Latest Salvo in Attack on Poor in America
GOP throws working families under the bus with austerity measures to tackle the nation's debt.
James Baldwin, the acclaimed African-American novelist and poet, famously wrote, "Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor." Baldwin was speaking of the psychological complexity of socioeconomic disparities.
His observations were specifically of the African-American community at the height of segregation in the 1960s, but the concept that the poor are often disparately more indebted and carry a greater financial burden, for lack of the necessary resources to survive, is just as much a reality today as it was then.
The political battles currently being waged in Washington reflect age-old struggles between the haves and have-nots. President Barack Obama, elected on a wave of populist enthusiasm -- otherwise known as hope -- came to embody the dreams of both the slave and the immigrant, giving birth to the idea that all men are created equal, and that the American dream is truly attainable by all.
Three short years later, and we see a nation divided and a crippled economy. Those who have held power for far too long are well-equipped at constructing a paradigm in which to maintain it. The Republican establishment and its neo-Confederate Tea Party caucus are hell-bent on destroying the goodwill achieved by the election of America's first African-American president and, in light of the latest battle over the debt-ceiling increase, have proved that they are willing to go as far as threatening the nation's economic solvency in order to "take their country back."
But from whom?
It seems that the entire conservative platform, often inarticulately expressed by the Republican congressional leadership and their Tea Party spokesmen, is committed to austerity measures that, at their core, are an assault on the poor and the middle class. Cuts to entitlement spending were a carte blanche requirement before negotiations could be entered on the matter of extending the debt ceiling and avoiding what could have become the nation's first-ever default.
No higher taxes for the wealthy could be considered because of a blind allegiance to the uncompromising Grover Norquist pledge signed by so many Republicans. And last month, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah expressed their true sentiment on the floor of the chamber when he insulted the American poor.