Last Tuesday, the American people re-elected Barack Obama to the highest office in the land. They spoke against the benighted and hate-filled views of today’s Republican Party. They spoke about the core American belief that all people, including female people, deserve a chance at a good job, a good education, and a secure and healthy retirement. They also spoke about the rich, and their belief that those who have benefited so much from our society’s bounty, have the obligation to pay their fair share in taxes, and not be permitted to protect their millions and billions in overseas shelters on Caribbean islands.
The people made their feelings known by voting for politicians who spoke to these issues, and not voting for those who didn’t. Americans ensured that those who diminished violence against women and claimed that all pregnancies should be looked upon as the will of God, or indeed, even a blessing, did not make it to Congress (for the most part) or the White House. (Check out our new sidebar for some inspiring statistics on how well women did this year!)
All that being said, however, we know that Obama’s first term did not exactly produce the results that we would have liked. Whether you blame Obama, the corporations, the Boehner or a number of other factors, most of those same factors will be in play for Obama’s second term. And the new names that are coming out for the 2012 Cabinet, remind us of how rightward-leaning, and how unwilling to take the bold actions needed, Obama can be. Take a look at who Obama is looking at for his economic leadership: First off, TurboTax Timmeh is staying. Of course! Why not let the guy fail upward? It’s worked so well for all these other *ssh0les.
The White House wants consistency in its “fiscal cliff” negotiating team, meaning Geithner is likely to put off his departure from Treasury until Obama and lawmakers can reach some agreement.
White House chief of staff Jack Lew is seen as a leading candidate to replace Geithner. Lew is well-respected in Washington by both parties and served as budget director under both Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
Another person often mentioned as a possible successor to Geithner is Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff under Clinton and the co-chief of the White House’s 2010 deficit reduction commission.
Both Lew and Bowles would bring an intimate knowledge of the intricacies of the federal budget and could be expected to take a leading role in trying to negotiate a broad budget agreement with Congress. The selection of either would signal that the administration intends to make resolution of the government’s deficit problems a priority.
The two potential nominees, Jacob “Jack” Lew and Erskine Bowles, are very different. Lew has been a big proponent of preserving the social safety net and keeping taxes higher on the wealthiest Americans, whereas Bowles is basically an Austerian - the other half of the Simpson-Bowles (aka “Catfood”) commission which recommended deep cuts to all of our social programs in order to solve the deficit issue. (Said cuts would actually have increased the deficit, but hey, facts schmacts!) But no matter who is the nominee, the chattering classes are sure that he will have to make a bargain with the GOP that will “cement Obama’s legacy.” At least Lew seems to have a clue that maybe this time, they should work with their OWN Party before kissing Burnt Orange Boehner’s ring; nonetheless, it seems clear that Obama is willing to exchange tax hikes for cuts to our beloved social programs.
Under Lew’s direction, the administration instead will reach out to the Senate and to House Democrats to try to build a consensus before dealing too much with the tea party portion of the Republican Party.
At the center of this push will be Lew, a 30-year veteran of budget battles under Presidents Reagan and Clinton. Tall and thin, with Harry Potter-like glasses and salt-and-pepper hair, he looks like a typical Washington technocrat, an image that belies his talent for combat. “He’s like a labor-union negotiator. He’s not going to give you an inch if he doesn’t have to,” says Judd Gregg, the Republican former senator and Budget Committee chairman. “He’s a true believer in the causes.”
By causes, Gregg means Medicare and the rest of the social-safety net. These are the progressive ideals close to Lew’s heart, friends and former colleagues say—and programs he will cut or change only in exchange for an equally big prize: in this case, the Republicans agreeing to more revenue, as Obama has called for from the campaign trail.
This whole thing is complete nonsense, a manufactured crisis that is essentially an excuse for handing corporations the keys to our collective retirement and health insurance monies. We know exactly why the deficit is there – it’s because W slashed taxes and then embarked on a wild orgy of war spending, which continues to this day. Yes, Medicare is in trouble, as is Medicaid – but cutting Medicare and Medicaid will only reduce the revenue coming into the government, which will, of course…increase the deficit. Social Security is an easy fix and doesn’t contribute to the deficit at all, so only the most credulous believe that it should even be “on the table.”
Yes, from a governmental standpoint, things look rather bleak for our social safety net, or as spinmeisters like to call it, “entitlements.” (I hate that word so much. Benefits I have paid into all my life, with my hard-earned tax money, are NOT ENTITLEMENTS.) I am not going to hope that Boehner will suddenly realize that outside of his little bubble, no one in America wants to cut these programs, and back down. No, the best we can hope for is the exchange I mentioned above, otherwise known as the “grand bargain.”
That is, unless we stop them. And Widdershins, I truly, TRULY believe we can stop them!
Because Americans are paying attention now. This was not an election to be excited about, yet 126 million people still showed up to vote. We are becoming invested again in what is happening to our country, and we made our feelings clear. WHEN our clueless, bought-out politicos try to throw our money into their corporate sponsors’ pockets, you know what we’re going to do?
We’re going to call. And write. And post on FaceBook and Twitter. And those of use who can, will march on Washington. Because I say, it’s time that our Congresscritters remember: We the people, no matter what Citizens United says, does NOT mean “we the corporations.”
We are watching, Congress. We are watching, President Obama. We won’t let you mess up a good thing. We are taking our country back! I am declaring 2012 the Year of We, The People! And may all the years following be the same.
This is an open thread.
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