Obama Slides On Progressive Mask for 2012 As “Bargaining Phase” Dems Prove Stuck Still in 5 Stages of Grief
(572 Obama-dumping days until 2012 election-Hugh's Obama's Scandals List)
My Green Party friend, Daniel, encouraged me to write a blog about Obama’s budget speech for his website. I gulped. Just as with W, sustained Obama viewing makes me nauseous.
Except for a few enraging excerpts of the speech I glimpsed, provided by gaga MSNBC anchors, I thought I had escaped having to endure this particular pile of Obama say-anything bullshit. But I made myself sit down and listen to it on youtube last night. Every last, saccharine, mendacious word of it.
It gave me nothing. No hope. If Obama wanted to make a profound step, he would launch a WPA to fight unemployment. He would stop droning. He would end the ritualized torture of Bradley Manning. Reinstitute habeas corpus. End the corporate-agenda wars.
Medea Benjamin and Charles Davis had this to say about the seeming Obama doctrine in an article entitled "Endless War and Empire: Your Tax Dollars at Work":
And if you’re a U.S. taxpayer, forget welfare programs: bombing and occupying countries that pose no credible threat to America -- Obama has so far authorized attacks in at least six countries since taking office, including Yemen, Somalia and the latest and greatest $8.3- million-a-day war for peace, Libya -- is your single greatest expense as a citizen. Indeed, over half of federal discretionary spending -- what Americans will pay for with their incomes taxes on April 18 -- goes to the armed forces and their legion of private contractors.
Now imagine what that money could do if it went to something more productive. Imagine if, instead of paying for bombs to be dropped around the world, those tax dollars went toward fulfilling actual human needs -- toward creating friends, not enemies.
For the cost of just one minute of war we could build 16 new schools in Afghanistan. For 60 seconds of peace, we could fund 36 elementary school teachers here at home. This year’s funding for the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- $172.4 billion -- could provide health care for 88.4 million poor American children.
But lawmakers -- all of whom have military contractors in their districts -- rarely do anything good of their own volition.
Again, Obama’s speech held no surprises. No hope. Vague platitudes. Pumped up numbers that translate into citizen suffering despite the artful intonations. Metamessages for his real constituents, the ruling class elite, amidst the rhetorical flourishes of fog-machine faux-liberalism to seduce a grotesquely disenfranchised working and middle class facing down a lot more economic terrorism from Barack and our enemies on both sides of the aisle, nationally and statewide enemy representatives of their lobbying corporate pimps.
What did surprise me was the reception the speech got from so many media progressives. Hello?
Now that Obama is officially in 2012 election mode, this trickster President has decided to shamelessly play Lucy and the football one more time with the American people. Only more stupefying than such nerve of Obama, is that many Charlie Brown progressives are lining up for another game. WTF?????
Channel surfing on cable this morning I came across a thrilled Thom Hartman expounding on how “Obama is the turtle that wins the race.” What is going on here? Turtle? Chameleon is the nicest creature I can offer back. And we, the average American people, steadily near-boiled frogs.
There should be a 12-step codependency recovery group for Democrat pseudo progressives who love Obama too much. A few rhetorical, vague crumbs promising reform (do people really believe Obama’s promise of “reform” won’t be REGRESSIVE and betraying?) and many hope-starved pseudo-progressives from corporate AND non-corporate media are declaring happy days are here again???
There is a metaphor I have used that makes a few fellow women bloggers uncomfortable and I apologize in advance, but it captures my bitterness and outrage at Obama. This country got raped by the Bush administration. Then, in its recent, violated and traumatized condition, this country got “date-raped” by the Obama administration.
I ask incredulously, WHY IN GOD'S NAME ARE SO MANY READY FOR A SECOND DATE WITH OBAMA? Stockholm Syndrome on steroids?
From Tom in Paine:
... he never means what he says and he never follows through on what he promises. Whether its closing Gitmo, promising a public option on healthcare reform, ending the Bush tax cuts, ending banks investing in derivatives, promising to use public funds in his presidential campagin (sic), he has a history of saying what he needs to say at the time for personal political reasons and then always reneges.
It is no longer our government. It has been for a serious while captured by the kleptocrats. Again, our -- their -- President and Congress are pimped by them. That is the simple and ugly reality. They have all made our government empathy-less, integrity-less and law-less. They are not done. Reptilian Republicans and “look how hard we are trying” cowardly, reptilian Dems have brought us to this vulnerable and tragic point.
Our government should be called “Death-Panels-R-Us”!!!! As madamab cryptically asserted recently in a blog title, AUSTERITY = MURDER!!! We have been murdering abroad for so many years. The murders are about to escalate here at home. Homicide by neglect I think it could be called.
Joseph Stiglitz revealed that the top 1% of the country controls 40% of the wealth of this country. Nomi Prins claims the cost to the American taxpayer of the banks and stimulus bailouts for the rich by both Bush and Obama is nearly $8 trillion or $8,000,000,000,000. Others say you can double that and add some. Kucinich estimates that the cost of war with Libya is $100 million a day. $100,000,000. $1 trillion has gone to the Iraq War it is estimated. $1,000,000,000,000. Obama’s military budget for this year, sacrosanct to our corporate-war-mongering leadership, will be $719 billion. $719,000,000,000. The deaths and suffering caused by the US leadership is staggering, domestic and global. Its dismantling of the American social net is horrifying.
