Every week, my email box sees newsletters from Georgia's two Republican senators. Often I delete them without reading, as their content is seldom uplifting if you are anywhere to the left of center, politically speaking. Here is an excerpt from the latest offering from Senator Isakson:
On Tuesday, which marked the 1,000th day since President Obama's Democrat majority in the Senate last offered a budget plan, the president delivered the annual State of the Union address to the nation with the theme of "fairness." I took to the floor of the Senate in advance of the speech to discuss this failure to offer a budget and how it is unfair to the American people. Real "fairness" would be government doing what American families have had to do: sit around the kitchen table, prioritize spending, cut spending and stop borrowing money we can't pay back.
When it comes to tax reform, we need a comprehensive approach. The president's own commission, Simpson-Bowles, recommended that we do away with many of the current tax expenditures and tax deductions, lower the tax rate on our taxpayers and produce more income. That would bring capital off the sidelines and investment back to small business. We need a comprehensive approach, not a winners-and-losers approach to tax reform.
Additionally, if on the one hand, the president talks about energy security and wanting to create more jobs for Americans, and on the other hand, he rejects 20,000 jobs, which the Keystone XL pipeline would have brought about, and 70,000 barrels of crude from Canada, one of our best friends, then he is saying one thing and doing something else—that's wrong for our country. We need leadership on energy security.
The sentence that I marked in boldface is the one that got my goat. Any time a politician, especially a right-wing one, uses an analogy, it's likely to be an effort to dumb-down an issue and to deflect thought and discussion away from the actual issue.
My intentions were simply glance through the newsletter and delete it, like I usually do. But the next thing I knew, I was typing a reply to Senator Isakson. And knowing that my letters to him are most likely read by a staffer who then emails me a set of talking points, it occurred to me that I could share the letter with people who care. So, here for all of Kosdom to see, is my response. I wrote it quickly, so it isn't perfect.
Feel free to add your comments and opinions. The full letter is below the orange squiggle. Note that I didn't even delve into Isakson's grossly inflated job numbers for the Keystone pipeline. That's another topic for another letter.
Dear Senator Isakson,
I'm growing weary of the analogy used by conservatives, comparing the US budget to a kitchen- table discussion of family finances. Why am I weary of it? Because critical elements are always conveniently left out.
First, a family is not a government. They are not the same. A family group of, say, 2 to 6 people is in no way similar to a government involving more than 300 million citizens.
For argument's sake, let's assume that the analogy is not fatally flawed, and run with it.
Our "family" was running a nice annual surplus in 2001. They chose to dramatically reduce their income (Bush tax cuts) without reducing spending. Soon after that, they spent huge sums of borrowed money on feuds with overseas relatives (Iraq and Afghanistan). No effort was made to increase their income to pay for the feuds.
In 2008, a rich uncle went broke after making a series of dreadful investments. Our hypothetical family borrowed enormous sums of money from as far away as China, bailing out the once-rich uncle with loans at near-zero interest rates. The uncle, back on his feet and wealthy again, did not even say "thank you."
Now it's 2012. The family is truly in a bad way. Their kitchen-table discussions, once held over big plates of steak and potatoes, now feature macaroni and cheese. At the table, Daddy speaks up. "Our finances are growing worse by the day. We must cut back. Let's not fix that leaky roof this year. But also, I propose that we further reduce our income. That will put us on the road to financial health."
"Oh, and by the way, don't even think of suggesting that I sell some of the guns from my collection. I'm keeping you safe, you know. We need all 50 of those guns."
Crazy? Seems crazy to me. But here we are, considering cuts to some of our country's essential programs, without giving similar scrutiny to military spending. And somehow, giving even more tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations will make things better. Aren't we following the same path to disaster as our mythical family?