Friday, July 08, 2011

I Rest My Case

That George Carlin, he was a funny, funny guy.

"They're gonna get it." Your Social Security. And Liberal Democrat Barack Obama is going to be the one to get it for them.

Just after reading the article in my previous post, I read this Glenn Greenwald post:

For months, the standard narrative among progressive commentators was that Republicans were outrageously exploiting the debt ceiling deadline to impose drastic entitlement cuts on a resisting and victimized Democratic President (he's weak in negotiations!), but The Post article makes clear that the driving force behind these cuts is the President himself, who is pushing for even larger spending cuts than the GOP was ready to accept.
President Obama is pressing congressional leaders to consider a far-reaching debt-reduction plan that would force Democrats to accept major changes to Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican support for fresh tax revenue. . . . As part of his pitch, Obama is proposing significant reductions in Medicare spending and for the first time is offering to tackle the rising cost of Social Security, according to people in both parties with knowledge of the proposal. The move marks a major shift for the White House and could present a direct challenge to Democratic lawmakers who have vowed to protect health and retirement benefits from the assault on government spending.
This morning's New York Times article similarly makes clear that it is the President who is demanding an even larger "deficit reduction" package than has previously been discussed. Headlined "Obama to Push for Wider Deal With G.O.P. on Deficit Cuts," the article reports that "President Obama has raised his sights and wants to strike a far-reaching agreement on cutting the federal deficit" and that he "wants to move well beyond the $2 trillion in savings sought in earlier negotiations and seek perhaps twice as much over the next decade." This is all in pursuit of "an agreement that ma[kes] substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security -- programs that had been off the table." The President, as part of the package, is reportedly seeking some elimination of modest tax "loopholes" that benefit wealthy Americans to claim, absurdly, that there is "balanced" sacrifice.

Balanced as generally defined by Fox News.

[T]he combination of deficit hysteria (repeatedly bolstered by Obama) and the manufactured debt ceiling deadline has, by design, created the perfect pretext to enable this now.


When I first began writing about politics in late 2005, the standard liberal blogosphere critique -- one I naively believed back then -- was that Democrats were capitulating so continuously to the Bush agenda because they "lacked spine" and were inept political strategists: i.e., they found those policies so very offensive but were simply unwilling or unable to resist them. It became apparent to me that this was little more than a self-soothing conceit: Democrats continuously voted for Bush policies because they were either indifferent to their enactment or actively supported them, and were owned and controlled by the same factions as the GOP.

The light dawns.

Frank Rich put it this way: "For all the lurid fantasies of the birthers, the dirty secret of Obama’s background is that the values of Harvard, not of Kenya or Indonesia or Bill Ayers, have most colored his governing style.”


Congressional Democrats began the health care debate by categorically vowing -- in writing, by the dozens -- never to support any health care bill that did not contain a public option (on the ground that it would be little more than a boon to -- an entrenchment of -- the private health insurance industry). But once they all abandoned that pledge when told that doing so was necessary to be good, loyal Democrats, it was clear from that point forward that they could be ignored. They had no willingness to exercise political power; their partisan loyalty trumped any alleged convictions; their negotiation positions were silly bluffs; and they could always be counted on to snap dutifully into line at the end no matter how much their values were stomped on (and that debate followed the same template as the deficit battle: the White House publicly pretending to advocate for a public option while leading the way in private to ensure it never happened).


[T] his is the same exact dynamic that drives the Obama presidency in almost every realm. In the context of foreign policy and civil liberties, the public-private National Security State (the "Fourth Branch" of Government) is his Wall Street; military and intelligence officials and defense contractors are his Geithner/Summers/Dimon; and endless embrace of the Bush/Cheney Terrorism template of militarism and civil liberties assaults is his cutting of Social Security and Medicare. This is who Barack Obama is; it's what drives his presidency in every realm, not just in economic policy.


He's attending to the constituencies that matter: mostly, Wall Street tycoons who funded his 2008 campaign and whom he hopes will fund his re-election bid, and independents whose support is in question.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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