*Radicalized and energized by the anti-President Obama Tea Party Movement, the Republican Party in Congress last week took four steps which dramatically displayed an almost obscene desire to serve the interests of the rich and of war at the expense of the rest of the nation.
First, Republican Party leaders continued with their offensive to extend President Bush’s “tax cuts for the rich.” It is an offensive which, if successful, will pump billions of dollars into the pockets of the already rich (millionaires and billionaires) over the next ten years.
At the same time they were serving the greed of the wealthy, Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives last Thursday blocked a bill that would have extended jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed through the Christmas season. As it currently stands, the extension in unemployment benefits enacted last summer expires on December 1. This means two million poor or near-poor people will lose unemployment benefits averaging $310 a week. They will have no money for the holiday season.
Just think about it: The Republicans want to extend tax breaks which will make the rich even richer but they want to do away with an extension which would enable the unemployed to barely eke out an existence during the Christmas season.
Do Republicans have any shame? Apparently not.
Third, the Republicans are pushing an agenda which calls for battling the nation’s budget deficit by cutting billions from social programs over the next ten years. However, they have made it clear they do not plan to cut a single dime in funding for the wasteful and unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, as far as Republicans are concerned the poor, the children and the elderly can suffer but war must go on.
Finally, led by Senator John Kyl of Arizona the Republicans added to their war-mongering ways by placing a “hold” on ratification of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. The treaty would mandate that both the U.S. and Russia make further reductions in their nuclear weapons stockpiles. But Kyl says “no.” He calls for “modernization” of current weapons before implementing stockpile reductions.
Just in case you are not familiar with Washington lingo “modernization” is just a way of saying “let’s spend billions” updating our nuclear weapons capacity before we reduce our nuclear weapons capacity.
Writing in the New York Times this week, columnist Paul Krugman correctly described Kyl’s stunt: “… everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it’s an Obama administration initiative…”
Krugman is right: Republicans are now ready to jeopardize the nation’s security just to embarrass or undermine President Obama. How else can one explain the fact that the Republicans are still holding up ratification of the treaty even though President Obama has already caved in and added $4.1 billion to the nuclear weapons “modernization” budget.
The bottom line is that the Republicans have embarked on a legislative agenda which rewards the rich, punishes the middle classes and the poor while simultaneously promoting war and the undermining of virtually any initiative from the Obama administration. And they are doing this openly, blatantly and without shame.