Wednesday, August 12, 2009

News Breakage

It's interesting to see all the opposition being voiced for health care reform (mixed in with White Man's Fury about all and sundry), when it's one of the things most commonly cited by the voting public as being overdue for a fix. For decades.

On this and other topics covered at these "town hall" meetings, a lot of the opposition seems angry and ill-informed (a magic combination), as though the people were Faux News watchers: Obama is a communist; a public option for health care coverage is "socialized medicine" (I'd love to hear the answers when these people were queried about what, exactly, "socialized medicine" means, or even "socialism"), government will now euthanize old people; illegal immigrants will get health care before you do, etc., etc. (A recent Jon Stewart piece edited together a bunch of Faux Noise's talking rumps hysterically claiming these very things and worse.)

And best of all, there is anger at the budget deficit! Now, I'm all in favor of concern at deficit budgets and especially of our growing and staggering national debt. Something absolutely must be done about this; in my view, it's one of the chief issues we face as a nation. But where were these people for the past eight years when W pretty much singlehandedly doubled the national debt? The nature of the concern, and the way it's being voiced, make me think this is all the water of political opportunism being carried by the stupid pack animals of American society.

Still, I hate deficit spending and I'm uncomfortable being the apologist for Obama's deficits. And the right wing tar and feather job of Democrats as taxers and spenders sounds like a home run here (even when Thomas Frank in his must-read book The Wrecking Crew exposes the lie in this axiom, as he exposes so much other conservative malfeasance). But even if we hate deficits, W's and Obama's deficits seem quite different to me: one was bamboozled upon us, and the other is attempting to float a sinking boat. W implemented a huge increase in war spending concurrently with reductions in revenue from of tax cuts, a kind of economic double-whammy that put us on our knees. Obama's deficit is another matter, I think, an attempt to spend us out of a serious world economic depression (one which, not coincidentally, is the direct result of three decades of increasingly unfettered conservative economic ideas). It's legitimately debatable whether government spending is the proper tool to use to break the recession--and I've heard several radio debates between trained economists chewing on the point--but I appreciate that he's pointedly trying to right a foundering ship. In any case, the other ideas which I hear being bandied about seem to be exactly what conservatives were trying for much of the past 30 years (specifically, lower taxes), ideas which have led us to this near-meltdown.

In this vein, Ed Brayton over at Dispatches From the Culture Wars put up a pointer to this post at Gawker about the legacy of Faux News. It makes for very interesting reading.


shrimplate said...

Same here on deficits. I hope beyond all hope that we can indeed spend our way out of recession, but it seems like a crapshoot to me.

wunelle said...

Agreed. And the latest projections seem unacceptable to me. Time to claw back several billion in military spending, I guess (maybe we could do without one or two of the five largest air forces in the world--all of which we currently possess).