What will Obama do in term II? He’ll finish the great work of term I!
Summary: Today we guess about Obama’s next term. Post your thoughts in the comments. I expect him (or Him) to finish the great work of this first term, moving the US political spectrum decisively to the Right by committing the Democratic Party to conservative policies. His first term did that with Bush Jr’s national security and financial regulation policies. Now he’ll do the same by slashing the New Deal’s safety net and firmly extending the Bush Jr’s flattish taxes (ie, only partially undoing them). First in this series about the results of Campaign 2012; see the other posts listed at the end.
“Barack Obama broadly follows Ronald Reagan’s (second term) security policy, George H.W. Bush’s spending policy, Bill Clinton’s tax policy, the bipartisan Squam Lake Group’s financial-regulatory policy, Rick Perry’s immigration policy, John McCain’s climate-change policy, and Mitt Romney’s health-care policy.”
— A charitable view of Obama by good liberal Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley), 10 Sept 2012
- Term two will take us further to the right
- Michael Hudson explains
- Valuable articles about the election, and term II
- This series about the results of Election 2012
- For More Information
(1) Term two will take us further to the right
All public policy in America remains uncertain until adopted by both major parties. FDR’s revolutionary new deal and internationalist policies were finalized by Eisenhower and Nixon.
Bush Jr’s revolutionary policy changes were too soon, too large for Obama to absorb in one term: global interventionist military, low taxes for the rich (undoing much of the progressive tax structure), “unitary executive” (few practical limits on Executive power). But he did yeoman work, quashing the opportunity for regulatory reform of the banks and stimulus programs to start the rebuilding of America — expanding Bush Jr’s wars into new lands (especially Africa), and continuing the historic rollback of civil liberties that took centuries to achieve.
Quite an accomplishment for four years. More change than the 1% hoped for! The next four years might prove even more rewards, showing their massive expenditures in Campaign 2012 successfully shifted the Overton Window to the Right — allowing Obama to drag the Democratic Party to the Right.
(2) Michael Hudson explains
I was going to write a detailed forecast, but Michael Hudson did it first and better: “My Take on Obama’s Big Win“, Naked Capitalism, 10 November 2012. His analysis closely tracks mine in this series. Please read this in full.
Here’s an excerpt:
Obama’s two presidential victories represent an object lesson about how the 1% managed to avoid rescuing the economy – and especially his own constituency – from today’s rush of wealth to the top. Future political annalists will see this delivery of his voters to his Wall Street campaign contributors control as his historical role. In the face of overwhelming voter opposition to the Bush-Cheney policies, the President has averted popular demands to save the economy from the 1%.
Instead of sponsoring the hope and change he promised by confronting Wall Street, the pharmaceutical and health care monopolies, the military-industrial complex and big oil and gas, he has appeased them as if There is No Alternative. … His task over the next 2 months is to avoid using deficit spending to revive the economy.
The neoliberals whom he appointed as a majority on the Simpson-Bowles Commission already have inflated their trial balloon claiming that the government must balance the budget by slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not by restoring progressive taxation. My UMKC colleague Bill Black calls this the Great Betrayal: “Only a Democrat can make it politically safe for Republicans who hate the safety net to unravel it”.
Having appointed the Bowles-Simpson commission members who seek to shift the tax burden off business onto consumers, the President will pave the way for Bush-type privatization. In his first debate with Mitt Romney, Obama assured his audience that they were in agreement on the need to balance the budget (his euphemism for scaling back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid). By christening this “the Great Bargain,” President Obama has refined Orwellian doublethink.
… Four years ago the economy stood at a potential turning point in the war of finance against labor and industry, President Obama could have mobilized public support for politicians willing to rescue hopes for prosperity. He could have appointed a Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve chairman who would have used the government’s majority control of Citibank, Bank of America and other “troubled asset” holders to take these into the government sector to provide a public option. He could have written down debts to payable levels at only a fraction of the cost that was spent on rescuing Wall Street. Obama’s political genius was to avoid doing this and nonetheless keep his “street cred” as paladin defending the 99% rather than the 1%.
