With a deal to raise the debt ceiling secured, President Obama treated White House staffers who’ve been working tirelessly for months on the debt issue to burgers at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill this afternoon. “Michelle eats here all the time, but I don’t get out,” Obama explained, according to a White House pool report (The Wall Street Journal adds that the First Lady even has a burger named after her on the Good Stuff menu). Obama, in shirtsleeves, reportedly paid for the lunch of a woman who was standing next to him in line and offered an 11-year-old boy a milkshake from his table. Obama himself had a burger, fries, and a salad.
Obama couldn’t escape debt talk entirely, however. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a North Carolina Democrat, ran into the President while picking up lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant. “We talked about the difficult vote the other night,” he told reporters. “I explained to him that I didn’t vote with him, but I’m glad that it passed. He said he understood.” These AP and Getty photos, above and below, suggest that the President was in a pretty good mood.
- Uri Friedman, “Obama Celebrates Debt Deal at One of Michelle’s Favorite Burger Joints,” The Atlantic Wire
In 2000, we spent 3.7% of GDP on the military. The Pentagon didn’t have to hold bake sales. We’re now spending 5.4%. Merely going back to 2000 would save 1.7% of GDP, or $255 billion. If over the next decade we spent 3.7% of GDP instead of 5.4%, we’d save $3.6 trillion. That’s close to what many of the deficit hawks are aiming for. Let the Bush tax cuts expire and bump up the top rate a few points and everyone could have free child care and free college tuition!
Of course to do that would be unAmerican.
- Doug Henwood, “Wild Budget Math,” LBO News
We are now in the 21st century. The US no longer controls 60% of global wealth and capital has abandoned its national character. As a consequence of trade agreements, capital is free to move over most of the globe in search of higher profits. But while capital has become international, the United States military continues to function as capital’s chief global cop.
The difference is that the US no longer controls enough of the world’s wealth to maintain both the empire’s cop function – a world safe for Global Capital – and the US standard of living, i.e. the American Dream. Something has to change: either the empire will be scaled back or some Americans will have to sustain a cut in living standard.
Global Capital needs the empire but it does not want to pay for it. Wealthy Americans also refuse to bear the burden. That necessitates transferring the cost of empire to US workers, the poor and middle class. Obama is committed to maintaining the empire and its police force – the US Military.
While he would prefer that rich American’s share the burden, when push comes to shove he will sacrifice fairness to the interests of his Wall Street backers. Obama is the instrument by which Global Capital hopes to secure cuts in Social Security and Medicare necessary if working, poor and middle class folks are going to be made to pay for the empire.
One indication of global capital’s agenda is what President Obama and Congress have done with the military budget. While claiming that he wants to end wars which have produced 15-25% of US debt and which do not make Americans safe or secure, Obama has escalated one war and begun yet another military adventure (Libya). While claiming that he wants to cut military spending, Obama actually requested a $26 billion increase in military spending for the 2012 fiscal year. The Republican House recently approved a $17 billion increase. The debt/budget deal ostensibly cuts $350 billion from military budgets over the next ten years. However, automatic increases for inflation could offset the entire amount. The US Military – global capitalism’s global cop – is unlikely to sustain real and substantial budget cuts.
The Obama Presidency is Global Capital’s creation and he is their man. The Obama White House has now delivered part of what Global Capital demanded: the debt/budget deal will shift more of the economic burden of empire from corporations and their owners (aka the rich or monied interests) to working people and the poor.
- Felice Pace, “Disaster Politics,” Counterpunch
The phony debt ceiling crisis was, from beginning to end, a con. It was an elaborate and successful hoax in which the nation’s first black president, the Democratic and Republican parties, Wall Street and corporate media all played indispensable parts. The object of the supposed “crisis” was to short circuit public opinion, existing law, democratic process and traditions of public oversight, in order to deal fatal blows to Medicaid, Medicare, social security, job growth and public expenditures for the common good. It worked. We’ve been conned.
The key actor in the con was and is Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic party and president of the United States. When the Bush and Obama administrations bailed out the banksters in 2008, 2009 and 2010 they didn’t print new warehouses of greenbacks and send them over in a fleet of trucks. The Federal Reserve simply opened its spreadsheets, and wrote numbers with lots of zeroes crediting the banksters’ accounts. It literally created the new money by giving it away, and next proceeded to borrow those funds back from the banksters at interest. The debt ceiling crisis was nothing but those same banksters twirling their mustaches and oinking “Well, we don’t think you (the government that created the money by giving it to them) can really afford to repay all these loans you’ve been taking out… We might have to downgrade your credit rating…”
The whole notion of excessive government indebtedness, or that government might not be able, as the president threatened, to issue or cash social security checks was always a crock, a sham. There was never, ever a moment when Barack Obama didn’t know that his homey analogies about government having to live within its means just like a family were just cynical fairy tales.
