FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America and Its Discontents

by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

Three Gallup poll records were shattered this week. First, American satisfaction with government is at a record low—18%. Second, the Republican Party’s favorability rating is at an all-time low of 28%. Third, the highest ever percentage of respondents cited “dysfunctional government” as the number one problem facing the U.S.—above even the economy.

Americans’ discontent is plenty justified. In addition to the government shutdown, a default is imminent, which Bloomberg News says would be “a catastrophe dwarfing Lehman’s fall”. To make matters worse, Republicans are making an agreement on the debt ceiling contingent on cuts to social programs. For example, a letter signed by 51 House Republicans shows they want to use the debt ceiling crisis as a “window to preserve the long-term viability of Social Security”. Translation: cut social security benefits.

The previous page of that letter considers the following ways to “preserve Social Security’s solvency” (another euphemism for cutting benefits):

* Continuing and expanding the phase-in of raising the retirement age

* Adjusting the inflation formula used for calculating future growth

* Means-testing benefits of high income recipients of Social Security

* Gradually restoring the cap on wages subject to FICA to its Reagan-era levels

Each of these represents either a reduction of Social Security benefits or a threat to the program. The labyrinthine wording—e.g. ‘continuing and expanding the phase-in of raising the retirement age’, instead of simply ‘raising the retirement age’—is natural, given how profoundly unpopular and regressive these schemes are. The road to inequality is paved with vague prose.

If the past is any predictor of the future, Obama will give the GOP the benefits cuts that they’re hoping for. Recall that in July 2011, Obama offered to cut Social Security and Medicare by $700 billion in exchange for passage of his “Grand Bargain”—a grandiose term that tries to evoke the New Deal yet represents the exact opposite: cuts in benefits. This was not the only time that Obama has offered to cut both Social Security and Medicare. The Green Party’s chief economic adviser, Jack Rasmus, covers Obama’s numerous attempts at cutting these social programs.

Without a serious social movement like Occupy to ply the demands of the 99%, it is likely that Obama will continue to serve the 1%, the true beneficiary of his administration.  A recent study from UC Berkeley demonstrates that “the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery.” One interviewer confronted Obama with this statistic and even he couldn’t disagree, offering the lame excuse that “the folks in the middle and at the bottom haven’t seen wage or income growth…over the last 15 years”; the implication being that he inherited this problem and that it is a historical fact, out of his control.

Meanwhile the same group that naïvely expects Obama to advocate for their interests in this debt-ceiling fiasco is celebrating his nomination of the supposedly progressive Janet Yellen. One need not read far to realize she represents the same tried and tragic policies of her predecessor. As CNN plainly stated, “her views are considered to be closely aligned with current Chairman Ben Bernanke, and for that reason, the leadership transition is expected to be smooth once his term ends in January.” New boss same as the old boss.

Notable among her professed views is a commitment to the same form of Quantitative Easing (QE) that Bernanke pursued; i.e., giving $13 trillion to banks and investors. Small wonder that American discontent is breaking historical records.

Ken Klippenstein lives in Madison, WI, USA, where he edits whiterosereader.org He can be reached via email at kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com or on Twitter @kenklippenstein

 

More articles by:

Ken Klippenstein is an American journalist who can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or by email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail