Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

September 20, 2011

Obama’s faux left turn

Filed under: Obama — louisproyect @ 5:23 pm

Since the White House has figured out that any bipartisan legislative attack on working people will fail, largely because the Republicans would oppose any proposal put forward by Democrats even if involved replacing FDR’s face on the dime with Ronald Reagan’s, it has submitted one that is calculated to win liberal support. With Obama’s re-election hopes riding on wooing them back, it costs little to make “populist” sounding noises that will never be realized. A round-up of the liberal punditry reveals a mood of rejuvenation:

On the Huffington Post Robert Reich writes:

So the really big fight — perhaps the defining battle of 2012 — won’t be over Medicare. It won’t even be over Obama’s jobs program.

It will be over whether the rich should pay more taxes.

The president has vowed to veto any plan to tame the debt that doesn’t increase taxes on the rich. The Republicans have vowed to oppose any tax increases on the rich.

It’s a good fight to have.

William Greider, like Reich a frequently tough critic of Obama, told Nation Magazine readers: “The word is out in Washington. When the president announces his deficit-reduction proposals next week, he will definitely not suggest any hit on Social Security nor any increase in the eligibility age for Medicare. That’s a small victory for reason and social equity.”

Markos Moulitsas, a key player in the “Netroots” support for Obama in 2008, blogged on Daily Kos:

Now, finally, he’s taking a hardline approach to a negotiation. He’s making a forceful defense of a truly progressive approach to deficit reduction. He has drawn lines in the sand with veto threats. My initial and usual skepticism was (finally!) unwarranted. This is good stuff. Is it too little, too late? Nope. It’s never too late. We’ve still got over a year until the next election. In politics, that’s a lifetime and then some.

But if you really want to get a feel for the liberal cheering squad that will be assembled for the 2012 Obama election campaign, you really need to read this exchange between Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore (this comes from Lexis-Nexis; the MSNBC transcript will be available in a day or two at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32390088/):

MADDOW: You have been saying President Obama does not fight hard enough for what he believes in. You have been making this case for a long time — I think since earlier than a lot of other people were making it. When I heard the speech today, I was really happy I was having you on the show. I wanted to know if you feel better about his tone these days.

MOORE: I felt instantly better. So, it doesn`t take much for me.

(LAUGHTER)

MOORE: That`s another good thing about liberals. That`s just how easy we are. Just a little — you referenced us as being treated sometimes by the mainstream media as extraterrestrials. Well, you put a few of those Reece`s Pieces out in front of us and we got a whole bag of Reece`s Pieces today.

By the way, the American public loves E.T. So, as beloved as E.T. is, I think the American public is actually, as you`ve pointed out many times on this show, much more liberal than the Beltway pundits give America credit for being. When you look at the actual issues, the American public takes the liberal position on the majority of them, whether being against the war, whether it`s equal rights for women, whether it`s a strong environmental laws.

In last month`s poll, for the first time ever, 54 percent of Americans saying that they believe gay marriage should be the law of the land.

So, Americans are actually quite liberal even though they may not call themselves that. And I think what happened today was exactly what we`ve been wanting President Obama to do. And he has to do more of it.

He`s — the problem with the base, with you mentioned Move On not knowing what to do next year. In the end, the people who are members of Move On, the Michael Moores out there, are going to, you know, vote for Barack Obama.

That really — his problem isn`t me or Move On so much as it is all the people who voted for him in `08 who may vote for him again. They probably won`t vote for the Republican. But they`re not going to go out and bring 10 people to the polls with them. They`re not going to be excited about voting again. And that`s where it could really hurt him.

So, this thing that happened today is very exciting and to have him just repeat over and over again, I will refuse to let these Bush tax cuts for the rich continue, I will refuse to rebuild this country on the backs of the poor and the middle class, that is music to my ears. We should have heard this from day one. I`ll take it on day 900 if that`s when I get it.

