At issue: the role of government

Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Abraham Lincoln, 1863. Today’s Republican right wants us to forget this concept.

They persist in the discredited mantra, going back to Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” that what’s needed is to shrink government, deregulate Wall Street and corporate power, and have us all pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

President Obama has put forward a budget that includes major national spending for job creation, health care, public education and green energy, and pays for it by, essentially, taxing the rich and curbing corporate prerogatives.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) says Republicans don’t like these measures because they “dramatically grow the size and cost of government and move it to the left.”

Size and cost of government? These are the same folks who applauded and approved the enormous expansion of military spending, and its related corporate gravy train, under Republican presidents from Reagan to Bush II. Remember those flush no-bid contracts for Dick Cheney’s Halliburton friends?

Gregg piously intoned, “It is the individual American who creates prosperity and good jobs, not the government.”

Tell that to the former autoworkers in Michigan, the small farmers going under out West, the millions losing pensions and health coverage.

Obama said in his budget message: “It is true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or to generate long-term growth. Ours is a market economy, and the Nation depends on the energy and initiative of private institutions and individuals.”

“But,” he emphasized, “at this particular moment, government must lead the way.”

It must “make long overdue investments in priorities—like clean energy, education, health care, and a new infrastructure,” he said, to “jumpstart our economy” and transform our economy … to give our children and grandchildren the fruits of many years of economic growth.”

The president said his budget “begins to restore a basic sense of fairness to the tax code, eliminating incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas and giving a generous package of tax cuts to 95 percent of working families.”

No wonder the super-rich, the corporate elite and their Republican front-men are screaming.

A basic sense of fairness. Stop shipping jobs overseas. People before profits. This is what the American people are looking for. This is what we need government for.

Of the people, by the people, for the people.