But Obama didn’t dwell on these numbers. He stayed in “pig parent” ego state, a subtle one but it was there, chastising us for letting the country get this way. HAH!!! Advising us that we are all expected to SUCK IT UP. And all that grandstanding about getting the rich to pay their fair share, wink, wink. What bullshit. Now that they are thorougly protected by the non-negotiating Republicans.
Did you notice how Obama even passive aggressively insinuated his own massive wealth. Serious salt in the wound, Barack? About how many seniors -- 33 was it -- paying $6,000 each are required to cover the tax write off for Obama of $200,000. Yeah, Barack, you got your multi-millions the Washington way. You sold your soul and the welfare of the common good for it. Obama’s and Congress’ et al. rich pals have their free tax ride until 2012. And then the tax hikes and loopholes and Catfood Commission kabuki will keep them continuing on, fat and happy. Do you seriously think Obama will ever bite the dirty hands that have been feeding him for so long now?
David Michael Green recently wrote of the days during the Ike administration when Republicans actually had “a discernable pulse” and Dems were actually liberal. In fact, Green maintains that next to Obama, Ike now seems like a flaming “liberal” himself. Green in his article, "Now, for the Kill":
Predictably, a president who stood for nothing during a period of multiple crises got routed in the midterm election. Even still, did it seem to you like he cared very much about that? I’m starting to develop a new theory about Obama. In 2008 I thought he might be a progressive. Then I thought he was such a wimp that it was just easier for him to capitulate at every turn, rather than to fight for progressive values. Now I think he’s truly regressive in his politics, and is purposefully altering his operating environment to allow him to pursue those policies while still remaining the nominee of a party that’s supposed to be devoted to the people’s interests. “Golly”, he can say to stupid Democratic voters, “I really wanted to be progressive on [Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, health care, education, gay marriage, the budget, the economy, the environment, civil liberties, whatever] but those mean right-wingers won’t let me. And now there’s even more of them than there used to be! What can I do but give in even more?”
Did you catch Obama getting indignant as to how less generous our America is getting? The man who sold his soul to Goldman Sachs. Turned his back on universal health care to give massive profits of taxpayer money to the insurance and drug vendors. The man who shamelessly shifted from the peace president to the war-mongering President without any explanation?
So Obama sets himself up against loathsome Republican Tea Party poster boy, Rep. Ryan, who is so eager and primed to completely scour out what is left of the common good. Obama assures us he is aligned on the side of the far nobler (bleeeecccchhhhh) Catfood Commission of Bowles and Simpson, et al. You know, those Reagonomics on Steroids boys. It was only a matter of time until their ideas would be presented as palateable next to the Koch brothers' sociopathy.
Eric Laursen gave a background rundown of a few of Obama’s Catfood Commission buds. Indulge me as I present their telling bios:
Co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, he was chief of staff in the second Clinton administration, where he pushed for deficit reduction and cutting entitlements. Bowles has spent most of his career as an investment banker and is a director of Morgan Stanley & Co., for which he reportedly receives $335,000 a year. One widely discussed idea for reducing the federal deficit that his commission didn’t consider was a tax on financial transactions.
A Wall Street legend, Peterson co-founded and made a large fortune at the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private equity firms. For nearly 30 years, he has campaigned to cut the deficit, principally by slashing Social Security and Medicare. The Concord Coalition, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CFRB) and his own Peter G. Peterson Foundation are just a few of the groups he has bankrolled. The president’s deficit commission is another, since the Peterson Foundation and the CRFB supplied two senior staffers free of charge to help keep the commission’s expenses down.
Peterson generally uses conciliatory language, stressing that he wants to restore Social Security to fiscal solvency, not destroy it. But every now and then a different intention peeks through. In 1996, he wrote in a magazine article, “I have concluded — reluctantly — that a fully funded, privately managed, and portable system of personal retirement accounts should be mandatory. The system I envision would initially supplement Social Security — and over time might increasingly substitute for it.”
Bowles’ co-chair was a longtime Republican senator from Wyoming who co-sponsored his first bill to cut and partially privatize Social Security in 1995. He has also campaigned against organizations that defend the program, such as the AARP. Simpson is a popular figure in Washington, where he tends to make off-the-wall, insulting statements. He ran into trouble early in the commission’s existence, when he told an activist, “We’re trying to take care of the lesser people,” a gaffe he compounded a few days later by calling Social Security “a milk cow with 310 million tits.”
But I want to address the Obama brand sociopathy, and warn fellow liberals, real liberals, not to be seduced by MSNBC, et al., Obama apologists, who want us to focus on the rabidness of the Republican rat bastards and minimize the bastardliness of the Dems.
