Does the president's months-long refrain about passing his “jobs bill” mean anything at all? Do Democrats even want to pass it, and if they did, would it make a difference? And if it's nothing but a fake jobs bill, why are Republicans opposing it?
Rigged Games: Obama's Fake “Jobs Bill” is Election-Year Theater
by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
“'Pass this jobs bill,' is one of the president's recurring lines in this year's episode “
The calendar still says 2011, but with the election a mere 51 weeks distant, it's election year already. The actors, the special effects and the props are being lined up as we speak. Every move candidates make from here on out is carefully choreographed election year theater.
In keeping with Michael Hudson's observation that a corporate politician's job is to deliver his voters to the interests of his campaign contributors, Barack Obama is campaigning to bring the Democratic party's base voters, blacks, Latinos, the poor and whatever “independent” whites he can wrangle, to his sponsors, Wall Street, the telecoms, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Real Estate, Big Oil, Clean Coal, Safe Nukes, and the Pentagon. Republicans have substantially the same set of contributors, but those donors are giving Barack Obama's party alone more than all the Republican candidates put together, and have the presidential campaign, an entirely separate affair, backed to the tune of a billion dollars this cycle. So with different voting constituencies, Republicans and Democrats will campaign differently. But when governing, they remain on the same team.
“Pass this jobs bill,” is one of the president's recurring lines in this year's episode ---- as though Barack Obama actually had a bill that might create jobs for the record number of jobless, and as if he even imagined he could or ought to do such a thing. On the real, he hasn't and he doesn't. Politicians come closest to saying what they really think right after elections, not before them.
“...in keeping with Obama's philosophy, his so-called “jobs bill” proposes nothing of the kind. “
Shortly after the 2008 election, Barack shared with the nation a few of his thoughts on job creation, economics and history. He said it was the private sector's job, not the government's role to create jobs and wealth, so no massive WPA-style jobs proposal would be forthcoming. Not soon. Not ever. Not from his administration, at least.
Like today, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, private industry was intent on driving wages further down, and quite happy with massive unemployment and poverty. Popular pressure forced the Roosevelt administration to make the federal government the employer of last resort, and hundreds of thousands of jobless were hired to build parks and roads and bridges and dams and schools across the country. Those WPA workers even dug the subways under downtown Chicago's State Street, which are still creating wealth and jobs 75 years later.
But in keeping with Obama's philosophy, his so-called “jobs bill” proposes nothing of the kind. More than half its original $447 billion price tag is made up of tax cuts, many billions of it to the same industries that are laying people off.
At the same time, the Obama White House has advanced NAFTA-like free trade bills for Colombia, Panama, and South Korea, a kind of legislation that is a proven job-killer. Though the package of free-trade bills does contain a stipulation that additional billions be spent on retraining, this isn't part of the bill the White House is pushing, and is extremely unlikely to pass in any case.
Even individual pieces of the president's “jobs bill” are unlikely to pass. The president knows it, and so does every member of Congress. Harry Reid only put it up for a Senate vote so he'd have Republicans on record as voting against something called a “jobs bill,” whether it was or not. The latest chunk of it got 51 votes out of 100 in the US Senate and still failed, due to the 60 vote rule, which is only applied when Democrats need an excuse for not passing nominally progressive legislation that their financiers would rather see fail. Remember Obama's health insurance company bailout bill? That didn't need 60 votes, because health insurance companies loved it.
“When it comes to the interest of Wall Street and the one percent, Obama is effective. He gets it done where Republicans cannot.”
Republicans are playing their usual “bad cop” role in the production, opposing the fake “jobs bill,” in an effort to make Barack Obama look like the good guy by comparison. They'll vote it down. They'll call it a “jobs killer” and accuse the president, a far more effective capitalist tool at this point than they are, of being a socialist. The Republican role in this drama is to oppose Obama's fake jobs bill as though it were real, to distract attention away from his real record, to make Obama look good, and to retain credibility in front of their own frequently racist constituencies, so that they too can be delivered to donors each and every election cycle.
It's a game, played out on our TVs and blogs and newspapers daily and nightly, a fake world pulled over our eyes to distract us from the real game the players are playing.
On the real, Barack Obama's job creation policies, like his foreign policies, like his environmental policies, like his stands on Clean Coal and Safe Nuclear Power, like where he is on network neutrality, genetically modified crops, and a hundred other issues, are pretty much the same as that of his Republican opponents. Obama is firing and terrorizing government whisteblowers and kidnapping foreign civilians for secret imprisonment and torture, just as Bush did, while launching more drones and commando raids into Africa than Bush ever could have. Obama built the border fence Bush wanted to and could not, passed the bank bailout Bush tried to and failed, and has deported more Latinos in three years than Bush did in eight.
That's why Republicans put on their crazy candidate hats. It's the best, the one, the proven way to distract attention from Obama's actual record, to make the president look good enough to be re-elected in spite of that record. When it comes to the interest of Wall Street and the one percent, Obama is effective, more effective than his Republican colleagues. He gets it done where Republicans cannot. And when it comes to the interests of the rest of us, Barack Obama is not the lesser evil, not even close. He IS THE evil. The more effective evil. That's the truth, the core. The rest is theater.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and lives in Marietta GA, where he serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party.