All indicators are pointing to a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives later this fall, and as a person who is obviously thrilled with the prospects of having a voice, I also find myself concerned that my party may be so wrapped up in getting the win that they've put little thought into just what to do after the race is over.
Taking control of the House doesn't mean that Democrats are going to suddenly be running the show. The House and the Senate must come to an agreement on any bills they pass such that there aren't likely to be any clear wins for either side with such balanced representation. What it does mean is that for the first time since I've become active in politics, my party will have a say it what's going on, and with that power comes responsibility.
The Iraq war isn't an issue that drags down conservatives alone, it's dragging down the entire country. Who got us into this mess is only relevant when it comes to deciding whether they get to keep their jobs or not; the problem as it exists now affects us all, and currently there just isn't any solution.
It's destroying their party from the inside out, and I'm not entirely confident that it won't do the same to ours if we continue our midterm gains into 2008.
If the parties positions were suddenly reversed with all-Democratic control of the Government, what would you do? It's not an easy question to answer. If we pull out right now, the Iraqi Government would likely collapse within months, leaving the country in a state similar to that of Somalia, where there currently is no Government at all.
Somalia has been tortured by a continual state of civil war since a military coup in 1969. The military instituted a number of civil service programs that began steadily improving the country's literacy rate, but was also marked by political assassinations from within the Government against its own members.
A failed UN operation to relieve an oppressive state of famine failed and withdrew from the country in 1993, leaving Somalia ruled by war lords and generally one of the worst places on the planet to live right now. Nobody seems to care or to want to help them.
This could be Iraq in a year if U.S. forces where pull out en masse anytime soon, making such an option irresponsible and unconscionable. Starting the war was absolute mistake, but pulling out now would finish the job we started, turning Iraq into a living hell with no law and no food -- only suffering and death.
As hard as it is to accept, that's not the only big problem we find ourselves faced with. The budget deficit has shown absolutely no sign of reduction, even after George Bush campaigned on cutting it in half during his reelection campaign, which means it should have been cut by one quarter by now. It hasn't even come close.
But the larger problem hits a lot closer to home than something as far on most peoples periphery as the budget deficit; there have been rumblings from the IMF that the United States debt load has become so excessive that it seriously believes the US may default. That would make it difficult, if not near impossible for us to continue borrowing money to finance our deficit spending, which in turn would actually force a cut in spending for once in a way that doesn't benefit anyone at all.
Third world countries that depend on loans and aid from the US would be the first to be cutoff, interest rates would skyrocket making everything more expensive. We'd be joining the rest of the world in paying truly high prices for gasoline, as an example, perhaps in the $5-8/gal range.
Then there is the impending insolvency of Medicare. I never understood how Medicare could ever be such a large problem. The numbers should be constant, yet they aren't. For every person that enters the stage of their lives where they rely on Medicare, there should be another person just entering the work force that is adding new funding to the system to compensate. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work that way.
Sometime last year, I happened to turn on C-SPAN to watch the Senate "debate" whatever Medicare bills they had floating around at the time, and learned about something interesting that relates directly to the budget deficit -- entitlement spending.
Entitlement spending covers things that Congress must spend money on each year as a matter of law, such as Medicare. It's rather like taxes that are simply deducted from your paycheck before you receive it. The money is considered spent before you ever get a chance to look at it.
The chart I saw on the Senate floor, to the best of my recollection, had pegged entitlement spending at nearly 2/3rds of the budget that year, and in as few as just 13 years, the line on the graph representing entitlements had exceeded projected Government tax revenue. In that projection, there would have been no free money to spend on anything, period. Not the military, not schools, not anything at all.
A report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in March of 2005 that the budget the Senate had just passed would have increased the budget deficit by over $200 billion dollars over five years, and a Republican amendment would have actually accelerated Medicare insolvency by as many as four years. And what was all this for? Tax cuts for up to a quarter of the people receiving Social Security benefits with the highest income levels, the price people who didn't need it.
Trade deficits are widening every year, jobs are being lost to over seas slave labor countries, schools are failing to properly educate our kids, and the country has never been more divided over virtually every issue since the civil war.
I believe that my party can and will work to make these issues be non-issues in the future, but I'm concerned that some of these are so large and complex, that they are beyond the resolve of a political establishment that feels they are beholden to no one, and work only to serve their own interests.
The minimum wage hasn't been raised in decades to account for inflation (meaning even if the min. wage was raised to $7/hr from $5, it would still only be worth $5 in yesteryears dollars), much less to actually raise the standard of living in this country. The minimum wage as it stands today puts $3,000 per year less in the pockets of family's than would qualify them to not be living in poverty.
12% of Americans are living in poverty as of two years ago -- 36,000,000. That is so many people, that if you took the cost of the Iraq ware to-date, and spread it out amongst them, those 36 million people would have just about $14.00 to their name each. Out of $500 billion.
But you can't campaign on that, can you. You can't stop a war and feed our own starving with just control of the House, can you. There is something you can do: try. And my party better try really damn hard, because I'm not going to take much more of this crap.
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