Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Not only is the ‘fiscal cliff” a phony, manufactured issue, there is fundamental agreement between the White House and Republicans in Congress on how this game should end: with entitlements in tatters. “Austerity is the common language and goal of the talks.”


Obama and GOP Play Tag Team on Entitlements

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

It is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!”

It seems that every breathless moment of corporate media news is choreographed to convince Americans that austerity is as inevitable as tomorrow’s weather. The objective of this con game is to gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The two principle parties engaged in negotiations – the White House and congressional Republican leaders – are both agreed that entitlements must be put under the knife. The “grand bargain” that both Obama and the GOP seek has already been made, in principle. Austerity is the common language and goal of the talks, and nobody that counts in the discussions is defending entitlements.

There is only one problem: the vast majority of Americans oppose cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is the great difficulty facing both Obama and the Republicans: the fact that the public favors the maintenance and even expansion of the meager U.S. social safety net. The disagreement, the great debate, is not between Republicans and the White House, who both agree on putting entitlements on the chopping block. The disagreement is between strong majorities of the American people, who want no tampering with the three entitlement programs, and Obama and his Republican friends, who are hell bent on so-called entitlement “reform.”

This is not a fight between the two parties; it is a choreographed beat-down of the American majority by corporate Democratic and Republican thugs, aided by shrieking corporate media banshees screaming, Watch out for the cliff, Watch out for the cliff!.

Corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements.”

The “grand bargain” was struck back in the summer of 2011, when both sides agreed on roughly $4 trillion in cuts. The agreement only unraveled because a presidential election was drawing near, and the two parties needed to pretend that they were separated by vast political differences. Now that the election is over and the verdict is in, corporate Democrats and Republicans can abandon the pretense of a great ideological divide, and return to their shared mission of cutting entitlements. Both hide behind the phony “fiscal cliff” to convince the public that the pending theft of entitlements is an unstoppable act of nature, rather than a conspiracy of corporate henchmen, against the clear wishes of the majority of Americans.

Robert Reich, the liberal former Labor Secretary in President Bill Clinton’s administration, says that Obama is not behaving like a president who is serious about facing down the Republicans. If he were, Obama would let the Bush tax cuts die at the end of this year, and then have Democrats introduce new tax cuts for the middle class. The president could dare the Republicans to hold middle class to tax cuts hostage to cuts for the rich. In that kind of facedown, Obama would likely win.

But Obama is not trying to outmaneuver Republicans; he and the GOP have teamed up to stampede the public – the suckers in this game – into giving up their entitlements. As David Swanson puts it, we are not witnessing the making of a grand bargain, but a “grand catastrophe.”

Minneapolis Congressman Keith Ellison, the Black co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he and the other 75 members “are not going to allow the most vulnerable Americans to shoulder the burden of this fiscal problem.” But the left wing of the Democratic Party can only stop the forces arrayed against entitlements by actively opposing their own president, who is playing austerity tag team with the Republicans. And the so-called progressives don’t have it in them.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].



Robert Reich Calls Out Obama


Why is the White House trying to scare average people about the consequences of the “fiscal cliff?”

If the President’s strategy is to hold his ground and demand from Republicans tax increases on the wealthy, presumably his strongest bargaining position would be to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule come January – causing taxes to rise automatically, especially on the wealthy.

So you’d think part of that strategy would be reassure the rest of the public that the fiscal cliff isn’t so bad or so steep, and that at the start of January Democrats will introduce in Congress a middle-class tax cut whose effect is to prevent taxes from rising for most people (thereby forcing Republicans to vote for a tax cut for the middle class or hold it hostage to a tax cut for the wealthy as well).

But today (Monday) the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers issued a report warning that if Congress allows the Bush tax cuts to expire January 1and the Alternative Minimum Tax to kick in, the middle class will face sharply-rising taxes. 

The result, says the Council of Economic Advisers, could slow consumer spending by 1.7 percent next year, and slow overall economic growth by 1.4 percent. The loss of $200 billion in consumer spending is just about what American families spent on all the new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. in the last year, according to the report. About $36 billion less would be spent for housing and utilities, $32 billion less for healthcare, and $26 billion less for groceries and at restaurants. 

This kind of fear-mongering plays into Republican hands. 

The Rubber is about to meet the Road

We're going to see before MLK, Jr's Birthday what his REAL LEGACY is.  Not to blame him for the milquetoasts parading as leaders today, they are gutless on their own.  But we will see how far we've either advanced or regressed real soon.

We'll see if the Keith Ellisons and others will take to the airwaves or the streets to loudly protest the coming social cuts.  Or we'll see if all concerned are just talking loud and saying nothing.

We are also about to see the limits (or not) of the Obama Cult Worshippers.  When harder times befall the poor, Black, Brown and White where will the Obama Excuse Mongers line up?  When they see suffering in their immediate or extended families or neighborhoods will they continue to worship at the altar of Obama or will they finally realize they've been worshipping Baal and the Golden Calf?

I still marvel at the fact... what amazes me more than anything is that the President is such a wimp and nitwit he's about to tarnish what, if anything, is left of his already marred legacy.  Is he such a Wall St. whore that he doesn't understand we'll be right back into a worser and deeper recession with entitlement cuts?  His legacy is destined to be the Black Herbert Hoover.

After 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 years of Obama, won't be no blaming it on Whitey.

What a dimwit.  We're teetering towards a nation of "Losers," figuratively and literally.


Or maybe President Obama will offer him a position in his Cabinet just to show that there are no hard feelings remaining from the campaingn, and that he (the President) is really serious about reaching across the aisle in a bid for "bipartisanship" and "compromise".

Not Much on Obama's Left

I agree with Glen’s assessment that the Progressives just don’t have it in them to go up against their president, in fact it would be unusual for them to exhibit any signs of discontent over the direction the party has taken over the past twenty years. You would at least think that the Liberal Left would be chomping at the bit to take on Obama over his luke warm support for their fight to end Global Warming. I suspect they realize that their efforts would be in vain considering that Obama’s few meager efforts to support renewable energy ended up with a public relations black eye as taxpayer funded operations went belly up after a relatively short period of time. This was a winning event for Obama’s friends on the Right who have long been trying to dismantle the EPA and any other effort by government that would increase their cost of production. This is unusual in one respect, Obama has a cozy relationship with Tony Blair, the British monarchy, and Prince Charles who is a long time member of the World Wildlife Fund and an avid supporter of climate change actions. One wonders how Obama is going to justify his conflicting views to his British supporters, however, they are also politicians and are quite aware of the conflicts that can confront politicians caught between two opposing factions.