Give vs. Take
When asked at a press conference whether she'd be willing to give up the funding for highway projects in her district in order to fund hurricane relief efforts, Rep. Nancy Pelosi replied without hesitation, "Yes. And the people of my district would be proud to do so." She later issued a statement to clarify that she meant she'd give up her projects if other congress members were willing to do so as well.
Rep. Dennis Hastert, the neckless wonder of northern Illinois and House majority leader, was informed of Pelosi's statement and asked if he'd be willing to forgo the pork for his area in light of the relief efforts. "That's very gracious of her", Hastert said unconvincingly. The reporter pressed again, would Hastert be willing to give up the pork projects in his district? "That's very gracious of her", was all Hastert would intone.
Does this illustrate anything about the differences in philosophy between the parties? One is willing to forgo benefits to her constituents in the larger cause of national need, the other finds the very idea of giving up a nickel (of the non-essential projects he's landed to enrich his donors) to be stupid and laughable.
One represents sacrifice from all for the good of the country, the other represents the greedy "grab it while you can", "me first" sort of belief that has literally destroyed much of the country's economy and put the nation on a perilous economic path for decades to come.
The Republicans act as though they don't give a rat's ass about what happens after they're gone. As long as they can grab all they can for themselves and their cronies now, who cares what the consequences are? As long as they're rich, rich, RICH! who cares? They'll be able to afford to live in gated communities and be immune from the suffering.
Some of them think the rapture is coming and they'll be taken up to be with the Lord soon, so what does it matter? Why plan for the future when you think there won't be one? Others are simply greedy. But whatever their phony rationale, none of them put the good of the country above their own greed.
Pelosi is to be commended. Let's see how many Republicans offer to give up their superfluous billions in pork.
Already, the game is being set.
The choices of what to cut back on in order to finance the relief and recovery efforts in the south is government at it's most basic.
All government essentially is is a mechanism for deciding who gets finite resources.
The very purpose of government is to tax and spend, despite the fact that the right has successfully made that concept seem as if it's evil somehow. But the fact remains that taxing and spending is the very reason government exists! It's primary purpose is to decide who gets what and how much.
So it's against that backdrop that the coming battles will be waged.
What should be cut so we can avoid further destroying our economy?
Should we find the billions by cutting back our bungled efforts in Iraq?
Should we rescind some of Bush's sacred tax cuts for the wealthy? That alone would pay for the recovery.
Should we scrap NASAs recently announced mission to create space stations on the moon in support of missions to Mars?
Should we cut the millions for two bridges to nowhere in Alaska?
Should we reinstate the inheritance tax, which affects only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population, yet provides billions of dollars of tax revenue?
Should every congressman give ups some of their pork in order to finance the entire relief efforts?
Or, as the right is proposing, should we deny seniors their prescription drug benefit for a year, and use this excuse to slash social programs such as their proposals to slash Pell Grants for education and to defund Public Broadcasting?
Watch this process carefully, as you'll see the right trying to use this as an excuse to get their pet projects done, such as expanded oil drilling, repealing yet more regulations protecting workers and the environment, and enormously bloated no-bid contracts to their corporate buddies. Just as they did with 9-11, they're going to mount a massive campaign to bamboozle the public into saying that Katrina and Rita justify doing the rest of the projects they weren't able to accomplish post 9-11. Only the phony rationale will change. The motivation of enormous profits for the economic elite won't.
Where would you cut the budget to afford the relief efforts? And if Bush and those lovable Republicans who have controlled all aspects of government for over 5 years now hadn't spent like drunken sailors, amassing trillions upon trillions upon trillions of record national debt, would all these painful cuts have been necessary at all?