- Besides misreporting on Obama capitulating to Republicans,
major media op-eds and editorials expressed support for a deal only the
devil and super-rich love.
- On December 7, a New York Times editorial headlined,
"Voting for an Odious Tax Deal," saying:
- No matter how disgraceful, "Democrats should vote
for (it), because it is the only one they are going to get....Without this
bargain, income taxes on the middle class would rise. Unemployment insurance
for millions of Americans would expire. And many other important tax breaks
for low-and middle-income workers (wouldn't) be possible."
- False! Democrats control the White House and have large
House and Senate majorities. At issue is why aren't they using it for responsible
legislation, helping middle and lower income Americans, not super-rich
constituents with more already than they need.
- The Times, however, worries that "If angry Democrats
blow up the deal, they will be left groping for something better in a new
Congress where they have far less influence than they have now. The middle
class and the unemployed would be seriously hurt."
- False again! The 112th Congress convenes on January 3,
2011. Democrats have between now and then to enact whatever they wish,
with or without Republican support.
- The editorial then blames Republicans "for what's
wrong with the tax deal. (They) have little room to maneuver." Not
so, with Democrats firmly in charge if they'll use their voter given mandate.
Abstaining, in fact, shows where they stand, as supportive of wealth and
power as Republicans.
- Despite "much to dislike in the package....Mr. Obama
was clearly not thrilled at the compromise he had to make, and neither
are we. But at least he acted in what he believed are the best interests
of the country."
- In fact, he acted the same as he's done since taking
office on January 20, 2008, favoring wealth and power, not social justice
when more than ever it's needed - the same position as Times editorial
- Their columnists also, including David Herszenhorn and
Jackie Calmes in their December 8 article headlined, "Tax Deal Is
Key to Avoid Recession, Obama Advisor Says," stating:
- Larry Summers, head of the White House National Economic
Council (NEC), issued the warning, saying:
- "Failure to pass this bill in the next couple of
weeks would materially increase the risk that the economy would stall out
and we would have a double-dip recession."
- False, according to economist David Rosenberg, calculating
that it will add a meager four-tenth of one percent to GDP growth, a plus,
but hardly one to extol or worry over if not enacted.
- As for Summers, he shamed himself in the 1990s under
Clinton. As Treasury Secretary, he was a major architect of today's financial
crisis by pushing repeal of Glass-Steagall and getting the Financial Services
Modernization Act passed - cornerstones of speculative excess.
- As Harvard University president, he had contentious relations
with faculty members, as well as suggesting women have less science and
math ability than men. In 2006, these and other indiscretions got him sacked.
Whatever he supports should be denounced, not accepted as sound advice.
- The Wall Street Journal's Editorial and Op-Ed Opinions
- Journal op-eds and editorials are just as bad, a publication
proud of its pro-business credentials. On December 8, it was visible in
an editorial headlined, "Obamanomics Takes a Holiday," saying:
- Obama's deal "admitted that his economic policy
has flopped. He is acknowledging that tax rates matter to growth...."
- False! During hard times like now, direct government
intervention counts most - New Deal-type stimulus, the kind anathema to
- Giving Obama's deal mixed praise, the editorial said
it's not "optimal for economic growth....A two-year reprieve is far
better than an immediate tax increase....but it also means that the policy
uncertainty (carries) forward."
- "In the real world, businesses make investments
based on the estimated return on capital over time, including the expected
tax rate." The implication, of course, is that Obama should cut taxes
even more, for business and America's wealthy. No matter that evidence
shows tax cuts don't stimulate growth. Fiscal stimulus does, especially
during hard times.
- The Journal also suggests that Republicans should have
held out for more. Even so, "this deal is superior to anything we
could have imagined six months ago." At best, however, it's "a
transition from the failure of Obamanomics to what we hope is a better
growth agenda" under future Republican leadership, of course - the
failed/corrupted kind under Bush that caused today's crisis. No comment
by the Journal.
- Its Thomas Cooley/Lee Ohanian op-ed continued the tax
cut theme headlined, "The Bush Tax Cuts Never Went Far Enough,"
- "A permanent reduction in capital taxes (read corporate
ones ideally to zero) would increase productivity and wages."
- False! Productivity increases by getting more production
from current work forces, or comparable output from smaller ones. As for
wages, they're easily cut during hard times, but don't rise proportionately
- Why so is clear. Private sector unionization is in disarray.
Consider the facts. In 2009, membership fell another 10%, according to
the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percent of union members overall is
12.3%. The private sector level, however, fell to 7.2%, its lowest state
since 1901, a testimony to corporate power, union weakness, and government
disinterest in helping.
- Given that, continued offshoring good jobs to cheap labor
markets, Democrats as anti-union as Republicans, and union bosses collaborating
with business against their own rank and file, fair pay increases face
stiff headwinds, even during economic growth periods, and during hard times,
workers are virtually stripped of all rights.
- Ask UAW members about how their leadership sold them
out, resulting in plant closings, offshoring, pay and benefit cuts, and
mass layoffs, transforming the auto industry landscape into a wasteland,
besides enormous damage done throughout US manufacturing since the 1980s,
hollowed out from its former industrial strength. Tax cuts did nothing
to stop it.
