It's been more than a month since I last posted, pre-election, about drastic cuts to education funding threatened by a Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan administration. Thankfully, that fear won't come to fruition, though the jury is still out on potential spending reductions for the nation's public schools in light of the stalemate over renewing federal tax rates and reducing the budget deficit.
With the re-election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, we are now in the lame-duck Congress season politically, wherein the news is much the same as before the election — most of it highly ironic and filled with uncertainty. The ultimate irony remains that Republicans resist a deal on taxes even after last November's broad-based voter repudiation of the Romney-Ryan proposals.
One explanation of their obstinate behavior is this: Having successfully prosecuted the Citizens United Supreme Court case granting them unlimited political fundraising access to corporate contributions, Republicans now suffer from the syndrome well-known among winners of the Powerball jackpot, wherein all that sudden wealth makes them crazy and unable to think rationally.
As Joe Nocera writes in Saturday's New York Times op-ed piece:
People who suddenly fall into extreme wealth — whether because of an insurance settlement, a professional sports contract, or a lottery win — rarely know how to handle their new circumstances.I would simply add the Citizens United windfall to this phenomenon, which has reached directly into the Republican Party psyche and largely explains why they appear unable to side with President Obama and Congressional Democrats, who simply want to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts, that otherwise will expire at the end of the year, for 98 percent of Americans.
It's hard to believe that, free of their newfound wealth conferred by the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce jackpot, and a plethora of political super pacs, Republicans otherwise would deny a tax cut for 98 percent of Americans. Isn't this what their Grover Norquist pledge is all about? Lower taxes? Like I said, the only explanation is that Republicans, like too many past Powerball lottery winners, have gone bonkers.
Still, even with such lunacy in this time of uncertainty in Washington, there is much good news for progressives to celebrate. Let's review the highlights in a faux-Mitt-Romney-like five-point presentation:
1. The re-election of Barack Obama restoring the promise of hope and change around the globe. The viral mobile phone photo of a Nick Nolte-like Mitt Romney pumping his own gas does likewise.
2. The circus sideshow that is John McCain objecting to Susan Rice's Benghazi talking points. This partisan attack reveals the senator's hollow soul and Rice's ability to withstand the heat and potential to fill the pantsuits of globetrotting Hillary as secretary of State.
3. The release of the remarkable and inspiring Stephen Spielberg film Lincoln. Its depiction of our 16th president's moral courage and political wiles — in delaying the South's Civil War surrender and promising political patronage positions (talk about a Republican "job creator") in order to secure passage of the 13th Amendment to our Constitution outlawing slavery — stands as a shining example of steely resolve for President Obama's second term.
4. The ad nauseum mainstream media coverage of the so-called dangers of the fiscal cliff facing Congress. This reporting underscores an important new symbiosis, e.g., how dysfunctional both Congress and the media have become, since the "fiscal cliff" (referring to a combination of tax increases and heavy-handed spending cuts that would kick in beginning in 2013) was entirely fabricated by Congress and has become a key part of the story usually left out by the increasingly right-leaning, corporation-friendly MSM.
5. The slow trickle of Republicans repudiating their Grover Norquist no-tax-increases pledge. I like this one primarily for the "Grover is So Over" headlines. If Grover were smart, he'd get behind the tax breaks for 98 percent of Americans, release his Republican friends from his crazy pledge, and find a career in the carnival business.