When I read this sort of thing, I can’t help but think of the battered wife syndrome. Here you have 3 years of abuse—including what a new book by Ron Suskind describes as a hostile environment for women like Christine Romer at the White House—and the batterer is ready to be forgiven after he brings home a box of chocolates.

You can bet that between now and election day in November 2012 there will be a rising crescendo of the need to “stop Perry” (or Romney) that will draw in not only professional liberals like Rachel Maddow but segments of the “radical” movement like those who joined up with Progressives for Obama in 2008. The pressure will be insurmountable as the Republicans will mount an aggressive campaign incorporating “tea party” demands and rhetoric. If Obama is re-elected, he will continue governing from the right just as he has been doing since 2009. The only hope for American workers is continued gridlock in Washington that will undermine any attempts at a “grand compromise” that will lead to the elimination of Social Security and other provisions of the New Deal.

Perhaps the most stupefying defense of Obama as class struggle fighter comes from David Corn who told Mother Jones readers that the president was daring the Republicans to knock the chip off his shoulder:

Which brings me to the one sentence in the White House fact sheet that is in boldface: “The President will veto any bill that takes one dime from the Medicare benefits seniors rely on without asking the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”

This is known as a message. Obama is saying that he won’t take anything away from Medicare beneficiaries—and he’ll continue to point out that the Republicans are on record as supporting ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors.

This is quite a state of affairs when a leading liberal views Medicare cuts as permissible as long as they are accompanied by a bunch of scumbag hedge fund managers paying the same tax they paid before George W. Bush’s cuts. How is it a “fair share” when someone making 500 million dollars a year is asked to pay an extra five percent in taxes while Medicare patients are being asked to pay higher premiums as the NY Times reported today:

President Obama’s budget director said Monday that the president’s new deficit-reduction plan would impose “a lot of pain,” and that is clearly true of White House proposals to cut $320 billion from projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid in the coming decade.

Mr. Obama proposed higher premiums and deductibles for many Medicare beneficiaries and lower Medicare payments to teaching hospitals and rural hospitals. He would start charging co-payments to frail homebound older people who receive home health services. And he would reduce the growth of federal payments to states for treating low-income people under Medicaid.

The White House said Mr. Obama’s proposals would cut $248 billion from the projected growth of Medicare in the next 10 years, while shaving $72 billion from Medicaid and other health programs. A large share of the Medicare savings would, in effect, be used to pay doctors, who would otherwise face deep cuts in the fees they receive for treating Medicare patients.

While I am obviously in better shape financially than most people on Medicare (I signed up early this year but am still on my employee health plan at Columbia), the idea of paying more for an increasingly inadequate health plan really galls me.

On Saturday night I was on the phone with my old friend Richard Greener, the author of the Locator novels that are being turned into a Fox TV series starting in January. As a heart transplant recipient, Richard is pretty familiar with health and insurance issues.

Besides his heart issues, Richard has had some serious eye problems as well. Like his heart condition, one of them was congenital: he was born blind in one eye. More recently he began to have problems with blurred vision in his good eye. After learning that he had a cataract, he scheduled surgery—one of the most common procedures in the medical field. As it turned out, it got a bit complicated because the medication he takes to allow the heart to operate in what amounts to a foreign body will also act against the anti-inflammatory drugs taken routinely after cataract surgery.

Given his rather frail state, Richard has a lot to be thankful for. He left for a vacation in Europe yesterday and will be coming up to NYC in December to publicize the TV show. He told me that he will be making an appearance on the Letterman show. Given Letterman’s quadruple bypass a few years ago, I expect plenty of graveyard humor. On the ocular front, Richard told me that he is seeing better than ever.

When I mentioned to him that I would be needing surgery for cataracts in both eyes at some point, he warned me what to expect as a Medicare patient. Apparently they will not permit surgery under Medicare unless the cataracts exceed a certain size. It doesn’t matter how blurry your vision is as long as the cataracts are within their defined acceptable limit. I imagine that with the direction things are going in this plutocracy we are living under, I’d better start shopping around for a seeing-eye dog before the year is up.

