The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.
Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.
And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.
We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.
And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn’t cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.
But Washington is providing only a trickle of help, and even that grudgingly. We must place priority on reducing the deficit, say Republicans and “centrist” Democrats. And then, virtually in the next breath, they declare that we must preserve tax cuts for the very affluent, at a budget cost of $700 billion over the next decade.
In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation’s foundations to crumble — literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education — they’re choosing the latter.
Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with this:
I frequently listen to the opposition, from Fox News to Rush, because I have always felt it very important to stay abreast of just how they’re thinking. They don’t know it, but I’m also on the email list to receive some of the right-wing emails/messages they send to their fellow Repubs. I received one today from Dick Morris, the guy who talks out of the side of his mouth as a regular pundit on Fox News. Morris, a former Democrat, was part of the Clinton administration and has re-devoted his life to Dem/Obama bashing.
Today I received Morris’ latest email stating what he feels the Republican strategy should be if they were to regain control…his ‘answer’ to solving the economic problems created by the Bush Regime. To my amazement (I don’t know why I’m so surprised), based on Morris, the Republican strategy is to literally block much needed financial aid to struggling states with the ultimate goal being to force all of the states INTO BANKRUPTCY! They also plan to break ALL union agreements including wages, rules, pensions and more!
Not only does this explain why Repubs are voting against everything that could be helpful to The Recovery, but this email is absolutely, incredibly revealing and spells out exactly what we can expect should we allow the Repubs to regain power. Below are excerpts from the Morris email/newsletter. Truly dangerous stuff. Here’s what Morris wrote:
*As Congress reconvenes next week to pass a $26 billion bailout of state and local governments entombed in their own deficits, we witness a foretaste of the crisis that will be the central event of the first half of next year: the collapse of state governments.
*As long as the Democrats control Congress, they will continue to rubber-stamp Obama’s requests for bailouts of profligate states. But when the Republicans take control, they will be less than forthcoming. Republicans will ask the central question: Why should taxpayers from states that have cut their budgets and observed spending restraint, pay for the extravagances of the other states? Why should forty-seven states have to pay for California, New York, and Michigan?
*The Republican solution to state financial distress should be simple: The Party should insist on a change in the federal bankruptcy law providing for a procedure for state bankruptcy (none now exists). This process must call for abrogation (means=to end) of all state and local public employee union contracts as is usually done in private sector bankruptcies. By freeing states and local governments (including school boards) of their union obligations on wages, work rules, staffing, and pensions, they have a chance to survive and, indeed, to prosper. But merely subsidizing these massive expenditures just prolongs the misery of the states in question.
*The collapse of overspending state governments must trigger the diminution of the power unions hold over their budgets and their politics. Their coming bankruptcies offer an opportunity for reform and the Republican Congress – backed by newly elected Republican state governments – give us precisely the opportunity we need to effectuate it. (*=Excerpts from emailed Dick Morris.Com newsletter entitled “The Coming Catastrophe: State Governments”)