Grand Bargain Betrayal Coming

Off the keyboard of Steve Lendman 

Published on Steve Lendman Blog on November 10, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

 
Obama’s economic record includes nearly 25 million unemployed, around 23% of working age Americans without jobs, poverty, homelessness, and hunger at record levels or close to it, and the greatest wealth disparity in US history.
 
Privileged elites benefitted enormously on his watch. They’ll get plenty more ahead. Others are enduring protracted hard times. Bipartisan complicity calls for making things worse, not better. Huge budget cuts loom. Social programs will be hit hardest. More on that below.
 
America’s compromised progressive left hailed Obama’s victory. Condemnation should have been headlined instead. Nation magazine lost its soul long ago. 
 
Throughout its history, it pretended to have one. It scorns truth. It turns reality on its head. It ducks responsible reporting on issues mattering most.
 
On November 7, it headlined “A Progressive Surge,” saying:
 
“While President Obama’s re-election inspires varying degrees of hope among progressives, it has evoked one common sentiment: relief. Democracy may not be reborn, but a living symbol of plutocracy was defeated by the voters on November 6.”
 
It’s hard believing so-called progressive editors would publish outrageous rubbish this offensive. Obama matches Romney’s anti-populist agenda blow for blow. 
 
They agree on most everything benefitting corporate favorites and rich elites at the expense of all others. They scorn social America. They don’t give a damn about people needs. Pretending otherwise is unprincipled, reprehensible, and stupid.
 
Nonetheless, Nation editors celebrated “exhilarating wins” for Obama and likeminded Democrats. Hail to the party of the rich. It replicates the other rich man’s party. America’s duopoly calls progressivism a four-letter word.
 
“We are glad the 1 percent (was) rebuffed at the polls,” said Nation editors….”We are glad that progressive politics….made the difference.”
 
Perhaps they meant Venezuela’s election instead. In October, people power defeated privilege. Letting Obama lead America’s Money Party for another four years assures worse for ordinary people than in term one. It’s baked in the cake. 
 
Too bad Nation readers weren’t told the truth. Nor regular New York Times adherents. On November 7, its editorial headlined “An Invigorated Second Term,” saying:
 
“Without question, (Obama) intends to build on and improve the significant accomplishments of the last four years….to keep the economy growing.”
 
His first term record might make some despots blush. His economic policies are weapons of mass destruction affecting ordinary people. He’s got further mass immiseration in mind for term two. He also plans more war on humanity globally.
 
Times editors want his mandate used to “broaden his agenda.” How much more scorched earth hell can people stand? They’ll shortly find out straightaway.
 
Top domestic policy is massive social benefit cuts. Newspeak terminology substituted “grand bargain” for “austerity.” 
 
“Fiscal cliff” language refers to expiring yearend tax breaks and unemployment benefits, as well as looming $1.2 trillion in largely discretionary sequestered cuts to address them.
 
The 2011 Budget Control Act mandates them. Automatic reductions will affect vital social programs. Medicare, Medicaid, public pensions, food stamps, and other important ones will be hit hard.
 
The sequestered $1.2 trillion is for starters. Around $4 trillion over the next decade was agreed on. At issue isn’t deficit cutting. Key is protecting corporate handouts and Bush era tax cuts, as well as expanding them for business and upper-bracket earners.
 
Bush era tax cuts cost America at least $3.5 trillion in vital revenue. Important domestic needs were sacrificed. If maintained or increased for 10 more years, another $3.5 trillion or more will be lost. 
 
At the same, deficits will rise. Conservative projections show it. More realistic ones reveal ominous numbers.
 
America’s duopoly already agreed on cuts and increases in principle. When publicly announced, newspeak duplicity will conceal the severity of what’s coming. Initial cuts are expected on January 1 or shortly thereafter. 
 
Neither party worries about deficits or debt. Saying so is duplicitous deception. Obama, most Democrats, and Republicans want corporate friends and super-rich elites protected.
 
Working Americans and seniors will bear the burden. Increased corporate and upper-bracket earner benefits are planned. Cuts affecting ordinary people were agreed on months ago. Timing remains to be decided. 
 
It’s not about amounts, who pays, and who benefits. Key also is assuring Bush era cuts are preserved and sweetened.
 