 

19 Comments »

  1. “You can’t drive a knife into a man’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and call it progress.” — Malcolm X (in 1963).

    Comment by Manuel Garcia, Jr. — September 20, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  2. Love your comment Manuel.

    It says it better than I ever could and that quote sums it all up perfectly.

    The President is just another bullshit artist in Washington.

    What a surprise (my eyes rolling with sarcasm).

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 20, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  3. Yes, it’s Groundhog Day in America! That’s what we call “Election Day” in November, every even-numbered year:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_%28film%29

    That Obama sees the need to “fake left” to launch his re-election campaign is a telling re-confirmation of what the 2008 results were really all about: a vote to reverse and begin rolling back 30 years of Reaganism. That is precisely why since 2008 the entire political status-quo, including Obama, have bent every effort to reverse the Verdict of 2008, come hell or high water.

    This effort to “pseudo-primary” Obama is looking like a pathetic attempt to animate the corpse of “democracy” in the USA:

    “Ralph Nader Cornel West Unveil Proposal to Challenge Obama in Primaries”

    http://www.singlepayeraction.org/blog/?p=3032

    “See, I’m alive!” rasps the Zombie Democrat, the Zombie representative of our Zombie banks. Gotta hand it to those sharpie banksters, lining up behind Obama like they did in 2008.

    Truly, from the perspective of political independence, a President Romney would be the least worst outcome. Romney lacks some of the worst right wing features of Perry, while he won’t be a break on anger from the left, as is Obama. Given that they are all right wingers, Obama really needs to go, ASAP. The worst thing is a right wing politician supported by the liberal left.

    As Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) put it: If Obama wasn’t president, we would be ‘marching on the White House’,

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/182209-cbc-chairman-if-obama-wasnt-in-office-we-would-be-marching-on-white-house

    So let’s start marching on the White House in Bonus Army II. Let’s unload Obama now!

    Comment by Matt — September 20, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  4. Not everyone has bought into the “new Obama” (“he is finally fighting! yay!”) theme. See Matt Taibbi (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/obama-and-jobs-why-i-dont-believe-him-anymore-20110906) and Glenn Greenwald (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/19/geithner/index.html) for instance.

    Comment by tveb — September 20, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  5. I got tired of Michael Moore quite awhile ago. It’s gotten to the point that it is just plain nauseating to watch him or read what he says. His comments about the Bush tax cuts are particularly embarrasing. Uh, Mike, Obama renewed them less than a year ago. At least Moore and Maddow pretty much implicitly admit that the only purpose for the proposal is to turn out the base, regardlesss of what is subsequently done.

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 20, 2011 @ 8:56 pm

  6. Obama had to do something. He was becoming a joke, and the Democrats like one of those patsy parties that one-party dictatorships set up to give themselves legitimacy..

    Comment by David Altman — September 20, 2011 @ 10:21 pm

  7. I wonder if Nader will be able to challenge Obama? I used to think he was a joke, but I’m definitely willing to listen since I’m an independent.

    I agree that Romney is the lesser evil of the (GASP) Republicans and is more centered but he’s also talking about cutting taxes for corporations.

    Their taxes have been lowered and still no big rise in hiring so I think it’s useless in helping unemployment and just results in more cuts to entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicare.

    Let’s face it the winner will either be Obama or the Republican primary winner.

    No matter what good ideas Nader or any other independent candidate offers, it’s still a two party system.

    I tried to register as a communist in Stamford, CT and was told there were no marxist or socialist parties in my state, so I went independent.

    So much for choice??

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 20, 2011 @ 10:43 pm

  8. The shoe drops. It is actually all about eviscerating Medicare and Medicaid.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/us/politics/medicare-and-medicaid-face-320-billion-in-cuts-over-10-years.html?_r=1&hpw

    WASHINGTON — President Obama’s budget director said Monday that the president’s new deficit-reduction plan would impose “a lot of pain,” and that is clearly true of White House proposals to cut $320 billion from projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid in the coming decade.

