Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. Back in January 2009, the very prescient Digby wrote this post after learning that Obama was going to hold a fiscal responsibility summit as one of his first priorities. See if it rings any bells. Is Obama is “winning” the debt ceiling debate – or is this more like a pro wrestling match?
Normally another Democratic run bipartisan commission on social security reform wouldn’t alarm me so much as annoy me. After all, Clinton was forced by the incoherent “centrist” Bob Kerrey into appointing a social security commission and Bush promised to appoint one after the failure of his attempt to privatize the system. But this time could be different. The scope and complexity of the economic crisis could lead to politicians rushing forward with some bad plans just to appear to be doing something.
I believe that everything about this is a huge mistake. It validates incorrect right wing economic assumptions, incorporates their toxic rhetoric about “entitlements,” focuses on the wrong problems and continues the illusion that social security is in peril when it isn’t. The mantra of shared sacrifice sounds awfully noble, but it isn’t very reassuring to talk about the government going broke at the moment, particularly when the cause of our problems isn’t the blood-sucking parasites who depend on government insurance when they can’t work, but rather the handiwork of the vastly wealthy who insist on operating without restraint and refuse to contribute their fair share. I would have thought that a bipartisan commission on financial system reform might have at least been on the agenda before social security.
Obama is empowering the Republicans and the Blue Dogs with this fiscal responsibility rhetoric and perhaps he believes they will reward him by acting in good faith. And maybe they will. Or perhaps he thinks he can jiu-jitsu the debate in some very clever way to actually bolster social security and enact universal health care. But it’s a big risk. I believe that all this talk about “entitlements” and fiscal responsibility will make it much tougher to sell universal health care and easier to dismantle some of the safety net at a time when many people have just lost a large piece of their retirements, their jobs and their homes. It’s very hard for me to understand why they think it’s a good time to do this.
I know it’s probably right that we give him a chance before we completely go postal about this, but I also know that if this were a Republican saying these things I’d certainly be doing everything in my power to oppose it. But then that’s the beauty of the Nixon goes to China gambit, isn’t it? It neatly shuts down the most fervent opposition. That’s why it’s so frightening. He might just get it done.
We all need a little lift (God knows my head’s about to blow over Obama’s debt ceiling dance), so here’s a cheery Kinks tune:
Is all you need to know when Obama insists austerity is the path to having progressive spending.
Once again, I would encourage you to take part in the “Restoring the American Dream” house parties being held this weekend. I don’t know what we should do, but I do know that making connections with like-minded people in our communities is the first step.
But they still try to explain the debt ceiling game:
It does my heart good to see the reception Scott Walker gets everywhere he goes:
Obama statement today:
And, so, that’s where I have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative.
And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained. How do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.
You know, if you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research then you should want our fiscal house in order so that every time we propose a new initiative, somebody doesn’t just throw up their hands and say more big spending, more government. You know, it would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order.
So, now the question is, what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs and what aspects of what government’s doing are a waste, and we should eliminate. And that’s the kind of debate that I’d like to have.
Yes, we know that’s the kind of debate you’d like to have. That’s what’s so depressing.
First of all, we have an endless supply of money. If I could be so rude as to point this out, we have all the money in the world for wars and banker bailouts. What we don’t have is political will to do anything that doesn’t help rich people.
And our political system is broken, completely corrupted by corporate influence. That’s why I can’t even get mad at Obama personally anymore, he’s just a universal archetype of the Corporate Politician. At that level, they’re all like that.
I keep thinking about a conversation I had back in 2007, when one of the progressive organizations came out and endorsed Obama. I was so mad, I called the executive director (who I know) and said, “Why would you endorse this guy? You know he’s not a progressive.”
“Yeah, we know that,” he said. “But he’s popular with young voters and we think he’ll bring a lot of new, progressive congress members with him. So we’ll have the Chicago machine running the country for eight years! It’s a trade-off we can live with.”
“Who’s this ‘we,’ white man?”
Never underestimate the degree of cynicism that goes into these decisions. The rest is just marketing.