Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Having transferred trillions of public treasure for the sake of Wall Street's health, Obama now picks up where George Bush left off on Social Security. Obama's deficit commission is pre-programmed to assault the last vestiges of the social safety net. The president "is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw up their hands in surrender without the dignity of a fight."
Obama Can't Say "No" to the Rich
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs."
Before Barack Obama had even taken the oath of office, in January of 2009, he promised to put all of the so-called "entitlement" programs "on the table," for cutting. There was no reason to doubt that Obama really planned to go after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and other programs despised by the rich. After all, he had just been elected to a four-year term in a landslide and was, therefore, as secure as any politician can be. Obama was telling everyone who cared to listen that he was would certainly not stand in the way of gutting what's left of the American social safety net. Rather, Obama was telling Big Business that he agreed with them, that the poor and the elderly were sucking up too much of the nation's wealth, and there must be a day of reckoning.
The new president immediately started the clock ticking on Social Security and other entitlements by scheduling a so-called "deficit summit" for later in 2009. But it was not yet the time for a full-court-press on poor and elderly people's programs. First, Obama needed to shore up the finances of the Wall Street bankers that were among his earliest and most generous supporters. The bank bailout was priority number one, to be followed by a farcical health care bill designed to funnel trillions to the insurance and drug industries. A frontal attack on Social Security would have to wait a year or so. It would not do for Obama to join with Republicans in stealing from the old and the poor at the exact same moment they were bailing out the filthy rich. But, once Wall Street was on its feet, Social Security would be back in the crosshairs.
"Obama's so-called 'deficit commission' is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security."
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House who was once the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, pretended back in January of 2009 that she hadn't heard Obama when he said "everything" was "on the table" for cutting - except, of course, the military, which is immune no matter how high the deficit. "The only thing we didn't want to put on the table," she said, "is eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
In April of this year, Obama once again reminded everyone that everything is and has always been "on the table," as far as he's concerned, including Social Security. His so-called "deficit commission" is stacked with rich sociopaths sharpening their knives to carve up, sell off or otherwise doom Social Security. It is a battle that safety net defenders thought they had won against George Bush. Barack Obama has picked up Bush's marbles and put them back into play. He is the right wing's most potent weapon, the one before which liberal Democrats throw up their hands in surrender without the dignity of a fight. Obama, working in plain sight over the past 18 months, has constructed and rigged a deficit commission to render a kind of death sentence to the foundational program of Roosevelt's New Deal.
Obama will pretend that circumstances and Republicans are forcing him to call for austerity. But that's a lie; he came in singing the GOP's song, and is behaving precisely as one would expect from a center-right administration. Obama is in his ideal element, constantly saying "yes" to the Party of "no."