Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Electoral Moral Imperative

Houston we have a problem, a national moral problem. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s admonition, But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper for saints [Ephesians 5:3].”  We live in a culture in which unbridled greed has been shamelessly promoted as morally defensible.  A current consequence is that few employers feel any committment to their fellow Americans who are out of work, many in desperate straights.  Few employers seem to accept the notion that they share responsibility for their nation’s economic recovery.  The mantra has become simple, “Short-term profit for me and my stockholders, American workers and economy be damned.”
A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor by Mark Trumbull points out that employers are unwilling to hire because health insurance companies are jacking up health-care costs faster than inflation which cuts into their profits (Remember why we need health care reform so badly?).  It has also become easier to outsource jobs overseas than in the past. Lastly, the return on investment in workers takes longer to realize the return on investment in a machine.  Why hire American workers when they can buy a machine or send a job to India, Korea or China and rake in money with minimal delay?   
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President recently said, “Companies are sitting on $837 billion without creating jobs. Banks are clutching a trillion dollars in profits without lending to small businesses consumers.”   It has become clear that if we wait for private employers and bankers to do the right thing, we’ll be waiting a very long time, while middle income and other out of work Americans suffer, some severely.  It has become a national disgrace. 
In last week’s radio address, Barrack Obama proposed realistic plans that would help. “We’ll create nearly half a million jobs by investing in clean energy–by committing to double the production of alternative energy in the next three years, and by modernizing more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improving the energy efficiency of two million American homes. These made-in-America jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, developing fuel-efficient cars and new energy technologies pay well, and they can’t be outsourced.”  Obama says he will “Work to achieve bipartisan extensions of unemployment insurance and health care coverage; a $1,000 tax cut for 95 percent of working families; and assistance to help states avoid harmful budget cuts in essential services like police, fire, education and health care.”
Barrack Obama’s plans would truly help, IF, and I repeat, IF the Senate’s Filibuster Machine allowed any of his proposals to see the light of day. After the upcoming election, that may prove to be even more problematic. The Republicans have vowed to oppose every measure Barrack Obama proposes, no matter how rational, and how important it may be for helping American workers and hence the economic recovery. Even proposals that Republicans have favored in the past will be filibustered merely to prevent the President from receiving credit from solving a critical national problem. Republicans have one goal. Prevent Barrack Obama’s re-election in 2012 at all costs. The nation’s economy is being held hostage by the Republican party for its political gain. The American people will have suffered for four years of economic blight, so the Republicans have a chance of replacing Barrack Obama by electing one of their own president in 2012. It is a sorry state of affairs.
Many Americans have no idea the consequences of the Senate filibusters over the past two years.  The embedded chart shows the drastic increase in use of the filibuster by Senate Republicans in the 110th Congress.  Republicans filibustered over twice as many bills as during the preceding Congress, and over 4 times as many as during the 101st Congress, which tells us a lot about why more progress on critical issues wasn’t made. It has been next to impossible for any of the Presidents’ proposals to make it through the Senate. 
Good luck with bipartisanship to solve the country’s economic problems, Mr. President. Perhaps after the election Barrack Obama will abandon his delusional notion that bipartisanship with newly elected Tea Party Republicans or with the old guard Republicans like Mitch McConnell is possible. When two sides are involved, capitulation of one party to all of the other’s demands, is not bipartisanship, it is appeasement.  True bipartisanship is never going to happen during Mr. Obama’s term in office. Mr. Obama made the mistake of being elected president while being Black (EPWBB). Republicans can’t forgive him for that.  Do we really think those Tea Party rally signs depicting Barrack Obama as an African Witch Doctor with a bone in his nose, or as Hitler or Stalin, or  accusing him of “White Slavery” and comparing his health care plan with the Holocaust, were because he was literate, well educated moderate Democrat with moderate policy proposals?
Barrack Obama and Senator Harry Reid (if he survives) have several choices.  (1) Make as many administrative changes as possible to improve jobs and the economy via Executive Orders, Presidential Determinations and Presidential Notices.  These methods are limited to administrative actions requiring no new appropriations, but they could help solve some problems.  The Republicans will howl.  Let them bay at the moon. (2) The Democratic Senate Majority Leader (if there still is one) should return to the tried and tested procedure in which Senators on the minority side who choose to filibuster would actually have to stand before the Senate and speak ad infinitum on any topic they choose, unless "three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn,” vote to close the debate by cloture.   I’d like to see Jim DeMint reading the DC yellow pages before an empty Senate chamber at 3am long about day three of a Republican filibuster against a jobs bill. The Republicans will complain to high heaven.  Let them complain.  (3) The final choice is the so-called “nuclear option,” in which the 2/3rds majority rule about filibusters could be set aside by simple majority vote of the members of the Senate.  This would be difficult, but not impossible to accomplish, because though some of the Senate’s Chartreuse Dog Republicrats (Ben Nelson, Landrieu, Lincoln, Bayh, Conrad and Lieberman) would likely vote against their own President, and with the DeMint and McConnell, some may find the courage to do the right thing, but don’t hold your breath. It will be an up-hill battle.  Holding onto as many seats as possible will help. 
If Republicans achieve a majority after the upcoming election, they have promised an Orwellian transformation, in which most of what the majority of American people voted for in the previous presidential election will be abandoned in favor of the just the opposite. They have promised to block health care reform that includes coverage for children with pre-existing conditions (like autism) and would provide coverage for all Americans when all of its provisions kick in, block credit card and other Wall Street reforms that prevent most Americans from being cheated by banks, block reform of home loan procedures to protect consumers, block reimbursement of the American government by oil companies like BP, for oil disasters resulting from lack of safety on oil drilling rigs, and lastly, they have promised to bring articles of impeachment against President Obama. Those are not ways most Americans want to see their elected representatives carry out their legislative responsibilities on behalf of the nation.
Every vote counts this election, which is likely to be close in many races. We need to stop behaving as though we are dealing with honorable people and lying to ourselves about the nature of the opposition.  If we are going to see more Americans back at work and the home foreclosure crisis solved, and many of the other pressing issues facing the nation seriously addressed, we need help from a Congress that will work with President Obama rather than undermine his every effort to solve our economic woes. Every House and Senate seat matters.  The President can’t do it alone.  That’s why your vote is a response to the moral imperative we all face in two weeks.  

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