During a NYC anti-war forum last weekend Cindy Sheehan related how someone had been stressing to her the importance of a third party. “Why are you skipping a number?” Cindy returned. The corporate ruling class is represented by the two-headed Money Party. The rest of us can eat shit and die as far as the politicians of this country are concerned, most of them, and right now I am including NY Governor Cuomo high on that list. His way of dealing with the $9 billion state deficit seems to be to slash jobs, starve children and give a $5 billion tax break to the rich. Why should he be any different from most of the rest of them, on either side of the aisle.
Finally, my friend Daniel was probably asking for more than a rant about Obama’s budget speech so let me share some actual details of his speech from a more economically savvy mind than mine.
I am a big fan of Patrick Martin, WSWS, and his wrap up of the speech was one of the best I have seen. Quoting liberally (pun intended):
President Barack Obama outlined plans Wednesday for slashing $4 trillion from the federal budget deficit over the next 12 years, the bulk of it by cutting domestic social spending, particularly in the area of health care.
Obama largely accepted the deficit reduction framework set by the Republican right. But he proposed a different mix of spending cuts, as well as calling for tax increases on the wealthy, something that the leaders of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have ruled out in advance.
The proposed tax hikes are extremely modest, merely allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire at the end of 2012 and restoring the tax rates that prevailed under the Clinton administration. The promise, moreover, is an empty one. Obama caved in to Republican opposition to raising taxes on the rich last year, when the Democrats still controlled both houses of Congress. Why should anyone believe he will act differently now?
Throughout the speech, Obama sought to appeal to two diametrically opposed audiences. He sought to reassure global financial markets and the US ruling elite of his commitment to reaching bipartisan agreement on drastic and immediate spending cuts. And he sought to delude working people about both the causes of the fiscal crisis and the devastating consequences of the measures now being prepared in Washington.
For his ruling class audience, Obama spelled out proposals for spending cuts in Medicare and other social programs that would previously have been considered unthinkable from a Democrat in the White House.
According to a summary posted on the White House web site, these include:
Massive cuts in domestic discretionary spending, from the baseline set by last Friday’s agreement with congressional Republicans that slashes $38.5 billion from spending for the current fiscal year. The total in spending cuts over 12 years would come to $770 billion in areas like education, the environment, transportation and other infrastructure, and in wages and benefits for federal government workers.
An additional $360 billion over 12 years in cuts in mandatory domestic programs, so called because they provide benefit payments that are mandated under federal law, including farm subsidies, federal pension insurance, food stamps, home heating assistance and income-support programs for the poor and disabled.
A further $480 billion over 12 years in cuts in federal health care spending, on top of the $1 trillion in cost-cutting already imposed to pay for the health care overhaul passed last year by a Democratic Congress. Obama outlined a series of policy changes in health care that he said would cut an additional $1 trillion in the decade after 2023.
Cuts of $400 billion in military spending over 12 years, less than four percent of the gargantuan sum that the Pentagon, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, CIA and other agencies will spend during that period on the armed forces, nuclear weapons and intelligence and security operations.
I patricularly appreciated these takes by Martin:
For his popular audience, Obama delivered a series of demagogic assaults on the Republican Party and the deficit reduction plan unveiled last week by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which the House is expected to approve on Friday.
Given the emphasis on health care cost controls both in last year’s “reform” legislation and in his speech Wednesday, Obama’s supposed outrage over Republican heartlessness is cynical and insincere. The two big business parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, seek to cut the cost of health care for American corporations and the government by placing more and more of the burden on working people, including the sick, the disabled and the destitute.
Even more deceptive was Obama’s explanation of the source of the fiscal crisis. He contrasted the 1990s—when “our leaders came together three times… to reduce our nation’s deficit” in bipartisan agreements under the first President Bush and the Clinton administration—to the decade after 2000, when “we lost our way.”
In this potted history, “America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus.” Then the administration of George W. Bush waged two wars, established a Medicare prescription drug benefit, and cut taxes for the wealthy, wrecking the “fiscal discipline” of the previous decade.
One small thing is left out of this account: the long-term crisis of American capitalism, culminating in the Wall Street crash of 2008 and the trillions expended by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to bail out the banks. The financial catastrophe precipitated the worst economic slump since the Great Depression—which continues to this day, although Obama barely mentioned it in his 43-minute speech.
Obama made only one fleeting reference to this most important aspect of the economic crisis. He condemned the Ryan plan for proposing another $1 trillion in tax breaks for the wealthy, ...
The US ruling elite is taking advantage of the fact that the working class is politically disenfranchised and the old union organizations have been transformed into instruments of corporate management for imposing wage and benefit cuts. It is moving aggressively to return working people to conditions of exploitation unseen in America in nearly a century.
For the past few months, state and local governments, both Republican and Democratic, have taken the leading role in these attacks, sparking the confrontation with public employees in Wisconsin and increasingly bitter conflicts throughout the country.
It was noticeable that in Obama’s lengthy speech there was no reference whatsoever to the financial crisis wracking state and local government and the devastating cuts being imposed on social services, jobs, wages, benefits and pensions.
For two years, the stimulus legislation passed in 2009 provided limited support to state and local government finances. This period has come to an end, and there will be no further federal support. On the contrary, as the positions of both the congressional Republicans and the Obama White House demonstrate, the federal government is now set to play the leading role in the assault on the social rights of working people.