Monday, February 5, 2007

TwoJohns: Political Courage

Onto the NBC "Meet The Press" interview with Tim Russert, and the subject of healthcare.

Again, John, great beginning. We need universal health coverage, so that there is not one child in this country who falls ill without a safety net to catch them. And we will need to raise taxes to do this.

Wonderful! Just last week, on this blog, I asked if there was a Democratic Candidate out there who had the courage to say we're going to have to raise taxes to do what needs to be done in this country to put things right.

Like you, John, I'm no tax-and-spend fiend. But you do what you have to do when it's time to do it. That's what real political courage is all about.

But then you got to the punchline...

You came up with the usual, tired, old tax fudge - we're going to get that money by abolishing Bush's tax cuts for the rich, and by having the government collect more back taxes.

It's like a farmer saying he's gonna get that coyote this time by having a louder alarm system. The reason the farmer ain't ever gonna get the coyote is 'cos the coyote is wily.

Same thing with the rich folks. They're going to get around paying taxes and having their back taxes collected because they hire good lawyers and accountants - whatever the government does. And real people know that, John.

So again, you say you're doing one thing - being politically courageous - but then regular working folk see quite clearly that the rough reality is that you're not being courageous at all.

Real working people have to make check-books balance in real time, rather than with accounting fudges. They know that you have to make tough choices to make those ends meet. You know that too, John. You spoke about it this past weekend.

Ordinary folk know that if you're going to pay the bill for what needs to be done in this country, you're going to have to find room in the federal budget for real money coming from real sources.

And if we're talking about $200 billion a year extra - and I think we are talking that much, to eliminate poverty - then that will mean either a dramatic re-ordering of priorities in federal non-discretionary spending (if you want to make your proposals tax and deficit neutral), or something like my suggestion for a one per cent federal tax increase across the board.

Now granted, not every working person would put it like that. They might say they understand that they might have to choose between funding Smokey the Bear or paying to ensure that every child in this country gets to eat properly, sleep properly, be educated properly and have a doctor if they need one. A genuine "No Child Left Behind" policy.

Real people, John, truly get the difference between real political courage and a political fudge.

And so, once again, we see this new disconnect between the TwoJohns. You say you're doing one thing, and ordinary folk people clearly see that you're actually doing another.

Maybe, John, you shouldn't be making any more cute videos about lousy political consultants? Maybe you should be be sending them out into the cold, to join the others on the turf-laying detail...bless their hearts?

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