Thursday, April 7, 2011

Smug Little Jerks and Other Villians

I love Matt Taibbi's description of Paul Ryan--"the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so. . . . All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives." (Here.) Isn't that great? Biting sarcasm is what these guys absolutely deserve. Taking them seriously would duplicate the feelings they have about themselves. At the very least great misguided, and at the worst, malevolent.

Smug little jerks, indeed. Sons and daughters of privilege and ease. That's what makes it so easy for them to dismiss the millions of people from far less favorable circumstances who actually labor for a living and aren't counting their surplus dollars at the end of every month. You've seen this pretty boy Ryan from Wisconsin's face plastered all over the TV since he introduced his plan to attack the budget deficit. Do I need to tell you that this plan, which has all the deficit hawks on the right positively a-tizzy with glee, embodies more of the same kind of policy objectives as the Republican party has been peddling unsuccessfully for two decades?

Taibbi paints the whole exercise as a charade, because the entitlement programs the GOP always goes after in their plans, social security & Medicare, overwhelmingly benefit whites, especially white seniors. So all the shouting about dismantling the welfare state--"a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms."--gets enthusiastic support. But when the time comes to actually do something, nothing happens. "[A]nd life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries." The appearance of budget reduction pleases the mob and keeps the giant's foot on all our necks. Just what the Congress wants. All smoke, no fire.

So let's not get excited about budget cuts. We're going to see some nibbling around the edges, but that's it. Don't get me wrong, I'm just as disgusted with the lily-livered Democrats, who are not attacking the fat cats, corporate welfare, and the bloated Defense Department, much less entitlement programs. Does anybody really believe we're going to see budgetary reform that means something? Or am I just terminally cynical?
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