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Forum Post: Obama’s Steady Road to Austerity By Glenn Ford

Posted 1 year ago on Jan. 14, 2013, 11:48 p.m. EST by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

President Obama has been remarkably disciplined and focused in his four-year pursuit of a “grand austerity bargain” with the GOP. “With this month’s agreement to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of the public, Obama and the Republicans’ positions are closer than ever.” It seems that soon, the axes may start to fall.

Barack Obama’s second swearing-in as president will not produce anything approaching the awesome pilgrimage – the “Great Black Hajj” – that swarmed around him on January 20, 2009. Most African Americans experienced the last inauguration as a new beginning, a collective grabbing of the gold ring, a fantasia on the National Mall. Few caught the meaning of his coded messages of impending austerity – a careful telegraphing of his intentions to gut Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. “Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed," the new president told the tearfully joyous throng, only a handful of whom understood that the “narrow interests” he referred to was them, and that Obama had already made the “unpleasant decision” to launch an all-out assault on the social safety net. Not that his plans were a secret. In the preceding weeks, Obama had informed the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post that “entitlement reform” – the Republican code word for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – was high on his agenda. But, Black folks were so transfixed by the miracle of the First Black President, most failed to comprehend simple English.

Four years later, it is impossible not to hear the tolling of the bell. As early as mid-February, the pending debt ceiling impasse will provide another opportunity to take the axe to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Only fools believe that Obama will resist the impulse, since to do so would be to repudiate his entire first term in office. With methodical calculation, Obama laid the groundwork for a grand austerity bargain, beginning with his handpicked Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission. The “fiscal cliff” was a trap set jointly by Obama and the GOP in the summer of 2011, after their deal for $4 trillion in cuts foundered on the issue of modest tax increases on the rich. With this month’s agreement to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of the public, Obama and the Republicans’ positions are closer than ever. All that is required for Obama to achieve his true legacy – to drive a stake in the heart of what’s left of social welfare in the U.S. – is to marginalize hard core Tea Party budget purists and, much more importantly, bludgeon the “left” wing of the Democrats into line, which has always been Obama’s job in the corporate political division of labor.

The odds are that Obama and his Republican tag-teammates will triumph. In many ways, they already have. By embracing the notion that the deficit is the nation’s number one problem, Obama has firmly embedded the logic of austerity – which is the logic of Wall Street – into Democratic Party politics. No wonder the Democratic Leadership Council folded in 2011. Having served as the party’s corporate center of gravity since its founding by Bill Clinton, Al Gore and other white, largely southern Democrats in the Eighties to blunt Black and union influence, the DLC’s mission has been completed by a Black Democrat (who first came to my attention when I found his name on the DLC’s membership list in the summer of 2003).

The imminent consummation of Obama’s grand bargain was on display for all to see in last year’s first presidential debate. As Maya Rockeymoore, the brilliant young Black political scientist who heads up Global Policy Solutions points out in this week’s edition of Black Agenda Radio, “I think the president did not make a Freudian slip when he said that he and Mitt Romney actually agree on Social Security.” The notion that Obama would turn “left” in his second term is nonsense, said Rockeymoore, an expert on entitlements. “The reality is, the first term Obama is the second term Obama. That is his disposition, that is his ideology, that is where he’s at. He’s a centrist to his heart.”

Actually, he's a center-right Democrat who has positioned himself at the pivot of Wall Street’s political project. Even the New York Times’ David Sanger recognized Obama’s true orientation, back in late November of 2008, as the president-elect was assembling his cabinet. Sanger meant it as a kind of compliment on his choice of advisors, which “suggest[ed] that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues.”

At his first inauguration, Obama chastised Americans for “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." He was making the case for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a choice that 80 percent of Americans, and virtually the totality of the Black American polity, reject. But, for Obama, then and now, the popular will is nothing but “worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics." Wall Street’s choices are all that counts.

So, who won the election? And why should Black folks regard the outcome as some kind of collective victory? What bullet did we dodge?

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama’s-steady-road-austerity

11 Comments

11 Comments


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[-] 4 points by Builder (4202) 1 year ago

Obama only proposes a budget.

Congress has the power of veto.

Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.

Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his ass.

Tax all he has Then let him know That you won't be done Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers; Then tax him some more, Tax him till He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he's laid...

Put these words Upon his tomb, 'Taxes drove me to my doom...'

When he's gone, Do not relax, Its time to apply The inheritance tax. Accounts Receivable Tax Building Permit Tax CDL license Tax Cigarette Tax Corporate Income Tax Dog License Tax Excise Taxes Federal Income Tax Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) Fishing License Tax Food License Tax Fuel Permit Tax Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon) Gross Receipts Tax Hunting License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax) Liquor Tax Luxury Taxes Marriage License Tax Medicare Tax Personal Property Tax Property Tax Real Estate Tax Service Charge Tax Social Security Tax Road Usage Tax Recreational Vehicle Tax Sales Tax School Tax State Income Tax State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) Telephone Federal Excise Tax Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage Charge Tax Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Well Permit Tax Workers Compensation Tax

STILL THINK THIS IS FUNNY? Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell 'politicians?' I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!! YOU can help it get there!!!

GO AHEAD. . . BE AN AMERICAN!!!

SEND THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (28256) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

GR8 comment - love that part that explains governmental operation :

Tax his land, Tax his bed, Tax the table, At which he's fed.

Tax his tractor, Tax his mule, Teach him taxes Are the rule.

Tax his work, Tax his pay, He works for peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow, Tax his goat, Tax his pants, Tax his coat.

Tax his ties, Tax his shirt, Tax his work, Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco, Tax his drink, Tax him if he Tries to think.

Tax his cigars, Tax his beers, If he cries Tax his tears.

Tax his car, Tax his gas, Find other ways To tax his ass.

Tax all he has Then let him know That you won't be done Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers; Then tax him some more, Tax him till He's good and sore.

Then tax his coffin, Tax his grave, Tax the sod in Which he's laid...

Put these words Upon his tomb, 'Taxes drove me to my doom...'

[-] 3 points by Builder (4202) 1 year ago

It's from Charley Reese's last missive.

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-republican or democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day. It's a short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000 People -By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. ( The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?( John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. ) If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. [The House has passed a budget but the Senate has not approved a budget in over three years. The President's proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate in that time. ]

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees... We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it... is up to you. This might be funny if it weren't so true. Be sure to read all the way to the end:

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (28256) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Do you have a link to the original? I would like to tweet it.

[-] 3 points by Builder (4202) 1 year ago

It's from a FB page a friend posted.

Might be considered partisan here.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Will-Say-and-Post-Anything-I-Want-About-Barack-Obama/171448679658658

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (28256) from Coon Rapids, MN 1 year ago

Oh - it didn't open on the article - I don't face book anyway. Thanks though.

Yeah funny how being all inclusive to detailing a problem - can be attacked like that. ( funny sad )

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (20901) 1 year ago

"By embracing the notion that the deficit is the nation’s number one problem, Obama has firmly embedded the logic of austerity – which is the logic of Wall Street – into Democratic Party politics."

Thank you for posting, PeterKropotkin. As usual, your posts add meaningful discussion and are spot on with what this movement is all about.

[-] 5 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

Thanks

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 1 year ago

Don’t You Dare Conflate MLK and Obama

By Glen Ford

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/don’t-you-dare-conflate-mlk-and-obama