Posts Tagged ‘2008 financial crisis’

Provocations, by Chaz Bufe, front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of Provocations: Don’t Call Them Libertarians, AA Lies, and Other Incitements

The Republican takeover of the Senate in 2014 can be traced to the waning months of 2008. That was when Obama fired his progressive economic advisors, the first sign of Obama’s coming wholesale betrayal of those who elected him. Out went Robert Reich and Robert Rubin and in came Wall Street insiders Tim Geithner and Larry Summers.  When Obama needed economic campaign rhetoric, he turned to the progressives. When he needed to set economic policy, he turned to Wall Street. This is prima facie evidence of deliberate betrayal.

The progressives had been pushing for a huge stimulus–somewhere around $2 trillion, which would have been enough to jump start the economy and put people back to work in short order. Instead, Obama asked for and got an $800 billion stimulus package (much of it in the form of tax reductions, one of the least efficient ways to stimulate the economy), which was enough to keep the economy from totally collapsing, but not enough to put significant numbers of people back to work.

The House and Senate Democratic “leadership” (an oxymoron on the level of “ex-gay,”  “humble televangelist,” or “compassionate conservative”) was more than happy to play along. In particular, Harry Reid could have changed the rules of the Senate and run it on the basis of simple majority rule. He didn’t. Instead, he left the old rules in place, which in effect required a super-majority (60 votes) to pass any significant legislation.

We all know what followed economically: continued massive unemployment; continuation of the decline in median wages that began near the time Bush took office; creation of relatively few new jobs, mostly low wage jobs; millions of people losing their homes in the foreclosure crisis; tens of millions more losing a major part of their savings as their home equity declined–and a huge rebound in stock prices and record corporate profits.

At the same time, Obama and the Democrats in Congress did nothing to investigate, let alone prosecute, the banksters responsible for crashing the economy, the banksters responsible for the greatest financial fraud in world history. And there were plenty of bank and other criminals to prosecute, if the Obama Administration had wanted to; it didn’t. (If you doubt this, read Matt Taibbi’s works on the topic, particularly Griftopia.) As Attorney General Eric Holder stated last year–demonstrating in a single phrase why he’s unfit to hold office–the major banks are “too big to jail.”

The Obama Administration and its minions in Congress also did nothing to investigate, let alone prosecute, those responsible  for lying the U.S. into an illegal, disastrous war of aggression in Iraq. Its record on torture is similarly shameful. Even as I write, the Obama Administration is trying to bury a Senate report on torture under the Bush/Cheney Administration.

What did Obama do instead? What did Obama deliver? About the only thing he delivered on was a healthcare plan, and even there he didn’t even try to deliver what was needed: a single-payer or some other type of public plan. Instead, he delivered a half-assed–more accurately, quarter-assed–plan that let the insurance companies continue to siphon billions from the healthcare system and that has left tens of millions uninsured.

At the same time, despite promises that he’d have “the most open administration in history,” Obama almost from day one began to ruthlessly persecute whistle blowers and journalists.  He also ramped up the the mass surveillance of American citizens begun under Bush, to the point where nearly everyone is under constant surveillance by the NSA and other government agencies.

In the face of this wholesale betrayal, Obama appeared stunned at the Republican rout of Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. In 2008, a majority of the country wanted major change, which Obama promised. Instead, he cynically betrayed those who had voted for him in almost every single particular.

And he thought he could get away with it. His attitude prior to the midterms seemed to be, “Hey punks! Who you gonna vote for? The Republicans? Huh?  I don’t think so. You’re gonna take what I’m dishing out, and like it!”

Well, a lot of people didn’t like it; they decided not to reward betrayal with their votes, setting the stage for what followed: Republican takeovers of state legislatures across the country, voter suppression on a mass scale, and widespread gerrymandering, which ensured continuing Republican dominance in both state legislatures and Congress. (For example, in Ohio, which Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012, Republicans hold 12 of the 16 congressional seats.)

With Obama continuing his hypocritical, corporate-toadying, anti-civil liberties, war criminal-coddling policies since the 2010 debacle, it’s little wonder that progressives are disillusioned and apathetic. It’s little wonder that Republicans have continued to cement their hold on power.

Right-wingers are fond of pointing out Barack Obama’s middle name: “Hussein.” What they fail to point out is that that middle name is inappropriate: it should be “Judas.”