The Republican Party, remember them - the party (largely supported by the Tea Party) who has been so strung out with deficit anxieties, fights Obama to the mat (believe me this was no heavyweight bout!) to maintain the Bush era tax cuts. The deal is that Democrats get an extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut and the whole steaming pile of shit adds $900 billion directly to our deficit over the next two years.
To quote the New York Times yesterday:
The package would cost about $900 billion over the next two years, to be financed entirely by adding to the national debt, at a time when both parties are professing a desire to begin addressing long-term fiscal imbalances.
Our public debt orgy is often credited to the tendency of human nature to not address a problem until it absolutely has to, i.e. as long and the Chinese are willing to fund the orgy we will continue on, but I am not so sure it is as simple as that.
On a memorable Bill Moyers show back in 2004 Kevin Phillips, author and political strategist to U.S. President Richard Nixon, argued that the United States is a plutocracy in which there is a "fusion of money and government." This unholy alliance between government and business interests (which can now count the Supreme Court in its club) must feel that when our drunken debt party ends and austerity hangover arrives they will not be touched by it. That remains to be seen, but make no mistake austerity is coming and it is going to be painful, but the plutocrats are certainly correct that austerity will be directed first and hardest on the poor and less fortunate in our society and they will be spared at least for a little while.
The phrase “no man is an island” kept coming back to me as I wrote this, the feeling that one cannot, no matter how much money and power you possess, fully or permanently insulate yourself from the pains of your fellow citizens. So I decided to find out the origin of that great aphorism, it is from John Donne (1572-1631);
All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.