Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Obama talked tough about fighting for fairness "next time."

Published: Wednesday 3 August 2011
"Even as he caved in last December to Republican demands that the ridiculous Bush tax cuts for the superrich be continued, Obama talked tough about fighting for fairness "next time."

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By gol­lies, Amer­ica's worka­day ma­jor­ity of mid­dle-class and poor peo­ple have a fighter on our side in Wash­ing­ton. Un­for­tu­nately, that fighter is Barack Obama.
On Sun­day, he waved his white han­kie of sur­ren­der in the debt ceil­ing bat­tle, agree­ing to a dis­as­trous deal ruth­lessly pushed by the loop­i­est of the tea party ex­trem­ists in the Re­pub­li­can House. It slashes some nearly $1 tril­lion from na­tional pro­grams that or­di­nary Amer­i­cans count on, puts So­cial Se­cu­rity and Medicare at risk, and promises to make our de­pressed econ­omy, and even the deficit, worse.
Obama also cravenly con­ceded to the de­mand by GOP/tea party cor­po­ratists that those for­tu­nate few at the tippy-top of our econ­omy make no sac­ri­fice what­so­ever to the goal of deficit re­duc­tion. Tax-dodg­ing cor­po­ra­tions, hedge-fund prof­i­teers and the rich­est 1 per­cent of our na­tion's plu­to­cratic elite are al­lowed by this sorry deal to re­tain every dime of their sub­si­dies, tax breaks and other fed­eral give­aways.
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Barack the Boxer -- Next Time
Not to worry, though, for as our champ signed his ab­ject ca­pit­u­la­tion into law on Tues­day, he said that stage two the deficit re­duc­tion process will be bet­ter. The pam­pered and priv­i­leged few, he in­sisted, will also have to "chip in," re­as­sur­ing all who will be harmed by this week's deal that he'll be "fight­ing for" fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of fair­ness in the next one.
But we've all seen again and again that this guy "fights" by back­ing up and beg­ging for com­pro­mise. For ex­am­ple, even as he caved in last De­cem­ber to Re­pub­li­can de­mands that the ridicu­lous Bush tax cuts for the su­per­rich be con­tin­ued, he talked tough about fight­ing for fair­ness "next time." When will next time be now?
I know a bit about fight­ing, hav­ing been a lit­tle guy grow­ing up in a small Texas town where con­fronta­tions often popped up. I learned early on that you should never hit a man with glasses; you should hit him with some­thing much heav­ier.
The heavy "some­thing" that Obama has at his dis­posal is the fact that the Amer­i­can peo­ple are over­whelm­ingly on his side in this fight. The ma­jor­ity is sick and tired of pay­ing the price for eco­nomic dis­as­ters caused by nar­cis­sis­tic greed of fi­nan­cial elites and cor­po­rate chief­tains.
They're ready to smack the mon­eyed pow­ers — and the politi­cians who kow­tow to them — right in their snouts.
So, Obama shouldn't be play­ing bud­getary patty cake with John Boehner and Co. in the back­rooms of Wash­ing­ton. In­stead of ne­go­ti­at­ing over how much of FDR's New Deal to throw out the win­dow, he needs to FDR-up, get out of Wash­ing­ton and rally the ma­jor­ity to go after the greed­heads and screw­balls. If he'd lift his vi­sion from bud­get num­bers, he'd see that Amer­ica's great eco­nomic ur­gency is not the deficit, but cre­at­ing good, mid­dle-class jobs to get Amer­ica mov­ing again, mov­ing up­ward — and mov­ing to­gether.
Today, we are a dan­ger­ously dis­united so­ci­ety. Elite CEOs and big in­vestors are grab­bing all the gains, leav­ing the vast ma­jor­ity mired in re­ces­sion and fac­ing falling in­comes. Since the re­ces­sion tech­ni­cally "ended" 18 months ago, cor­po­rate prof­its have zoomed, sop­ping up an un­prece­dented 88 per­cent of Amer­ica's eco­nomic growth. Mean­while, only 1 per­cent of the growth that we all help to pro­duce has gone to wages and salaries, which is the source of in­come for about 90 per­cent of us.
Yet those same CEOs say they won't in­vest in new jobs or raise wages until con­sumers start buy­ing again. That's like say­ing, "The beat­ings will con­tinue until morale im­proves." Hello, the con­sumers CEOs are wait­ing on are the work­ers whose jobs and wages the CEOs won't in­crease.
You see, de­spite the GOP's ide­o­log­i­cal clap­trap about cor­po­rate ex­ec­u­tives being "job cre­ators," it is or­di­nary Amer­i­cans who ac­tu­ally cre­ate jobs by spend­ing from their pay­checks. Peo­ple who are out of work do not tend to be — how shall I put this? — "ro­bust con­sumers." Since con­sumer spend­ing ac­counts for about 70 per­cent of our coun­try's eco­nomic growth (and, in so doing, cre­ates Amer­ica's jobs), the dogma of de­lib­er­ately de­stroy­ing the pur­chas­ing power of mid­dle-class wage-earn­ers is dis­as­trous — like try­ing to cure a headache by chop­ping off your head.
This is why Obama needs to quit pam­per­ing the rich and fuss­ing over bud­gets — and start launch­ing a na­tional, FDR-style jobs pro­gram that'll im­me­di­ately in­crease pay­checks, perk up con­sumer spend­ing and gen­er­ate eco­nomic growth.

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