By John Lawrence/ Will Blog for Food / June 18, 2011
The Republicans have Obama exactly where they want him: a failing economy with no chance for any significant job creation program. Why isn’t there any chance for a job creation program? Because Republicans control the House and have veto power in the Senate.
Obama would just be spinning his wheels even to suggest one. What he could do is to take an ideological stand decrying supply side economics, tax cutting and deregulation for the failures they are, but that would just turn off his campaign donors who are the same ones who supply Republicans with cash so why even bother. So Obama is fenced into a corner hoping that the economy will recover on its own when all indicators are that it won’t.
There are two main things that are tanking the economy: joblessness and the continued erosion of the real estate market caused by record numbers of foreclosures. In fact the housing market is worse than the Great Depression in terms of the reduction in value of houses. And there is no upturn in sight. Obama should have made the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) program mandatory instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the banks whether or not to make mortgage adjustments in order to keep people in their houses.
Now it’s too late. Another mistake Obama made was to make a bargain with Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years while extending unemployment benefits for only one. Now starting in 2012 the rich will still be enjoying their extended tax cuts while the unemployed will fall off the rolls creating even more misery among the populace just as the campaign season begins. Obama’s goose is essentially cooked. He doesn’t have any room to operate. He’s tied down with the Republicans playing the roll the Lilliputians played with Gulliver.
What Obama could do even at this late date is to say the hell with it and come out and take a strong ideological stand which is opposed to the Republican tax cutting, deregulation small government nonsense. He could devote himself to educating the American people even though he’s not in a position to do anything about their plight. The country needs to understand that the Democrats represent a clear choice in contradistinction to the Republican ideology. That clear choice is that the government should be the employer of last resort.
The clear choice is that deficit reduction should mean not only spending cuts but revenue increases. The clear choice is that corporations should be regulated. Revenue increases mean more taxes on the wealthy and corporations, closing loopholes, a financial transaction tax and above all elimination of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. At least Obama has pledged to end the Bush tax cuts in 2013. Too bad he probably won’t be in office to see it. By the time they end he will have lost the election.
The die has been cast. Obama chose to have economic advisors that represented Wall Street instead of the Robert Reichs and Paul Krugmans of the world. He chose to be Republican “lite” instead of representing a clear ideology on the left. He placed his bet that the economy would recover on its own. If it had, he would be sitting pretty for next year’s election. At this point the best we can hope for is that Democrats will retake the House and hold onto the Senate. This will ensure four more years of gridlock as a Republican President would veto any constructive job creation legislation, but at least Medicare and Social Security will be safe.
Meanwhile, the economy will continue to deteriorate as lobbyists chip away at whatever constructive legislation the Democrats passed during Obama’s first two years in office. Case in point: the banking regulation that demanded that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) put position limits on commodity speculation by January 2011. What has the CFTC done in fact? Nothing. It has completely ignored this mandate citing its need to further “study” the situation. The result is that speculators have added $30 – $40 to the price of a barrel of oil and consumers are paying a dollar or more per gallon of gas at the pump.
Senator Bernie Sanders has recently sponsored legislation that would order them to put the position limits in place, but c’mon Bernie, do you think it will really pass in the Republican controlled House? Bernie Sanders, God bless him, is whistling Dixie past the graveyard.
The best the Democrats can do at this point is to take a strong ideological stand against the Republicans in an attempt to educate the American people even though they don’t have much of a prayer of getting any meaningful legislation passed in the near future. Why don’t they do it? Why don’t they support the middle class “awakening” in Wisconsin where there is a movement to recall state Senators who supported Governor Walker’s union busting policies? There’s nary a mention of this budding movement from the White House or Halls of Congress.
Again they don’t want to turn off their campaign donors. Remember that Obama’s largest campaign donor in 2008 was Goldman Sachs. There are only a few honest voices crying out in the wilderness like Dennis Kucinich, Anthony Weiner and Bernie Sanders, and they will be eliminated by one means or another as Weiner recently has. Kucinich is in the process of being redistricted out of his safe constituency.
The net result of the antediluvian, archaic and gridlocked system of government known as the US Constitution is that more efficient and singleminded nations are going to eat our lunch until it is plain and obvious to all that the US is clearly not any longer a superpower. All Obama’s brave talk about winning the future, investing in education and high speed rail is only a lot of hot air.
The future is what is happening in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Florida where ideological Republicans are snuffing out unions and balancing their budgets on the backs of the poor and middle class. A Republican controlled Federal Government will only serve to make those state policies into national policies and end democracy as we know it. Money will rule absolutely, and the middle class will wake up some day and realize that they have been transformed into a bunch of serfs fighting for a place on a freeway exit in which to hold up their sign which says “Will Work for Food.”.