By Robert Reich
At a time when America is involved in two wars — both of which are at this moment killing thousands of innocent people, and either of which could spiral out of control and cost many American lives — the leaders of the Republican Party are holding the nation hostage to their own reactionary agenda.
The catastrophe unfolding in Gaza is also driving a generational wedge in the American left-liberal community, just when a largely unified neofascist American right threatens to engulf our politics.
Michael Johnson, the new speaker of the House, supports additional war funding for Israel but opposes additional funding for Ukraine — as does his puppet master, Donald Trump.
Ukraine is fighting to stop Putin’s aggression. If Ukraine loses this war, Putin will be emboldened to push into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and every other nation he claims was once part of the Russian Empire. America will be drawn into a violent confrontation.
I find additional aid to the Israeli government problematic at a time when it is violating the laws of war (the Geneva Conventions) in Gaza, and likely radicalizing more Islamic militants around the world. At the least, we should condition such aid on Israel’s commitment to establish two fully sovereign states.
Johnson’s plan to finance the Israeli aid package by cutting back IRS funding is bonkers. On Wednesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — the budget scorekeeper — said the bill would increase the federal deficit by $12.5 billion over the next decade.
Meanwhile, Johnson and his extremist Republicans in the House — encouraged by Trump — are planning to hold the nation hostage to fund the U.S. government after November 17. They will demand spending cuts, claiming they want to reduce the budget deficit and national debt.
But those spending cuts will harm Americans dependent on such spending. Besides, the budget deficit and debt are largely the products of the Trump, George W. Bush, and Reagan tax cuts, all of which have mainly benefited big corporations and wealthy Americans (and almost none of which “trickled down” to average working people).
Without those massive tax cuts, we would not have the large deficits and debt we have today. If we want to reduce those deficits and the national debt, the first step is to repeal the Trump tax cut.
Putin, Trump, Netanyahu, and Michael Johnson are not identical, of course, but they are all on the authoritarian spectrum.
None respects or supports democratic institutions. All bully their opponents. All are beholden to oligarchs (in America, billionaire backers).
All are pulling us into a struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, between freedom and strongman tyranny.
The next U.S. presidential election is almost exactly one year from now. All of us have a moral duty to do everything we can — non-violently — to ensure that our democracy endures.
This article was published at Robert Reich’s Substack