- Wrecking the American Dream
- For nearly two years, Obama continued the Bush agenda,
supporting wealth and power, wrecking the economy, and abstaining from
real help for working Americans. The latest way: his December 6 deal with
the devil - capitulating to Republicans, the rich and super-rich at the
expense of millions in need, getting temporary crumbs, not meaningful permanent
relief they deserve.
- According to Roberton Williams, Senior Fellow with the
Tax Policy Center, his deal "come(s) to a few dollars a week,"
while lavishing billions on America's elites who deserve higher, not lower,
taxes. According to one estimate, members of the top income bracket (those
earning over $373, 651 a year) are getting an average $70,000 windfall,
the super-rich far more. By comparison, working Americans are offered crumbs,
temporary ones that future Republican (and perhaps Democrat) leadership
will end whatever economic conditions prevail.
- As for business and America's wealthy, they never had
it so good, at the expense of middle and lower income households. They're
struggling to survive during hard times, burdened by a government-business
cabal under both parties, lavishing handouts to Wall Street and other corporate
favorites while proposing austerity for working Americans, a topic several
earlier articles addressed:
- A Hopeful Sign
- On December 9, CNN reported that "House Democrats
voted Thursday not to bring up (Obama's tax proposal) in its current form,"
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D. MD) saying:
- "This message today is very simple: That in the
form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic
caucus. It's as simple as that. We will continue to try and work with the
White House and our Republican colleagues to try and make sure we do something
right for the economy and right for jobs, and a balanced package as we
- The vote came a day after Vice President Biden said any
changes would unravel the deal. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D. OR) said: "They
said take it or leave it. We left it." He explained that technically
the caucus resolution is non-binding, but he believes Speaker Pelosi "will
follow the wishes of her caucus."
- It remains to be seen if this kills or alters the deal
in the face of determined White House and likely party leadership to prevent
it. Nearly always in the end they prevail. Rhetoric aside, expect America's
aristocracy to get all the benefits of Obama's "compromise" and
much more. They run Washington and won't settle for less.
- A Final Comment
- Obama's deal does nothing to stimulate job or sustained
economic growth or stop destructive offshoring of high-paid/good benefits
manufacturing and other jobs. Nor does it address the enormous budget and
trade deficits, vital infrastructure development needs, high-speed rail,
environmental remediation, reckless out-of-control military spending and
imperial adventurism, America's greatest ever wealth disparity, and many
other urgent issues responsible leadership would confront.
- America's political left surrendered decades ago to big
monied interests, especially Wall Street banksters who've looted trillions
from the Treasury and continue doing it without restraint. So-called financial
reform leaves them unregulated, unaccountable and unchecked to do what
they please. They're taking full advantage.
- On December 8, one corporate media host noticed, a man
this writer criticized several times for shamelessly turning his MSNBC
program into a commercial for Democrats, Keith Olbermann. In a special
comment, he said "Obama turned his back on his base," adding:
- "In exchange for selling out a principle campaign
pledge, and the people to whom and for whom it was made, in exchange for
betraying the truth that the idle and corporate rich....have gotten unprecedented
and wholly indefensible tax cuts for a decade (besides earlier ones under
Reagan unmentioned), in exchange for giving the idle and corporate rich....two
more years to accumulate still more and more vast piles of personal wealth
with which they can buy and sell everybody else."
- "In exchange for extending what he spent the weeks
before the midterms calling tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires"
money they'll keep, not spend. In exchange for injecting new vigor into
the infantile, moronic, disproved-for-a-decade three-card Monte game of
an economic theory (what Michael Hudson calls junk economics) purveyed
by these treacherous and ultimately traitorous Republicans, that tax cuts
for the rich will somehow lead to job creation," a shameless lie.
- "In exchange for giving tax cuts for the rich which
the nation cannot afford," and they don't deserve. "In exchange
for this searing and transcendent capitulation, the President got just
13 months of extended benefits for those unemployed less than 100 weeks.
And he got nothing, absolutely nothing for" the millions unemployed
longer, "the 99ers."
- Yet Obama is "celebrating....Mr. President, for
these meager crumbs, you have given up costly, insulting, divisive tax
cuts for the rich, and you have given in to Republican blackmail, which
will be followed by more Republican blackmail....This is only the beginning
of the reckoning. This is only the first sip of a bitter cup (without)
a supreme recovery of moral health and political vigor (to) rise....and
take our stand for what is right."
- Olbermann rarely does it. He's staunchly backed Obama
and congressional Democrats, supporting policies like business-as-usual
Obamacare, bogus financial reform, agribusiness-friendly food safety modernization
just passed by the House, and cap and trade that if passed won't curb emissions
or pollution, but will raise energy prices and create a new bubble through
carbon trading derivatives speculation.
- He's righteously bashed Republicans, yet flacks for Democrats,
clueless that they're no different on fundamental core issues like war
and peace, banker bailouts, lavish corporate subsidies, America's prison
gulag, the hundreds of political prisoners in it, deepening homeland repression,
and much more.
- His December 8 commentary was refreshing, a rare moment
of truth, never heard on Fox, CNN, in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal
or other broadcast or print corporate media.
- For that, he deserves credit. Hopefully he'll deliver
more at a time voices for right over wrong thrive only in alternative media
spaces, not reaching audience sizes television does daily. For sure, not
having the same impact when doing so is vital to derail America's decent
toward police state intolerance, the current condition that keeps worsening
under both parties unless somehow ways are found to stop it before it's
too late. What better topic for another Olbermann commentary. Is he listening?
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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