Wed, 6 March 2013
The Sequestration Tango: Obama and GOP Dance Through the Graveyard of the New Deal
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama.”
Barack Obama’s mission has always been to destroy the left wing of the Democrats in order to consummate a grand bargain – a melding – of the corporatists in both major parties. He entered national politics as a newly-minted member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which dispensed corporate campaign money to business-friendly candidates and incumbents. Ten years later, President Obama has succeeded beyond our worst fears. Black politics is in utter ruin, and the collapse of the Democratic Party’s left wing is all but complete. Austerity is the order of the day, and no one is more responsible for that catastrophe than Obama, who has waged war on so-called entitlement programs since the polls closed in 2008.
He packed his presidential team with the same gang of finance capitalists that Bill Clinton had allied with to consummate his Grand Bargain of 1999: the deregulation of the banks. Obama assumed the presidency with the economy in ashes as a result of what Clinton had wrought a decade before. Immediately, Obama turned the music back up, and the Corporate Tango began anew, full of choreographed emotion, stage-managed drama and canned passion. But the dancers – Obama and the Republicans – were all going in the same, preprogrammed direction: a backwards, counter-clockwise promenade to the Right, a dance through the cemetery of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.
“Obama was playing the old Republican game of ‘starve the beast.’”
Obama moved with such elegance and poise, his fans forgot that he was dancing with a partner: the GOP. In 2011, following Obama’s lead, the loving couple initiated their sequestration, a timed sequence of moves that would ultimately force the gutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, along with a whole host of discretionary social programs.
As is required when doing the Corporate Tango, Obama lied through his teeth, swearing during his third presidential debate that he never proposed sequestration. But Gene Sperling, the White House National Economic Council director, was so proud of the sequestration gambit, he confessed that it was all part of the grand plan to put entitlements on the block. Obama claimed he’d been looking out for the government’s tax revenues. But the liberal economist Jeffrey Sachs put together a chart that showed Obama was playing the old Republican game of “starve the beast”; that he had undermined the government’s ability to pay for itself by supporting the vast bulk of President Bush’s tax cuts; and that the results matched Obama’s 2009 projections for government spending over the next four years, almost exactly. Obama’s train was running right on time.
Polls show that the Republicans are getting the blame for sequestration, but the stock market is hitting new heights now that austerity has triumphed, and that’s all that really matters to the moneyed classes, whether they are wearing Republican red or Democratic blue. They have won – at least until the next economic collapse, or until a new opposition to the rule of capital can be constructed. That will not happen anywhere near the event horizon of the Democratic Party, which has followed Barack Obama into the black hole of Wall Street. Once you go Goldman Sachs, you never go back.
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.