LaborTalk for February 18, 2011

How Obama and the G.O.P. Squabble
Ways to Spend Our Hard-Earned Money

By Harry Kelber

In the high-stakes poker game with the Republicans, President Obama has opened the betting on the federal budget and deficit reduction with a $3.7 trillion bundle of chips.

Using the tax money we’ve paid the government, Obama has decided to cut or eliminate 200 federal programs, many devoted to social services and education that serve the nation’s middle class and the working poor. At the same time, he has chosen to boost military spending, as well as funding for the construction of nuclear power plants.

The President repeated his proposal to freeze discretionary domestic spending for five years. And of course, the salaries and perks we pay him and his staff will remain intact.

Obama boasts that his spending freeze would be “the most aggressive effort to restrain discretionary spending to take effect in 30 years.” There is nothing in his 216-page budget deficit plan that has some comforting news for the millions of unemployed.

Obama Says He’ll Compromise on More Spending Cuts

But despite his proposed $3.75 trillion deficit-cutting plan, Obama admits he can’t compete against House Republicans in depriving Americans of the comforts and conveniences that we have become accustomed to. He plans to “up the ante, ” when he gets into secret bargaining with G.O.P. leaders and reach an acceptable compromise.

Here is a short list of critical government services that the Republicans want to take away from us — and without asking our permission:

They want to slash education — from Head Start programs to Pell Scholarship grants for college applicants;

• Cut investments in infrastructure;
• Slash the subsidies for the home energy needs of poor people;
• Cut the money to send out Social Security checks;
• Cut food safety and environmental inspections;
• Eliminate an enormous number of middle-class jobs

* * * * *

Republicans hope to achieve their biggest victories if they can debilitate the health care law and privatize, cripple or shrink the three most important and costliest government programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Those three national programs have been the economic and health lifelines for tens of millions of people from the time they were founded decades ago. For the Republicans in Congress to do anything to weaken their effectiveness, would throw the country and its population into chaos.

That is why we cannot allow wealthy legislators, who eat-well, live well and are paid well to make the life -and-death decisions that affect all of us.

We, the people, need to be the third party at the bargaining table when the issues about what to do about budget deficits are decided.—Harry Kelber

LaborTalk will be posted here on February 19, 2011 and on our two web sites and on