Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Emails

I get emails all the time from one progressive group or another, asking me to call my congresspeople for one cause or another -- usually to either support or oppose some pending piece of legislation.

But today was a first from a presidential campaign asking me to help to phone-bomb the opposition and then report back to Chicage HQ to let them know "how the call went."

President Obama's campaign speech address to the American People the other night included just such a call to action, to bombard Congress and let them know we want more of that cool bipartishit and that we want to be compromised even more.  People apparently listened and crashed several congressional websites and tied up the Capitol phone lines.  Must have driven the Republican staffers nuts.

I guess the thrill has worn off, because I just got another email from Obama Campaign Chief Jim Messina.  He notes that since my own particular congressman and senators are all Democrats, I should just call John Boehner direct (202.225.0600) and then report back to Obamaland. (I guess Obama doesn't really mean it when he blames his own party, too, for their alleged bargaining intransigence. When he says he wants to take heat from his own party, I think what he really means is he wants to just bask in its glow)  From the Messina missive:

Here's what's happening: President Obama proposed the balanced approach of raising the debt ceiling paired with responsible steps to reduce our country's long-term debt --  groveling before and begging asking oil companies, corporations, and the richest Americans to do their part rather than shoving austerity down the throats of placing the entire burden on seniors and the middle class.

A deal has been close at times, but an ideological faction of House Republicans has been effectively holding our economy hostage -- making extreme demands like ending Medicare as we know it, gutting Social Security, and rejecting any compromises that might make millionaires or big corporations pay their fair share to end the obscene wealth disparity and create jobs get our debt under control.
Don't Quit Me, John
Our records show you have only Democratic representatives in Congress. But House Speaker John Boehner -- who is leading the Republicans in negotiations -- needs to hear what I want you to tell him Americans like you think.
Here's what the President said on Monday:

"The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for a dysfunctional government. So I'm asking you all to make your voice heard. If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know. If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message."

The President doesn't make a direct request of all of us like this very often. Take a minute right now to call Speaker Boehner -- then let us know how it went, so we can figure out just how dwindling out base of support really is.

I don't want any more compromise. I don't want a balanced approach, which stands for continued corporate welfare for the rich, with just a tad of chained CPI on my future Social Security benefits.  I don't think it's a good idea to raise the Medicare eligibility age to "balance out" the beleaguered wealthy "folks" losing mortgage deductions on their vacation homes.  We the People have been compromised enough.

Right after the Messina missive arrived, I got another email from Showdown in America also asking that I call Congress, for an entirely different reason:

You can make a real difference and change the debate in Washington today.

Call your Representative and tell them to Make Wall Street Pay their fair share to raise revenues and create jobs.

Let your Representative know you won't stand for cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare—and neither should they!

We're not in a debt crisis; we're in a revenue crisis. And it's high time the folks that broke the economy—Wall Street, Bank of America, big banks, oil companies, and big boys—paid their fair share to fix it. It's time to change the debate in Washington.

On second thought, I believe I will take Messina's advice and call Boehner..... using the script from Showdown in America.  Then I will report back to Chicago Obama HQ and and let them know what I said, and how it went.  If you, too, want to call the Weeper and complain, here's a suggested talking point: 
 Politicians never tire of tropes, and there’s one tickling many on their tongues these days: Americans want Washington to deal with its debt, just like we do in our own families. Which is funny, given that American families have never been so deeply indebted. In 2004, total U.S. family debt exceeded income for the first time since the Federal Reserve began tracking it, according to a Center for American Progress report.
It was the best of times, it is the worst of times.

Update 7/28:  I got through to Boehner's office and talked to a living person. I then reported my call to Messina.  In the answer box titled "How did (blank) respond to your request for bipartisanship in debt ceiling negotiations", I wrote: "First, I don't care about the debt ceiling phony crisis and I told her so.  I said I cared about jobs, jobs and nothing but the jobs.  I said I didn't want him and Obama reaching any Grand Bargain about my future social security benefits. She said 'Thank You Very Much.  I will see to it that the Speaker is made aware of your concerns.' (pure boilerplate constituent-speak).


Neil Gillespie said...

Look at it this way. TPTB (The Powers That Be) decided America no longer needs a middle class. With the establishment of free-trade world markets, corporations can profit more by building stuff elsewhere and selling it to the new middle class in other countries. Plus our To-Big-To-Fail banking system can make money out of thin air, with the help of the Federal Reserve. (QE3 is coming). So TPTB are pretty happy right now.

America only needs two classes. The rich, now called the "job providers", and the workers, the working class. A few middle-class folks might be useful as doctors or skilled professionals, but even they can be out-sourced or imported. Won’t need as many college professors (like Obama) since the working class only needs a high school education, and perhaps some job training. Have you read the recent news reports questioning the value of a college education?

