Well, political cartoonists are having a good time with this election, but what about the rest of us? What are we expecting? I know what I'm expecting, and it isn't good. But what about the people who voted Republican?
Sure, Republicans pledge to cut spending, just as they did during the Bush administration. They claim to want smaller government, just as they did back then. But,... what are you expecting? That, this time, they actually mean it?
But their "Pledge to America" just proposed immediate tax cuts for the rich, which was exactly what they worked for during the Bush years and, to huge detriment of our federal deficit, actually passed (although at least they weren't able to make it permanent, not back then, anyway).
They haven't proposed any specific spending cuts, except for promising not to cut Social Security, Medicare, and defense spending, which is where the bulk of federal spending actually goes. Without increasing taxes, it's utterly impossible to balance the budget by cutting spending where we don't spend much money. This is like promising to solve the energy crisis by banning bathroom nightlights.
Frankly, it's dumb in the first place to talk of cutting the deficit during the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. The time to cut the deficit is during good economic times, like Bill Clinton started to do during the 1990s. Heck, we learned all this in the 1930s, for Jebus sake.
But Republicans saw budget surpluses only as an excuse to cut taxes on the wealthy, which is all they wanted to do in the first place (good economy, bad economy, the solution is always to cut taxes on the wealthy). And then they proceeded to greatly increase federal spending, and not just on the two wars they started without paying for.
How could we be dumb enough not to see this? It is not, after all, America's youth - who might have an excuse for not remembering the Bush administration - who elected the GOP. The elderly, the Republicans' biggest supporters, should certainly remember that far back. How can they be so gullible as to go for all this again?
America's youth, as usual, simply couldn't be bothered to vote (in general - some of you did vote, just not the majority). It's funny, isn't it? They are the ones who'll be most affected by this, but they just can't be bothered. Yeah, I'm sure they've got all sorts of excuses - none of them any good - to explain away their apathy.
But do you know why Republicans have (almost) stopped trying to privatize Social Security? Do you know why you rarely hear today's Republicans rant about Medicare being socialism? (That used to be one of Ronald Reagan's favorite rants.) It's because these socialist programs are very popular with senior citizens, and senior citizens vote.
So, yeah, laugh all you want at all those gray-haired loonies who want to slash government spending to the bone,... without touching Social Security, Medicare, or defense spending! Laugh at the elderly who adamantly protest socialized medicine (for other people), while clinging to their beloved Medicare.
Yeah, they're crazy, aren't they? But since they reliably vote, politicians pander to them, no matter how crazy they might be. Do you know why college tuition keeps going up? College kids don't vote - well, not reliably, anyway. If the young voted as reliably as the elderly, we'd still have the best education system in the world.
Now what? Screaming is easy. Sloganeering is easy. Scaring grandma is easy. Governing is hard. Here's Chan Lowe:
We have learned from this election that in these times of extreme hardship, the American people are nothing if not impatient. It doesn’t matter who got us into the mess, it only matters that two years have passed since the last election and things aren’t getting better.
The Republicans and their Tea Party wing did an admirable job of getting themselves elected without having to delve into specifics. Let’s face it, there are two ways to reduce the deficit: raising revenue and lowering expenditures.
Since a Republican House will never raise taxes, that leaves cutting programs (the part they avoided talking about during the campaign). The military and national security are off the table, they tell us, so that leaves…
Social Security? Can’t cut people already getting it, or even people who are old enough to smell it. They’ve all paid into the system already. Young people? How can you expect them to keep paying in if you welsh on their future benefits?
Medicare? “Huh, whassat? We’re gonna have to start paying for Grandma’s dialysis? NO WAY, BOZO!”
Unfortunately, Republicans don't have to accomplish anything. In fact, for the next two years, they're determined not to accomplish anything, other than tax cuts to the rich. After all, the president will continue to be blamed for the bad economy, and the main goal of the GOP is to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.
If America starts to recover, Obama will be re-elected. So the last thing Republicans want is recovery. After all, their continual foot-dragging worked great this year, didn't it? Did the voters punish the GOP for dragging its feet? Hardly.
And if Republicans can get more tax cuts for the rich, drastically increasing the federal deficit, well, Obama will be blamed for that, too. It's win-win for them, as long as the American people stay ignorant, fearful, and very, very gullible. If tax cuts for the rich don't pass, Republicans will blame the bad economy on that, not on their stonewalling. If it does, Republicans will blame Obama for the resulting deficit.
This plan can fail if the American people wise up. That's unlikely, don't you think? It can also fail if America's youth start voting in huge numbers. Ha! That's even less likely. I guess I'm putting my hopes on an economy that starts to recover on its own, despite Congress. That might just be possible.
Of course, nothing else will get fixed - global warming, the energy crisis, widespread unscientific thinking, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, resource depletion, corporate cash flooding our political system,... We have no shortage of critical tasks in this country, and the longer we stall, the worse they get.