The US debt crisis, the Tea Party and George Bush on steroids.
Talk of deficits, massive debt and brutal public spending cuts are pretty much in the British news 24/7 these days, so if you’ve noticed the recent debt crisis in the USA you’ll have noticed some of the same terms being thrown about, but if you paid close attention you might have noticed that unlike the UK there’s been a standoff between the two main political parties in how to handle the debt crisis.
This crisis started when the US Treasury requested an increase in the amount of money it was able to borrow – but this amount, known as the debt ceiling has to achieve backing for the US Congress. Unfortunately for Democratic President Barack Obama, the Congress is currently in the control of the Republican Party. Ouch. And many of these Republican Congressmen and women are members of the Tea Party, a political movement that was formed in opposition to public spending and incurring any more government debt. Double ouch.
This standoff between the Republicans – who wanted no tax increases but massive public spending cuts and the Democrats, who wanted some tax increases, but still some massive cuts as well – went on for weeks with angry Americans venting their frustration on twitter, as pundits warned that the most powerful superpower in human history was about to follow in the footsteps of Hearts of Midlothian FC. Fortunately, after days of wrangling the politicians managed to sort it all out – a compromise was reached, and the USA can go back to hopey changey goodness under President Obama – right?
Unfortunately not – the Democrats led a full scale surrender to the most extreme Republican demands in Congress. In exchange for extending the debt ceiling, there will be spending cuts of a whopping $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years, made in the very, very limited welfare net of the USA. Just to clarify, $2.5 trillion is how much money you would need to pay Bill Gates for him to shit himself in public with his mum and dad watching. These cuts come a few months after Republican hardliners – many of them from the Tea Party – refused to ditch Bush era tax cuts, designed to help the richest 2% of Americans. At the same time as these cuts are made, there will be no new taxes to raise revenue – not even on the super rich in the USA, who have seen their personal wealth skyrocket in the past 30 years.
“I’ve spent all my money bombing the middle east and bailing out the worst bankers in history, at a time of capitalism in collapse. Can I get credit? AYE!”
The Republicans have pushed for these cuts supposedly to stop “out of control” Government spending, but the reality is that the US debt has been incurred largely due to the bailout of multiple US banks and corporations and maintaining the most powerful army in mankind’s history (currently at war in three countries, with dozens of bases dotted across the globe). The picture painted by Republicans of a Socialist Obama borrowing money recklessly to give to the poor is a complete fantasy . Like in the UK, the political establishment in the USA, both Democrat and Republican, supported massive bail outs of failed private enterprises with virtually no control or direction on how US taxpayers money should be spent.
This combination of no new taxes on the super rich, but also a desire to maintain a massively expensive military industrial complex is a contradiction that the credit ratings agencies of the USA haven’t ignored – as noted by the US Darpa’s continued research into rocket planes in the same couple of weeks that Bright House came to the White House asking for their telly back. In a historic first these credit agencies downgraded the United State’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. It may not sound so bad – if you came home with a AA+ mark in a Maths exam you’d probably be quite chuffed – but when the self-described leader of the free world, the victor of the Cold War and the world’s only Hyperpower has a credit rating lower than those cheese eating surrender monkeys in France, you can see why a lot of the miniature American flag brigade are worried.
This supposed threat of bankruptcy in the USA has been grist to the mill of the Tea Party movement, an organisation which is known internationally for their hilarious placards and obsession with long form birth certificates. The Tea Party came to prominence in the wake of the massive bail out of US Banks at the start of the economic crisis a few years ago, alongside the election of President Barack Obama. Their raison detre is opposition to the US Government incurring any more debt and “big government”. Don’t try to point out to them that the Republican Party also voted for the bail out of Wall Street or that part and parcel of “big government” is the ability to bomb foreign people half the world away with missiles wi cameras attached so you can upload it to your you tube account. You’ll probably just get screamed at that you’re an IslamoMarxist as well.
As hilarious as many of these nutters are, they are dangerous not just to millions of the poorest Americans, but to the billions of people in the world who are intertwined with the USA through it’s domination of finance capital and military power. Right wingers in the USA often go a bit funny when a Democrat gets in, exaggerating things somewhat – like believing Bill Clinton is a Marxist NWO member cos of Waco, or calling JFK a traitor and arranging for him to drive in an open top car at 5mph through Dallas. But the Tea Party are something special.
The Tea Party are a movement of white, upper middle class wealthy Americans fearful of the world economic crisis and it’s threat to their privilege. Regular slogans at Tea Party rallies and protests talk about how they want to “take back America” – a declaration that the Tea Party don’t think the votes of African Americans and poor whites should determine who occupies the White House, but rather the organised block vote of Christian Evangelicals across the USA. As well as demanding massive public spending cuts, the Tea Party also gives a platform to racists angry at the first Black President in the USA – Tea Party placards in Washington declared “The Zoo has an African Lion and the White House has a Lyin’ African”. This is alongside their ongoing campaign to demand Obama’s birth records, to prove he is a Kenyan and not an American citizen.
