Two Parties, One Game: Barack Obama's War on the Poor

by Pascal Robert

Enabled by the progressive chorus which barks furiously at evil racist obstructionist Republicans but ignores Democrats enforcing austerity on the poor, President Barack Obama has carried on the proud Democratic party tradition of campaigning to the left, but governing from the right, imposing neoliberal policies that Republicans could only dream of.

Two Parties, One Game: Barack Obama’s War on the Poor

by Pascal Robert

In the constant con game of American two party politics, the suffering masses are forced to swallow images of the Republicans as reactionary racists and Democrats as the sound defenders of the working class and people of color. The reality is that both parties are completely beholden to the forces of oppression that have ground the working class and people of color to dust for ages in this Country. This tired political charade lets Democrats cast themselves as the safe haven for Black and brown people by doing nothing more than pointing at “those evil Republicans” who want to deport you or send you back to the plantation in shackles.

The truth is that today’s American political establishment on both sides is designed to protect the interests of big corporations, the monied elite, and Wall Street. Democrats, not Republicans passed Bill Clinton's crime bill, stepping up black mass incarceration to levels even higher than Reagan and Bush before him. Bill Clinton and Democrats repaid the black votes they received by leading the charge to augment drug sentences, disproportionately affecting people of color. Bill Clinton's Democrats joined Republicans to kick the teeth out of Glass Steagall leading directly to the subprime mortgage crisis that devastated the black family wealth. Democrat Bill Clinton gave us the imaginary wealth of the tech bubble which burst just as he left office. And of course Democrat Bill Clinton gave us “the end of welfare as we know it,” gutting Aid to Families with Dependant Children, and pushing hundreds of thousands of poor mothers and others into the lowest and least secure parts of the workforce, generally without child or elder care, sick pay, or medical coverage.

Barack Obama has continued the Democrats' tradition of making war on the poor while his cheerleaders scream that it’s those “racist Republicans” that are causing all the damage to those communities disproportionately filled with people of color.

KKhara Sikhan at the World Socialist Website sums it up nicely:

Up to 185,000 families will lose housing assistance by December 2014 as a result of the “Sequester budget cuts,” which slashed the subsidies by $1.7 billion, according to a report issued earlier this month by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

More than 2.1 million low-income households use the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) to offset the cost of paying for private housing. The program pays a section of rent directly to landlords, and the renters pay the difference. Only one in four households eligible for assistance received vouchers, and wait times for assistance can be months or even years.

The cuts to housing assistance are part of the overall assault on social programs that benefit working people and the poor. This month, benefit payments for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program were slashed by $5 billion for more than 45 million recipients. The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.

The sequester budget cuts, which totaled $85 billion in 2013 alone, represent a savage attack on the social conditions of the working class, including $9.9 billion in cuts to Medicare, $840 million in cuts to special education programs, and $400 million in cuts to Head Start, in addition to the nearly $2 billion slashed from housing aid.

Far from seeking to end these cuts, both the Democrats and Republicans are using them as the baseline for even further attacks on social programs, including drastic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Contrary to what the disinformers at MSNBC will tell you, the sequester was President Obama's proposal, accompanied by the threat of presidential veto in order to lock Democrats, his own party, into social security and medicare cuts. From this link:

We now have stunning confirmation that Obama is using the sequester “battle” as blackmail to get his Grand Bargain (Grand Betrayal) passed — and that “entitlement” benefit cuts are, and always were, part of the plan. It could not be more clear.

Barack Obama wants to cut entitlements, and he’s using the sequester to do it. This, and no other reason, is why the sequester is happening.

The person who made the statement quoted in my headline — that cutting entitlements is “in the DNA” of the sequester — is Gene Sperling, a “top economic aide” to Barack Obama.

Barack Obama confirmed his intention to cut Social Security and Medicare as far back as 2007.

Austerity then, is being forced upon poor and working class Americans by a Democratic president, enabled by Democratic and “progressive” forces whose only act is to point to the reactionary racism of Republicans. Democrats then, are able to campaign as progressive and govern as the party of neoliberal austerity.

