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SOTU? Multi-crises, Obama in Denial, Tea-GOP Nuts, No Adults

Through most of my adult life I’ve always believed that even though the country might be deeply divided about the direction of the county, there was at least one major party or movement sufficiently sane and principled to give us hope things could, with luck and effort, eventually work out. But not now.

Today, a Tea-GOPer group with the oxymoronic name, Republican Study Group, released a list of proposed spending cuts [complete list from Wendydavis]. which can be summed up in a few words: virtually every cut they want to make will make life meaner for everyone but the rich. We’ll have less public health research and care, more pollution, fewer public services, less science, less public art, more hardship for more people and less assistance for the poor, and on and on.

If we were a destitute nation, flat broke with no future for growth, one might accept some of this as regrettable but unavoidable, but we’re none of those. There is literally no rational barrier to spending the money on the things our society needs. The Tea-GOPers, with framing assistance from the President and very foolish Democrats, just want us to behave as though we’re an impoverished nation and so they’re willing to impoverish the nation’s spirit and cripple its governance to prove it. It’s as though a hostile enemy had put the nation under economic siege, and we’d decided to let them win.

If only there were at least one opposition party to call out these medieval nihilists and crackpots. But alas, we’re stuck with a party that foolishly allows itself to be led by an Administration with no respect for its roots, little vision and even less courage. Every day, Team Obama makes up a fresh excuse for not confronting the nation’s needs, or even describing them honestly, while pretending they’ve done everything they can think of that won’t upset the 60th Senator. Why did these people even want the White House?

And we’re told the Administration’s primary message is to endorse the enemy’s view of America’s economic helplessness and the necessity of making things worse for the most vulnerable in our society.

Yet today, the latest polls tell us Mr. Obama’s and Democrats’ approval ratings are up. Is it because despite his other priorities, Congress managed to adopt several clearly liberal policies in December? Or is it that voters are simply more optimistic about the economy even though they still have a dim view of the direction of the country?

I predict this momentary spurt will collapse. The country faces a related set of crises:

— 15 million unemployed, with millions jobless for more than six months; there is no apparent, dependable engine of growth to reverse that soon;

— a huge collapse in aggregate demand coupled with a deleveraging process after homeowners lost trillions when the housing bubble burst; with depressed demand, businesses have little reason to expand;

— a resulting severe mortgage crisis made even more cruel by pervasive fraud on the part of banks and their servicing entities, with negative implications for the housing market, underwater owners, bank insolvency and the integrity of the foreclosure/judicial system;

— massive budget crisis in many states, forcing layoffs and declining public services, including cuts to safety-net programs whose needs mushroomed because of the recession;

— an out of control financial/banking sector that continues to loot consumers and run an unregulated casino with nearly free money from the Feds;

— a mind-numbing denial about the dangers of global climate change, as its consequences literally begin to flood vulnerable parts of the planet;

— debilitating wars that continue to drain the US while destroying or destabilizing countries we presume to be helping;

. . . and on and on.

Now match that list of actual problems against anything we’ve heard from the Obama Administration or the new Tea-GOPer Congress about their priorities. There’s almost zero overlap. There’s no jobs program, no mortgage solution, no state budget rescue, no reining in the financial sector before the MOTU tank the economy again, no end to wars, no restoration of the rule of law. In short, we see nothing even remotely helpful coming from Washington.

Instead, the DC/Third Way’s top agenda is to cut Social Security, as though the problem with America is that our elderly, having seen their home or market savings wiped out, have too much economic security. Then they want to cut federal spending at the same time state and local governments are contracting and consumers are deleveraging, which can only reduce the country’s standard of living further. And to finish the demolition, they want to cripple government’s ability to address any of the actual problems.

Shouldn’t we be protesting in the streets? These people are trashing the place, but there are no grownups in charge, and as far as I can tell, none waiting in the wings, not even a government in exile, if the whole structure crashes again. We look like early Tunisia, only less aware.

John Chandley

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley