|The One Emerges: All Hail!|
The president emerged from his hole today, looked around, saw the shadow of the 99% looming over his re-election, and officially announced the early arrival of The American Spring. Punxsutawney Phil has been eclipsed by Osawatomie Obama. Oh say what to me? Oh sock it to me? Shades of Nixon seeing the writing on the wall during the Vietnam protests and going on Laugh-In to display his stiff populist cred? Obama, unlike Tricky Dick, is a natural politician with a tongue of gold. Never one to let an opportunity for political theater go to waste, he jetted out to the Heartland of Kansas, to his mythical roots, to mount the ghostly bully pulpit of the original Bull Moose.
O-gasms echoed throughout liberal land. Robert Reich called it the most important speech ever in Obama's career. MSDNC is running reruns upon reruns. The man we elected is b-a-a-ck. Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me ad infinitum, fool me ad nauseum. The man has made the earth-shaking announcement that Reaganomics is a big fat lie. Riches do not trickle down after all. He has given Democrats permission to be Democrats. What chutzpah, coming from the original Closet Republican!
It may have been a break-out speech, but its talking points were hardly original. It borrowed liberally from Bernie Sanders's marathon filibuster speech one year ago this month, that blasted income inequality and the president's own cave on the Bush tax cut extensions. Obama channeled the righteous indignation of cast-aside Elizabeth Warren. He echoed the existential angst of Chris Hedges. The chameleon skin of this president has taken on the populist stripes of all things Occupy. This man was all too aware of the protesters penned in like cattle by the NYPD outside of his cash bash last week, holding their signs calling him a corporate puppet. It was turning into a personal political crisis not seen since the Jeremiah Wright kerfuffle. It was Time. For. A. Speech.
Barack Obama is a master at pretending that he hasn't actually been in Washington these past three years. It was the "folks in Congress" who failed to rein in the Wall Street greedheads. Here is a representative snippet from the nearly one hour long speech:
We shouldn’t be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening them. Here’s another example. Too often, we’ve seen Wall Street firms violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there’s no price for being a repeat offender. No more. I’ll be calling for legislation that makes these penalties count – so that firms don’t see punishment for breaking the law as just the price of doing business.Woulda coulda shoulda... but we'll be sure to beg, ask, push, cajole. I was happy to hear him say that he will call for legislation to punish fraudulent behavior that is now, for all intents and purposes, just business as usual. But who's he gonna call? Harry Reid? Mitch McConnell? Will he run it by his Wall Street donors? I would have preferred an actual introduction of legislation, written by him and his "team", with a time stamp on it. I actually would have preferred the acceptance with regret of the resignation of Tim Geithner. Or that the Justice Department was issuing subpoenas even as he spoke. Or that he was announcing an immediate moratorium on foreclosures.
The fact is, this crisis has left a deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. And major banks that were rescued by the taxpayers have an obligation to go the extra mile in helping to close that deficit. At minimum, they should be remedying past mortgage abuses that led to the financial crisis, and working to keep responsible homeowners in their home. We’re going to keep pushing them to provide more time for unemployed homeowners to look for work without having to worry about immediately losing their house. The big banks should increase access to refinancing opportunities to borrowers who have yet to benefit from historically low interest rates. And they should recognize that precisely because these steps are in the interest of middle-class families and the broader economy, they will also be in the banks’ own long-term financial interest. (Bolds mine).
And as Dave Dayen complained, why oh why does he always have to spoil these inspirational speeches by calling for freaking austerity at the end? You'd think that with 25 percent real unemployment, a third of all people in or close to poverty, record foreclosures, 50 million uninsured, he would have stuffed the belt-tightening and deficit crap down the crapper where it belongs. But no. He seemingly cannot help himself:
And it will require all of us to take some responsibility to that success.He was basically calling for the One Percent and the 99 Percent to just get the hell along and re-elect him, already. We are all in this together, America. Share the pain. Because if Congress doesn't get things done, the wife and kids will have to take a separate jet to their 17-day Hawaii vacation ahead of him. Tighten your belts, pretend you're in the middle class, and feel guilty while you're at it. And send him $5 for a chance to win a dinner.
It will require parents to get more involved in their children’s education, students to study harder, and some workers to start studying all over again. It will require greater responsibility from homeowners to not take out mortgages they can’t afford.... That’s why we’re cutting programs we don’t need, to pay for those we do. That’s why we’ve made hundreds of regulatory reforms that will save businesses billions of dollars.... When times get tough, the workers agree to give up some perks and pay, and so do the owners.
|Sharing the Sacrifice, Feudal States of America-Style|