Freed from the chore of grubbing money from Wall Street and Hollywood, Obama can hunker down with his fellow neoliberals across the aisle to ram through the corporate coup known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. A reanimation of the "Grand Bargain" for the grandees (Social Security and Medicare cuts) isn't out of the question either. I imagine that the permanent immiseration of the old and poor will be the quid pro quo for a couple of token public-private infrastructure deals, temporary corporate tax loophole-closings, and temporary funding for corporate-run universal preschool.
To paraphrase Bette Davis: Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy night/two years/decade/ass-killing slide down into the black pit of doom.
We got one of our first nauseating clues about what the Barack-Hillary interregnum will be like in today's New York Times. Peter Baker, who works the Oval Office trial balloon beat, puts it thusly:
Whipsawed by events and facing another midterm electoral defeat, President Obama has directed his team to forge a policy agenda to regain momentum for his final two years in office even as some advisers urge that he rethink the way he governs.
So right off the bat, Obama is portrayed as the powerless victim of "event whipsawing," absolving him of any personal responsibility for the event horizon nose-thumbing about to be delivered to the American people. Politicians don't run the government -- events do. And the Big Event is not Ebola, or the ignored and looming catastrophe of climate change -- it is the not-so-invisible whipsaw of the free market plutocrats, who just bought themselves a new-old passel of corrupt politicians to do their bidding.Without waiting for results from elections on Tuesday that few in the White House expect to go well for Mr. Obama, top aides have met for weeks to plot the final quarter of his presidency. Anticipating a less friendly Congress, they are mapping possible compromises with Republicans to expand trade, overhaul taxes and build roads and bridges.
For a president who has lost public support and largely failed to move his agenda on Capitol Hill since winning re-election two years ago, there may be little hope for significant progress if Republicans capture the Senate and add to their House majority. But if Republicans are fully in charge of Congress rather than mainly an opposition party, both sides may have an incentive to strike deals, at least during a short window before the 2016 presidential campaign consumes Washington.This approximately year-long window of opportunity is just perfect for the oligarchy. All eyes, courtesy of our corporate media Svengalis, will be directed to the stars of the 2016 horse-race, instead of on the back-room deals being forged between the bipartisan frenemies already in power. Paul Ryan, (R-Sadism) is not sated on what he cynically termed the "low-hanging fruit" of food stamp cuts and other concessions given him last year by Patty Murray (D-Masochism). Ryan wants to gnaw on the whole trunk of democracy like a busy little nihilist beaver. He's also shamelessly telegraphing his omnivorous gluttony for even more human flesh. He's betting that the conservative Obama will forgo the veto pen on legislative Social Darwinism if one of the prizes is the president's longed-for global corporate coup of the free trade deals. And he's probably betting right. Obama has never even taken Chained CPI and other poor-punishing treats off the neoliberal table-- he's just hidden them under his cheap tray of populist hors d'oeuvre and sugar-coated Halloween crumbs for the duration of his last campaign season.
|The Nightmare Before The Nightmare|
Ryan also promised that, just as they did in the Democratic-controlled Congress in the last throes of the Bush administration, Republicans will upend the filibuster by using budget reconciliation to ram through plutocrat-friendly legislation. Even so, the Democrats (mostly of the anonymous coward branch of the Party) quoted in stenographer Peter Baker's article are coyly pretending ignorance of the ploy -- which they themselves chose not to avail themselves of in the last six years of their majority:
Joel P. Johnson, who was Bill Clinton’s counselor late in his presidency, said Mr. Obama should test Republican intentions soon after the new Congress takes office. “Make it clear there is a negotiating table awaiting, and don’t shut down the possibility that there could be a dialogue that results in something that’s progress,” he said.
Gridlock is the stale excuse used by both sides of the duopoly to explain why they can't get anything done. Actually, they get plenty done -- including protecting the security and police states and bloating the coffers of the military industrial complex to beyond bursting, ignoring the unemployed, and cutting deals to reduce food stamp benefits. and absolving themselves of ethical constraints to their insider trading and other methods of self-enrichment.In some ways, a change in the Senate majority may not make that big a difference. Other than presidential nominations, which can be passed with a simple majority, most significant legislation must still muster 60 votes, which neither party will have, to overcome a filibuster. One Democrat close to the White House said the election was just “the difference between 96 percent gridlock and 100 percent gridlock.”
Fasten your seat belts. And rev your engines, honk your horns, screech your tires, blast your air brakes. Let's not make it easy or pleasant for them.
Update, Sunday evening: Here's my response to Paul Krugman wondering why the logic of business tycoons, notably even in Japan, has such weird influence on gummint economic policies:
How can the twisted logic of austerity, as espoused by the billionaires, be kept off the to-do list of their surrogates -- the politicians that "we" elect to run the place?
Get the $$$ out of politics. Yes, easier said than done, given that politics and money are now essentially the same twisted entity. As Sen. Bernie Sanders told Bill Moyers this weekend, only a populist uprising massive enough to shake the corrupt duopoly to its very core will do the job.
Again, easier said than done, since a pervasive police/spy state now exists to quell such inevitable uprisings. The AP just got the goods on Missouri, which established a strict "no-fly zone" for news helicopters wishing to film the state brutality against the peaceful Ferguson protesters. The plutocrats and the politicians don't want a repeat of the aerial footage of the Watts riots of the 60s, which cemented public demand for various civil rights reforms and the War on Poverty. They want Nixon's ensuing counter-revolutionary Southern Strategy to remain the status quo. They want to keep that screw turned dead-right for as long as they can.
It serves the interests of the greedy big business "thought leaders" to keep wages depressed and jobs scarce. And just in time for Halloween, Al Simpson was back on TV to play the folksy Grim Reaper. Despite the misery that misguided austerity has wrought, the plutocrats still want to burn Social Security at the stake.
The only deficit we have to fear is their empathy deficit.(You can catch the Bernie Sanders clip on the Bill Moyers link located on my Blogroll. I wasn't all that impressed, because he essentially blamed voters for not holding Obama (whom he cloyingly still respects and admires) to his campaign promises when he filled his cabinet with Wall Streeters. Sanders also respects and likes Hillary. As far as I am concerned, Bernie basically succeeds in cancelling himself by refusing to criticize his fellow pols. That clip of his Iowa speech was great, though. He is quite the fiery orator.... as was/is Obama.)