By Shadi Bushra, published May, 2011
The 2010 midterm election gave conservatives something of a mandate. Of course voters want the United States to cut its deficit. Of course they are all for reigning in out-of-control spending. But Republicans may not realize that much of the anti-government hype over the last three years has been exaggerated. The biggest reason for the increase of such sentiments is that Americans don’t believe the government does anything for them.
Nevermind public schools that manage to churn out graduates year after year. Or the BP Gulf spill cleanup. Or the highways we drive on day in and out. Oh and the maintenance of those highways and schools. Ever been laid off? But I suppose the assistance you got then isn’t worth remembering. Voters are always asking a simple question: what have you done for me lately?
What Republicans did for voters lately is to fan racist fears into a blaze of paranoia about government. But now, their party has overreached by trying to cut too deep overreach and too fast. The voters wanted a reduction in unnecessary spending. Perhaps consolidating overlapping agencies, or purchasing military equipment and services at the price they are worth (not the price Halliburton or Lockheed-Martin quotes). Maybe even cutting subsidies to oil companies – a measure an overwhelming majority of Americans supported but that failed to pass a Senate vote.
The special election in New York’s 26th district – one of the state’s most conservative – revolved largely around this Paul Ryan plan. Unsurprisingly, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, beat out the incumbent Republican, who had voted for Ryan’s plan. This led to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to call a vote on the budget in the Senate, forcing all but five Republicans to vote for it. Given that it had no chance of passing, I’m personally unsure why the Republicans voted for it instead of abstaining or boycotting the vote. It will almost certainly be used against any seeking reelection in November 2012.
They did not expect or want America’s elderly population to be left to the whims of the market. Paul Ryan’s budget plan not only fails to significantly reduce the deficit, it also cuts taxes to corporations and the wealthy while leaving the poor to their own devices. Americans are not idiots, and anyone can see that this plan prioritizes tax cuts for the wealthy over keeping our elderly and poor alive and well. This plan truly threatens to turn America’s inequality into the strict stratification of a Third World country.
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