A friend who runs a small business told me recently he’s going to make some really tough decisions next week to cut expenses. Those decisions are going to hurt good people.
I am familiar with people who have started new businesses that are now teetering on the brink of collapse.
Businesses, big and small, in the housing industry are hurting because of consumer angst about buying or selling.
I know a couple afraid of losing so much of their retirement savings that they won’t be able to slow down when they’d planned. I talk to young people every week who can’t find jobs and have nowhere to turn.
There are millions like them across America who don’t know where the next paycheck is coming from or how they will support their children or how they will avoid being dependent upon their children in old age. They are feeling the anxiety of not knowing, the fear of failure, that agony of defeat. They are real people with real families in real communities, struggling every day because of the uncertainty over the American economy. They are consumers who won’t spend and manufacturers who won’t produce and bankers who won’t lend because of doubt.
Angry and frustrated, American voters went to the polls in November 2010 to “take back” their country. Just as they had done in 2008. And 2006. And repeatedly for decades, whether it was Republicans or Democrats from whom they were taking the country back. No matter who was put in charge, things didn’t get better. They won’t this time, either; spending levels may go down, taxes may go up, budgets will change, but American government will go on the way it has, not as a collective enterprise but as a battle between warring tribes.
If we are truly a democracy—if voters get to size up candidates for a public office and choose the one they want—why don’t the elections seem to change anything? Because we elect our leaders, and they then govern, in a system that makes cooperation almost impossible and incivility nearly inevitable, a system in which the campaign season never ends and the struggle for party advantage trumps all other considerations.
Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, must be very happy with her colleague Michele Bachmann.
Bachmann (R-Minn.) has stated repeatedly that she will never vote to increase the debt limit. And her position is winning converts among some House Republicans, especially those who are worried about a primary challenge from the right.
In the context of the debt limit, Democrats have been pushing for tax increases because they want to punish the rich. They believe that because the so-called rich pay only 80 percent of the tax burden that they should be forced to pay more.
In their view, the only way to really inflict shared sacrifice is through the tax code.
The problem with that assumption is that it isn’t true. There are plenty of ways to include rich people in the shared sacrifice without raising taxes one dime.
For the past 50 years, the American public has placed a high value on transparency in its government. Open meeting laws are pervasive and popular in government. Transparency is rightly thought to be an integral part of our democratic process.
But all good things can be overdone. There are exceptions to nearly every good rule.
While acknowledging that openness is a virtue, it is not a bad idea to recall that our own prized Constitution was put together under conditions of strictest secrecy.