- Despite its flaws and failures during America's Great
Depression, FDR's New Deal was remarkable for what it accomplished. It
helped people, put millions back to work, reinvigorated the national spirit,
built or renovated 700,000 miles of roads, 7,800 bridges, 45,000 schools,
2,500 hospitals, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 1,000 airfields, and various
other infrastructure, including much of Chicago's lakefront where this
writer lives. It cut unemployment from 25% in May 1933 to 11% in 1937,
before declaring victory too early and letting it spike before early war
production revived economic growth and headed it lower.
- Moreover, his key legislation included:
- -- the landmark 1935 Social Security Act - to this day,
the single most important federal program keeping millions of seniors from
poverty or easing it for those already poor;
- -- unemployment insurance in partnership with states;
- -- two "Soak the Rich" revenue acts to make
high earners pay more, another targeting tax cheats, and one taxing undistributed
- -- the landmark Wagner Act, letting labor, for the first
time, bargain collectively with management;
- -- Glass-Steagall, separating commercial from investment
banks and insurance companies, among other provisions to curb speculation;
- -- public housing and low financing measures;
- -- other initiatives to reform and revive the economy;
- -- had he lived in good health, perhaps a second bill
of rights, an economic one he proposed, but died before able to fulfill
- Saying the first one fell short, he wanted guarantees
- -- full employment with a living wage;
- -- freedom from unfair competition and monopolies;
- -- housing;
- -- medical care;
- -- education; and
- -- greater social security, providing more than his landmark
- Obama's No FDR
- His agenda lets Wall Street loot the treasury, rewards
other corporate favorites generously, ignores vital people needs, does
little to create jobs or help homeowners facing foreclosure, and spends
over $1 trillion annually on unbridled militarism and imperial wars at
a time America has no enemies.
- Now the latest - his proposed anti-populist FY 2012 budget,
Republicans and right wing pundits say doesn't go far enough.
- On February 14, New York Times writer Jackie Calmes headlined,
"Obama's Budget Focuses on Path to Rein in Deficit," saying:
- It "address(es) the deficit and the best path to
long-term economic success....(H)e laid out a path for bringing down annual
deficits to more sustainable levels over the rest of the decade,"
saying he'll reduce it "over the next decade by $1.1 trillion, or
about 10%," and it's only for starters.
- Much more is planned, targeting entitlements once thought
untouchable, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They're
heading for the chopping block toward elimination along with public pensions,
robbing millions of vital protections and futures to do more for America's
super-rich and facilitate imperial global rampaging.
- That's Obama's real agenda - soaking working households
and the poor, transferring greater wealth to America's super-rich already
with too much, and continuing lawless imperial rampaging for unchallengeable
- Nonetheless, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan
accused Obama of "an abdication of leadership" for not doing
more, on the backs of working and poor households the way he and other
Republicans propose, letting America's aristocracy get richer.
- A same day Times editorial headlined, "The Obama
- "On paper, President Obama's new $3.7 trillion budget
is encouraging. It makes a number of tough choices to cut the deficit....which
is enough to prevent an uncontrolled explosion of debt in the next decade
and, as a result, reduce the risk of a fiscal crisis. (It's) balanced enough
to start the process of deficit reduction, but not so draconian that it
would derail the recovery. (It's) a good starting point for discussion...."
- Wall Street Journal writers want more, featured in a
lead February 15 editorial headlined, "The Cee Lo Green Budget,"
calling it "cynical and unrealistic," saying:
- "....what landed on Congress's doorstep on Monday
was a White House budget that increases deficits above the spending baseline
for the next two years. Hosni Mubarak was more in touch with reality last
Thursday night," mindless, in fact, that he didn't fall. He was pushed,
Washington and Egypt's military doing the shoving. "How unserious
is this budget," asked Journal writers? Targeting most cuts after
2016, he proposed "Budget Flimfam 101."
- Obama, Corporate/Imperial Tool
- Whether now, later or in between, Obama's budget hammers
working Americans, especially those poor, forgotten, vulnerable, and ignored
since Reagan succeeded Carter. Democrats have been as cruel as Republicans,
serving wealth and power interests alone while pretending to care.
- Weeks after capitulating to Republicans on tax cuts for
America's super-rich and corporations, adding hundreds of billions to the
deficit, he now wants funding reductions for:
- -- the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
it provides billions to states to help families heat or cool homes; in
FY 2010, 8.3 million households needed it, especially to avoid freezing
- -- Pell Grants, providing millions of dollars for higher
education, what Kris Wright, University of Minnesota director of student
finance, calls the "granddaddy of all (student) financial aid programs,"
crucial to help low-income students attend school;
- -- WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) grants to states
for supplemental foods, healthcare, and nutrition education for low-income
- -- Head Start, providing comprehensive education, health,
nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income families with
- -- the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (targeted
earlier with more coming), providing food stamps for poor households;
- -- community development block grants for housing, overall
reducing HUD's budget by $1.1 billion; and
- -- other non-defense discretionary spending, cutting
vital programs to sustain militarism, favoritism, waste, fraud, and other
rewards for Washington's usual special interests, benefitting greatly at
the public trough.
- Social spending cuts now and ahead will facilitate them.
On February 5, Obama's budget director, Jacob Lew, signaled what's planned
in his New York Times op-ed headlined, "The Easy Cuts Are Behind Us,"
- "....to make room for the investments we need to
foster growth, we have to cut what we cannot afford," meaning longstanding
social services millions rely on, need, and if lose will face grave hardships.
They're coming to "prepare the United States to win in the world economy"
at the expense of most of its citizens, sacrificed for elitist interests,
the usual ones lined up for more.
- A Final Comment
- A previous article discussed equitable alternatives far
different than Obama proposed. They include:
- -- waging war on concentrated wealth and power;
- -- an across-the-board populist agenda, making social
justice issue one;
- -- slashing the defense budget, minimally in half, ideally
much more, including closing overseas bases, reducing force levels, ending
foreign occupations, and renouncing imperial wars;
- -- a progressive income tax replacing today's dysfunctional
- -- removing the payroll tax ceiling, taxing all earned
income at the same rate;
- -- empowering workers to bargain collectively with management
on equal terms;
- -- a guaranteed living wage, adjusted by urban, rural,
state and local considerations;
- -- a guaranteed income for the indigent;
- -- real regulatory reform, reinstituting vital ones eroded
- -- abolishing monopoly and oligopoly power;
- -- strengthening public education;
- -- enacting universal, single-payer healthcare, excluding
predatory insurers, except as a voluntary option;
- -- returning money creation power to Congress as the
Constitution mandates, and making banking a public utility away from Wall
Street predators and its Federal Reserve handmaiden;
- -- a Tobin Tax to make Wall Street and rich investors
pay their fair share; and
- -- establishing government of, by, and for the people
for real, what America never had and doesn't under Democrat or Republican
- The alternative includes imperial lawlessness, endemic
corruption, high unemployment, growing impoverishment, social inequality
and decay, unmet human needs, and eroding freedoms, heading America toward
tyranny and ruin the way all past empires declined and fell. Republican
or Democrat proposals will hasten it unless challenged and stopped.
- 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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