Debt ceiling debate or war on the working class?

The debt ceiling debacle isn’t about debt any more than all the talk about balancing the budget is about the deficit. There is absolutely no need to be in a crisis. The protracted stalemate has only reached crisis proportion because the president has allowed Congress to be diverted from raising the debt ceiling to a distinctly different discussion.

That the White House has permitted, indeed enabled, the conversation to shift, and to shift seismically, merely leads one to deduce that what’s going on is nothing short of a coup d’état on the part of corporations, in America, to ensure that their government subsidies, and institutionalized tax evasion continues.

What’s happening now in Washington, D.C., in what looks like a tug of war between Congress and the White House, is fundamentally a coup d’état by the grassroots Tea Party on behalf of those white-collar criminals who have quietly been running the show practically since our inception, and who now want to go public. And, ironically, on the backs of mostly blue-collar enablers.

Ironically, the almost exclusively white, blue-collar Tea Party joins forces with those who, since the New Deal launched, have been at war with the working class, a war that has only escalated since 9/11.

Yes, white-collar criminals who run corporations like AIG, XE, and all the major banks, have been essentially legislating from the boardroom for years. They were behind the “Bush tax cuts” in the first place, as well as the “war on terror” which has essentially been a war on the working class.

What some might call entitlement programs for white-collar criminals began when the Supreme Court stepped in, back in 2000, and fixed an election. George W. Bush, in turn, sent two more justices to the high court to virtually guarantee a favorable ruling in Citizens United, further empowering white-collar criminals by granting them corporate personhood. Those personhood rights stop, of course, when it comes to being held liable for their bold-faced fraud and predatory practices.

Over the past decade, too, as is widely known, a fraction of the U.S. population has amassed even more wealth, while wages for working men and women have remained stagnant.

What baffles most is how working class folks, the ones who drive those big sports utility vehicles, who have been hurt the most by the price gouging oil companies, many of whom are no longer able to feed their families without food stamps, how is it that these folks would go to the polls, and elect more than 100 neo-conservative Republicans whose primary goal is to divest them not just of their medical insurance, but of every right working people have had since the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

This miniature party within a party has managed to hold even the Speaker of the House, a fellow Republican, hostage to their demands.

Are these not the same folks who masterminded stealing the 2000 election, and that of 2004, or their next of kin? How is they can pull it off again, or can they? And, what is this if not a coup?

Whose best interests are served by a “balanced budget amendment” which largely amounts to finalizing tax cuts for the rich while gutting Social Security, and Medicare? Those of the Tea Party? They are demographically much closer to 98 percent of Americans, not the 2 percent income bracket.

Moreover, whose interests are served when twice as much is allocated for defense as education in the 2011 budget? Who benefits? Surely not the children of working class parents.

When the president went before the American people on Monday night, he told the truth about one thing. He is not, repeat not, planning to raise taxes on 98 percent of us, but only let the Bush tax cuts for the upper 2 percent lapse. What kind of Kool-Aid does the Tea Party spike their punch with, so they can persuade their predominantly working class base that letting News Corp. screw the government out of billions in taxes benefits them?

As Mr. Obama was also quick to point out, most people want to see the rich pay their share, so where did this “tea party” contingent come from, and when can we ship them back?

Indeed, the neocons of the 90s must be proud to watch the nouveau radical right wing of the Republican Party manipulate leadership such that what is little more than a routine matter of allowing the government to make good on its unpaid bills has morphed into a contest of ego and political will.

Make no mistake, this is a doomsday scenario. If the impetus was to defeat the chances of a second Obama administration, what has happened instead is the defeat of any substantive economic mobility for the foreseeable future.

And, by allowing a simple congressional vote on raising the debt ceiling to become a referendum on empowering so-called “job creators,” the president has himself enabled changing the subject which can only lead to a gradual erosion of a federal safety net, and subjugation of the many to the interests of the few.

Big business and big government have now become indistinguishable. If the Tea Party wants smaller government then, by default, they’re asking for less of a corporate stake in governing.

Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

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