Jerry White of wsws back in April wrote about Obama’s campaign tour to confuse America that what is needed is faux-shared sacrifice bullet-biting austerity right now. Oh yes, and the now familiar razzle dazzle of the Obama “lesser of two evils” path that the Dem Devastation of the elderly’s pensions and health care, the gutting of social services, the administration’s stunning lack of seriousness about escalating unemployment are CERTAINLY PREFERABLE to what those crazed Republicans would do to us all.
Obama and the rest of the corporate-pimped Dems are so adept at triangulating the corporate-pimped Repubs as BOTH parties give away the store to the one percenters and CONTINUE CONTINUE CONTINUE to sheer us 99 percenters.
Just how many so-called progressives are STILL ripe for the Obama con?
The tour is designed to promote the myth that there is a groundswell of popular support for deficit reduction, when what really concerns tens of millions of Americans is the lack of jobs, rising gas and food prices, and the attack on public education, health care and other vital social programs in virtually every state and city.
In a cynical effort to bolster the president’s lagging poll numbers and boost his prospects for reelection next year, the White House is presenting its draconian cuts as a reasonable and “humane” alternative to the proposal by the House Republicans to slash $4 trillion from the deficit by wiping out Medicare and Medicaid and gutting food stamps and other longstanding social programs. “While I think their goal is worthy,” Obama said in his weekend address, “I believe their vision is wrong for America.”
Unlike the Republicans, Obama told an audience in Chicago last week, the Democrats believe “fiscal discipline” and “living within our means” is compatible with the “idea that we’re all in this together, that we look out for one another; that I am my brother’s keeper…”
Acknowledging the anger over his rightwing policies, he continued, “I know there are times where some of you have felt frustrated because we’ve had to compromise with the Republicans on some issues.” While he had agreed last December—when the Democrats still controlled the lame-duck Congress—to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, this time, he promised, he would not renew them when they expired in 2012.
This lie only shows Obama’s contempt for the intelligence of the American people.
In fact, the president’s budget would impose untold suffering on tens of millions of seniors, low-income families and young people who are already being devastated by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Among other things, Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal cuts billions from public transportation, infrastructure, federal pensions, housing, Pell grants and aid to states and cities that are already slashing their budgets.
The budget also obtains cost savings by getting rid of “excessive and unnecessary Medicare cost growth” and rewards states for streamlining Medicaid. It continues the attack on public education and teachers and establishes a trigger for across-the-board cuts if the federal budget deficit does not hit a targeted debt-to-GDP ratio by 2014.
Like the Republicans, the Democrats, backed by the trade unions, insist that the working class must pay for the increased government debt caused by the criminal activities of Wall Street and the multitrillion-dollar bailout of the banks. The Democrats are using the Republican proposals made by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as a foil to justify historic cuts in longstanding social programs that would have been politically impossible otherwise.
When the president’s bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission issued its findings in December 2010, its proposals to cut $4 trillion by raising the retirement age for Social Security and slashing Medicare and Medicaid costs, while extending tax cuts for the wealthy, were deemed too reactionary for Obama to openly embrace. In the aftermath of the Republican proposals, the president is adopting the Deficit Commission’s plan as the “moderate” consensus policy.
Patrick Martin, also of wsws, asserts further reality in the face of Obama and the legacy Dems’ faux-liberal double posturing re the Supercommittee bullshit-bipartisanship and the hypocritical rhetorical empathy for anti-Wall Street populists! Cognitive dissonance, anyone?
Any agreement on the supercommittee is certain to have the enthusiastic support of the White House, no matter how draconian the cuts in vital social programs. At the same time, Obama has engaged in phony populist demagogy, posturing as an opponent of Wall Street and the wealthy in order to sell the cuts as “equal sacrifice” and to position himself for reelection next year.
Such considerations were evidently at play in the decision last week to reshuffle the White House staff, relieving Chief of Staff William Daley of responsibility for running much of the day-to-day operations, in favor of a deputy, Pete Rouse, a longtime top congressional aide.
Daley, former vice chairman of JP Morgan Chase, was brought in as chief of staff at the beginning of this year to strengthen White House relations with business interests, particularly Wall Street, as well as to cut deals with the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported Daley’s partial demotion, noted, “Daley has been a target of Occupy Wall Street protesters in recent weeks, an additional awkward twist for the president who would like to harness the movement’s anti-business sentiment for his own political purposes in 2012.”
The Washington Post added that “it may be challenging for Obama to square his populist approach heading into the 2012 campaign with Daley’s background in banking.”
This “populism” is a completely cynical maneuver by an administration that, even before it took office, was the devoted servant of Wall Street interests. Obama backed the bailout of the banks, which began under Bush, and named one of the architects of the bailout, Timothy Geithner, as his treasury secretary.
In official Washington jargon, “entitlement reform” means robbing the elderly of the pensions and health care coverage they have been promised.
In the wake of the Republican offer, several right-wing Senate Democrats declared publicly they supported “entitlement reform.” These include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Michael Bennet of Colorado, both of whom were quoted by the New York Times Friday.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that a “fallback plan is emerging” that would enact the cuts in entitlement spending now while deferring final decisions on taxes until after the November 2012 election, perhaps in a lame-duck session.
According this account, “Democrats would have to allow sizable cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other cherished domestic programs, and Republicans would need to loosen their signature anti-tax stance. In proposals that have been exchanged so far, Democrats offered a package that would be made up of equal parts spending cuts and new tax revenues—but would push the tax component to next year.”
Senators and congressmen in both parties have begun to publicly oppose the automatic cuts in military spending that would take effect in January 2013 if the “supercommittee” fails to reach a deal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, has drafted legislation to replace the military cuts with an across-the-board cut of other parts of the federal budget.
The Obama White House is not publicly engaged in the “supercommittee” talks and has operated only behind the scenes, unlike its highly publicized involvement in the debt ceiling negotiations during the summer, which were held at the White House.
But Obama on Friday telephoned the two co-chairs of the committee, Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, to warn that he would veto any effort to change the “trigger” provided by the automatic cuts.
A White House statement declared, “Congress must not shirk its responsibilities. The American people deserve to have their leaders come together and make the tough choices necessary to live within our means, just as American families do every day in these tough economic times.”
The reference to “tough choices” is consistent with the position taken by the White House throughout the summer and fall. Obama embraced cuts in Medicare after they were proposed by House Republicans, and then himself introduced a proposal for cuts in Social Security, putting that program on the chopping block for the first time.
Martin sums up this Dem style economic terrorism:
The Democrats call for token tax increases on the wealthy in order to give the overall austerity package a fig leaf of “fairness,” even though by far the greatest burden falls on working people.
Tough choices? Easy for Obama and the Dems to say. And craven.