The political cartoon by Barry Blitt says it all – President Obama is a Republican in his economic heart . This view has been slowly accumulating, but with the Bush Tax Cut compromise a significant chunk of the NYTimes editorial writers have turned against President Obama`s critical economic policies. They are saying the President is, for the crucial issues of economics, wealth equality, government upholding fairness – President Obama is short-changing the Nation as a masqued Republican. Nowhere is this more explicit than Bob Herbert`s Misery with Plenty of Company –
Consider the extremes. President Obama is redesigning his administration to make it even friendlier toward big business and the megabanks, which is to say the rich, who flourish no matter what is going on with the economy in this country. (They flourish even when they’re hard at work destroying the economy.) Meanwhile, we hear not a word — not so much as a peep — about the poor, whose ranks are spreading like a wildfire in a drought.
But Frank Rich is not far off the same mark with Let Obama’s Reagan Revolution Begin –
President Obama`s recent Congressional victories should not obscure the reality that, the tax-cut deal notwithstanding, he still disappeared at key moments when he should have led the charge.Nowhere was he more AWOL than in the battle over aiding 9/11 emergency workers poisoned by the toxic debris at ground zero. Supporting a bill to reward brave Americans who paid with their health or their lives to serve others was tantamount to voting for the flag — a far more patriotic gesture than, say, reading aloud the Constitution. Yet Republicans in Congress caricatured it as a “slush fund” inviting “abuse, fraud and waste” (Lamar Smith of Texas, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) and “an expansive new health care entitlement program” (Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma). All 41 Republicans present in the Senate voted to block its passage while giving top priority to protecting tax cuts for the superrich. But rather than lead this easily winnable battle from uncontestable high ground, the White House remained largely silent, releasing only a written statement of support for the bill. The president never spoke publicly about it at all.
And Paul Krugman has been pointing to President Obama`s economic vacillations, the most recent being Obama’s Hostage Deal –
I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to make my peace with the Obama-McConnell tax-cut deal. President Obama did, after all, extract more concessions than most of us expected. Yet I remain deeply uneasy — not because I’m one of those “purists” Mr. Obama denounced on Tuesday but because this isn’t the end of the story. Specifically: Mr. Obama has bought the release of some hostages only by providing the G.O.P. with new hostages.
And given that the emergence of a Boligarchy [or Bautocracy]of the Super-rich buying their way to ever more insinuating economic and political power with both political parties now supine and nearly prostate before them, maybe NYTimes op-eders have a point. Given that the GOP is even more closely bonded to the Super-rich and now that the President has made explicit that he is not going to take them on, what do you do?
First and foremost, President Barack Obama is not the same deal as Candidate for President Barack Obama. Not only is the vision and promise defunct in economics and questions of equality before the law but also the there is a singular lack of fight and courage as one might expect for these same basic issues of fairness. Frank Rich catches this clearly with his 911 First Responders story. The NYTimes today notes that the President, rather than seizing the opportunity for a teachable moment on the Arizona slaughter or a call for better structured gun controls, “is, so far, keeping his distance from the debate over whether vitriolic political discourse contributed to the attack in Arizona “. Perhaps the President is marshalling his resources for a Martin Luther King-like rebuttal of the Republican distemper and near libelous attacks on his person and many of the Democratic policies and causes. Then again, this may be President Obama ,the hardened realist, calculating the political trade-offs and concluding that there is nothing to be gained by taking on the issue of rabid and assassinationist rhetoric or control of semi-automatic weapons.
Is this proof again of the absolute power of powerful lobbies and their ability to take critical issues off the table in national policy making issues like gun control, unquestioned support of Israel, or campaign finance reform? It sound more and more like the US is painting itself into a policy-making corner eerily similar to the untouchable budget categories or tax unchangeable tax regimes. In effect, the US is giving policy making advantage to China, Brazil, India and even Russia on economic and political issues. This causes the US to bury itself in the race for even modest economic growth. In 10 years, the decline in US economic power will inevitably be followed by consequent decline in military and political power [you can’t have military power without the financial wherewithal to finance it]. And world political power has economic, technology, military and moral legs, all of which are under siege by special interests which appear to have prevailed over the US Common Interest and Wealth.