Adults Only

Richard Eskow

Today’s preferred political posture is that of “the adult in the room,” the one who’s prepared to compromise during negotiations. But there’s a little problem with that pose. By definition, it means that you’re compromising with children.

The adult in the room at a pre-school doesn’t strike a deal that says we’ll play outside instead of eating lunch or snacks. He or she knows that we need nutrition to stay healthy. The adult in the room wants the children to be happy, but if they’re not behaving he appeals to their parents. And in politics, he or she appeals to the voters.

Well, President Obama has finally gone over the Republicans’ heads to the voters, but he’s left out the “nutrition” our economy needs most: jobs. The Republicans keep claiming that jobs will magically appear if taxes are kept low, even though low taxes haven’t produced any jobs over the last 10 years. The President warned us Monday night that “our growing debt could cost us jobs.” But you know what really costs us jobs? Not spending money to give people jobs.

Not a single proposal on the table includes short-term spending for job creation. That spending would stimulate growth, after which policy makers could pivot and address our long-term debt issues. And they could do so with the added advantage of added revenue from millions of newly-employed Americans who are paying their federal income tax. But that’s off the table. So, too, are any new taxes, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proposal passes.

Who’s talking straight to the American people? Adults don’t condescend to other adults. They tell them the truth. Who’s telling the public that we must first fix the damage caused by the recession by putting people back to work? Who’s telling them that Washington understands their problems and wants to fix them?

And while we’re on the topic of “adults,” consider the “Super Congress” proposals that Reid and House Speaker John Boehner have both proposed. Under these proposals, “bipartisan” panels of Republicans and Democrats would propose a fixed-dollar amounts of spending cuts that would be fast-tracked to an up or down vote. Why have an unelected “Super Congress” make these decisions? Because politicians want to cut spending without being held accountable for it. They were elected to make decisions and take the consequences, and now they want to avoid both the decisions and the consequences.

Want to be the “adults in the room”? Then take responsibility, do your jobs, and face the consequences of your actions. That’s what adults do.

Let’s review the facts, shall we? Spending rose sharply because of George W. Bush’s new wars, and tax revenues declined dramatically because of his tax cuts. Then spending rose even more, and taxes fell even further, after a Great Recession caused by deregulation of Wall Street. It’s all here:

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Yet Washington has come to a standstill as it fights over competing deficit plans,all of which fail to address our real problems. Polls show that voters prefer the solutions that would actually work. They want Washington to invest in job creation, tax the wealthy, cut military spending, and protect entitlements. Instead, all of the plans being debated in Washington would do the following: Continue the wars (although some of them assume drawdowns will continue), slash spending, preserve tax cuts for the wealthy, and fail to enact additional Wall Street regulations.

The President has signed on to the spending-cuts craze, and he’s joined the Republicans in pushing for cuts to entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare.. He repeated that message Monday night, saying “serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.” But Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit, and Medicare reform means cutting the for-profit abuses out of our health care system. So he’s not giving the public the straight talk it deserves, either.

Are we supposed to admire any of the combatants in this debate? We don’t live in Washington. We live in a world where unemployment is staggering,the economy is collapsing, and hope is dying. Nobody’s addressing our problems because they’re too busy addressing their problems. This may be the most narcissistic political debate in history.

In a grown-up world, politicians would be arguing over competing jobs plans. They’d each be boasting that their plan creates more jobs than the other guy’s. Sure, they’d mention the deficit – by telling us how quickly their plan would add jobs and stabilize the economy, thereby giving us the growth and revenue needed to address the deficit problem more effectively later on. Instead they’re arguing over who can cut more spending … and how to can do it without paying a political price.

An adult? For voters, that would be a refreshing change. They’ve waited a long time for some big-people talk. Somebody better tell our elected leaders there are more important things to do than play these re-election games. We’ve had record levels of unemployment for more than two years. The bell’s ringing, Washington, and that means means playtime is over. It’s time to come inside and listen to the American people

Remember them? They’re the real adults in the room.

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