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Implements of Pain

The Politics of Cut and Run

by HELEN REDMOND

Federal cuts. State cuts. City cuts. But cut with what?

President Obama said, “I think it’s important that we don’t try to make a series of symbolic cuts this year that endanger the recovery. We’ve got to be careful… Let’s use a scalpel, not a machete.”

Barack Obama. Former Chicago community organizer.

Now Surgeon General of the United States.

Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is angry because, “For the Republicans to say we’re not cutting anything, they’re being disingenuous and unfair.”

According to Opensecrets.org, Reid’s personal wealth in 2008 was between $2,827,056 and $6,307,999.

Judy Biggert, a representative from Illinois, believes, “We have a mandate from the American people to cut spending.”

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner threatened, “When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips: we’re going to cut spending.”

Ghost of Papa Bush past. Remember when he famously said, “Read my lips. No new taxes.”

In 2010, Democrats and Republicans kissed each other’s lips. They extended all of baby Bush’s tax cuts for super-wealthy Americans. The cost for maintaining the tax breaks for the richest 2 percent: $700 billion over ten years.  

Boehner wants to use heavier, blunter instruments to cut: machetes, meat cleavers, chain saws, and axes.

So take your pick from all the weapons. There will be blood. There will be pain. It will be painful to be cut.

In the 21st century there are only packages of painful cuts.

Obama said, “We’re going to have to make some tough choices.”

Republicans and Democrats have to summon the “courage” to make “tough” decisions to slash “non-defense discretionary spending” otherwise known as your: health care, pensions, jobs, wages, unemployment compensation, education, heating assistance, libraries, transportation, personal care attendants, abortion, medication assistance programs, Medicaid, and the right to collectively bargain.  

The House got tough, got courageous and used their discretion. They voted to cut $60 billion from the federal budget. They kicked ass!

Fiscal restraint. Fiscal responsibility. Fiscal reform. Fiscal challenges. Fiscal security.  Fiscal sanity. Fiscal reality check.

John Boehner quipped, “If some jobs are lost, so be it. We’re broke.” But he won’t lose his job and he’s not broke. According to OpenSecrets.org, in 2008 his net worth was between $1,700,021 and $6,626,000.

Speaker Boehner is a serial killer.

And he can’t feel your pain. He’s pain-free.  

Or he has a prescription for pain medication.  

Politicians can no longer feel your pain. That was Bill Clinton in 1992.

Deficit spending. Deficit reduction. Deficit panel.

Obama doesn’t want to “endanger the recovery.”

Your life could be endangered, though, by all the cuts in the areas of non-defense discretionary spending.

But what’s up with defense discretionary spending?

A Wall Street Journal headline warned, “Pentagon faces the knife.”

Pain at the Pentagon? Knives gutting military spending? Troop cuts?

Are you scared for your homeland security?

Don’t be.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a Pentagon budget of $553 billion.

Full funding for the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for torture at Bagram and Guantánamo prisons, for the State Department, FBI, CIA, DEA, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, intelligence-gathering, domestic spying, unmanned Predator drones, foreign arms sales, Abrams tanks, Apache helicopters, cluster bombs, landmines, tear gas canisters, and nuclear weapons production.

Wait.

You should be scared.

Shared sacrifice? Shared pain?

All belts tightened?

Not in democracy loving America.

Not anywhere.  

A sign held up by an Egyptian protester.

It read: “One World-One Pain.”

Malcolm X understood knives, getting stabbed in the back, painful cuts.

“If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t even begun to pull the knife out. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”

HELEN REDMOND is a freelance writer in Chicago. She can be reached at redmondmadrid@yahoo.com