Vail Daily letter: Seeking eternal vigilance
February 12, 2017
It doesn't say much for politicians to accuse each other of "unfair" tactics the other side uses against them mostly within the rules. Republicans used the same stall tactics against President Obama's cabinet and court picks the Democrats are now harnessing against the new administration. And we're just 10 days into it!
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, even went so far as to sandbag President Obama's chosen successor, Judge Merrick Garland, to the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, apparently unprecedented. The only difference really is that eventually Democrats' options and the clock will run out because Republican majorities exist in both houses of Congress. As Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Minority Leader, said, "We are the accountability." Oh, yes, there's the filibuster. Don't forget about that.
What the current state of affairs does say is that it isn't principle, but expediency the politicians stand on. So, of course, one can excuse the Republican/Conservatives their impatience to get on with the business of dismantling that expensive progress made from the time of Andrew Johnson and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining American citizenship and guaranteeing "due process," to Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt's national parks and public lands and Social Security, to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation including the EPA and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Medicare and Medicaid to Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 to make health insurance more available and affordable for more Americans eliminating nearly 30 million of us from the ranks of the uninsured and uninsurable.
When you look at the budget items the president and his minions want to eliminate, they include such minuscule bureaucracies as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which the current administration wants to privatize, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which each received 0.003 percent of the reported $3.9 trillion spent by the government in 2016. The CPB received the most of the three, still only 0.01 percent of the total money spent. If the president is going to reduce spending by $1.05 trillion annually ($10.5 total in 10 years), then cutting the funding for these programs only amounts to 0.074 percent of the total. That's pretty much nothing.
But, for Republican/Conservatives it's apparently a gold-plated chance to get rid of "liberal" programs they don't want the federal government to pay for anymore. Even Food Stamps and federally subsidized welfare don't amount to a hill of beans compared to mandatory spending on the military and our defense, which budget does not include Veteran's benefits. Even VA benefits pale in comparison to mandatory military spending.
Recent conversations I've had with some folks uneasy at the prospect of the next few years and conversations I've had with the president's supporters salivating at the prospect of a booming economic scenario for themselves leads me to believe that a lot of the latter don't seem to care if his threats create wars that blow us all to bits as long as their wallets remain fat, presumably so their shot up butts can have something soft to land on, while the former are gearing up for Viet Nam-era style protests.
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A priest friend of mine once asked during the campaign what could God's will possibly be in all this, to which I could only reply maybe it's just to wake us all up and help us realize yet again that the price of democracy is eternal vigilance.
Avon and Denver
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