The president could have prevented this “crisis” by passing a debt ceiling when he had a 50 vote majority in Congress for all of 2009 and 2010. He could have avoided it again by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Instead the president renewed the Bush tax cuts when he had a 50 vote majority in Congress. The president could have defused it in the last month by any of a number of means, including simply calling it fake. But giving away the game is not what actors in a con do.
- Bruce A. Dixon, “Barack Obama and the Debt Crisis: A Successful Con Game Explained,” Black Agenda Report
See, the dirty little secret is that we never had a debt “crisis.” We had a jobs crisis.
While Republicans were arguing about the faux “crisis” and the press and Obama joined them, we got a series of disturbing economic signals. Consumer confidence was down, manufacturing was off, May and June’s job numbers were pathetic. In fact, if not for a hiring binge by McDonald’s there would have been a net job loss in May. That’s something to hang your hat on: McDonalds accounted for what little job growth there was. What’s next, America gets saved by an uptick in Wall Mart greeters?
Look. This whole drown the beast strategy has been nothing more than a stealth tactic for instituting an extremist version of a laissez faire, market uber-alles policy designed by and for the Plutocracy.
And to be sure, it’s worked great for them. Today, the richest 1% owns 40% of the nation’s wealth, and the top 10% owns nearly 75% of it.
The rest of us? Not so much.
Income and wealth inequality in the US has been increasing rapidly since Reagan, (with a slight break under Clinton). In terms of income inequality, the US now ranks about the same as Ivory Coast, Uganda and Cameroon – countries not exactly noted for being prosperous, equitable and just societies.
- John Atcheson, “The Beast Is Starved: Welcome to the Next Great Depression,” CommonDreams.Org
Every day, I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That’s no small task for anyone — and more proof that he’s earning every last one of those gray hairs.
This has been a busy week in Washington, but today happens to be Barack’s 50th birthday. I’m writing to you because this year, the girls and I would like to do something a little different.
I’m asking friends and supporters of this campaign to wish him a happy birthday by signing his card, and sharing why you’re on this journey with us.
Your names and notes will become part of a book that tells the story of this campaign — who’s building it, why we’re in this thing, and what he means to us. We’ll deliver a copy to Barack and send one to our campaign offices across the country.
Sign the card for Barack:
I’ve known Barack for more than 20 of his 50 years, and we’ve been through quite a lot together.
It still amazes me that no matter how many decisions and distractions he’s faced with every day, he’s always able to focus on the bigger picture. One way he does that is by making time for stories and letters from people like you — because he knows that this job isn’t about him, but about the millions of folks around the country he’s fighting for.
This next year will challenge us all to work harder than ever before, but the crucial thing is that you’re here now, early on, helping to build this campaign.
I know that, like Barack and me, you have your own reasons why, so I hope you’ll take a moment to sign the card and share your story with him and other supporters of this campaign.
Thanks for being a part of this,
It’s redundant to note that only a Democrat could get away with this, yet it’s all too true. That the liberal savior is overseeing the cuts must really sting his followers. I’m tempted to say they have it coming, but after Obama’s debt deal with our owners’ reactionary wing, we’re all going to get it. Schadenfreude is pointless.
This won’t stop liberals from voting again for Obama. Nothing would. Obama knows this and serves his real base. The slaves will come crawling, thinking that their votes will stave off ruin and plunder. All they’re doing is ratifying further political attacks on themselves. The brighter slaves understand and rationalize. The dimmer slaves smile and beg for more. Our owners remain untouched, free to milk the system anytime they choose. Their press agents insist that we’re the envy of the world. Many of us believe it or want to, crumbling infrastructure to the contrary.
Old family photos portray a shinier past, when American power and wealth was at its zenith. Big cars, new neighborhoods, expanding consumer confidence. I bitch about today’s tech toys, but looking back to my childhood, there were countless toys to go around. People bought the bullshit because they were able to buy things. For people my age and older, the steady American decline has been quite amazing to witness. It doesn’t seem real, but that’s the privilege of living in an imperial country. Fantasy is always an option.
- Dennis Perrin, “Assemble the Ways”