Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Barack "Hoover" Obama Proposes Fiscal Austerity (exempting War spending)

Aren't you glad we have a Democratic president? Aren't you glad that we have massive Democratic majorities in Congress? You'd better be. Otherwise we might have had some jerk in the White House talking about freezing new spending initiatives for things other than war and occupation. Right?

Well, wake up and smell the coffee.

The long and short of it is this. For things like education, public transportation, and health.... its the tough medicine of austerity. But for the Pentagon budget and Homeland Security, these suffocating restrictions on spending simply need not apply.

For the things that matter, we get this strange fatalist claim that we can't but make punishing cuts.

For the things (e.g. foreign war and occupation) that some groups claim voting for Democrats aims to combat, there is evidently an endless treasure chest of goodies.

As Krugman points out, BHO's justification for the freeze is identical to GOP rationale for opposing spending altogether:
Wait, it gets worse. To justify the freeze, Mr. Obama used language that was almost identical to widely ridiculed remarks early last year by John Boehner, the House minority leader. Boehner then: “American families are tightening their belt, but they don’t see government tightening its belt.” Obama now: “Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.”
It's obvious that the Democrats are a political dead-end for those on the Left. Even Krugman has, basically, the right line here:
The sad truth, however, is that our political system doesn’t seem capable of doing what’s necessary.
I agree. The changes that are needed and the reforms that people want are being stone-walled by our electoral/legislative institutions. This is why we need to organize independently of the Democrat Party and create the conditions for demanding (rather than asking Democrats nicely and sending checks via moveon.org) the reforms we need.


Richard said...

As you are familiar with my post on the subject, I won't regurgitate what I said in it. But, I do believe that the obvious and complete capture of Obama and the Democrats by capital is going to provoke a political upheaval in the US. I can't say what form it will take, but, in addition to the predictable eruption of right wing populism, I perceive that some of the the more independent minded and class conscious liberals have had enough. They can't defend the credibility of the political system any longer. Or, maybe, I'm just too influenced by the early chapters of Broue's The German Revolution, where he summarizes the fragmentation of the Social Democrats under the pressure of a war economy. Karl, where are we when we need you?

t said...

I agree that the credibility of the political system is crumbling: witness the widespread and vocal disillusionment of hitherto staunch Democrat-voting liberals.

What form this discontent will take is up for grabs, it seems to me. But the crucial thing for me is the question of whether or not on-the-fence liberals will be corralled back into the Democrat camp, or whether they will be push for an independent Left, capable of exacting concessions from the Democrats.

And it's worth mentioning, I think that this question is also up in the air. Thus, I feel like my political energies are best invested right now into organizing: be it single-issue, or more resolutely socialist, organizations.

The key, though, is that organizing efforts be poured into organizations that are uncompromising in their tactical commitment to independence from the Democrats. Too many groups on the Left who do good work in many respects (from HRC, to Green Corps, to PDA, to DSA, etc.) are unable to disentangle their goals from the fate of the Democratic Party. And as a result, they are marginalized, swept under the rug, and lack the power to help define the political center of gravity in this country.