HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Economy & Education » Economy (Group) » Weekend Economists Batten... » Reply #53

Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Oct 27, 2012, 07:51 PM

53. The progressive case against Obama By Matt Stoller

 

http://www.salon.com/2012/10/27/the_progressive_case_against_obama/?source=newsletter

Bottom line: The president is complicit in creating an increasingly unequal -- and unjust -- society...this piece is an attempt at laying out the progressive case for why one should not vote for Barack Obama for reelection, even if you are in a swing state.

There are many good arguments against Obama, even if the Republicans cannot seem to muster any. The civil liberties/antiwar case was made eloquently a few weeks ago by libertarian Conor Friedersdorf, who wrote a well-cited blog post on why he could not, in good conscience, vote for Obama. While his arguments have tremendous merit, there is an equally powerful case against Obama on the grounds of economic and social equity. That case needs to be made...So why oppose Obama? Simply, it is the shape of the society Obama is crafting that I oppose, and I intend to hold him responsible, such as I can, for his actions in creating it. Many Democrats are disappointed in Obama. Some feel he’s a good president with a bad Congress. Some feel he’s a good man, trying to do the right thing, but not bold enough. Others think it’s just the system, that anyone would do what he did. I will get to each of these sentiments, and pragmatic questions around the election, but I think it’s important to be grounded in policy outcomes. Not, what did Obama try to do, in his heart of hearts? But what kind of America has he actually delivered? And the chart below answers the question. This chart reflects the progressive case against Obama.



The above is a chart of corporate profits against the main store of savings for most Americans who have savings — home equity. Notice that after the crisis, after the Obama inflection point, corporate profits recovered dramatically and surpassed previous highs, whereas home equity levels have remained static. That $5-7 trillion of lost savings did not come back, whereas financial assets and corporate profits did. Also notice that this is unprecedented in postwar history. Home equity levels and corporate profits have simply never diverged in this way; what was good for GM had always, until recently, been good, if not for America, for the balance sheet of homeowners. Obama’s policies severed this link, completely. This split represents more than money. It represents a new kind of politics, one where Obama, and yes, he did this, officially enshrined rights for the elite in our constitutional order and removed rights from everyone else (see “The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship” in the Fordham Urban Law Journal for a more complete discussion of the problem). The bailouts and the associated Federal Reserve actions were not primarily shifts of funds to bankers; they were a guarantee that property rights for a certain class of creditors were immune from challenge or market forces. The foreclosure crisis, with its rampant criminality, predatory lending, and document forgeries, represents the flip side. Property rights for debtors simply increasingly exist solely at the pleasure of the powerful. The lack of prosecution of Wall Street executives, the ability of banks to borrow at 0 percent from the Federal Reserve while most of us face credit card rates of 15-30 percent, and the bailouts are all part of the re-creation of the American system of law around Obama’s oligarchy.

The policy continuity with Bush is a stark contrast to what Obama offered as a candidate. Look at the broken promises from the 2008 Democratic platform: a higher minimum wage, a ban on the replacement of striking workers, seven days of paid sick leave, a more diverse media ownership structure, renegotiation of NAFTA, letting bankruptcy judges write down mortgage debt, a ban on illegal wiretaps, an end to national security letters, stopping the war on whistle-blowers, passing the Employee Free Choice Act, restoring habeas corpus, and labor protections in the FAA bill. Each of these pledges would have tilted bargaining leverage to debtors, to labor, or to political dissidents. So Obama promised them to distinguish himself from Bush, and then went back on his word because these promises didn’t fit with the larger policy arc of shifting American society toward his vision. For sure, Obama believes he is doing the right thing, that his policies are what’s best for society. He is a conservative technocrat, running a policy architecture to ensure that conservative technocrats like him run the complex machinery of the state and reap private rewards from doing so. Radical political and economic inequality is the result. None of these policy shifts, with the exception of TARP, is that important in and of themselves, but together they add up to declining living standards.

While life has never been fair, the chart above shows that, since World War II, this level of official legal, political and economic inequity for the broad mass of the public is new (though obviously for subgroups, like African-Americans, it was not new). It is as if America’s traditional racial segregationist tendencies have been reorganized, and the tools and tactics of that system have been repurposed for a multicultural elite colonizing a multicultural population. The data bears this out: Under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama, however, that number is 93 cents out of every dollar. That’s right, under Barack Obama there is more economic inequality than under George W. Bush. And if you look at the chart above, most of this shift happened in 2009-2010, when Democrats controlled Congress. This was not, in other words, the doing of the mean Republican Congress. And it’s not strictly a result of the financial crisis; after all, corporate profits did crash, like housing values did, but they also recovered, while housing values have not.

