By Mark Rhoads
President Obama says its time for House Republicans to step up to the plate and eat their peas. By that he means we have to “share the sacrifice” and vote higher taxes as part of a budget deal. But who exactly is being asked to sacrifice? Are two million civilian employees of the federal government being asked to sacrifice anything? No, nothing. They keep on getting super-generous health care, vacations, and pension contributions on top of frequent cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) that help to insulate them from tax increases and other pains of the recession that the rest of Americans who do not work for government have to face every day without any guaranteed COLA from their employers.
In the fog of pundits and propaganda, and It is very hard to sort out all the news reports and posturing around the debt-limit negotiations between President Obama and GOP Congressional leaders. So I decided to go ask two local experts on everything who still hang around with other ghosts after hours at the Billy Goat Tavern downstairs behind The Wrigley Building. Even though Mike Royko left this Earth in 1997, two of his most famous characters, Slats Grobnik and Dr. I.M. Kookie still hang around the tavern to discuss the great public issues of the day. Some cheaper tape recorders to not record the voices of departed spirits so you will have to take this transcript at face value.
Dr. Kookie: “Hey Slats, are you following these budget and debt ceiling talks in DC?
Kookie” “Don’t you care if America might default on our loans?”
Slats: “Nope.” “If the creditors like China were stupid enough to make the loans to us in the first place, they deserve what they get, which will be less interest.”
Kookie: “But what about the honor and credit of the nation?”
Slats: “What about it? Lots of other countries never paid us back after they borrowed huge amounts for World War II. We kept on giving them more credit so they could buy American goods and now with our trade deficit we somehow owe them money instead of the other way around.”
Kookie: “So you’re blaming American consumers for buying foreign goods and not American products?”
Slats: “No, not if the foreign products were cheaper and better. Naturally people are going to buy foreign-made stuff if its a better deal. When I was a kid, we made much better cars, watches, radios, and TVs than Japan did and we never bought their junk because we thought it was not up to American-made standards. But all that changed.”
Kookie: “What about Obama? Is he spending too much?”
Slats: “Naw, he’s gotta spend more or we won’t have enough money to pay for everyone’s healh care and all those shovel-ready jobs we need for a recovery.”
Kookie: “But won’t you get mad if you have to pay more taxes?”
Slats: “Naw, they can just make the rich guys pay more, they can afford it better than I can. Besides, they don’t call me Loophole Grobnik for nothin.”
Kookie: “So you don’t think over spending is a problem at all?”
Slats: “Nope, unlimited spending is good for the country. Let ’em spend til the Cubs win a pennant. Why should I worry about how it all gets paid for? I don’t pay for the beers or cheezburgers in this place. They don’t charge us ghosts nothin. Here’s to Royko.”
Kookie: “Cheers Slats. See ya later.”
Published originally in Illinois Review