Also sprach Obama: A speech for all and none

Karen Garcia
New Paltz, NY

It was vintage Obama -- long (too long) on righteous indignation and populist pablum, short on specifics. Did you miss the part where he said his fantastic job creation plan, two-thirds of which is tax cuts, will be paid for by even more draconian cuts to the social safety net?

Pay attention, not to a president air-kissing the elite politicians in the hallowed halls of Congress, but to that secretive politburo known as the Super Committee, which met for the first time (that we know about) on Thursday. Among the items they will be considering is an increase in the Medicare eligibility age to 67. That, and other measures, such as a possible reduction in Social Security benefits based on chained CPI measures, are too steep of a price to pay for a few tax cuts. Moreover, the proposed halving of the payroll tax will have the net effect of not filling the coffers of the Social Security trust fund. Get a few thousand now, lose your retirement later. Sounds more like cynical chutzpah than a big bold plan to me.

Again, the president reverted to the same old tactic of speaking Republicanese to placate the Congress. The programs he suggested, for the most part, have their provenance in GOP Land. Tax breaks to businesses who hire are nothing new.

The optics of the speech were in-your-face terrible. Who had the bright idea of seating tax-evading, anti-union offshore jobs shipper Jeffrey Immelt of G.E. in the First Lady's box? At least the camera operator had the good sense to pan in on him rising to his feet in gleeful applause when Obama talked about the great trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Columbia -- allowing G.E. and its ilk to outsource even more jobs and hoard obscene corporate profits.

I wish Obama had explained to the American people just what got us into this mess (Wall Street and deregulation) in the first place. Instead, he continued in austerian mode and just nibbled around the edges. Scary stuff.


Marie Burns
Fort Myers, Florida

Uh, I thought the American people HAD been demanding action on jobs. I guess Congress doesn't read the public polls, all of which show overwhelmingly that Americans think the biggest problem in the country is unemployment. You wrote in a blogpost today, "I don’t want to wax all sentimental about the genius of the common man. But the fact is that both the origins of this crisis and its perpetuation overwhelmingly reflect the errors of the very people now lamenting the annoyances of democracy that keep them from imposing their preferred policies." I listened to a little bit of C-SPAN's post-speech phone-in, and while it's true that the people who called in weren't Nobel material, every one I heard, from left and right, complained about unemployment.

And as if to prove the point that the Very Serious People aren't listening to these people, Peter Walsten of the Washington Post reported yesterday: "More than two dozen senators [the usual suspects] from both parties met privately this week to revive hopes of a grand debt-cutting bargain -- exploring how to push the newly formed debt 'supercommittee' to find far more than its assigned goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions.... [President] Obama, too, is expected to press the committee to exceed its deficit-reduction goal. In his speech Thursday night, he called on Congress to increase the super­committee's deficit-cutting goals to cover the costs of his jobs plan."

Meanwhile, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke thinks people like me are a big part of the problem: In a speech yesterday, he said, "Even taking into account the many financial pressures that they face, households seem exceptionally cautious." As Binyamin Appelbaum of the Times put it, "Consumers are depressed beyond reason or expectation." Maybe Bernanke should talk to Tom Friedman. Friedman called us "self-indulgent" this week.

Any way you look at it, we ordinary Americans get no respect.

The Constant Weader at www.RealityChex.com


In my view we need to address specific targets.
There is hiring and there is demand for products and services. It is the chicken/egg dilemma - which is first.
Some entity has to step up and be first. Should it be hard-pressed consumers in the lower/middle class or Corporations with accumulated profits and overpaid upper management?
The answer is obvious - Corporations must stop outsourcing, reducing the workforce, decimating benefits, hoarding profits, etc.
Start hiring regardless. Reduce upper management salaries/perks. Bring back overseas profits without the blackmail of lesser taxes on those profits. They owe it to the society that put them where you are in every sense of the word. We are ALL in this together - we are an interdependent society.
Listen to Warren Buffet - a man of good conscience - promoting higher taxes on million dollar incomes and raising the 15% capital gains tax plus other sensible taxation measures. He would work effectively with persons in upper income brackets to bring about much needed change in the areas of deficit/debt/taxation matters.
Corporations want the lower corporate taxes to be found abroad, but not the higher income taxes that those countries require - to fund social programs for their society. Corporations want it both ways. If they move Headquarters to other countries to take advantage of lower corporate taxes then their upper management should be required to move there also to pay the required higher income taxes. It is called a balanced equation/system. Make "balance" the new byword for the benefit/fairness of us all.
Examine the tenets of Capitalism. An aspect of a capitalistic system is that INCOME in the system takes two basic forms - profit on one hand and WAGES on the other. Wages implies WORKERS and it is here that our system of Capitalism is currently failing us as a nation and as a society.
Until a credible balance returns to the two factors of profits and wages/workers we will remain in a precarious position regarding our viability as a functioning national entity on the world economic scene.
The first step to correct a Capitalistic system gone .......... haywire is to return manufacturing plants/processes to this country. If the government must step in to advance this necessary condition, then so be it. Wages and workers are at stake in the US and profits must be put back to work in the US for the benefit of all - the enterprise itself, management, employees, shareholders, investors, society, and even good government itself.
One of the functions of profits is to use them to expand an enterprise, creating more jobs and wealth here in the US. Creating more jobs creates more demand and creates more wealth for everyone. Isn't this what we currently need - more jobs and by extension more wealth?
End the damaging outsourcing of jobs and end the damage being done to our middle class and its economic viability - do that as soon as possible.

Colesville, MD

Obama’s job creation proposal is a temporary alleviation of the economy malady at the best. The establishments and theirs aids confound temporary Xanax with cure; Aspirin is not an elixir. They prefer the demand side to supply side economics, unfortunately neither works.

It is wrong to say lack of consumption demand caused mass unemployment and economic stagnation. Demand deficiency is the not the cause rather the effect. The basic cause of capitalist economic crises is its structural deficiency and inextricable internal contradictions such as that between unlimited surplus value or profit extraction and relative over-population, including unemployment and under-employment and the vicious cycle thereof, ad inf.

There is adequate consumption demand supported with unemployment compensation, food stamp, welfare, child assistance, income tax credit, Medicaid, severance payment, Medicare, Social Security, pension and 401K, etc., in addition to capitalists’ own luxury consumption demand. Demand does not cause economic crises at all. If it did, wherefrom does the exorbitant profit come? Remember 70% of national income comes from consumption. Putting demand as a cart ahead of the capital horse is the best way to lurk the Ponzi blackmail of capital that is the real culprit. Obama wants to harmonize the capital and labor relationship serving as a runaround for capital to continue riding roughshod over labor.

Capital is the only pivotal force that debilitates the economy and abuses its power onto the working class. Every sincere & honest politico-economic calamity fighter must stop mollycoddling capital and masquerading pro-capital act as fair & balance neutrality.

Overproduction & over-accumulation of capital must stop before suffering further deterioration of economy. Unfettered labor productivity development, which incites excess capital, including cash hoarding & excess working population, including unemployment, must rein in hard through profit-sharing.


I do think Andrew goes the closest to the heart of the matter.  The problem is:
  1. How do you tel that to democratically entitled folk?
  2. How do you steer the ship into the right direction?

Obama and the powers that be are obviously interested in neither.  The ship is adrift in stormy seas, the increasingly restless passengers are looking for terra firma, an accident will take or tell us there.   As the elites are always interested in the status-quo ante, only an accident will take us there. 

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