    Mr. Obama proposed higher premiums and deductibles for many Medicare beneficiaries and lower Medicare payments to teaching hospitals and rural hospitals. He would start charging co-payments to frail homebound older people who receive home health services. And he would reduce the growth of federal payments to states for treating low-income people under Medicaid.

    The White House said Mr. Obama’s proposals would cut $248 billion from the projected growth of Medicare in the next 10 years, while shaving $72 billion from Medicaid and other health programs. A large share of the Medicare savings would, in effect, be used to pay doctors, who would otherwise face deep cuts in the fees they receive for treating Medicare patients. . . . .

    Comment by Richard Estes — September 21, 2011 @ 12:56 am

  9. The battered-spouse syndrome is a workable analogy for the obama left, i think. see the idea developed (not specifically concerning obama, but applicable) by psychologist bruce levine, e.g. in “Get Up, Stand Up” [ http://www.amazon.com/dp/1603582983/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=11346708929&ref=pd_sl_8gj4crl5f4_b ]

    Comment by jp — September 21, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  10. Yeah that’s right Richard a lot of pain to the elderly and poor.

    As proletarians we know that the capitalist system would never allow the ruling class suffering of pain which would mean opening up their wallets.

    Oh the suffering, the brutality, the barbarism of actually having to pay taxes.

    Yeah the poor bourgeois has had to suffer so much.

    Excuse me comrades as I choke.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 21, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  11. Eventually Canada will have to erect a border fence to keep low wage, uncultured, impoverished Americans from their single-payer health care system (if they don’t privatize it first).

    Comment by Binh — September 21, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

  12. Binh I would do it myself if I could.

    There’s been a rise in concierge physicians in America and if the trend continues, pretty soon all of us will have to fork over five thousand dollars in membership fees just to have the doctors undivided attention.

    These doctors are converting their practices to avoid insurance regulations and get rich too obviously.

    A single payer system like in Canada sounds good to me.

    In Fairfield County Connecticut where I live there are many concierge practices.

    I can’t afford five grand a year for country club medicine.

    Quality healthcare should be accessible to everyone.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 21, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

  13. Off Topic-

    Troy Davis was granted a temporary stay of execution.

    I hope that they make it permanent. This man’s case was horribly botched with eyewitnesses recanting their testimony post conviction.

    If there’s even the slightest chance of innocence, and there is clearly in his case, he should not be executed pending a judicial review.

    I’m against state sanctioned murder which is what execution really is.

    At least if a prisoner is exonerated, they can be released from jail.

    If a prisoner is exonerated after execution, they can’t be made undead by overturn.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 22, 2011 @ 1:08 am

  14. An update to my last post – The original report I read about Troy Davis of Georgia was wrong.

    He was executed tonight.

    Disgusting and there was no justice carried out here at all.

    I wish his family heartfelt sympathies during this incredibly difficult time.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 22, 2011 @ 4:26 am

  15. A civilized society does not put citizens to death.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 22, 2011 @ 5:22 am

  16. Once again the Federal government is on the verge of shutting down on October 1st because Democrats and Republicans can’t agree to a deal on natural disaster funding.

    How many times this year alone has the government come close to a shutdown?

    Social security recipients once again have to worry about checks being halted.

    Why do Americans continue to back a two party system that is failing miserably?

    Both parties don’t care about any of us just about being stubborn, pigheaded ideologues pushing their agendas at the expense of the elderly and disabled.

    Everyone talks about how sick they are of the partisan fighting and want a change.

    The reality is as long as we have a two party system in America, it will never change.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 23, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  17. You nailed it Louis.

    Maddow, etc., serve a very useful purpose (along with the Becks, etc.): keep the working class at each other’s throat, fighting over whether to back the Rep. or Dem.

    And who gains from this antagonism?

    No need for me to say, since it is so obvious.

    Comment by don — September 24, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

  18. They gain good ratings and a big fat salary Don.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — September 25, 2011 @ 12:05 am


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