This is the shape of the system Obama has designed. It is intentional, it is the modern American order, and it has a certain equilibrium, the kind we identify in Middle Eastern resource extraction based economies. We are even seeing, as I showed in an earlier post, a transition of the American economic order toward a petro-state. By some accounts, America will be the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the world, bigger than Saudi Arabia. This is just not an America that any of us should want to live in. It is a country whose economic basis is oligarchy, whose political system is authoritarianism, and whose political culture is murderous toward the rest of the world and suicidal in our aggressive lack of attention to climate change...MUCH MORE WORTHYOF YOUR READING....We need to build a different model of politics, one in which people who want a different society are willing to actually bargain and back up their threats, rather than just aesthetically argue for shifts around the margin. The good news is that the changes we need to make are entirely doable. It will cost about $100 trillion over 20 years to move our world to an entirely sustainable energy system, and the net worth of the global top 1 percent is $103 trillion. We can do this. And the moments to let us make the changes we need are coming. There is endless good we can do, if enough of us are willing to show the courage that exists within every human being instead of the malevolence and desire for conformity that also exists within every heart.

Systems that can’t go on, don’t. The political elites, as much as they kick the can down the road, know this. The question we need to ask ourselves is, do we?

Reply to this post

Back to OP Alert abuse Link to post in-thread

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 91 replies Author Time Post
Demeter Oct 2012 OP
Demeter Oct 2012 #1
Demeter Oct 2012 #2
Demeter Oct 2012 #9
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #3
bread_and_roses Oct 2012 #4
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #5
sheshe2 Oct 2012 #28
AnneD Oct 2012 #55
Demeter Oct 2012 #65
AnneD Oct 2012 #91
Demeter Oct 2012 #52
DemReadingDU Oct 2012 #6
Demeter Oct 2012 #8
Demeter Oct 2012 #7
Demeter Oct 2012 #10
Demeter Oct 2012 #11
Demeter Oct 2012 #12
Demeter Oct 2012 #13
Demeter Oct 2012 #14
Demeter Oct 2012 #15
Demeter Oct 2012 #16
Demeter Oct 2012 #17
Demeter Oct 2012 #20
Demeter Oct 2012 #21
hamerfan Oct 2012 #18
hamerfan Oct 2012 #19
Demeter Oct 2012 #22
DemReadingDU Oct 2012 #23
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #49
xchrom Oct 2012 #24
xchrom Oct 2012 #25
xchrom Oct 2012 #26
xchrom Oct 2012 #27
Demeter Oct 2012 #35
xchrom Oct 2012 #37
xchrom Oct 2012 #29
Demeter Oct 2012 #38
xchrom Oct 2012 #30
Demeter Oct 2012 #34
xchrom Oct 2012 #36
xchrom Oct 2012 #31
xchrom Oct 2012 #32
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #46
xchrom Oct 2012 #47
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #58
xchrom Oct 2012 #61
Demeter Oct 2012 #33
Demeter Oct 2012 #39
Fuddnik Oct 2012 #48
Demeter Oct 2012 #50
Demeter Oct 2012 #40
Demeter Oct 2012 #41
xchrom Oct 2012 #42
xchrom Oct 2012 #43
Demeter Oct 2012 #44
Demeter Oct 2012 #45
xchrom Oct 2012 #51
LineReply The progressive case against Obama By Matt Stoller
Demeter Oct 2012 #53
bread_and_roses Oct 2012 #57
xchrom Oct 2012 #72
Demeter Oct 2012 #54
hamerfan Oct 2012 #56
xchrom Oct 2012 #59
xchrom Oct 2012 #60
xchrom Oct 2012 #62
Demeter Oct 2012 #66
xchrom Oct 2012 #67
xchrom Oct 2012 #63
xchrom Oct 2012 #64
xchrom Oct 2012 #68
xchrom Oct 2012 #69
Demeter Oct 2012 #70
Demeter Oct 2012 #73
Demeter Oct 2012 #78
xchrom Oct 2012 #71
Demeter Oct 2012 #75
xchrom Oct 2012 #76
Demeter Oct 2012 #83
xchrom Oct 2012 #84
bread_and_roses Oct 2012 #87
xchrom Oct 2012 #89
xchrom Oct 2012 #74
xchrom Oct 2012 #77
Demeter Oct 2012 #79
xchrom Oct 2012 #80
Demeter Oct 2012 #82
DemReadingDU Oct 2012 #86
xchrom Oct 2012 #81
hamerfan Oct 2012 #85
bread_and_roses Oct 2012 #88
Demeter Oct 2012 #90
Please login to view edit histories.