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Obama’s Steady Road to Austerity

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    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    President Obama has been remarkably disciplined and focused in his four-year pursuit of a “grand austerity bargain” with the GOP. “With this month’s agreement to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of the public, Obama and the Republicans’ positions are closer than ever.” It seems that soon, the axes may start to fall.


    Obama’s Steady Road to Austerity

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    With methodical calculation, Obama laid the groundwork for a grand austerity bargain.”

    Barack Obama’s second swearing-in as president will not produce anything approaching the awesome pilgrimage – the “Great Black Hajj” – that swarmed around him on January 20, 2009. Most African Americans experienced the last inauguration as a new beginning, a collective grabbing of the gold ring, a fantasia on the National Mall. Few caught the meaning of his coded messages of impending austerity – a careful telegraphing of his intentions to gut Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. “Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed," the new president told the tearfully joyous throng, only a handful of whom understood that the “narrow interests” he referred to was them, and that Obama had already made the “unpleasant decision” to launch an all-out assault on the social safety net.

    Not that his plans were a secret. In the preceding weeks, Obama had informed the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post that “entitlement reform” – the Republican code word for cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – was high on his agenda. But, Black folks were so transfixed by the miracle of the First Black President, most failed to comprehend simple English.

    Obama had already made the ‘unpleasant decision’ to launch an all-out assault on the social safety net.”

    Four years later, it is impossible not to hear the tolling of the bell. As early as mid-February, the pending debt ceiling impasse will provide another opportunity to take the axe to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Only fools believe that Obama will resist the impulse, since to do so would be to repudiate his entire first term in office. With methodical calculation, Obama laid the groundwork for a grand austerity bargain, beginning with his handpicked Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission. The “fiscal cliff” was a trap set jointly by Obama and the GOP in the summer of 2011, after their deal for $4 trillion in cuts foundered on the issue of modest tax increases on the rich. With this month’s agreement to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of the public, Obama and the Republicans’ positions are closer than ever. All that is required for Obama to achieve his true legacy – to drive a stake in the heart of what’s left of social welfare in the U.S. – is to marginalize hard core Tea Party budget purists and, much more importantly, bludgeon the “left” wing of the Democrats into line, which has always been Obama’s job in the corporate political division of labor.

    The odds are that Obama and his Republican tag-teammates will triumph. In many ways, they already have. By embracing the notion that the deficit is the nation’s number one problem, Obama has firmly embedded the logic of austerity – which is the logic of Wall Street – into Democratic Party politics. No wonder the Democratic Leadership Council folded in 2011. Having served as the party’s corporate center of gravity since its founding by Bill Clinton, Al Gore and other white, largely southern Democrats in the Eighties to blunt Black and union influence, the DLC’s mission has been completed by a Black Democrat (who first came to my attention when I found his name on the DLC’s membership list in the summer of 2003).

    Obama has firmly embedded the logic of austerity – which is the logic of Wall Street – into Democratic Party politics.”

    The imminent consummation of Obama’s grand bargain was on display for all to see in last year’s first presidential debate. As Maya Rockeymoore, the brilliant young Black political scientist who heads up Global Policy Solutions points out in this week’s edition of Black Agenda Radio, “I think the president did not make a Freudian slip when he said that he and Mitt Romney actually agree on Social Security.” The notion that Obama would turn “left” in his second term is nonsense, said Rockeymoore, an expert on entitlements. “The reality is, the first term Obama is the second term Obama. That is his disposition, that is his ideology, that is where he’s at. He’s a centrist to his heart.”

    Actually, he's a center-right Democrat who has positioned himself at the pivot of Wall Street’s political project. Even the New York Times’ David Sanger recognized Obama’s true orientation, back in late November of 2008, as the president-elect was assembling his cabinet. Sanger meant it as a kind of compliment on his choice of advisors, which “suggest[ed] that Mr. Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues.”

    At his first inauguration, Obama chastised Americans for “our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." He was making the case for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, a choice that 80 percent of Americans, and virtually the totality of the Black American polity, reject. But, for Obama, then and now, the popular will is nothing but “worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics." Wall Street’s choices are all that counts.

    So, who won the election? And why should Black folks regard the outcome as some kind of collective victory? What bullet did we dodge?

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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    Glen , thank you for connecting the dots between the post 1985 Democrat leadership and an organization that has done more to push this party to the Right than any other individual or group, the Democrat Leadership Council (D.L.C.). The Clintons were charter members and led the charge of the D.L.C. Neo-Liberals who took control of the party's leadership in the late eighties. Average Democrats were not even aware of this transition even after Clinton, almost immediately after his 92 election, signed NAFTA into law that gave the green light to the Corporate sector to start shipping American living wage jobs to low wage foreign countries. That was followed by a half hearted attempt to pass a comprehensive healthcare bill through a majority Republican Congress by a politically inexperienced Hillary Clinton. Clinton followed up with the elimination of the New Deal Era Welfare system in 1996. The final assault was accomplished toward the conclusion of Clinton’s second term with the removal of the Glass Steagall law, a law that was passed during the Great Depression to end certain Wall Street practices that caused that disastrous decade long financial collapse. The results of Clinton's action was to again allow Wall Street to combine Commercial and Investment banking elements so they could gamble with the savings and retirement investments of average citizens. Obama's membership in the D.L.C. is no great surprise as he continues to put forth Neo-Liberal policies that are not much different than those of the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. As a white American who has long supported the advancement of Black citizens, my ongoing support has once again been vindicated by the fact that most Black Democrats were and are way ahead of the rest of the Democrat party in denouncing the policies and actions of the Obama administration ! It breaks the myth put forth by white liberals that Blacks are somehow expected to march in lock step to support a member of their race without any reservations !  