Having been elected with an enormous voter mandate, Mr. Obama could have reversed the sharp polarization between creditors who were pushing the 99%, industry and real estate, cities and states deeper into financial distress. Instead, his policies have enabled the 1% to monopolize 93% of America’s income gains since the 2008 financial crisis.
At a potential turning point in the direction the American economy was taking, rescue and change were averted. We have seen what will stand as a classic example of cynical Orwellian doublethink. Promising hope and change 4 years ago, President Obama’s role was to hold back the tide and divert voter pressure for change. He rescued the financial sector and the 1%, and sponsored the Republican privatization of health care instead of the public option, and to take $13 trillion onto the government balance sheet in the form of junk mortgages, largely fraudulent loans held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($5.2 trillion alone) and other casino capitalist gambles gone bad. Mr. Obama was Wall Street’s white knight.
The trick was to get re-elected as a Democrat rather than as a Republican sponsoring a health care plan crafted by the Koch Brothers’ Cato Institute, and putting Wall Street bank lobbyists in charge of the Treasury and (de)regulatory agencies.
Michael Hudson is a Professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is The Bubble and Beyond.
(3) Valuable articles about the election, and what is to come
Analysis of the election:
- “America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.”
- “How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 7 November 2012
- “Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?“, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 7 November 2012 — “With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?”
A sign of the future: applause from the Right for Obama
- “Counterterrorism Legal Policy in Obama’s Second Term“, Jack Goldsmith, Lawfare, 9 November 2012 — As in term 1, the Constitution’s enemies applaud Obama, and look forward to further assaults on the Republic.
About ORCA, the failed GOP project that contributed to defeat:
- “Inside Orca: How the Romney Campaign Suppressed Its Own Vote“, Breibart, 8 November 2012
- “The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA“, Ace of Spades HQ, 8 November 2012
The above two posts comes to us from the dark side. Breibart is a shop manufacturing propaganda and disinformation. The headline banner for Ace of Spades is this quote from H. L. Mencken: “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, heist the black flag, and begin slitting throats”.
That aphorism reads differently at a website discussing the Long War than it did in 1919. Like so many quotes used by conservatives, it’s ripped from context and given a new meaning. A comment on the website says “I like the Menken quote. It would scare the crap out of my liberal friend”. An odd view of a line from an essay titled “The New Poetry Movement”. Let’s look at the fuller quote:
Ezra Pound? The American in headlong flight from America—to England, to Italy, to the Middle Ages, to ancient Greece, to Cathay and points East. Pound, it seems to me, is the most picturesque man in the whole movement—a professor turned fantee, Abelard in grand opera. … But now all the glow and gusto of the bard have been transformed into the rage of the pamphleteer: he drops the lute for the bayonet. One sympathizes with him in his choler. The stupidity he combats is actually almost unbearable. Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. But this business, alas, is fatal to the placid moods and fine other-worldliness of the poet.
My guess (emphasis on guess) is that Mencken would find the Ace of Spades website a rich mine of material, but agree with little of it.
(4) Other posts in this series about the results of Election 2012
- Conservatives, celebrate the historic victory you won today!
- The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!
- How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday
- Civil rights just took a step forward, the slow hard way. The right way.
(5) For More Information about hope and change
- “Don’t Let Barack Obama Break Your Heart” by Tom Engelhardt, 21 November 2008
- Obama’s national security team: I hope you didn’t really believe in change?, 26 November 2008
- Obama supporters mugged by reality (and learn not to believe in change!), 9 December 2008
- Change you should not have believed in, 10 February 2009
- Quote of the Day, 20 May 2009 — Connect the dots between Bush and Obama to see the nice picture.
- Stratfor looks at Obama’s foreign policy, sees Bush’s foreign policy, 30 August 2009
- Motto for the Obama administration: “The more things change, …”, 5 September 2009
- Change, the promise and the reality, 11 October 2009
- Another bold action by the radical leftists of Team Obama, 9 September 2010