From now through yearend, four major issues must be resolved:
 
(1) extending the 2% payroll tax deduction another year. In fact, it’s a stealth drain of hundreds of billions of dollars from Social Security’s Trust Fund reserves. 
 
Revenue already lost irreparably weakened its ability to pay future benefits. Lose more and the entire program may be lost. Privatization assures it.
 
Obama fully concurs on driving a stake through the heart of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and public pensions. He’s no progressive. He’s a corporatist hardliner. He never would have become president otherwise. Populists needn’t apply.
 
(2) extending expiring unemployment benefits for millions of laid off workers.
 
(3) another one-year Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) fix.
 
(4) delaying the 29% cut in doctors fees for serving Medicare patients.
 
Expect Republicans to drive a hard bargain like they always do. Democrats pretend they care. In fact, they’ve already sold out. Obama’s reelection hinged on it. 
 
He talks tough, then caves at the 11th hour. He did repeatedly throughout his first term. Both parties are in lockstep on defending privilege. 
 
People needs don’t matter. It’s part of a longstanding plan to third worldize America. Safety net protection is someone else’s problem.
 
On November 6, Bill Black discussed what’s coming. His article headlined “Wall Street Urges Obama to Commit the Great Betrayal,” saying:
 
Top domestic policy is eroding safety net protections en route to eliminating them altogether.
 
“Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it (a process that would occur over a number of years) by legitimizing the claim that (it) must be cut.”
 
Obama was hand-picked to do it. “Wall Street’s unholy grail (is) privatizing Social Security.” 
 
Doing so will let financial predators “charge tens of billions of dollars in fees annually and the banks that administered the privatized program would be systemically dangerous institutions (SDIs) because the consequences of allowing bank failures to cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their retirement savings would require either that all such deposits be federally insured or that the failing banks be bailed out by the federal government.” 
 
“Privatization, therefore, is a convenient fiction. The banks’ profits will be privatized. Any catastrophic losses will be borne by the public.”
 
The Big Lie claims no acceptable alternative exists. Safety net cuts must be imposed. Obama’s sharpened knife is a dagger at the heart of what matters most to ordinary people. Their welfare, security and futures are up for grabs. They’re being destroyed in plain sight.
 
Force-fed austerity assures the worst of hard times. It’s responsible for what Black calls “the four horsemen of the economic apocalypse:”
 
  • economic decline;
 
  • job cuts and greater unemployment;
 
  • increased deficits and debt; and
 
  • destruction of safety net protections.
 
Combined assures third world status. Black said Obama prioritizes it. We’re forewarned but does it matter? Few Americans understand what’s coming. 
 
Grand bargain betrayal is planned. It’s come in stages like boiling a frog. It doesn’t know it’s dinner until too late. 
 
Social America is on the chopping block for elimination. It’s been happening incrementally for decades. Democrats are in league with Republicans. Their agenda assures intolerable pain and suffering for ordinary people.
 
Standard & Poor’s and other rating agencies endorse it. They’re corporate tools. They mostly represent Wall Street and other financial interests. S&P’s marching orders called for downgrading US credit to AA+. It did so in August 2011, saying:
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
“America’s credit rating is at a crossroads. We can choose to heed this message by finishing the deficit reduction job with a balanced plan that is composed mainly of entitlement cuts, closing tax loopholes and defense cuts, or we can squabble while our global standing continues to sink.” 
 
“The markets have spoken and anyone who continues to insist that entitlements or taxes are off the table is condemning the US to second rate economic status and a permanent downgrade.”
 
S&P targeted safety net protections. Including defense and tax loopholes reflected pro forma deception. Whatever benefits America’s imperium, Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites is sacrosanct and untouchable.
 
Expect fast and loose deception to conceal it. Obama’s an old hand at it. He’s a con man. He’s Wall Street’s man. They chose him and expect four more years of subservience. He won’t disappoint.
 
Forewarned is forearmed. “(W)e do not need to unravel the safety net and doing so would harm our nation,” said Black. Ideologues are wrong about what’s best for America. 
 
Throughout his political career, Obama’s been a stealth Republican. His voting record proves it. Reelecting him serves elitist interests well. They know what they want and got it.

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