THOLOS OF ATHENA

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

OBAMA AND THE SUPER-DUPER CONGRESS OF 12

"This deal trades peoples' livelihoods for the votes of a few unappeasable right-wing radicals, and I will not support it".  -- Rep. Raul Grajalva of Arizona
The sideshow of panic and hysteria is over now. The ratcheting up of high drama over a US Government debt default, that was never going to happen, has achieved its intended effect. Wall Street has what it wants. Obama has broken with the Franklin Roosevelt legacy; he is the first Democratic president to offer up the sacrifice, a chipping away at Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The country's owners are smiling now, as its lickspittles in Congress cobble together a consolidated committee, composed of 6 Republicans and 6 Democrats drawn from the House and Senate, to be a kind of political ramrod that will authorize draconian budget cuts, one way or another. The rigged process of this commissar committee, which represents both political parties, will present Congress with decisions which cannot be debated or amended in the normal way before becoming law.

The new commissar committee will also contain a novelty called "a trigger".  This substitutes severe pre-configured budget cuts, in the event that the committee can't reach compromise; and the effect is to keep a sword dangling over the special interests of each party; theoretically these would be armaments or defense funds for the Republicans, and social programs dear to the Democrats.

And the Pentagon got $50 billion up front, as a door prize.

As emotions kept on building, Paul Craig Roberts, Reagan's former Assistant Treasury Secretary, warned that the crisis was an artificial one:
The US government will never default on its bonds, because the bonds, unlike those of Greece, Spain, and Ireland, are payable in its own currency. Regardless of whether the debt ceiling is raised, the Federal Reserve will continue to purchase the Treasury’s debt.  If Goldman Sachs is too big to fail, then so is the US government.
There is no budget focus on the illegal wars and military occupations that the US government has underway in at least six countries or the 66-year old US occupations of Japan and Germany and the ring of military bases being constructed around Russia. [...]  
In contrast, Social Security is solvent.  Medicare expenditures are coming close to exceeding the 2.3 per cent payroll tax that funds Medicare, but it is dishonest for politicians and pundits to blame the US budget deficit on “entitlement programs.” 
There was also the little matter of Section 4, Article XIV of the Constitution:
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law [...] shall not be questioned.
Last December, a reporter asked President Obama whether he wasn't concerned that House Speaker Boehner would use the debt ceiling issue as leverage to get the spending cuts the Republicans were talking up and demanding. Obama's response was that he trusted Boehner to do the right thing. This is the rhetoric of the president's trademark bipartisanship. It has become the record of his presidency, and concerns a big part of his pitiful legacy. The repetition of this pattern is of course absurd; and when the president offered cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, he did so because these cuts were his objective; and he put them on the table without the Republicans even asking for them.

Barack Obama's marketing campaign was so brilliant that we voted for him in the primaries and General Election with no real insight into him, without clear understanding;  some of us without a second thought continued to make excuses for him, until his fakery and favoritism to Wall Street and his pernicious  fancy for George W. Bush's global style of war became too obvious to ignore. We are all punished for electing this man.
Usually a crisis is needed to create a vacuum into which these toxic details are fed. Wall Street does not like real crises, of course – except to make quick computer-driven speculative gains on the usual fibrillation of today’s zigzagging markets. But when it comes to serious money, the illusion of a crisis is preferred, staged melodramatically to wring the greatest degree of emotion out of the audience much like a good film editor edits a montage sequence. [...] --Michael Hudson

 A country that has fallen on hard times, as ours has, must face the grim political realities that exist now. The right-wing is exulting, and it is being seen in the arena of politics, taking what it wants by intimidation. But this is mostly for show because too many elected Democrats are playing along. The Labour Party in Britain and the Socialist Government in Greece have been playing this same double-crossing game. The United States, and other countries as well, are now at the mercy of the central banks, at the mercy of Wall Street; and the warning that issued long ago from FDR's great voice, was about the threat of the moneyed powers, of the few, who if left unchecked, would come to consider the government itself as a mere appendage to their own affairs.

A person of integrity, like Raul Grijalva,  reminds us of the stakes and the risks. But there must be others like him, ready to act with integrity, who have concern for justice, who are involved, who hear the bell that is tolling for each of us, calling all of us to save ourselves and our loved ones, and our country. This responsibility cannot be left to the parties, except on condition that these can be freed from the domination of the few, and learn to serve the people again.

It was certainly by design, and not by crisis, that we ended up with the super-duper committee of 12. But from whom did these spring to life? Who wants to claim any of them? The Tea Party may have played the midwife to this unlucky birth; but the Senate, controlled by Democrats, was nonetheless their mother. And their daddy is none other than Barack Obama.



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