The shape of the new bipartisan sell-out of working Americans is now becoming clear, so buckle your seat belts. It will be led by the Great and Powerful Defender of the 99% Barack Obama with sour-faced, grumpy Republicans pretending to be dragged kicking and screaming into the briar patch of their choice. The result will be the further impoverishment of the middle classes (no one cares about the poor at all, so fuck them).
The online NY Times had a big, neon warning sign in a weekend article that started like this:
“A small but growing group of Republicans say the party should perhaps accede to President Obama‘s demand for higher tax rates for top earners so that the attention can shift to making serious cuts in benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, a top Republican senator said on Sunday.”The article then goes on to mention the Obama-Boehner meetings and the continued Republican insistence on “deep, long-term reductions” in Medicaid and “other social programs” to obtain their cooperation. Well, I guess that makes sense given the Republicans’ stunning triumphs in the recently concluded elections.
Oh, wait a minute! I thought the guys in favor of shoveling yet more of the national income upwards were soundly defeated. Huh? Did I miss something?
No, actually, I didn’t. But a whole lot of frantically canvassing and snottily superior Obamanoids did—while they were swooning over their guy’s solid victory, he was telling anyone who cared to listen that the first order of business upon re-election was to chip away at the New Deal social safety net that has kept our grandparents away from the cat food for 50 years. He said it, but the self-righteous Democrats who were telling me I should shed my skepticism and swallow the Kool-Aid NOW refused to hear it.
Note also that although the immediate focus of attention is cuts to Medicaid—which is an easier target since it serves low-income people rather than the powerful elderly (Medicare) or the so-far sacrosanct Social Security—that weasel phrase “other social programs” is a hint about where things will head once the principle of “deep, long-term reductions” is established. After all, if the problem is “entitlements,” those things the government gives away to undeserving mooches like you and me, rather than unfunded wars, de-industrialization by off-shoring, Pentagon bloat or massive value extraction by Wall Street, then well, I guess we’ll just have to man up and start knocking down those big, bad, expensive things like government retirement plans and socialized health care.
A really progressive administration would campaign for the opposite: to expand the more efficient state-run health insurance schemes like Medicare and Medicaid, thereby reining in our ridiculous healthcare costs. It would also stomp out all the talk about Social Security’s alleged demographic problems and the lies about its imminent insolvency. Earth to base: these tales are FALSE and tendentious, i.e., designed to rob you while you slumber. Given the full house Obama is holding with the automatic expiration of the Bush tax giveaways, there is no reason at all to bargain away our legacy from the Roosevelt years.
In short, we are about to witness a new Nixon-in-China moment: Barack Goes to Wall Street. The old anticommunist hellcat sucking up to Mao Zedong marked the end of a Cold War era, and Obama’s success in opening up the New Deal safety net to plutocratic plunder is its mirror image—only a liberalish-looking Democrat could pull it off. It is the culmination of Obama’s faithful toadying to the interests of finance over the productive economy and the citizens, and the result will be an historic shift in the assumptions about what our government should provide.
True, Romney & friends, the purported losers last month, may end up paying a little more to the IRS although let’s not count on that given all the ways the moneybags have to shelter their income and get around the system. But the really significant prize—access to even more wealth once the safety net is further shredded—will now be open to them. And since we’ve been lulled into a political coma by the electoral spectacle, we won’t feel a thing.