Maryann Tobin

The budget battles Republicans continue to fight with President Obama are not really about money. They are a clumsy disguise for social engineering and catering to the rich.

To Republicans, the only thing worthy of the federal budget is military spending because it’s a great place to waste money with very few complaints from the electorate. All they have to do is scare people with some obscure threat like weapons of mass destruction and they can sell defense spending to the public all day long.

There has been little public mention of military spending in the fiscal cliff debate. That’s probably because politicians know that members of either party can frighten the public into believing that the US really needs to spend more money on defense than any other nation on earth.

But here is where the Republicans show how dumb they really are. For the past month, they have been completely determined to maintain their principles—to never raise taxes, especially on the wealthy. Nothing else matters. So Republicans may just march down to the Dec. 31 fiscal cliff deadline in lockstep, holding on to their ideals. Then on Jan. 1 the tax increases they so tenaciously oppose will automatically go into effect, along with deep cuts in defense spending.

Anyone looking for the logic in this strategy has come away empty.

There is an argument to be made for the advantages of going over the cliff for both parties.

Obama can dangle defense spending and a few tax-break crumbs for millionaires in front of the Republicans, while they threaten to cause a global depression by forcing the US into default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.

The scenario is not all that different from spoiled children fighting over the same toy until one of them breaks it.

It might be just a coincidence, but American politicians as a group are among the wealthiest people in the country. None of them will go hungry or lose their home if no deal is made. However, the same cannot be said of the American citizens and the global financial markets they plan to victimize with their political gamesmanship. Trillions of federal dollars are being manipulated by a handful of Tea Party Republicans with a vengeance because Barack Obama, a Democrat, dared to get re-elected.

If right-wing extremist Republicans could create their version of the perfect government, millionaires would pay no taxes (much like the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan path-to-bankruptcy economic plan) and there would be no safety-net programs of any kind. The only reason Social Security and Medicare are still around is because Republicans haven’t figured out how to eliminate them without a voter backlash that even the Koch brothers' money can’t buy them out of.

If Americans were smarter, they would have voted all the Tea Party terrorists out in 2012. But red-state voters sent them back to Washington for round two of the war against their own country. For what? To destroy the economy and hold the country hostage so federal taxes never increase for millionaires no matter what?

Now for the real GOP scam against the middle class. Just in case all those red-state voters haven’t noticed, when federal revenue goes down, state and local governments cut their budgets and raise taxes and fees to make up for the shortfall in federal assistance. So the Tea Party mission is really just a tax burden shift from Washington to Main Street.

So glad those red-state Republicans are sticking to their principles by keeping the federal government out of one pocket, while driving the hand of the local tax collector ever deeper into the other.

It appears that you really can fool some of the people all of the time.