Sneaky provisions like gutting the Clean Air Act and taking wolves off the endangered species list were added to a bill just passed by the House meant to keep government running.
As my grampa enjoyed his ice cream cone with my 2-year-old in his garage, or what he has recently christened the Man Cave, he opened up an explanation of benefits for his Social Security. His ice-cream high seemed to fade as he folded up the paper and complained, “How can anybody live off that?” I waited for the blame attack. It could have been Hilary Clinton, Obama, Carter, anybody. I just knew the way it would go. “Damn Democrats!”
For some reason he believes the U.S. government owes him something. He thinks it should spend taxpayer money supporting him. Most of us feel the government should spend money taking care of us. We expect the police to show up when we dial 911 and not present us with a bill. We assume the fire department will rush to our aid as our house burns around us. If it didn’t, we’d probably sue the government (the government, of course, being the taxpayers).
We all, Democrat and Republican, expect those things. We want a government that takes care of its people by protecting us and our children in many different ways.
So how can the Republican-controlled House of Representatives convince Americans that the $61-billion cuts in government spending it recently passed as part of a stop gap funding bill to keep the government running is in our best interest?
These cuts include:
- Dismissal of thousands of police officers and teachers, and removing hundreds of thousands of children from the Head Start program meant to give kids who might over wise end up on welfare or in jail a chance at success.
- Slashing funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and remove its ability to regulate toxic air pollutants, as well as make it impossible to enforce the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. Really?
- Ending NASA’s climate program.
- Granting big polluters a free pass to drill in the Arctic.
- Removing Endangered Species Act protection for the gray wolf. Again, really?
Talk about protecting America. Looks more like protecting corporate America. I could have confused this with BP’s bucket list. And the poor gray wolf. How did it get dragged into our deficit crisis?
For just a bit of perspective, gutting the provisions put in place to protect Americans from contaminated water, polluted air and a world we don’t want to leave to our kids, ads up to that $61 billion.
The Bush-era tax cuts that were set to expire the end of 2010 extended by Obama added $700 billion to the national debt. Bailout money awarded to corporate institutions since 2008 totals $561 billion, of which only $287 billion has been returned. General Motors has still only paid back $7 billion of the $50 billion it was loaned. Close to $52 billion is spent each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industry as it pollutes our environment and degrades our health.
Sure, $61 billion in cuts sounds like a lot money to most of us, until we put it into perspective. Cut spending by gutting our environmental protections, firing our teachers, taking police off the street? I don’t get our corporate hang up.
My grampa’s not rich. I guess that ice cream he enjoyed so much with my daughter until his social security letter came was Von’s brand. So why does he and so many others I know who struggle every month to pay the bills support tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and free pollution passes for corporations destroying our health and environment?
Maybe it’s because they have worked so hard for what they have. Maybe they can’t stand the thought of their hard work going to pay for people who don’t want to do their share. And that’s understandable. But that’s such a small part of the big picture (1 percent of our budget goes to welfare). Republicans don’t mind spending billions on military protection. The protection of our environment and health is just as important. Citizens sick from toxic water make poor soldiers anyway.
Oh, and leave the wolves out of it.
References and further information:
Obama tax cuts:
Mother Jones Magazine:
Eye on the Bailout:
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