Monday, June 05, 2006

While the Senate fiddles with gay marriage, America burns

Remember that bit about Emperor Nero playing the fiddle, while the city of Rome burned? A study released today shows that while the U.S. Senate fiddles around with a sham vote to scapegoat me and millions of other Americans, most people aren’t particularly worried about the so-called evil of gay marriage. Even if you only focus on moral issues, voters are far more upset about other, very real problems.

When asked to name the “most serious moral crisis in America today,” only 3 percent cited “abortion and homosexuality.” That isn’t a typo. I said three percent, and they had to throw in abortion to come up with that number.

That is just one of the fascinating results from the study released by The Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress. The Center notes:

American voters are increasingly worried about rising materialism, self-interest, and unethical behavior in our society. They strongly desire a government that focuses on the common good and basic decency and dignity of all Americans.

Among the results:

  • 71% of voters strongly agree that "Americans are becoming too materialistic," including 71% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans. (92% total agree.)
  • 68% of voters strongly agree that the "government should be committed to the common good and put the public’s interest above the privileges of the few." (85% total agree.)
  • 73% of Democrats, 62% of Independents, and 67% of Republicans strongly agree with a common good focus for government. A similar percentage of voters (68%) strongly agree that "government should uphold the basic decency and dignity of all and take greater steps to help the poor and disadvantaged in America." (89% total agree)

For some reasons these issues don’t seem to be on the radar of Republicans, who control every branch of government. (To be fair, many Democrats do little more than pay lip service to these issues.)

Meanwhile, there are a few other issues the Senate might want to consider like, oh say, gas prices, immigration, terrorism and an out-of-control horror called the war in Iraq.

As far as the common good goes...

After the GOP gets done attempting to rile up hatred against me and other gay, bisexual and transgendered citizens, they plan to trot out a vote to repeal the federal estate tax. Paul Krugman has a great column about this at the New York Times. Alas, it’s locked behind the pay-to-read wall of Time Select. Here’s a bit of it.

Any senator who votes to repeal the estate tax, or votes for a "compromise" that goes most of the way toward repeal, is in effect saying that increasing the wealth of people who are already in line to inherit millions or tens of millions is more important than taking care of fellow citizens who need a helping hand.

To understand this point, we need to look at what Congress has been doing lately in the name of deficit reduction.

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which was signed in February, consists mainly of cuts to spending on Medicare, Medicaid and education. The Medicaid cuts will have the largest human impact: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that they will cause 65,000 people, mainly children, to lose health insurance, and lead many people who retain insurance to skip needed medical care because they can't afford increased co-payments.

Congressional leaders justified these harsh measures by saying that we have to reduce the budget deficit, and there's no way to do that without inflicting pain.

But those same leaders now propose making the deficit worse by repealing the estate tax. Apparently deficits aren't such a big problem after all, as long as we're running up debts to provide bigger inheritances to wealthy heirs rather than to provide medical care to children.

Sebastian Mallaby also has a great column about this at the Washington Post.

Borrowing from a comment by Krugman, I would like to propose that the estate-tax repeal be called the Save Paris Hilton Some Bucks Bill.

OK blogosphere, feel free to correct me on this if I’m wrong, but didn’t the good folks of Rome get a tad upset with Nero after a while? American voters aren’t fools. Someday soon they are going to wake up.

Call or email your senator now and voice your opposition to the Federal Marriage Amendment. More information is here.

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