It seems to me that most Americans regard politics as some kind of game – like football or baseball. They’re fans of one party or the other and vote that way regardless. They treat the whole thing as a professional sport with no real consequences for their lives.
But politics is a matter of life and death. Literally.
The way you vote determines the way you live. Or die.
Never before have I seen this so nakedly on display.
Elected representatives are being asked to choose between two budget proposals for the next decade.
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s plan is based on the assumption that the way to economic recovery lies with the rich getting richer. That line of reasoning assumes the rich will spend their (excess) money creating jobs for the rest of the population, that their prosperity will “trickle down.”
To compensate for dramatic tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy, Ryan would drastically reduce benefits now enjoyed by Americans – Medicare, for example.
An alternative proposal from President Obama is based on the belief that the best way to curb the unwieldy national debt and staggering annual deficits is to increase taxes on the nation’s top income earners.
You would think that voters would look at the proposed ways forward and decide which way serves them best. If I were in my forties or fifties, for example, I would vigorously oppose any attempt to renege on Social Security, considering how much I’ve contributed to the program over my working life.
And I would scream my head off when anyone suggests raising the admission age for Medicare or reducing its benefits.
Naturally, I would vote accordingly.
But here’s the rub.
These folks might not get a real choice.
Some Democratic members of Congress are sneakily siding with Ryan.
A Senate proposal by Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee and Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri would cap federal spending at 20.6 percent of gross domestic product within the next decade.
That’s the Ryan plan in disguise.
According to an analysis by the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Corker-McCaskill proposal would require “enormous cuts” in Medicare and Medicaid and other programs, and likely force policy changes to the entitlement programs similar to the ones that Ryan has proposed.
Senator McCaskill is one of those Democrats in Congress who are “conservatives” at heart.
Senate Democrats supporting the Corker-McCaskill proposal include Virginia’s Joe Manchin. And, of course, Joe Lieberman is backing it, too.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out that these folks are really on the side of the rich.
Today, more than ever before, voters must have their wits about them when they go to the polls. And go to the polls we must!
The way we cast our votes in the primaries as well as in the general elections will determine how we fare in the years ahead – whether we can afford health care, whether we can afford to retire, whether we (and our children, even grandchildren) can live a middle-class life.
This is a critical time for Americans. Elections have consequences in real life.