues are more complicated to solve because many Americans feel that these issues are affecting American business, but also the very nature of America. Americans don’t want illegal immigrants to compete for jobs right now because these jobs are needed by legal citizens. But there is also the sense that we are at a tipping point when America will no longer be a Caucasian nation. Perhaps we are afraid of retribution from people who have been oppressed and held back. Perhaps we are afraid that only Caucasians understand the America our forefathers created and will strive to maintain it. People worry about immigrants who use America to prosper but do not see it as home. They worry that “home” is somewhere else to these immigrants and that they, if brought into the fold will undermine America. But the real America was always a haven for people from around the world who wanted an opportunity to do better, or who needed to escape oppression. It is too late to “whiten” America without ruining everything America stands for. We do need to sit down and reach an agreement, even if we eventually have to revise it, over what to do about illegal immigrants who are new to America and what to do about illegal immigrants who have been here for decades.
Reproduction – Oddly enough the GOP has chosen this very moment, with so many other issues on the table, to try to win the anti-abortion argument that it so important to so many in their base. There are 7 billion souls on this earth. By 2050 there will be 9 million. Trying to impose 15th century morality from an unpopulated age on a planet that is bursting at the seams is bizarre and atavistic, although we all, I think, admire the Christianity of it. Will we rot in hell if we use birth control? Will we rot in hell if we abort fertilized eggs? We don’t know, but we still all think we might. Do we want to bring unwanted children into an already overpopulated world? Perhaps there is no hell? Perhaps the earth with 9 billion people will be hell. America was founded so that each person in it could answer these questions for themselves. Besides, when we have so much else to do perhaps this issue can be left on the back burner for the moment.
Evolution – Back, back burner, please.
One Political Party – I have a horrible sinking feeling that if we elect a Republican government right now we will become a country with only one political party and that would be devastating. I do not understand the stubborn refusal of the GOP to let any business be taken care of by our government. They have put American in jeopardy with their insistence on a “my way or the highway” approach. We cannot afford to elect any Republicans at this juncture in America history. There are already enough Republicans who are not up for reelection at this time to insure that we will still have two parties. How will we tempt Republicans back from their extreme positions to help do the work of America? I am not sure. Time and failure at the polls might help.