6 thoughts on “The anti-FDR

  1. Obama and FDR are in fact like matter and anti-matter. “Captain, you canna mix matter and anti-matter!”

    Obama is the mythical president that FDR could not even imagine ever existing, the one who would kill Social Security by denying the reality of the taxes paid into the trust fund.

    This is from a famous memo by Luther Gulick in 1941:

    “In the course of this discussion I raised the question of the ultimate abandonment the pay roll taxes in connection with old age security and unemployment relief in the event of another period of depression. I suggested that it had been a mistake to levy these taxes in the 1930’s when the social security program was orgiginally adopted. FDR said, “I guess you’re right on the economics. They are politics all the way through. We put those pay roll contributions there so as to give the contributors a legal, moral, and political right to collect their pensions and their unemployment benefits. With those taxes in there, no damn politician can ever scrap my social security program. Those taxes aren’t a matter of economics, they’re straight politics.”

    FDR also mentioned the psychological effect of contributions in destroying the “relief attitude.”


  2. like most sirota pieces, its pretty unconvincing. just a few examples of obama’s non-weakness:

    Obama passed a Heritage Foundation-inspired bailout of the private health insurance industry, all while undermining other more-progressive proposals.

    yes, except he was following in the footsteps of his primary rivals clinton and edwards. edwards is the one who adopted the romney plan as his own (the romney plan being the one originally cooked up by the heritage foundation) which was then copied by clinton and obama. all 3 of them pretty much sunk any chances of a serious single payer proposal before the democratic nomination was ever decided by leaving that idea to the so-called marginal candidate of kusinich and gravel.

    On foreign policy, he escalated old wars and initiated new ones.

    that’s extremely inaccurate. first, he did not escalate the iraq war. rather he is following (to the letter, so far) the withdrawal timetable was was negotiated between the u.s. government and the iraq government in 2008 and which obama endorsed as a candidate. he did escalate the afghan war. and while he did not start any new wars, he did have the u.s. participate in a military intervention into an existing conflict at the urging of various allies. but even so, that’s one “new” war, not plural.

    On financial issues, he fought off every serious proposal to re-regulate banks following the economic meltdown

    well, except for the dodd-frank bill, which obama signed and which was the biggest regulatory reform of banks in decades. then obama nominated elizabeth warren to enforce it,

    obviously, i’ve skipped some of sirota’s criticisms. but that’s because some of his examples are accurate. (e.g. civil liberties, the failure to prosecute wall street thieves) the problem with sirota is that he regularly overstates things, which ends up weakening his entire point.

    and for that matter, i think he’s wrong about his central point. the idea that obama is weak is that he is a weak negotiator. most of the examples that sirota gives don’t disprove that point. the health care plan may have been a heritage foundation giveaway to the insurance industry, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t weak when he negotiated the deal. following the bush policy on TARP doesn’t mean he’s not a weak negotiator. there was nothing to negotiate when he came into office. TARP was already a done deal by then. on foreign policy and national security issues, the president doesn’t have to negotiate with anyone, largely because there’s no serious pushback against it in congress. so his unilateral actions on that front don’t say anything about his negotiation abilities.

    the one national security example where there was a pushback, the strong reaction against the administrations plan to close guantanamo and obama’s eventual capuitulation after congress cut off funding to transfer the detainees, supports the thesis that obama is a weak negotiator. which is probably why sirota doesn’t mention it at all.

    as for “resisting pressure to prosecute wall street thieves”, wasn’t obama also giving in to pressure from the financial industry not to prosecute anyone? which side do you think exerted more pressure? i think that’s another clear sign of weakness. but sirota spins it as the opposite.

    it’s the same thing with obama’s “extending the Bush tax cuts at a time of massive deficits” and “us[ing] the debt ceiling negotiations to set the stage for potentially massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare.” both of those things are examples of obama caving in. for four years (two years as candidate and two years as president) obama talked about letting the bush tax cuts expired. but when there was a pushback, he ended up caving in. similarly, for months obama insisted that he would only accept a clean debt ceiling extension. but he never went to the mat for that point, instead he spent the last month offering concession after concession. to sirota any time that obama made an explicit change from his public long held position under pressure from conservatives, that proves that he is not weak? one wonders if there are any set of facts that could ever convince sirota that obama is weak. somehow i doubt it.