The real political option is to dump this two party con game and return to grass roots movement based politics that was the core of black politics and working class politics since before the Voting Rights Act. Two-party electoral politics in America is about protecting finance capital and its privileges and prerogatives.

It's time to re-invent a new movement politics, a politics that's more than pickets and protests, a politics which will disturb the flow of capital and disrupt business as usual. It's time to leave the two party kabuki game.

Pascal Robert is an Iconoclastic Haitian American Lawyer, Blogger, and Online Activist for Haiti. For years his work appeared under the Blog Thought Merchant: You can also find his work on the Huffington Post here: He can be reached via twitter at @probert06 or [email protected]




  Bill Clinton is getting his cookies. Golden-tongued Bill now picks up a cool $250 000 every time he orates before his banking-thieves buddies. Hilary's sometimes husband greased the skids for their win-win situaion: either their monster speculative bets strike pay-dirt, or BigBrother government and Daddy Warbucks Fed will bail them out.  God's work, as they say.

  In the Land of the Free it's uncool to always collect big money while still in office. "Honest" Bill, our "I did not have sex with that woman" president, just had to wait a while.

  Soon it will be Barak's turn. His "Change You Can Believe Never Happened" presidency has been a disaster for vast numbers of working class Americans, especially the racially oppressed and persecuted.

  But the big-money days for our drone-touting Nobel Peace Prize President are just ahead.

  God Bless America

  Arnold Lockshin, political exile from the US now living in Moscow, Russia

Ideal President

Obama is the ideal- Manchurian- President for the predatory elite, bar none.  What will they do without him?  No doubt, "the progressive chorus" will resume their barking furiously at the next President, especially if his is an "evil racist obstructionist Republican".  Even if he is a so-called liberal, if he has white skin, he will still face a little more scrutiny. 

So, unless they plan on replacing him with an Obama twin, I  think they're accomplishing as much as they can--devastating the poor and eliminating the middle classs-- before he leaves office.

The Real History & Legacy of the Democrat Party;

When you hear folks say that the Dims must return to their 'progressive roots', the real response should be 'What progressive Roots? When have the Dims ever been a truly 'progressive party? '. The fact is the Dims have never been a progressive party- in fact the Democrat party began as a pro-slavery Dixie-Crat party circa 1828 w infamous Slave-Owning / Injun Killin Andrew Jackson as its standard bearer [IE: Jackson was the first POTUS elected from the Democrat party]. In fact up until Herbert Hoover, the GOP was the considered the more 'progressive party' [of Lincoln- Blacks voted faithfully for the GOP from 1868 until 1932 w the rise of FDR]. The plain fact is that the Dims were always more influenced by Dixie-crats, or hard-core real politic big-city machine 'bosses'{often Irish IE: ex Chicago Mayor Richard 'the Boss' Daley Sr}, than by real [Henry Wallace / Dennis Kucinich type] 'progressives'. At best the Dims have been a centrist party w some mildly liberal tendencies- during the tenures of FDR, JFK & Jimmy Carter [Note since the 1930s only Carter can possibly be considered as a 'peace president']. In fact Dixie-crats were a main-stay of the Democrat party up till the tenure of LBJ- who LBJ himself, along w H.S.Truman, was a Dixie-crat / quasi Dixie-crat.

With the rise of Slick Willy's & Al Gore's DLC [including Obama & Billary- Note: Slick Willy, Gore & even Carter are from traditional Dixie-crat states], the Dims have slyly kicked their traditional constituencies [Blacks & Browns, the working-class / labor, the peace & environmental movements, etc] to the curb. So though they still talk slick liberal / progressive sounding rhetoric ['I feel your pain'.],the Dims have effectively embraced the corp-disaster capitalist, Wall St Bankster, anti working-class / anti working-poor, pro-war / pro US imperialism agendas about as completely as the Repugs have.


Bravo. Well said!

The writer is correct

I have no idea who the writer is, but as a Progressive (Social Democrat) myself, I agree wholeheartdedly with what the writer says. Obama is not, and never was, a populist. Neo-Liberalism runs through his veins as it did the past 5 Presidents, including Clinton, I might add. They are destroying the working and middle classes in this country and they must be stopped.


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