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Sierra Club's Michael Brune on the Fiscal Cliff

Story ID:8497
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Various Various USA
Person:Michael Brune
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As I was reading a message from the Sierra Club's Michael Brune
entitled "Congress: Save $1 Trillion & the Planet" I could not
help but think- why don't the Republicans get his plausible
approach to solving our financial problems? Sadly, I believe
they are much too interested in getting the monetary support
of Big Oil, Big Gas, Big CAFO, etc. The things which concern
many of us- clean water, clean air, a life for our farm animals
just doesn't interest most of them. For them, the bottom line
is money.

At times I truly feel sorry for President Obama. I can't
remember a time when the Congress he has to work with has been
so intransgient and self-serving, and of course, the Republicans
generally are the problem.

Even Northeast Ohio's Republican Representative Steve LaTourette
decided not to run for another term after 17 years in Congress
because he felt it was too difficult to work with his fellow
Republicans! What a blow to Ohio - three good representatives-
Kucinich, Sutton, and LaTourette gone! They were the only ones
of our 18 representatives from Ohio who consistently voted
compassionately for animal welfare issues which are important
to me and people of compassion.

And then there is another Ohio Representative -Republican House
Speaker Boehner. I actually shutter when I see him on TV
giving us his smug remarks about our fiscal problems. Boehner
does not do this Ohioan proud.

I am also disillusioned with Republicans generally for that
matter who made a pledge of no new taxes. In my opinion. no
Congressperson should make such a pledge which serves only the
interests of one's party. If new taxes are needed to save us
from falling off a fiscal cliff, then any legislator worth his
salt, should not hesitate to endorse them.

I believe the first time I truly became alarmed with the general
make-up of the Republican Party was during Obama's first speech to
Congress as President. One of them yelled out -"You're a liar!"
That was so uncalled for. We don't have to agree with anything
the President says, but to publicly call him a liar in this
august forum which was being broadcast to the media was, in
my opinion, beyond the pale of good citizenship and kindness in

Sadly, the President still has to work with the Republican party,
no matter how painful it must be. This is just not right. We
don't have to like or even approve of our president's policies,
but he should always command our respect.

So what does Sierra's Michael Brune say about avoiding a fiscal
cliff and saving $1 Trillion over 10 years and in saving the planet
as well? He believes "...that we can achieve this by bolstering
clean energy jobs and public health protections....or we can bow
to the dirty fossil fuel industry and allow devastating cuts to
critical environmental programs."

Yes, we do have big polluters and he says that they want to cut
environmental programs and kill the wind energy tax credit. Of
course, they don't want their own subsidies to be touched. Also-
very much considered and on the table would be cuts to the
National Parks Service and Forest Service.

Brune's plea to Congress: "Don't put our nation's lands, air,
and water in jeopardy --invest in America's middle class by ending
the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two per cent and cut unfair
subsides to big oil, timber companies, and other polluters. (I
would include the CAFOs here which cause concentrated mountains
of animal wastes which often seep into surrounding water sources.)

At this point, I cannot understand why any president would have
given the wealthiest people of our nation a tax cut. Surely,
Bush was applauded by the rich, but two questions need answering:
Did the rich need them, and secondly, could our country's well-
being have been hurt by them? Anyone who is a lover of truth
would have to answer NO to the first question and YES to the

Sometimes, I wonder if our elected officials realize the great
responsibility they have in steering our country and its needs
in the right direction and in an equitable fashion. One time I
had great respect for presidents, legislators, court justices,
etc. Now, its not their title for me that counts but what they
say and do- providing me with the litmus test of their worth.
Sadly, so many fail often and miserably.

In this regard, I often think of Iowa's Republican Representative
Steve King. I still find it hard to believe that he could possibly
be opposed to a law which would make bringing children to a dog
fight a misdemeanor. And - to boot, he's a fellow Catholic. He
thinks it's good family fun to watch these innocent pit bulls
engage in bloodly fights. He even wants to undo any humane animal
welfare legislation which Congress has enacted in the past. This
Catholic helps to prove my contention that the church does nothing
for suffering animals.

Why isn't the Catholic church speaking out against the evils of
CAFOs and their detrimental effects on the environment? I can only
surmize that they too are guilty as so many of our legislators
of being fearful of losing monetary support from the owners of
these hell holes for animals.

Brune continues with suggesting that Congress eliminate the $41
billion in subsidies and tax breaks currently given to the oil
and gas industry. I was shocked to find this out. Naturally, the
Republicans would rather cut away at the entitlement programs
which the middle class families worked for and justly deserve.

Today our working families are struggling to pay their bills
while the oil and gas industry has made more than $1 trillion
in profits in the last ten years alone. These figures should
astound. They do me. And so Brune aptly remarks that working
families should not have to shoulder the burden alone of our
fiscal distress. The oil industry in particular should pay
their fair share.

Two things came to mind as I read his last remark. In one of the
documentaries I saw about Big Oil some years back, I remember
hearing incredulously that some of the biggest oil companies were
given rich oil deposit leases absolutely free. This should not
have happened. These were public lands, and we, the people should
have benefited from their use.

In what I consider his well-written piece, Sierra Club's Michael
Brune concludes with: "We must call on our leaders to make decisions
to invest in all of America, not cut critical environmental
protections, public health services, and social safety net
programs. Together, we can build a clean energy economy that
works for everyone."

And to his very last good thought I recall something I heard on
TV recently which I found worthwhile. Loosely translated, someone
said so succinctly and well that it was MIDDLE AMERICA which made
America great. Now it's America's turn to give back to Middle