But did a military band really have to play "Stars and Stripes Forever" at this hybrid of a policy speech/campaign rally? And what about that part where Obama says he will veto any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid UNLESS he gets his Buffett Tax on Millionaires too? How about he will veto any cuts to Medicare, period? How about getting rid of the Homeland Security boondoggle? In other words, hold the TSA gropers hostage instead of the dying old ladies they torture!
The reviews of today's speech are mixed between those who feel it's too little, too late and a big fat fake, to those who are experiencing renewed hope that our beleaguered president has finally grown a spine, has drawn a line in the sand and thrown down the gauntlet and is fighting for the people. I tend to go along with the former. Obama should be leaving the deficit out of it. He should be leaving the social safety net out of it. He should be calling for higher taxes in order to create jobs, period. Working people will bring down the deficit once they're allowed to work. I am glad the congressional progressive caucus is taking note of the presidential stealth attack on the New Deal.
It took me awhile to finally figure this quid pro quo out. At first you think he's vowing to protect Medicare and Medicaid. But what he's really setting up is a perverse inverted hostage situation. He may as well have snarled: "If you want your Death Panel, Republicans, gimme the money. Otherwise I won't stiff Grandma." Or, he is the kidnapper who calls the parents and promises he will keep the kids alive and well unless the parents pay the ransom.
He reminds me of Martin Sheen and two of his famous political roles. There's the heroic, humanistic and pragmatic president in "West Wing." That's the one the White House wants us to see. Then there's the sinister, bellicose, fake populist future president in Stephen King's "The Dead Zone". At best, Obama is simply being disingenuous in offering up the poor and the sick and the old as payment in kind for the rich people paying more taxes. He knows nothing will pass, so he might as well squeeze in his austerity bona fides while he's at it. At worst, he is among the most corrupt presidents we have ever had. Killing us softly with his smile.
It gets worse. The New York Times reports that Budget Director Jacob Lew is bragging that far from this being a Class War, there is pain enough for everybody. Medicare deductibles will go up. Homebound elderly people receiving visiting nurse services will have to fork over a co-pay for each visit. Payments to teaching hospitals and rural hospitals will be reduced. This should make the wealthy feel so much better, knowing that disabled and impoverished widows will not be receiving all that self-indulgent treatment on the backs of Lloyd Blankfein and most of the millionaire politicians in Congress. The budget, by the way, also lowers veterans' benefits, but in no way affects the health or retirement packages of the President and Congress.
The mainstream media are, however, willing stenographers of the narrative du jour. MSNBC is jubilant, while Fox is pouting. Today, the triple play theme is: "The Republicans are Screaming Class Warfare!", "The President Finds His Mojo!", and "Chuck 'I Wanna Be Majority Leader' Schumer Says Happy Days Are Here Again."
I had written a response to Paul Krugman's "The Bleeding Cure" column last night before Sousafest (it was not accepted for publication) about how the austerians are bleeding the economy dry. I laid part of the blame at the feet of the abysmal corporate media:
Until the journalistic class gets over its obsession with “fair and balanced”, the medieval economic austerians will be granted equal time and continuing credence. The media feel compelled to compensate for their nonexistent “liberal bias” with reactionary drivel. The talk shows (you can't call them news) are filled with bipartisan deficit hawks more concerned with the debt than the jobs crisis. The corporate sponsors of these shows invariably include oil companies, drug companies, G.E. -- all with a vested interest in loopholes, free trade and continued control of the government.In the bubble of Washington, the conventional wisdom (an oxymoron if there ever was one) dictates that token stimulus spending must always be offset by a gleefully relentless gutting of what’s left of the New Deal. Notwithstanding that his jobs bill is a small step in the right direction, President Obama still finds it necessary to reassure the jittery investor class and “job creators” that every penny spent on jobs will be more than matched by his Grand Bargain of Severe Cuts to programs for the old, young, sick and poor. The headline in Sunday’s Times announced that the president “would ask” millionaires to pay just a tad more so their minimum wage employees won’t feel so bad and maybe re-elect him. Notice the abject, pleading, apologetic tone. Instead of “J’Accuse!” aimed at the banksters, we get “Pretty Please.” Instead of calling for shared prosperity, he harps on shared sacrifice. He just can’t ask good old Uncle Warren Buffett to pay just a tad more without insisting the rest of us share the pain.Not only are the people in charge bleeding the country, they’re letting the wounds they create fester, dooming the patient. The bandaids they are applying are simply hiding the results of rampant corruption instead of attacking the source: deregulation, and a permanent war machine -- and money, money, money subsuming our democracy.
|Stickin' it To the People!|
Economist Robert Reich is not impressed with the Buffett Plan either. In his latest blog post, he writes:
Glenn Greenwald is also leery of Obama's true motives, and answers the question why the president is suddenly embracing populism and lefty ideals after three years of showing his base utter contempt: (thanks to Marie Burns for the link),But this is Barack Obama, whose idea of negotiating is to give away half the house before he’s even asked the other side for the bathroom sink.Apparently Obama will propose that people earning more than $1 million a year pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class earners. That’s aiming mighty low.
Some Democrats are honest and cynical enough to acknowledge that Obama is doing all these things purely for political gain and -- because his re-election is their top priority -- to celebrate it even while acknowledging it will never become reality.... I at least appreciate the candor of those... who acknowledge that this will not become reality and is not even designed to, but celebrate it because it will help Obama get re-elected by making the GOP (rather than him) look like the servants of Wall Street. It's the ones pretending that this eleventh-hour election-time awakening is reflective of some sort of substantive significance that are hard to bear.