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Is Obama’s debt ceiling agreement the worst deal in US history?
Probably. But not for the reasons that are presently being discussed in the media. What makes the deal such an unmitigated disaster is that it strips congress of its Constitutional authority to control the nation’s purse-strings. That authority will be handed over to a bipartisan committee that will decide how to slash $1.5 trillion from the budget in order to reduce the deficits. But, since the committee will be evenly comprised of Republicans and Democrats, there’s bound to be disagreement about what programs should be cut. This is all by design, because if the committee is unable to decide where the cutbacks should be, then the decision will be made for them via an “enforcement mechanism” that will require across-the-board spending cuts.
Pretty sinister, eh? It’s is a backdoor way of repealing Congress’s primary authority while making austerity the default position of the US Government. Whenever in doubt, “Cut spending”. Naturally, the GOP refused any agreement that would involve new taxes.
This is from the White House website:
“The Deal Locks in a Process to Enact $1.5 Trillion in Additional Deficit Reduction Through a Bipartisan, Bicameral Congressional Committee: The deal creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Committee that is charged with enacting $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by the end of the year….
To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform…..The deal includes an automatic sequester on certain spending programs to ensure that—between the Committee and the trigger—we at least put in place an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by 2013.”
Not surprisingly, liberal pundits everywhere are moaning that Obama was “mugged” or worse, that he was “blackmailed”.
What nonsense. This is the plan that Obama wanted from the very beginning, liberals were just unwilling to listen until now. They were too caught up with his lofty oratory and his personal history as if that was surefire proof of a kind heart and a progressive outlook.
Well, guess what? It’s not. The man is not who he pretends to be. Here’s a clip from a speech Obama gave in November 2008, before he even took office, and long before the budget deficits had become a problem:
“Our economy is trapped in a vicious cycle: the turmoil on Wall Street means a new round of belt-tightening for families and businesses on Main Street ….we’ll have to scour our federal budget, line-by-line, and make meaningful cuts and sacrifices as well.”
Huh? You mean Obama was prattling the right-wing mantra before he ever set foot in the Oval Office?
Uh huh; which explains why he picked the two losers most responsible for the Crash of ’08 to lead his economics team; Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner. Obama devotees shrugged off the appointments as a rookie error unwilling to breach any criticism of the Dear Leader. Even now, they cry “Foul”, claiming Obama was either hoodwinked or –get this–a “poor negotiator”.
Get real. Obama is as far right as you can get without donning a Tricorn hat and joining a militia. Don’t believe it?
Here’s an excerpt from his book Audacity of Hope where he gushingly praises his boyhood hero, Ronald Reagan:
“Reagan spoke to America’s longing for order, our need to believe that we are not simply subject to blind, impersonal forces, but that we can shape our individual and collective destinies, so long as we rediscover the traditional virtues of hard work, patriotism, person responsibility, optimism, and faith.
That Reagan’s message found such a receptive audience spoke not only to his skills as a communicator; it also spoke to the failures of liberal government, during a period of economic stagnation, to give middle-class voters any sense that it was fighting for them. For the fact was that government at every level had become too cavalier about spending taxpayer money. Too often, bureaucracies were oblivious to the cost of their mandates. A lot of liberal rhetoric did seem to value rights and entitlements over duties and responsibilities. Reagan may have exaggerated the sins of the welfare state, and certainly liberals were right to complain that his domestic policies tilted heavily toward economic elites, with corporate raiders making tidy profits throughout the eighties while unions were busted and the income for the average working stiff flatlined.
Nevertheless, by promising to side with those who worked hard, obeyed the law, cared for their families, and loved their country, Reagan offered Americans a sense of a common purpose that liberals seemed no longer able to muster. And the more his critics carped, the more those critics played into the role he’d written for them–a band of out-of-touch, tax-and-spend, blame-America-first, politically correct elites (Audacity of Hope, 31-32). (Excerpt from, Christopher Caldwell, What Obama Owes to Reagan, Daily Kos)
Have you ever heard a progressive opine so breathlessly on the Gipper’s virtues or palaver about hard working, law abiding patriotic Americans, all of which is code for flag-waving right-wing fanatics?
Obama wasn’t blackmailed; he’s as corporate as they come. Just look at the record. Here’s an excerpt from an article by FAIR’s Jeff Cohen:
“In 2006, a relatively new Senator Obama was the only senator to speak at the inaugural gathering of the Alexander Hamilton Project launched by Wall Street Democrats like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and deputy secretary. Obama praised them as “innovative, thoughtful policymakers.” (It was Rubin’s crusade to deregulate Wall Street in the late ’90s that led directly to the economic meltdown of 2008 and our current crisis.)
In early 2007, way before he was a presidential frontrunner, candidate Obama was raising more money from Wall Street interests than all other candidates, including New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
In June 2008, as soon as Hillary ended her campaign, Obama went on CNBC, shunned the “populist” label and announced: “Look: I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.” He packed his economic team with Wall Street friends — choosing one of Bill Clinton’s Wall Street deregulators, Larry Summers, as his top economic advisor.” (“Obama is NOT “Caving” to Corporate Interests, Jeff Cohen, Smirking Chimp)
Obama has been zeroing in on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from the very beginning. Why else would Wall Street throw their support behind a total “unknown”; a two year senator with no foreign policy experience and a background in community organizing. That’s hardly the type of resume that makes one a shoo-in for Empire’s top-spot. There must have been a quid pro quo, a tacit understanding that if Obama was elected, he’d carry out the corporate/Big Finance agenda. And, so he has.
The debt ceiling fiasco just proves that Obama keeps his promises. In other words, it’s “payback time.”
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org