Concede what?

Published on Intrepid Report, by Jayne Lyn Stahl, April 12, 2011.

Republicans and Democrats have decided to act like grown-ups and agree to make concessions to keep the government up and running until a more permanent resolution can be reached, but the stopgap measure approved will expire on Thursday.

While we’re in for a long round of negotiations before both parties can agree on passing a budget through the end of this fiscal year let alone through 2012, it might be helpful to look at how spending has changed over the past 50 years, and then ask: concede what? … //

… We went from LBJ’s war on poverty to just plain war. 

If those who want to lower the deficit, those who tout “fiscal responsibility” think that the national debt is this country’s biggest problem and the gravest threat to future generations, they’re wrong. Our worst legacy for future Americans is a world constantly at war, and one in which the benefits of the few come at the expense of the many.

Again, over the past 50 years, defense spending has steadily escalated. Instead of making concessions, maybe we should start asking not where Social Security will be by 2076, maybe we need to start asking where defense will be by 2076.

The president’s opponents in Congress have worked sedulously to discredit him from the start, which represents a seismic shift from the treatment Lyndon Johnson got. Remember, Johnson was a white southerner. Mr. Obama instead has been forced to resort to tactics one would mostly expect from a used car salesman who mark up the price of the vehicle knowing full well that it will only depreciate during the transaction. This is not a paradigm that works for our public schools.

Even with the $76 billion or more this administration has slated for the Department of Education, public schools in our inner cities don’t even come close to offering the same kind of access to state of the art technology, and quality educators, that one typically finds in middle class suburban schools.

Before agreeing to any more concessions, the president and Congress must ask, concede what?

Rest assured, when Congress finds itself up against the wall in another eleventh hour negotiation, they will want to keep their hands off the political third rail of Social Security and Medicare and instead opt to take another bite out of education. This is what states like California have done in a pinch, so it would come as no surprise if the feds do it.

Not only is the president up for reelection, but many members of Congress face election campaigns in 2012, too. We will not stand by and allow a trend to continue about which Dwight Eisenhower warned more than half a century ago. We will not allow war to become this country’s main export. (full text).

(Jayne Lyn Stahl is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USALink: ladyjayne’s blog (commentary on the trials, tribulations, and quirks of these times).

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