It’s almost too easy to compare congressional conservatives to Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge. A wealthy miser, Ebenezer, like many in Congress who vote for corporate profit over effective anti-poverty programs, is blind to the suffering of an unequal society–until he’s faced with his own mortality. Upon seeing the graves of both poor Tiny Tim and himself, Scrooge is transformed into a philanthropist.
But Capitol Hill conservatives face rebirth, not death. They’re excited about cutting Tiny Tim’s disability assistance through Social Security. Prospects for an epiphany causing them to conduct good works are slim. We need another way to appeal to those who will stop Christmas from coming.
How about The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? That Dr. Seuss creature who steals little Cindy Lou Who’s Christmas tree? Stealing Christmas from the unemployed, the poor, children, blacks, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled is what’s being proposed with cuts to food stamps, state aid, health care, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and job subsidies.
The deceptively named “fiscal-conservatives” are cut from the same cloth as the Grinch. He could have been a contender for their affections, but for three things:
- He gives the little girl a glass of water and pats her on the head.
- He’s transformed by the singing and anti-retail sentiment of the Whos on a giftless Christmas morning.
- He is Green.
But Charles Dickens created another character through who might appeal to them, a Good Ol’ Boy who appreciates scotch and Cuban cigars: the Spirit of Christmas Present. He’s jolly, jovial, partying, and plump. Consider him a velvet-wearing, care-free wealthy white guy, making well over $250, 000 a year, hoping for a government handout of a huge tax cut again under the tree this year
Just the sort with whom the Hill conservatives would enjoy a cup of Christmas cheer, merrily handing over to him more wads of our cash. And sure that he will, in turn, line their pockets with campaign contributions. Fa La La.
They would be mistaken. Listen to what the Spirit cautions Scrooge: “There are some upon this earth of yours who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived.”
The Spirit of Christmas Present exposes the greedy, mean-spirited conservatives whose policy takes from the poor and gives to the rich: the Anti-Christmas Spirit, the Grinch before the singing, Scrooge before Tiny Tim.
May the Spirit of Christmas Present be with the conservative lawmakers this holiday season as they prepare to extend Christmas year-round to America’s millionaires and billionaires by extending tax cuts for them, adding $700 billion to the deficit and as they end Christmas for:
- Two million Americans, who have searched for jobs that don’t exist, are out of work and out of luck by not extending unemployment benefits (UI).
- Single moms living in poverty who were able to find good jobs through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Emergency Fund program (TANF ECF).
- Over 40 million Americans who eat because of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Conservatives propose funding part of the Child Nutrition bill through cuts in SNAP when SNAP is one of the most successful and stimulative programs we have. (The Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized, but not out of the mouths of poor children.)
So here’s to the prospect that the Hill conservatives let in the Spirit of Christmas Present, hoping for some merry-making. Then may the spirits of Christmas, solstice, Hanukah, and evergreen trees permeate their souls. May they realize that they can be fat, happy, drunk, and wealthy enough while still maintaining a safety net for our nation’s downtrodden, reduce the obscene gift of riches to the already rich, bring war dollars home to struggling communities, and put our nation back to the road to recovery.
Karen Dolan, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, was a co-author of the IPS report Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It. Follow her on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karendolan