Beyond the Food Fight: What the Mainstream Media Is Missing in the Budget Battles

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Common Dreams

Beyond the Food Fight: What the Mainstream Media Is Missing in the Budget Battles

The mainstream media is missing the real issues when it comes to the serial budget brinksmanship being perpetrated by Republicans.

Because the MSM focuses on the food fight – who’s winning the PR wars and who’s losing – instead of the substantive issues, extremism is now seen as the norm.  Hypocrites who want to prevent people from voting, shove ultrasounds into women’s vaginas, tell people who they can marry and what they should believe can now pass themselves off as defenders of freedom.  These same hypocrites are being allowed to masquerade as guardians of fiscal probity after running up record shattering debt for decades.  And they are being allowed to use terrorist tactics including propaganda and financial blackmail to achieve goals the majority of the people oppose. 

On one level, this is a last gasp attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act. 

But on another level, this is about a deep ideological war that has yet to be waged.  On one side are the majority of Americans; on the other the increasingly ideologically radical Republican Party. The Democrats who claim to be advocates of the people, have been on the sidelines, and the press has been co-opted.  

Let’s look at the first issue, Obamacare.  Republicans have been desperate to stop the Act from getting implemented.  They’ve tried to repeal it 41 times, they’ve spread outright lies about its costs and impacts, and they’ve tried to tie it to the battle over the debt ceiling. 

Why?  Because they know it will be popular once people’s experience with it reveals their hyperbolic lies for what they are. In fact, when Americans are asked about the specific elements of Obamacare, 63% of them favor it. Republicans know it will become yet another example of government effectively working to “promote the general welfare,” a phrase that comes right out of the Constitution, which they profess to love and honor.

Yes, Obamacare is a deeply flawed law – a preemptive capitulation to the insurance industry and entrenched interests in the medical market complex -- but it will nevertheless provide good care to the uninsured at good rates, protect consumers from abuse, and contain costs.  Not as well as a single payer system would have, but far better than the status quo. 

So the Affordable Care Act will take its place along with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Post Office as yet another daily reminder that exposes the conservatives’ government-as-the-enemy, market-uber-alles philosophy as the empty justification for favoring corporations and fat cats that it is.  

Tellingly, Republicans have done their best to sabotage each of these programs.  They required the Post Office to forward fund their pensions for 70 years, something no private company does, and something very few could survive.  Then, having crippled it, they’ve ballyhooed its “failure.” And the deficit hawks still talk about the dire need to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, even as the deficit is rapidly shrinking.

So yes, Republicans are desperate to scuttle Obamacare before it gets implemented because they know if it gets fully activated, even the Koch funded Tea-Party dupes will figure out it’s good for them.  Already they’ve seen they can keep their kids insured longer, that extortionary administrative fees for insurance companies are capped, and that they can no longer be dropped for the crime of pre-existing conditions (or even existing ones). 

And on Tuesday the 24th, just as Ted Cruz was wrapping up his faux filibuster against Obamacare, the early data on the cost of healthcare in the state exchanges was coming in, and the news was good – effective medical coverage will be affordable to the vast majority of Americans.  Competition – something Republicans pay lip service to while passing legislation catering to monopolies and benefiting the 1% – works.

But this is just a battlefront in the larger war against government. This war is being waged on behalf of corporate fat cats and the uber rich at the expense of we the people.  And we have no champion in this fight.  Democrats are for the most part complicit; the press is literally a wholly owned subsidiary of the folks they are supposed to be watching.

And it’s a war we the people are losing.

Using tactics straight out of the terrorist playbook, the corporate shills have made sure that the public’s preferences no longer matter, and as a result, democracy is being subverted.  Here’s a few of the more egregious examples:

90% of the citizens support legislation requiring background checks for gun purchase, but Congress can’t pass one.

74% of Americans want to end subsidies to big oil – but there’s no chance of it happening;

The majority of citizens favored allowing tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 to expire, but the best we could do is compromise on $400,000

70% of Americans consider climate change to be a high priority issue, yet Congress has taken no action;

Some 80% of Americans favor shoring up Social Security even if it means higher taxes and a similar number support retaining Medicare as is, but we seem to be moving inexorably toward cuts to both programs; 

Or take this gem … more than 80% of Americans want to clamp down on Wall Street but the best we could get was weak-sister legislation that is being completely eviscerated as it is translated into regulations.

Not only are they ignoring the people’s will, they are actively undermining our welfare.  Students can’t discharge debt through bankruptcy but banks, fat cats and corporations can.  Income inequality is at record levels.  Our emails, faxes and phones are being systematically monitored without following the requirements of the 4th amendment for warrants providing specific justification for that action. 

Terrorism as a tactic is used by minorities to effect changes they can’t otherwise achieve.  The debt ceiling debacle – which could wreak havoc on financial markets globally – is just the latest battle in a war against the people by those who represent private interests at the public’s expense.

At stake, is the future of our democracy.

John Atcheson

John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.

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