    The Problem with Liberalism is NO NUANCE!

    I got news for you my Brother, you need to "unbreak" your heart vis a vis this statement: "It breaks the myth put forth by white liberals that Blacks are somehow expected to march in lock step to support a member of their race without any reservations ! " 

    The TRUTH of the matter is that, aside from BAR, and singular "star" bloggers like Chris Floyd and Arthur Silber (the latter 2 are white), it was the White Liberal readers and commentators at Liberal websites who lead the charge in calling out Obama as a fraud.  So when their passionate, cogent and sound arguments were treated with cries of "racism" or "covert troll" they RIGHTFULLY concluded that Blacks were goosestepping with Obama, and Blacks will continue to do so til "death do us part."  It's not rational as I've argued many times before, but it is REAL.  They lack nuance, its that simple.

    Because of their larger media preseence the first persons to call out Obama in terms of the populace at large were Conscientious, and caring White Progressive READERS of Liberal blogs.   You need to apologize and accept the correctness of the friends and associates who made that statement to you because they are ABSOLUTELY correct.  Breaks my heart to say it.

    I stopped counting the times that I tried to explain to Black folks why Obama's popularity was falling prior to the last election.  Unfortunately, the 99 percenters cannot get pass their "racial greivances, solidarity, and empathy with Obama.  In fairness to their delusion, the "crackers" hard to derail Obama's presidency (do in part by their accurate measure of the man and his inherent character weaknesses like bargaining against himself) , and the RW media mades David Duke blush, so I get it, but only to a degree.  No nuanced thinking by intelligent Blacks. 

    The problem with Obama is that he is and will always remain a weak man, lacking in character, vision and integrity.  I said it in 08 and it's truer now.  He's more amoral than immoral like Bush, but just as venal and more dangerous.  Look at the Libya blowback in Mali, look at Syria.  The Media won't report that the Arabs post-Gaddafi persecuted Black Africans and the Mali spillover is a direct result of that.

    A "Black" President, creating a situation that lead to  persecution, murder and attacks on Black Africans, and provided a Euro-Centric power structure (Whites) a basis to invade and exploit Black Africa under their "humanitarian intervention" bullshit.  I'm seriously thinking at it is worse than shock and awe.  Quentin Tarrentino couldn't write a better script.  AFRICOM is all about neutralizing China's legitimate contractual claims, treaties and diplomatic relationships and assistance to Black Africa in return for controlling and extracting Africa's mineral resources.  Just like the war in Afghanistan, that's about neutralizing China and Russia as it relates to pipelines and oil.  It's all geopolitical.

    Terrorism is what America is consciously about and engaged in world-wide, in 8 or 9 countries we know about and countless others we don't know about, lead by the Black Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

    Listen folks and excuse my long-windedness, because I'm not posting much more here in the future unless I see some NUANCE. 

    Here's the stark reality:

    1.  Obama doesn't have a "road" he has an AUTOBAHN or even better a European-style bullet train.  Expect absolutely no Black resistance to this Conservative Technocrat.  We need polemicists don't get me wrong.  But arguing between the narrowing margins is an absolute waste of time.  It's not just that Dummocrat leadership is corrupt, the people who vote Dummo are corrupt, from the unions, to the established Civil Rights organizations, to the elected officials, to the environmentalists and Gays and on and on and on.

    How many times have I said America's demise is rooted in abject, universal institutional failure?  No institution in America has succeeded in stauching the march into hell and facism, and no singular America voice can seemingly gain traction or a platform.

    2.  So my nuance is:  When will we talk alternative economics?  I don't get it.  Folks talking about how this or that is F'd up but buy the same and bank the same, same spending habits, same (non)saving habits, same consumption habits, wedding themselves to the 6 or 7 largest banks in the world.  I read a piece over the holiday that talked about how "we the people" could right the economic ship with our own oar, i.e. the money we piss off on lottery tickets and gambling alone.

    Where are the economic visionaries at?  This has always been lacking in the liberal sphere, it derailed the Civil Rights Movement and rendered the NAACP irrelevant, that is the economic strategy or lack thereof.  

    People are transacting their lives as games of chance.  Blacks are 99% behind Obama, even the educated ones whom will concede certain points to you.  Obama is the Oligarchs wet dream, I don't even understand how they allowed Mitt to get that close.  I think the only reason he did was that he morphed into Obama when he shed the tea party clothes:  so they became somewhat indistinguishable. And Mitt, frankly, projected stronger leadership.

    I can't get excited repeatedly saying and or beating my chest ( or my head up against the wall) trying to explain to yall Blacks will NEVER not supporting Obama.  Obama has the eternal Flip Wilson pass:  "The Devil Made me Do it."  Frankly, he could nuke Iran and Black folks wouldn't blink, they'd be wondering about the next episode of RHW of Atlanta, no protestations here, no March on Washington, just regrets that they cancelled the Shah of Sunset.

    My challenge and why I urge nuance is that as matters certainly worsen it will be folks like us that will lead with solutions, the delusional Black (or White) misleadership or others won't. 

    Look, "back in the day" there was a "higher consciousness" rooted in self-lessness, today studies show the young are narcicisstic and self-entitled.  I mean, who goes to the gym for a workout with a smart phone?  Reading email and texting? That'll get your heart rate up.

    Bless yall and Happy New Year.

    p.s.  Second NY Resolution:  Unless you're listening to music or a book or streaming "something", please don't sit on the equipment at the gym scrolling through your smart phones, making and answering phone calls, totally annoying and counter-productive.  Narcissitic too, not cool at all, watching you antic-social lemmings "play" cool.   LOL.

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