In one of his recent speeches President Obama acknowledged that his advisers had underestimated the seriousness of the crisis that hit the American economy. The consequences of the crisis, he said, had proved far more serious than expected. As midterm elections draw nearer, the issue that comes to the fore is not Iraq or Afghanistan, as was the case just recently, but poverty among the Americans, which is assuming threatening proportions. According to the Federal Statistics Agency, every seventh American is facing poverty or living beyond the poverty line, a record figure in the past sixteen years.
A report by the Department of Agriculture specifies that seventeen million households, or 50 million people, can’t afford everyday essentials. This makes fifteen percent of all US families. The report says nothing about expenses other than those serving everyday needs. But the picture is gloomy enough without them. It cannot but shock those who were assured by American propaganda that America is a paradise and most Americans live in prosperity.
President Obama has picked the right time for talking about the country’s economic crisis. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton writes in the latest edition of “The Economist” that economic issues will become key in the midterm elections in November, as one of the consequences of the economic crisis is a dramatic increase in unemployment.
The share of the country’s unemployed is now close to a startling ten percent. This, alongside other economic tribulations, is being used by the Republicans, who disgracefully lost to the Democrats two years ago, as the central point in their forthcoming election campaign.
Policy makers are often dirty-handed. What we are witnessing now is how Republican leaders, including those from George Bush’s entourage, candidates for Congress and candidates for state governors are trying, as the Russian saying much loved by Ronald Reagan goes, “to lay the blame at someone else’s doorstep” (literally: to pass the headache to another person). Philippics addressed to President Obama make no mention of the fact that after inheriting a deficit-free budget in 2000 the Bush administration resumed an arms race and launched a campaign in Iraq that left its successors a deficit of nearly half a trillion dollars, and that the Republicans left a state debt of ten trillion dollars, which means every American, children and elderly included, owes a total of 42 thousand dollars.
The Republican leaders also keep silent on the fact that what pulled the trigger on the current economic crunch was the collapse of America’s major banks and financial companies, such as the Enron Corporation, the president of which, Kenneth Lay, a close friend and business associate of George Bush, found himself behind bars on charges of fraud and theft. Financial machinations in Wall Street banks became possible in the absence of legal regulations and with the connivance of officials from the Bush administration.
Critics of the current administration among the Republicans hope that ordinary voters are largely uninformed about the fabrics of big city politics and will cast their votes proceeding from their own problems which they blame on the incumbent “chiefs”.
But election bickering can do nothing to feed the hungry or provide the unemployed with jobs. Firing volley after volley of criticism at their Democratic rivals, the Republicans are unable to offer anything of their own, apparently, because they have nothing to offer.The elections will pass, the problems will remain. And since these problems are crying for resolution, they will have to be settled anyway.
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