Wed, 27 February 2013
Remember: Sequestration was Obama’s Idea
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“Disaster capitalism is manifesting itself as disaster governance.”
The Obama administration has been very skillful in framing itself as the good guy in the latest looming fiscal disaster, this time under the heading of “sequestration.” On Friday, across-the-board cuts of $85 billion are set to go into effect, wreaking havoc on most government operations. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and what’s left of welfare are not directly affected, but these so-called “entitlement” programs have, in fact, always been the primary targets of this cascade of manufactured crises. Disaster capitalism is manifesting itself as disaster governance, and President Obama is fully complicit in the corporate-imposed charade. Indeed, Obama is most culpable for infecting the nation with austerity fever.
It was Obama who swallowed whole the corporate argument, previously championed by Republicans, that the national debt was Crisis Number One and that entitlement programs were the root cause. From the moment in January of 2009 when Obama served notice that Social Security and all other entitlements would be put on the chopping block, he became the chief mover and shaker for so-called entitlement reform. He created the model for austerity, through his Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission. It was Simpson-Bowles that provided the basis for the massive cuts offered by President Obama in 2011. When the Republicans balked at even a modest tax increase for the rich, it was the White House National Economic Council Director, the corporate deal-maker Gene Sperling, who came up with the sequestration scheme, which was timed to explode right after the 2012 elections. The idea was to make every popular constituency in the country scream – and accept the inevitability of massive entitlement cuts.
“The Republicans are his partners, not his opponents.”
Let me repeat: Sequestration was Obama’s idea. So-called entitlement reform is Obama doctrine. Austerity was embedded in the Democratic Party’s agenda under President Obama. More than any other individual, it was Barack Obama who engineered the current disaster scenario. These waves of austerity crises were not inevitable, but they are the inevitable result of President Obama’s calculated statements and actions since Election Day 2008. The Republicans are his partners, not his opponents. The closest thing he has to an opposition – at least on paper – is the Congressional Progressive Caucus, whose two co-chairs introduced a bill that would turn the austerity juggernaut on its head. It’s called the Balancing Act of 2013, and would replace all of the sequestration cuts with new revenues, and then add a $276 billion stimulus to the economy. Needless to say, the progressive bill will get nowhere, not just because of Republican opposition, but because the top Democrat, Barack Obama, wants to go down in history as the smart austerity president. Just as he said he wasn’t opposed to wars, but only to dumb wars – which is why he has built tens of thousands of the smartest drones and smartest bombs ever devised by man. He’s outsmarting what passes for a Left in the United States at every turn. They cheer him as he effectively consummates his grand bargain with the GOP, in a cacophony of manufactured crises, exhausting what little opposition remains. That’s why we at BAR call him the more effective evil.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.