This summer in politics

LeftRight3-copy1-300x184By Adam Schalke
Guest Writer

Let’s look back at this past summer in review of what occurred in America. It was a summer of many mistakes In Wisconsin, a key foundation of the American dream got trampled on and defeated, when government workers and their unions lost many of their rights as laborers. Also, in Washington DC, The United States witnessed a budget debacle which only ended up harming the American people with the reduction of many government programs which assist them throughout their lives. Let’s hope these events have a chance at being reversed, otherwise our generation will be forced to deal with their negative effects.
To begin with, let’s start in Wisconsin, which,  just like America as a whole, is in a budget crisis. To combat this, Scott Walker, Wisconsin’s Republican governor, developed a “brilliant” plan. Instead of repealing the massive tax cuts he gave to big corporations in Wisconsin, Walker chose to have Wisconsin’s state workers foot the bill. Walker’s proposed budget bill would cut state employees’ (i.e. teachers and librarians) paychecks by eight percent,
as well as stripping their unions of many collective bargaining rights, which are basically the rights allowing workers to protest things they feel are unfair and to demand better conditions.
This bill eventually passed, but not without a fight. Shortly afterwards, Wisconsin held a recall election of six Republican senators. If the Democrats won three of the six seats, they would have a majority in Wisconsin’s senate, giving them a chance to repeal the anti-union law, and ultimately impeach Walker. Unfortunately, the Democrats only won two seats and lost their shot at a majority.  Wisconsin’s state workers lost a good part of their pay and could do nothing about it.
As long as there have been unions in America, strong unions in particular, the middle class has benefited. When a decrease in union membership occurs, the average income of the middle class goes down with it because smaller, weaker unions result in employer abuse, which can lead to smaller worker compensation. Destroying such a key part of America’s identity will not solve its financial issues. Washington, DC is also experiencing unfortunate conditions as well. The United States is over 14 trillion dollars in debt.In response to this problem, President Obama sat down with congressional leaders to discuss ways to cut the deficit and to raise the debt ceiling, which would increase the amount of money the U.S. Treasury can borrow. In order to cut our deficit, the government would need to either raise taxes, cut federal programs like Social Security or do a mix of both. Many Democrats wanted to raise taxes in addition to budget cuts.
The Republicans refused to raise taxes even the slightest bit, despite the fact that federal tax revenues haven’t been as low as they are today since 1950. Republican John Boenher, the Speaker of the House, abandoned the discussions and drew his own resolution, which had little compromise. Eventually, as the Aug. 2 deadline drew closer, both sides reached a compromise: raise the debt ceiling past the 2012 elections, cut 2.2 trillion from the government’s budget over the next decade and no higher taxes.
President Obama and the Democrats agreed to this compromise, despite all its flaws. Obama could’ve just used the Fourteenth Amendment, which basically states the debt of the United States is totally valid and must be paid under any circumstances and raised the debt ceiling himself, caved in to the GOP’s demands. Every generation from now on will now have less social security benefits and less health coverage as they grow older.
Walker’s bill, the failure of the recall elections,and the failure to compromise on America’s debt happened because of two things: latching onto bad ideas in the face of desperation, and the lack of vigor from the left.
First of all, if America is in such a hole that it needs to cut things like Social Security and workers’ rights, why not start with ending tax cuts for the rich or cutting the enormous defense budget? Today, three point one million of this country’s richest citizens aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Surely if we they were paying taxes like the rest of America we’d dig ourselves out of this hole a lot faster. In addition, we spend over 950 billion dollars a year on defense. Surely we can cut a lot of that out.  We already spend as much on defense as Russia, China,and Europe combined.
Secondly, where were the liberals, the real liberals, when all this went down in Wisconsin and Washington? This is a major problem in American politics today.  Right now, there are two conservative parties, the Republican Party and the Tea Party, in addition to a wishy-washy Democratic Party. We need more truly liberal politicians in power who will defend the middle class and the poor.
These events that have unfolded in our country can be reversed.  Many teens in our generation are disenfranchised by politics, but the things occurring in America now will directly affect our lives much sooner than you think. You have a voice, and you need to use it for what’s right.