A 40-vote Republican minority in the United States Senate controls the destiny of all legislation aimed at addressing the nation’s most pressing needs after eight miserable years of Republican misrule and malfeasance. Welcome to California America! Here in Sacramento, only 13 Republican state senators control legislation relating to the state’s finances. In Washington it’s the filibuster; in Sacramento it’s the two-thirds rule. In either case an unpopular right-wing minority gets to dictate to the majority what is to be done and what is not to be done. In either case the Republicans win!
In the nation, as in California, the Republicans are unpopular, hence, their minority status. And their policies are even more unpopular. But since they’re so interconnected to the corporate oligarchy they somehow get to rule even when they’re in the minority.
Sweet for them, isn’t it?
And in both Washington and Sacramento the Republicans get to blame the Democratic “majority” for not getting anything done even as the hapless Dems face obstructionism of historic proportions. You can see it in the watered down health “reform” bill winding its way out of the Senate. And you can see it in the precipitous rise in the stock prices of health insurance companies. You can see it in the wholesale sell-off and privatization of the state of California amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. You can see it in the foreign wars and bloated military budgets.
I’m not saying the corporate oligarchy is not sometimes beneficent. Big Pharma gave the Obama White House a promise to allow Americans to save $80 billion on their life-sustaining drugs over ten years. To put this generosity in perspective, the American people are estimated to pay out $3.6 trillion on drugs over the next ten years. So the $80 billion represents 2 percent of Big Pharma’s take. And the health insurance industry’s $700 million in lobbying money lavished on Congress in the last 18 months is still a damn good investment — for them. A dysfunctional private health care system that has clearly failed the country is being rewarded with a new taxpayer giveaway in the form of “mandates” and “subsidies.” The U.S. Senate just gave a big sloppy wet kiss to the worst, most soulless profiteers in America.
I say pass the damn thing and get it off the evening news. And then shift the agenda to something giant corporations can’t sink their teeth into.
Something, anything, has to be done at some point to show that the Obama Administration is not just the latest group of good people with good ideas that are absorbed into a system that makes Hamid Karzai look like a clean government activist. The corporate money so clogs the arteries of our body political the whole damn thing is sclerotic, choked off from the life-giving oxygen of democracy.
And it’s amazing to see Republican Senators on TV — the same people who are currently abusing the filibuster to a degree that it has never been abused before — whining about how the Democrats didn’t “reach out” to them on the health care bill. What does one even call that level of hypocrisy? And of course the corporate media let’s them get away with it preferring to portray debates of dire national importance as little more than food fights between children.
And the health reform bill the corporate oligarchy just purchased from the best Congress money can buy has investors stoked as the soaring stock prices of health industry corporations reach a 52-year high point! Ah, it’s the miracle of the free market, my friends! — a “free” market where those who run the governing institutions of the nation are nothing more than the indentured servants of the interests of international conglomerates. Seeing industry lobbyists cleave off sell-out “Democrats” like Nelson and Landrieu and Lincoln, etc. was enough to depoliticize the most political among us.
There’s simply no one left who can stand up to these entrenched interests. I wrote long ago that the Obama presidency was going to be a test about whether or not our governing institutions were still capable of dealing with pressing crises. Well, the evidence so far points to the conclusion that they are so corrupt and devoured by Big Money they are no longer responsive to national prerogatives even of life and death. There’s been nothing with teeth in it passed to rein in Wall Street or the health industry. The Energy Lobby will easily snuff out cap and trade and the wars are going to drag on forever because the “military industrial complex” Ike Eisenhower tried to warn us about just loves ‘em.
And the real kicker is that even if the Democrats succeed in putting humpty-dumpty back together again and the nation starts to recover from the trillions of dollars looted during the Bush years, the Republicans will return to power in 2016 or 2020 and tear everything down once again with deregulation and tax cuts while their crony capitalists make yet another killing on the backs of working families. I wonder how many of these assaults the working middle class in America can take before it’s really over? The baby boomers are leaving their children one hell of a mess and a much lower set of life chances than they had. But I guess we shouldn’t have expected much more from a generation of spoiled children who were given everything and appreciated nothing.
Originally published by the Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author