Get Obama's Back: WE DO HAVE THE MONEY
by thereisnospoon, Wed Nov 05, 2008 at 11:22:19 AM EST
As I said yesterday, this election was not the end of a fight, but merely the beginning. Many struggles still remain--including the one for marriage equality (see Paul Hogarth's excellent piece for why we failed in CA, and what we can do better in the future)--but by far the biggest challenge facing us now is the argument about money.
As soon as Obama takes the oath of office, Republicans will become sudden deficit-hawks. Their allies in the conservative media (like the AP) will begin saying that there is no money for any of Obama's programs like national healthcare, national service, alternative energy and so many others.
A heard an earful of this line listening to mainstream news and conservative AM Radio while driving around canvassing in Henderson, NV over the last four days--and especially yesterday as it became clear that Barack Hussein Obama would be the 44th President of the United States. All of a sudden, the central talking point for supposedly wise talking heads and the screaming vitriolic Limbaugh-wannabes was one and the same:
It doesn't matter. This country doesn't have any money. We're in debt.
Welcome to the New Obstructionism. Disguised as fiscal hawks, the Republican Party, together with both their allies and their willing dupes, will spend the next four to eight years claiming to be the saviors of the Americaan wallet, preventing the country from going completely bankrupt due to Obama's tax-and-spend policies. They will continue their Southern strategy substitution of "government spending" for "your tax dollars are going to black people" by cherrypicking politically distasteful line items from the budget, even if they constitute 0.000001% of the total spending.
Four eight years, we will be told that nothing can change, because we have no money to change it with. Completely gone from the discussion will be why we have no money, or which President it was that turned surpluses into record deficits.
We cannot allow them to take the initiative on this, and put us into a reactive stance. That's how we lost on Proposition 8 in California. Our job in the netroots is to move that Overton Window first, and set up the arguments that make room for the policy positions we want to see.
And the easiest way to do that is to hammer them on Iraq. The United States is spending $2 billion a week in Iraq. That's all the money we need. Here's the argument:
We do have the money. By leaving Iraq, we can implement all of Obama's programs twice over for the same amount of money George Bush and John McCain would have spent wasting the next four years in Iraq. We will pay for our programs by leaving Iraq.
It's that simple. Is money tight? Absolutely. Are we in a big financial hole? Certainly. Would we be in a tight spot financially even if we left Iraq tomorrow? Of course.
But no one in the traditional media and conservative politics seemed to question the fiscal responsibility of dumping oceans of liquid assets into the bottomless sands of Iraq, nor would they have questioned it in the wake of a McCain victory last night.
One can also take the tack that spending today in an investment in the economy and financial future of tomorrow: that by spending on alternative energy today, we will have far fewer federal deficits and money going to OPEC in the future. This is also an excellent argument, but (in my view) neither as simple nor as visceral as the choice between spending on healthcare vs. Iraq. Still, that argument, too, must be made.
Beginning today, we must take the initiative on this meme. We DO have the money. We just have to make the right priorities in terms of how we use it.