Younger people (voters) have been brainwashed to believe Social Security and Medicare are wrong, just another ponzi or wealth redistribution scheme. They don’t care much about Social Security since they have been told it will be gone when they retire. And healthy young people don’t look at healthcare or Medicare the same as older Americans.

Moreover, younger folks have grown up in a country where getting screwed by banks and corporations is normal. Young people think its normal to have credit cards with rates up to 29%. Outrageous bank fees. Mortgages with crazy terms. Usurious payday loans & car title loans, and rent-to-buy schemes. Utility, cable, and phone bills that have been turned into profit centers to benefit mostly the provider, not the consumer. No need for Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The banks and corporations take care of Americans from cradle to grave, just like the old company store.

So TPTB are happy, young people see this as normal, the only problem are older folks reminiscing about the good old days. No worry, they are dying off, and will be gone soon enough. (especially if Social Security and Medicare are cut). Welcome to the New World Order. It’s like a time machine back to the Robber Barons of the 19th and early 20th Century.

Denis Neville said...

These are Dickensian times…every day of our lives resembles a chapter from a Dickens novel.

Unemployment, foreclosures, homelessness, starvation, debtors prisons…Bleak House.

There’s no need for an Environmental Protection Agency…“In the country, the rain would have developed a thousand fresh scents, and every drop would have had its bright association with some beautiful form of growth or life. In the city, it developed only foul stale smells, and was a sickly, lukewarm, dirt- stained, wretched addition to the gutters.”…Little Dorrit

All these crazy, wingnut Republicans…The Old Curiosity Shop.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”…The Tale of Two Cities.

But instead of Great Expectations, we have only Low Expectations.

Kat said...

The historic old downtown theater has a summer movie series. This weekend they're showing {"The Grapes of Wrath". I remember seeing that years ago and thinking what a different time it was.
It's all back folks-- drought and dust, union busting, evil banks and pointless foreclosures... minus the small kernel of hope for a bettter future at the end.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

What I find interesting (read hypocritical) about Obama is that he totally ignores it when people write or call the White House, yet he is wanting us to bombard our Congress members on his behalf.

If he was going to use the bully pulpit, why didn't O'bummer appeal to the American people from day one to demand legislation to reinstate Glass Steagal, break up the monopolistic big banks, stop subsidies to the big oil companies, to overturn Citizens United, demand a jobs program, demand a single payer health care system? Why didn't he use it to reveal the Congressional members who took big donations from the above groups and then voted in their favour over the good of the American people? The list of things the Prez could have used his TV time to inspire the masses to rise up and make their wishes known to their legislators is endless. But no! Obama uses his bully pulpit to ask Americans to get on board with him to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We should call all right - but not on behalf of what Obama wants us to say. I think the Showdown in America script sounds pretty good to me!

Come on Sardonicky readers! Pick up the phone – whether you think it will do any good or not – and make the call. You’ve got nothing to lose but about five minutes of your time.

James F Traynor said...

The caldron is bubbling. Too late to plan to be at the bull on Wall Street. Wish I knew about it earlier.

Anonymous said...

"Americans want Washington to deal with its debt, just like we do in our own families."

If that is true then Obama should declare America bankrupt, just like millions of American families do when they are broke and reach their "debt ceiling".

Kat said...

Well, families cannot due that so much any more thanks to legislation written by the banking and credit card lobbies!

Valerie said...

Boy, the banks really set the traps and have now closed them on the Middle Class. It was not that long ago that Americans were being encouraged by everyone (including Alan Greenspan) but Suze Orman to borrow against the equity in their homes to pay of cars, credit cards and to update and remodel their kitchens and bathrooms. My husband and I would receive credit card offers for zero percent credit card offers daily. Fortunately for us, my husband had iffy employment at the times so we didn't get into too much debt, but I certainly know many people who did. Now those same normal Middle Class friends and neighbours are wallowing in debt they can't pay off because of the high interest rates.

While I don't believe in bankruptcy - for anyone or any corporation or business - I do believe that people should be able to restructure their debt and get a reasonable interest rate that makes it possible for them to work their way out of that debt.

I have a good friend who split up with his partner leaving him with the mortgage to deal with. For three years his mortgage, taxes and insurance were 73% of his monthly income. He did EVERYTHING possible to restructure his debt on a house that had depreciated $150,000. He saw it as a bad investment but he wanted to suck it up and honour his debt. But the banks and Obama's program - whatever it was called where the banks were supposed to help people like my friend restructure their mortgages - didn't do anything to help. Finally, he just walked away from the house and gave up his $40,000 down payment.

I just don’t see how the banks are better off in these situations – but there must be some kind of loophole where it is better for them to kick someone out of his/her house even though the house has depreciated considerably than to help that person.

I know I am completely off topic but Kat’s comment got me going.