The clock is ticking toward a likely economic Armageddon, and House Speaker John Boehner is wasting time trying to score political points rather than address the need to raise the nation's debt ceiling and work toward a balanced solution to the nation's long-term debt problem.
On Thursday, the resistance that we saw Tuesday with thousands gathering outside congressional offices in almost every congressional district in the country must make itself felt on the east steps of the Capitol.
East side steps of the Capitol Building
First Street NE, Washington, D.C.
12 noon, Thursday, July 28
MoveOn, the major labor unions and several progressive organizations, including Campaign for America's Future, are urging their members to gather at the Capitol at noon Thursday. That happens to be the day that the House will vote on Boehner's reckless, and ultimately pointless, scheme to avoid compromise on raising the debt ceiling.
The legislation that Boehner is putting to a vote forces devastating cuts on programs that low-income and middle-class people depend on for economic security, but it asks nothing of the millionaires and billionaires who are prospering in spite of today's financial crisis. But even worse, it deliberately forces the nation through another potentially debilitating debt crisis in a matter of months, just to give Republicans another chance to play it for cheap political points in the midst of a presidential election campaign.
This is what I call dream-killing legislation. It would mortally wound dozens of programs that help low-income people get back on their feet, from nutrition assistance ("food stamps") to job training. It would make it impossible to make many of the improvements we need to make today in our transportation systems, thus foreclosing the possibility of creating hundreds of thousands of additional jobs that would lay the foundation for future economic growth and competitiveness. It would mean less invested in education, with the effects ranging from larger kindergarten classes to college students graduating with higher levels of debt. And, of course, it would set the stage for reduced Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, leaving seniors, the disabled and the poor more sick and increasingly impoverished.
The message to Congress is simple: Don't destroy the American dream. Fundamental to that dream is the principle that everyone pays their fair share toward supporting the general welfare of the nation. The proposal being pushed by the House Republican leadership violates that principle. It holds the richest Americans and largest corporations exempt from sacrifice, while it tells a college student to look forward to higher debt payments on their tuition, a single working mother to expect less help for her child, a 55-year-old blue-collar worker to work a year or two longer on a physically taxing job before receiving retirement benefits that by design would force him or her deeper into poverty over time.
This legislation is a travesty in its own right, but its consideration rises to the level of criminality in the context of a debt-ceiling deadline that on Thursday would be five days away. Even if Boehner succeeds in getting this monstrosity through the House—which is in some doubt because many of the Tea Party members in the House believe the budget cuts in this proposal are not harsh enough—it is clear to everyone, including Boehner, that the bill will not pass the Senate and would not be signed by President Obama.
So what is the point beside a fundamental disdain for the American Majority,  which has clearly said in poll after poll that it wants the debt ceiling raised, and the budget deficit addressed, based on principles of shared sacrifice, and not based on harming Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries?
The good news is that average Americans are showing that they are not going to passively accept the hostage-taking efforts of the extremist conservative, Tea Party politicians, who are acting as willful agents of corporations unwilling to play by the rules and the greedy who can't be bothered to pay their fair share toward addressing the nation's long-term fiscal problems.
Within minutes after President Obama on Monday night told the nation to call their members of Congress and tell them that they supported a balanced approach toward addressing the budget deficit, congressional web sites and phone lines crashed under the load.
On less than 24 hours notice, on Tuesday an estimated 20,000 people showed up at congressional offices all over the country, with hand-made signs and a simple message: Don't kill our dream. Focus instead on putting our unemployed neighbors back to work and rebuilding the middle class, and stop pushing policies that will increase the economic insecurity of our elderly and those who are financially struggling.
Thursday is another I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I-am-not-taking-it-anymore moment. The my-way-or-the-economy-dies Tea Party Republicans need to see that just as there was a wave of anger that washed them into office, there is a wave of righteous anger that can wash them out if they persist in being obstacles to a sensible compromise to our budget and debt problems. Likewise, lawmakers who stand with the middle class and are prepared to be defenders of the American Dream will know that thousands of people on the Capitol steps, and the millions more they represent, have their back.
Let's stand against the dream killers Thursday at noon on the East side of the Capitol.
Even if you can't make it to D.C., you can still take action by emailing your members of Congress to demand a clean, unconditional increase in the debt limit. Take action now »