We still aren't clear enough about what has happened: the corporate media has framed the debate about the phony debt and deficit "crisis" so adroitly that the back-and-forth on this debate is largely about how much to screw the average person in America, not whether to screw the average person in America. Sorry to say but Bernie Sanders seems to be one of the few, and maybe the only, elected person in Congress to get what is going on here.
Yesterday, Sanders took to the Senate floor to excoriate the "Gang of Six" deal that sent Washington into an orgasmic round of fervent praying that "bi-partisan" was on the march.
While we do not know all of the details of that proposal...I think it is fair to say that Senator Coburn, Senator Crapo, and Senator Chambliss deserve a word of congratulations. Clearly, they have won this debate in a very significant way. My guess is they will probably get 80 or 90 percent of what they wanted, and in this town that is quite an achievement. They have stood firm in their desire to represent the wealthy and the powerful and multinational corporations. They have threatened. They have been very smart in a number of ways. They have been determined. And at the end of the day, they will get 80 or 90 percent of what they want.[emphasis added]
Here is the point from Sanders I want to focus on for a moment:
I think it is important to at least highlight some of what is in this so-called Gang of 6 that the corporate media, among others, is enthralled about.[emphasis added]
You see, we are at this juncture because for a number of years we've been told by the traditional corporate media that we face a terrible problem of long-term debt brought about by annual fiscal deficits. The editorial pages have hammered home this fantasy, day after day, month after month, so that people begin to accept this as a truth (in the same way, as a slight digression, that virtually all the traditional media has been a huge cheerleader for so-called "free trade"). Taking cues from The New York Times, even smart people, who should know better, are regurgitating the idiotic idea that we face a debt "crisis".
Consider, The Times today:
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of six senators released a plan to cut spending and raise tax revenues that aims to reduce the nation’s deficits by at least $3.6 trillion over the next decade. We have many questions and deep reservations about the spending cuts in the plan, which could impose hardships on some of the most vulnerable groups. It is, however, a serious attempt to grapple with growing levels of debt in the years to come. It is remarkable that three conservative Republicans have signed on to a plan that dares to use the words “tax” and “revenue” alongside cuts in spending. [emphasis added]
This is the slyness, and modus operandi, of the Times, and others who profess to be "liberals". There is a bit of hand-wringing about "deep reservations" about the spending cuts, which could impose "hardships" on some of the most "vulnerable groups". But, all that is carefully overwritten by pronouncing the "Gang of Six" as a "serious attempt to grapple" with...a phony crisis.
This is not a serious attempt.
It's dumb and foolish. It distracts from the real crisis in America: the lack of good-paying jobs for tens of millions of people.
The Times essentially says: "we're for cuts"...but maybe not these cuts.
There is no need to cut. (but, by all means, let's cut $2 trillion in corporate welfare, not because there is a crisis but just because we should use the money to...create jobs)
There is no crisis.
Over at The Washington Post, thesame framing is obvious:
The surprising reemergence and expansion of the Senate Gang of Six this week was accompanied by a flurry of statements from Republican senators endorsing a proposal that included $1 trillion in new tax revenue. “This is a serious, bipartisan proposal that will help stop Washington from spending money that we don’t have, and I support it,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the GOP conference chair. “A fair compromise,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.). There may not be time to translate the gang plan into law as the debt ceiling looms, but these reactions suggest that future negotiations could be conducted from a base line of reality.[emphasis added]
Aha! The money quote from Alexander praising the "serious, bi-partisan proposal" leads to the Post's own demands that future negotiations take place from "a base line of reality".
What is that "reality"?
The Washington Post reality: that the "baseline of reality" for Serious People is that we have to cut. That there is a debt "crisis".
The truth: Foolishness upon stupidity.
That is the environment we find ourselves in. Look even at the "good people" who write about the need to have a "balanced deal"...too many have accepted the phony idea of a crisis.
We should be saying: no cuts. Period.
And let's spend a trillion dollars today to get people back to work (which, by the way, would bring in revenue because, duh, working people pay taxes).
Back to the Sanders truth-telling:
What we are talking about is that under this so-called Gang of 6 proposal, Social Security cuts would go into effect by the year 2012--virtually immediately. What that means is that 10 years from now, the typical 75-year-old person will see their Social Security benefits cut by $560 a year, and the average 85-year-old will see a cut of $1,000 a year.
For some people here in Washington--maybe the big lobbyists who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year--$560 a year or $1,000 a year may not seem like a lot of money. But if you are a senior trying to get by on $14,000, $15,000, $18,000 a year, and you are 85 years old--the end of your life, you are totally vulnerable, you are sick--a $1,000-a-year cut in what you otherwise would have received is a major blow.
So I congratulate Senator Coburn, Senator Crapo, and Senator Chambliss for doing what President Obama said would not happen under his watch, what the Democrats have said would not happen under their watch: major cuts in Social Security.
But it is not just Social Security. We have 50 million Americans today who have no health insurance at all. Under the Gang of 6 proposal, there will be cuts in Medicare over a 10-year period of almost $300 billion. There will be massive cuts in Medicaid and other health care programs.
There will be caps on spending, which means there will be major cuts in education. If you are a working-class family, hoping you are going to be able to send your kid to college, and that you will be eligible for a Pell grant, think twice about that because that Pell grant may not be there.
If you are a senior who relies on a nutrition program, that nutrition program may not be there. If you think it is a good idea that we enforce clean air and clean water provisions so our kids can be healthy, those provisions may not be there because there will be major cuts in environmental protection.[emphasis added]
Sanders isn't going to lie down:
But this Senator is going to fight back. I was not elected to the Senate to make devastating cuts in Social Security, in Medicare, in Medicaid, in children's programs, while I lower tax rates for the wealthiest people in this country. That is not what I was elected to do, and I do not intend to do that. [emphasis added]