Politics. Man. There is so much going on right now, and pretty much all of it is frustrating. I guess most of it is revolving around this budget debate, but it's going in some pretty interesting directions.
First and foremost, we had a congress that was almost willing to let the government shut down over some stupid, petty differences. Not to say that there aren't some major budgetary issues that congress needs to work out, but the unfortunate reality is that the members were not debating substantive budgetary issues, but instead were falling back on the culture war debates that dominated the 90s. The problem with rehashing these staid arguments is that our country truly is embroiled in an economic crisis, with unemployment being a paramount unconfronted issue.
The fight between Republicans and Democrats in congress has largely surrounded the idea of budget cuts, with Democrats (half-heartedly supported by the president) hoping to continue to fund what they consider necessary social programs, and looking at the overall federal budget with a scalpel, cutting only those things that are unnecessary in these tight financial times. Republicans, heavily influenced by the small (but apparently boisterous) Tea Party faction, were hoping to keep their mid-term election campaign promises of slashing the budget almost $100 billion. Democrats relented, and were willing to give in to the tune of around $33 billion, doing almost whatever they could to pass a budget in the eleventh hour.
Republicans were also incredibly focused upon cutting funding for, what to any rational person, seems like necessary social institutions in a democratic society; Planned Parenthood (and other Title X funded organizations) and NPR (National Public Radio). Now, I can certainly understand why Republicans would feel obligated to give the appearance of support for cutting these programs, to almost shut down the government because of such tired social issues seems ludicrous. And the fact that members of congress are opening lying on the floor of congress, especially in regards to an issue that has major policy implications, is not only unfortunate, it is endemic of the cancerous political climate that permeates our political discourse.
Senator Jon Kyl, U.S. Senator from Arizona, stated on the Senate floor that abortions accounted for "well over 90% of what Planned Parenthood does". This statement is not only incorrect, it is grossly incorrect, as abortions only account for roughly 3% of "what Planned Parenthood does". Now, it would be nice to think that Senator Kyl had just thought that the numbers were the other way around (how a policy-maker could be so incorrect is beyond me), but the fact that he was using these figures to try and convince other members of congress, and probably the public, that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, leads me to believe that he was deliberately lying. A member of congress lying on the Senate floor, especially when it has policy implications, should not only be frowned upon, but should be made illegal.
So one would think that since the government is trying to slash budgets, there would be no possible way that we could be cutting taxes. Certainly tax cuts are politically popular, but our country is truly in dire economic times, and playing politics with a floundering economy is no way to help create long time economic growth and expansion, or to create long term political dominance for either party. However, instead of facing an economic and political reality, Republicans continue to push the concept of tax cuts for the wealthy benefitting the economy, because they're the ones that invest in businesses and new enterprises that will help create new jobs. This idea has been proven dead wrong over the past 30 years, but is still being pushed hard by Republicans.
Overall, I think our country would manifestly benefit from an end to the political cock-fighting, and instead act as they were elected to act, which is to truly look out for what's in the best interest of this country and citizens in it.