by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
President Obama is taking his case for a grand austerity bargain with the Republicans on the road, moving us “closer to eliminating the threadbare safety net.” Not so long ago, it would have been inconceivable that a Democratic president barnstorm the country, “loudly and publicly demanding support for making right wing fantasies come true.”
Freedom Rider: Grand Bargain is the Satan Sandwich
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“They want to starve the beast as it were and kill all government spending that is not related to defense.”
Flush with victory and even shedding tears of joy, president Obama will hit the road to convince us to happily stab ourselves in the back. The “fiscal cliff” hoax began immediately after all the votes were counted. No sooner was Obama declared the winner than the White House, congressional leaders and the corporate media all began issuing dire warning about the consequences of not shredding what is left of the small safety net that Americans still have.
The president was so eager to begin the cutting process that he called two people who are allegedly his rivals, Republican congressional leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, on election night. The two people who should be his opposition were among the first he reached out and touched. Both men ignored the president and told someone in their respective households to say they were asleep. Such is unrequited love.
In 2010 Senator McConnell publicly stated that defeating the president was his first priority. The idea that he and others like him would be inconvenienced by an Obama victory was in large part responsible for the joy progressives experienced after the president was declared the winner. Visions of McConnell and Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove crying rivers of tears sealed the deal for the Obama acolytes.
But suppose the victim of the racism, slurs, slanders, lies and twitter posts from racist know-nothings is still not our friend? Does the disrespect and even hatred directed at him warrant a carte blanche on the issues which effect all of our lives? Perhaps the enemy of our enemy is not our friend after all.
“He is planning a tour ‘beyond the beltway’ to make his case for a so-called “grand bargain” of austerity measures.”
While the president is certainly subjected to overtly racist attacks, that does not mean he should be above scrutiny and criticism. He is planning a tour “beyond the beltway” to make his case for a so-called “grand bargain” of austerity measures which will weaken the economy, cause great human suffering, and move us closer to eliminating the threadbare safety net.
The case for the grand bargain consists of two very big lies. One, that austerity will bring the country out of recession, and two, that entitlement programs played a role in creating the federal deficit. It is government spending which can bring the economy out of recession, but conservatives want none of it. They want to starve the beast as it were and kill all government spending that is not related to defense. It is hard to believe the second fact, that entitlements are not responsible for the budget deficit, when we are constantly told otherwise. If a lie is told often enough without rebuttal it is treated as fact.
Years of Democratic accommodation to corporate interests has brought us to the point where we must fight a Democratic president in order to preserve programs which came into being because of the Democratic party. Not so long ago Social Security was called “the third rail of politics” because it was politically untouchable. It was inconceivable that a Democratic president would take his entitlement cutting show on the road, loudly and publicly demanding support for making right wing fantasies come true. Steadfast support for Social Security was always the lowest hanging fruit for Democrats. Now we can’t count on the party that markets itself as protecting our interests to make even the smallest effort on our behalf.
“We can’t count on the party that markets itself as protecting our interests to make even the smallest effort on our behalf.”
The truth is that Barack Obama is no mere victim of Republican antipathy. He is quite happy to cut deals, as he said himself before election day. “I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I've been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.” The president is not being dragged kicking and screaming to the negotiating table. After all, he convened the Simpson-Bowles “catfood commission” on his own, without any prompting from Republicans. The only thing that saved us from drastic entitlement cuts in 2011 was dissent within Republican ranks. He was ready to do the deal and Democrats were ready to allow it.
Last year when Obama was on the verge of happily complying with the Republicans, Congressional Black Caucus member Emmanuel Cleaver quite rightly called the deal a “sugar coated satan sandwich.” The congressman was perhaps being too kind. There is nothing sugar coated about what can only be called a betrayal of the millions of Obama voters who are getting precisely what they do not want.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.