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Democratic Compromises, Capitalist “Market Discipline:” The Real Reasons For Unemployment Cuts

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    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

    Those who blame evil, immoral Republicans for unemployment and food stamp cuts should take a longer, closer look at elected Democrats. Current food stamp and unemployment cuts were actually proposed by Democrats, not imposed by Republicans. The notion that elected Democrats stand for the poor is just a brand, not reality.

    Democratic Compromises, Capitalist “Market Discipline:” The Real Reasons For Unemployment Cuts

    A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

    “A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis. ”

    Early this month, the number of unemployed Americans whose unemployment compensation benefits have run out reached 2 million, an all time high. By April the number will be 2.3 million.

    To keep the Democratic party's brand alive as standard bearer for the oppressed and unemployed, elected Democrats and their enablers desperately need to blame this on those immoral, evil Republicans, who are also the reason the minimum wage hasn't risen, Medicaid expansion hasn't happened, workers can't organize unions without being blocked by bosses, and food stamps have been cut to unheard of levels.

    The problem with all this is that the notion that elected Democrats stand for the people is just a brand. A brand is not reality. Brands are particular of symbols, intended to evoke real or manufactured feelings, desires and memories, without the aid of pesky rational thought or analysis.

    The reality is that things like raising the minimum wage or making it easy for workers to organize unions were Democrat campaign promises which the president and his party conveniently forgot or ignored when Obama first took office, and they had solid majorities in both houses of Congress. Now that Republicans are safely in control, the president reminds us at every opportunity that “Americans need a raise,” though he still doesn't mention opening the doors to union organizing.

    The reality is that bulletproof single payer everybody-in-nobody-out health care , which the president advocated back when he was a state senator, and many congressional Democrats verbally backed as late as 2008 was swapped out for Obamacare, a complex blanket full of gaps, exceptions and loopholes, one of which is vulnerability to Republican state governments who can block Medicaid expansion. Democrats looking for someone to blame for the lack of health coverage for the poor at their “Moral Monday” gatherings should look at their own party's elected officials as well.

    “...the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans ...”

    The reality, when it comes to food stamps and unemployment benefits, is that the current round of cuts was proposed by elected Democrats, not imposed by Republicans. Elected Democrats thought it was better to make a deficit deal than to carry on a sharp struggle in Congress and the public sphere to ensure families could feed and house themselves. Better, they thought, to leave that struggle to you and I.

    The other reason, mostly unstated by elected Democrats, for cutting unemployment benefits is that cutting benefits will force more people back to work at lower wages, with longer commutes, less coverage including medical coverage, and more onerous conditions than they might have accepted otherwise. This is called market discipline, and it's working. Profits are still in this, the sixth year of the Obama era, and wages are falling while Democrats who get the bulk of their campaign cash from the same folks as those immoral Republicans, retain their image, their brand, as champions of the oppressed. The system, such as it is, works.

    For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

    Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA and is co-chair of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

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