Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House-Senate: Zero-Zero

The middle-class won in the House-Senate conference on the stimulus by keeping the suspension of the Alternative Minimum Tax that had been hitting it - its upper reaches for years. It lost by seeing huge cuts in education, construction, and health care.

Medical research won because Arlen Specter the cancer survivor was a key Republican vote. In fact, the NYT reporters imply the whole thing was decided by the three "centrist" Republicans and their personal opinions. "it was clear that the three Republicans who agreed to support the bill in the Senate wielded extraordinary power, and along with conservative Democrats in their coalition, had put a firm stamp on the stimulus package."

It's a great way to run a country with 300 million people.

The whole package is 1/3 the size of the bailout for the banks.

The proportion between the deal for finance and the deal for the other 300,000,000 is the exact continuation of Reaganism through its Bushian decadence: public resources must go to the top. The true sign of efficiency is gross inequality.

The British political scientist Ross McKibbin summed up the Reagan-Thatcher model in the London Review of Books:
What is the function of the Conservative Party? It is to defend inequality: to make acceptable the social and economic unfairness inherent in a predominantly capitalist economy; to preserve the interests and privileges of social elites. But historically it has not been committed to a particular strategy to fulfil these aims.
In other words, because of its powerful electoral and financial advantages for the Republicans, inequality must continue by any means necessary. That is the underlying message of the House-Senate vote.

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