Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.
Early in the morning, the day after Americans awarded him four more years in the White House, President Obama gave his acceptance speech then sought détente immediately by calling GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Johnny and Mitch rebuffed him. They were asleep, Barack Obama was informed. They would not be roused to speak to the likes of the President of the United States.
Then, the day after Americans voted to reject Mitt Romney’s plan to reduce the deficit on the back of the middle class, Johnny and Mitch insisted that Congress must reduce the deficit on the back of the middle class.
Johnny and Mitch need to wake up to the new reality. Ding, dang, dong. Republicans lost. They lost the Presidency. They lost seats in both the House and the Senate. The American people smacked Republicans down and trounced the GOP’s darling Tea Party. Losers don’t disrespect the victors. And, Johnny and Mitch, just FYI, losers don’t dictate the terms of armistice. The victor in the 2012 Presidential election ran on a pledge not to renew those expiring Bush tax cuts for the rich. American voters validated those terms.
President Obama and Mitt Romney reveled in their differences. The choice was clear for Americans. For his part, Romney dismissed 47 percent of Americans as lazy, irresponsible “takers” and promised to decrease taxes for the nation’s wealthiest by 20 percent beyond the Bush cuts.
President Obama, by contrast, promised he would let expire the Bush tax cuts for everyone earning more than $250,000 a year, which would include himself and Mitt Romney. As Republicans carped about the nation’s debt, Obama said it was time for those who had benefited most from America to fulfill their responsibilities to their country.
Not only did voters choose President Obama and his fiscal plan, but they also said in exit interviews that those Bush tax cuts for the rich have gotta go. Here’s what an infamous number – 47 percent – told the exit pollsters about the rich: Anyone earning more than a quarter million should pay more taxes. An additional 13 percent said everyone’s taxes should be raised.
Those results are consistent with the way Americans voted on local tax measures. They increased their own taxes repeatedly on Tuesday.
Residents of California and Arkansas, San Antonio and Austin voted to pay more in taxes for specific purposes such as education and infrastructure. In Oregon and Florida, voters rejected limits on and elimination of certain taxes.
The vast majority of Americans are willing to do their part to support their country. And they expect no special exemption from that responsibility for the nation’s richest. They sent that message Tuesday through their ballot choices.
John Boehner must have snoozed through that missive. On Wednesday, after speaking with fellow Republicans on a conference call – apparently he was awake for that one – Boehner announced that he would refuse to allow the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire.
He also said any deal with the White House to avoid the automatic budget cuts and tax increases dubbed the “fiscal cliff” that will occur Jan. 1, 2013 barring action by Congress must include overhauls to the tax code, Medicare and Medicaid.
The American people rejected all of this while Boehner was unconscious on Tuesday.
Romney chose as his vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who proposed voucherizing Medicare to shift costs to seniors and butchering Medicaid by shoving responsibility for it to the states. The Romney-Ryan team proposed cutting income taxes by 20 percent for everyone, including the rich, and recouping the revenue loss by closing loopholes they kept in a special secret lock box.
Non-partisan economists said this plan did not compute unless Romney and Ryan raised revenue from the middle class by eliminating deductions vital to them, such as those on mortgages. Romney and Ryan insisted they could, in fact, magically make the numbers add up without adding to the tax burden of the middle class.
But they refused to disclose that super-secret formula. For some reason, the American people didn’t believe them. They chose President Obama instead – the guy who flat out said he’d raise taxes on the rich and whose health care law broadly expands Medicaid. They chose the guy whose vice president pledged that the administration would not cut Social Security.
Thanks to the right-wing Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing unlimited contributions to super PACs, a handful of the nation’s richest – including Kenneth Langone, founder of Home Depot; billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch; gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson; Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts; Texas industrialist Harold Simmons, and Texas homebuilder Bob Perry – spent hundreds of millions in an attempt to buy a President for themselves.
They failed. The feet of hundreds of thousands of volunteers beat them. Jonathan Collegio, the spokesman for one of those Republican super PACs, American Crossroads, admitted it. He told reporter Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post:
“If you look at the exit polls, the way that Obama won was on the ground in Cleveland with a lot of the minority voters…I just don’t know that’s a job for super PACs.”
The voters who re-elected President Obama celebrated on Tuesday, rested on Wednesday, then went back to the streets on Thursday. They demonstrated at more than 100 sites across the country to demand protection for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to demand that some stinking “grand bargain” to avoid the fiscal cliff does not include cuts to crucial programs promised the middle class. They re-elected President Obama and now they going to make sure he can keep his promises to them.
Hey, John Boehner: Morning bells are ringing. And if Republicans don’t wake up and listen to the middle class, what they’ll hear is mourning bells tolled after they lose even more seats.
Full disclosure: The United Steelworkers union is a sponsor of In These Times.