  3. President Obama has claimed the power of life and death to arrest and keep anyone in the world he deems a threat, and to keep that person in prison indefinitely without charge or process of law. He claims and has exercised the right to assassinate anyone he deems a threat. He has claimed and exercised the right to take the United States to war and to defy the congress to account for his actions.

    I think this makes him very powerful. Not weak at all. I think anything he has done or failed to do has been completely intentional.

  4. but don’t you get it? no one is saying that president obama is weak in the sense that he won’t take extreme positions. they’re saying he’s weak as a negotiator. none of those things that pragmatic realist lists has anything to do with negotiations. so it really doesn’t address the “weakness” issue as it is raised by the “liberal pundits and activists” that sirota attacks here. sirota, and Pragmatic Realist seem to be conflating two different things.

  5. We say that he’s weak as a negotiator, when we don’t know what happens in those closed rooms.
    It isn’t weak if he wants to move that far to the right.

    I’m fairly certain there’s been more troops sent into both Iraq and Afghanistan – surges, I believe. And while they are not declared as wars, I’m sure the people on the ground in Pakistan, Libya and Yemen aren’t impressed by semantics.

    Obama passed a Heritage Foundation health bill, except he pushed it to the right. Clinton started way to the left on this one; she might have gone with Romney’s plan because candidates say shit in campaigns. Like how they’re going to close Guantanamo. That one really irks me.

    Dodd-Frank is weak, and getting weaker. Elizabeth Warren? She’s given up on Obama’s shit and is running for senate.

    The real anti FDR is this; Obama came up from nowhere. He’s got his, and damned if he’s going to remember from whence he came.

  6. I’m fairly certain there’s been more troops sent into both Iraq and Afghanistan – surges

    you’re right about afghanistan, obama presided over a large escalation in afghanistan (he did run on an “aghan surge”, though no one seems to remember that anymore) but you are wrong about iraq. in january 2009, there were approximately 145,000 u.s. troops in iraq. as of june 30, 2011, that number had gone down to 46,000. under the timetable, all of those troops will be out by the end of this year.

    Obama passed a Heritage Foundation health bill, except he pushed it to the right. Clinton started way to the left on this one

    what are you talking about? both candidate clinton and candidate obama (and also candidate edwards) released fairly detailed health care plans during the 2008 campaign. every one of them was modeled after the mitt romney/heritage foundation plan. the main difference between the clinton and obama plan (indeed the only significant difference) was that clinton had an individual mandate whereas obama did not. (don’t believe me? look at this paul krugman column from february 2008 about how the plans differ) at that time clinton supporters claimed that meant clinton’s plan was to the left of obama’s because the mandate meant that clinton’s plan was truly universal whereas without a mandate obama’s plan couldn’t guarantee that and would encourage young people to opt out, which would undermine the whole system. obama responded by claiming that the mandate was a huge giveaway to the insurance industry.

    then after he was elected, obama ended up adopting the individual mandate from the clinton plan. in fact, obama’s plan is basically the clinton plan from the primary season. but then something odd happened, the bloggers who used to support clinton suddenly claimed that the mandate made the plan more to the right, using pretty much the same argument that candidate obama used against clinton.

    Like how they’re going to close Guantanamo. That one really irks me.

    i agree, it irks me too. but isn’t that an example of obama caving in (showing weakness in the face of tough opposition), rather than a counter-example?

    Dodd-Frank is weak, and getting weaker. Elizabeth Warren? She’s given up on Obama’s shit and is running for senate.

    yes, exactly. dodd-frank was originally stronger. but thanks to the administration’s habit of giving in any time there is a serious push against something it has done, it is getting weaker. it’s the same thing with his treatment of elizabeth warren. she was a good pick. but then as soon as the right howled, he made some weak attempts to put her in, but then caved later on. the shit warren has given up on is obama’s weakness as a negotiator. in other words, sirota is wrong. your examples support what i was saying.

Comments are closed.