Grand Old Party has come close to its goal of some several
decades of �starving the beast� of government, with the
country hanging on the brink of a financial meltdown as
the Aug. 2 deadline approaches and the debt ceiling has
not been raised.
for Republicans in Congress and President Obama�s White
House have not been able to even come close to a deal to
raise the debt ceiling, something that the two sides seem
to agree is necessary if the federal government is to continue
to function and continue to pay its bills.
on the �left� of the political spectrum (right now, these
folks stand just to the right of center in American politics)
want to see the government continue to pay Social Security
benefits, Medicare bills, Medicaid payments to the states
and elsewhere, pensions to public workers who spent their
lives working for the people, payments to retired military,
payments to the Veterans Administration medical system (America�s
only socialist medical system), and all of the other bills
that come due on a monthly basis.
who want to �starve the beast� of government at all levels
have stated for two or three decades that they want the
government to be shrunk to a size at which it can be �drowned
in a bathtub.� That�s what Grover Norquist, head of the
rabidly anti-tax organization, Americans for Tax Reform,
has said over and over again, at least since the advent
of Ronald Reagan, president of those who detest government,
until they have eliminated enough funding for social programs
so as to make them toothless, useless, or outright defunct.
what Norquist and his buddies on the country�s right wing
have been preaching for years, as they �starved the beast.�
To do that, they had to continue to fight for defunding
everything that the government has done to benefit the mass
of people, the elderly, the young, the sick or handicapped,
and veterans. They have done this through the tax cuts that
have largely been a benefit to the rich. Tax cuts have been
achieved for Corporate America and the rich on a continuing
basis, until the U.S. has become the
great global debtor nation with justified concern by the
people about the debt ceiling problem and their continued
participation in the programs that are vital to their well-being.
now, we will set aside the perspective that the world�s
economic system is nothing but numbers on paper, floated
by the central banks and global commercial banks and other
mind that President Clinton left office with a gift to the
Bush-Cheney Administration of billions in a budget surplus.
Bush, in his adherence to Norquist�s mantra of �tax cuts,
tax cuts, tax cuts,� rammed through large tax cuts for the
rich and corporations, even as he embarked on two or more
wars that were not paid for out of current funds, but were
�paid for� by borrowing. They were, and are, wars fought
�off budget.� At that time, there was no complaint from
the right about that profligate spending from Norquist or
any other right-winger.
the American people in 2011 are faced with trillions of
dollars in debt, directly caused by Republican administrations
that continually have sought tax cuts for the rich and unsuccessfully
tried to cut vital programs that benefit scores of millions
of Americans to pay for that debt. The standoff continues
in Washington. Republicans in the House want a large piece of Social Security,
Medicare, and Medicaid and they are poised to get their
of this started with the administration of Reagan, who told
his GOP base that government was the problem and
that government would not solve any of the problems of the
nation. The GOP, in turn, came to hate government and that
enmity endures to this day, to the extent that any damage
to government that is done by tax cuts and program cuts
for the people is acceptable to them. No party or parts
of a party can govern when it is government, itself, that
is the object of their scorn and hatred. That�s where the
matter stands as the deadline for the debt ceiling increase
approaches, just days away.
the proponents of �starving the beast,� the prospect of
a government slow-down, if not an actual shutdown, doesn�t
bother them a bit. It�s what the GOP has been working toward
for decades. And, if you look closely at the proponents
of a government shutdown, you see a legion of the privileged.
Most of them are not unlike Norquist himself, who is the
son of a vice president of Polaroid Corporation, with soft
hands and slack muscles, never having done manual labor
for more than a day or two in their lives, and never having
had to wonder how his rent is to be paid. The exceptions
might be those who spend time in their exclusive exercise
clubs with their personal trainers.
there are the corporate minions in the halls of Congress,
like Rep. Eric Cantor, Speaker of the House John Boehner,
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senator Joe
Lieberman, a so-called independent, who wish to become rich
at the expense of the people and are doing their best to
see that Corporate America comes out of all of this above
the people. Although they may never reach their personal
financial goals, they will do everything in their power
to see that the status quo is maintained and the corporations
continue to call the shots in all things social, economic,
and political. In other parts of the world, that is called
matter where one lives in the U.S.,
there is evidence of corporate control of the lives of citizens.
include control of the food system (with its genetically-manipulated
and untested-on-humans �food� and monopoly control of food,
itself), reduction or elimination of environmental regulation
(through the gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency),
privatization of education (through charter schools and
tuition hikes in state university systems that put an education
out of reach for children of wage workers), �mountaintop
removal� coal mining which destroys water systems and leaves
the mountains destroyed and the land poisoned, plunder of
the oceans which are the source of life on the planet, a
never-ending effort to keep incomes of all American workers
in the low wage category, and the production-at-all-costs
of the �energy industries,� along with other examples too
numerous to mention.
is a situation that has been a long time in the making.
Corporations have been scheming to gain control of most
of American life for nearly a century, starting with the
�discovery� of public relations back in the early part of
the 20th Century. Then came advertising and psychological
(scientific) study of ways of manipulating public opinion.
There are volumes written about this, but one has to look
diligently for them, since they are not easily available
to the average citizen or even to the average student of
business or psychology or political science.
pretty clear that such control of consumer impulses in a
mass consumer society has been one of the driving forces
in forging ways to control a population. Yet, Corporate
America has done that. There are even political parties
that are based on the principles that evolved in this new
�science.� Those fringe parties have given cover to the
Republican Party and its most extreme elements and that
has had the effect of making Norquist and his ilk appear
legitimate and mainstream.
a result, the country has millions who have come to view
government as the enemy and wish to shrink it, according
to the vision of Norquist, who said, �Our goal is to shrink
government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.�
and his friends in Congress are rapidly coming to the point
of forcing government into the tub. He is not likely to
suffer much from a collapse of social programs, but many
rank-and-file citizens, who live from paycheck to paycheck,
yet continue to support the corporate-GOP agenda, have no
idea how directly and how profoundly and how quickly they
will be affected by a shut-down of government programs.
have, in effect, wished for something they never intended
to see come to pass, and they may get it.
Columnist, John Funiciello, is a labor organizer and former
union organizer. His union work started when he became a
local president of The Newspaper Guild in the early 1970s.
He was a reporter for 14 years for newspapers in New York State. In
addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers
as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure
from factory food producers and land developers. Click here
to contact Mr. Funiciello.