Mad as a bag of cats
The Tea Party’s biggest prejudice is their naked class hatred towards the poorest in the USA. The Tea Party live in a fantasy world where the unemployed, immigrant, low paid, Hispanic and African American population of the USA live a life of luxury off the back of their tax dollars in free healthcare and benefits. One Tea Party supporter, South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer (no relation to Jack we presume said)
This was in reference to a program in his state that allowed students to receive subsided lunches. Tea Party supporters quite literally look upon the working class in the USA like they’re animals. They’re the worst kind of right-wing libertarians who don’t ever stop to consider the link between a massive pool of cheap exploited labour and their personal wealth. Nowhere do the Tea Party try to hold accountable the billionaires in the USA who wrecked the economy with their own rampant greed – probably because despite the mom and pop apple pie image, the Tea Party are funded by billionaires, happy to have an astroturfed campaign to defend their right to be filthy rich.
Unfortunately there’s been little sustained attack from the Left against the Tea Party. With the exception of the heroic struggle against Republican union-busters in Wisconsin, most of the Left in the USA has fallen back to defending Obama, despite the fact he’s been totally unable to harness the millions involved in his election campaign to push forward a halfway progressive agenda in the states. This means that it’s by no means certain Barack Obama will be re-elected in next years Presidential elections – and that the door is open for a Republican President influenced and supported by the Tea Party’s ideas.
Perry’s already made moves to court the nutter vote, by saying the Chairman of the federal reserve would be guilty of treason if he printed more money before the 2012 election – a pretty harsh statement, given treason is more usually associated with trying to undermine or overthrow the democratic process – possibly by systematically lying about a country’s threat in the build up to a war for example. While opposing any tax increases on the rich, Perry decries that only half of Americans pay tax – posing towards Tea Party supporters and backing their assertions that they are the dynamic, wealth producing section of American society that keep the country afloat. In reality, in Texas the poorest 20% pay 6% of their income on sales tax while the richest 20% pay only 1.3% – “Texas is not a low-tax state if you’re low-income” one analyst correctly noted. This is in line with other right-wing “low tax” regimes, like Thatcher in the 80′s – where the poor ended up paying more in tax, through an increase in regressive taxes and the Poll Tax.
As well as backing Tea Party tax policy, Perry has also called for the use of (unarmed) predator drones to patrol the border between Mexico and the USA. This anti-immigrant rhetoric is justified by the ongoing “War on Drugs” across the border in Mexico, as the cartels and the Mexican Government destroy both each other and Mexican society in the crossfire. Perhaps some slack should be cut for Perry – he identified the Mexican city of Juarez as the most dangerous city in America. Oops.
Geography lessons for Perry
If Perry’s geography skills are a bit shite his scientific knowledge isn’t better. Perry supports the teaching of intelligent design ie creationism in schools, and also believes global warming is a myth. So far this is all pretty standard fare Evangelical Christian stuff; alongside support for creationism, Perry also responded to a drought in his state with the same policy plan as the ancient babylonians – with a three day designated “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas”. Unfortunately, in a shocking victory for athiests in the Republican state, praying for rain did not work and the drought got worse. This might scupper some future Perry Whitehouse initiatives, such as “Praying nobody trades oil in euros instead of dollars week”, “national month of deficit reduction mass” or “Praying the Chinese never want all that money back”.
As well as being fond of the old Christianity a bit much, Perry’s also controversially hinted at support for the secession of Texas from the Union – a risky policy gambit not tried in a Whitehouse race since pre-Civil War America. Perry said to journalists after a Tea Party rally that, ”Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that… My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.” It’s a pretty bold statement from someone who a) wants to be President of the USA and b) is happy to accuse folk of treason for pursuing different economic policies than his.
Rick Perry supports the use of B-52 bombers to defend the unborn foetus.
It’s easy just to put the blame for extreme right-wingers in the USA like the Tea Partiers and Perry down to stupid Americans voting for mad people with crazy ideas. The problem is that in one sense the Tea Partiers are right – they are getting support because the USA is in the middle of a crisis, just not the one they think it’s in. The USA is a superpower whose economic power is dependent on a massive military industrial complex – one big enough to stop anyone trading oil in anything other than dollars, for example – but free market fundamentalists in the USA are unwilling to call for even slight tax increases on the super rich to fund this military power. This contradiction is what’s forced credit agencies to downgrade the credit rating of the USA, in an attempt to force the political class in the USA to get it’s act together, and run the most powerful capitalist superpower with responsibility to the needs of finance and bankers. Because this system is international – the US debt crisis has had negative effects on the world’s stock markets – the far-right in the USA’s total support for complete free market capitalism could help plunge the world into a second recession. Forget George Bush dragging us into Iraq – the American empire might yet bring the world into a much greater economic disaster if we don’t find a way to declare independence from the mad, mad world of the stock market.