Obama Wooing Economic Royalists

Obama BarackIn his first term, President Franklin Roosevelt denounced “the economic royalists.” He drew the line against the heartless rich: “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

What a different Democratic president we have today.

For two years — from putting Wall Street operatives at the top of his economic team to signaling that he’ll go along with extension of Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — Barack Obama has increasingly made a mockery of hopes for a green New Deal.

The news from the White House keeps getting grimmer. Since the midterm election, we’re told, Obama has concluded that he must be more conciliatory toward the ascendant Republican leadership in Congress — and must do more to appease big business.

Fifteen days after the election, the Washington Post reported that Obama — seeking a replacement for departing top economic adviser Lawrence Summers — “is eager to recruit someone from the business community for the job to help repair the president’s frayed relationship with corporate America.”

The last thing we need is further acquiescence to the economic royalists. What we need is exactly the opposite: leadership to push back against the Republican Party’s right-wing ideologues and the forces they represent.

We need principled backbones in high places — and much stronger progressive activism at the grassroots.

In moral and electoral terms, the status quo is indefensible. Economic realities include high unemployment, routine home foreclosures, huge tax breaks for large corporations, and widening gaps between the wealthy and the rest of us — in tandem with endless war and runaway military spending.

Escalation of warfare in Afghanistan is running parallel to escalation of class war — waged from the top down — in Washington. The presidentially appointed co-chairs of the Deficit Commission, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, are pushing scenarios that would undermine Social Security.

Let’s get a grip on matters of principle.

More and more warfare in Afghanistan? Extending massive tax cuts for the wealthy? Promoting plans to slash Social Security and Medicare? Pretending that “clean coal” is not an oxymoron? Failing to uphold habeas corpus and other precious civil liberties? . . .

The best way to fight the Republican Party is to stop giving ground to it.

The best way to defeat right-wing xenophobic “populism” is to build genuine progressive populism. In the process, we can draw on the spirit of the New Deal.

Back in the 1930s, millions of progressive activists — under all sorts of names — fought for economic equity, while FDR became willing to make common cause with them. Today, our scope of understanding has grown to include more dimensions of social justice and ecological imperatives.

Norman SolomanThese days, progressives have plenty of reasons to feel discouraged. But we have a lot more good reasons to rededicate ourselves to the vital tasks ahead.

A much better world is possible.

Si se puede!

Norman Solomon

Norman Solomon is co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, launched by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”


  1. Mekonen Haddis says

    Obama’s mid-term election loss, and QE2.

    November 3, 2010 by politicalsnapshots.wordpress.com

    Obama’s mid-term election loss, and QE2.

    It was not unexpected that Obama and his party would get a spanking from disillusioned U.S. voters, in fact, the Democrats should be thankful that they were able to keep a slight majority in the Senate.

    About a year ago, I had mentioned some of the reasons as to why Americans had become disenchanted with President Obama’s policies.

    * High unemployment, (in spite of 10,000 points at the Dow and so-called economic growth ballyhoo.)
    * The disappointment of the progressive forces that helped put Obama in the White House. (Especially young white voters).

    *Disparity between campaign rhetoric and reality.

    * The uncertain, dim future of the U.S. economy.
    * The unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.

    Since then, Obama has elected to continue with the same failed policies which have not been able to reduce neither the unemployment nor the deficit. At least, one would have assumed, that the main reason for the stimulus package would be to reduce the unsustainable unemployment rate in the U.S.

    This time around, the Federal Reserve Bank of the U.S. is coming up with quantitative Easing 2, to boost the very weak economic recovery which could not reduce the high unemployment. By the way, according to the White House, recession had ended about fourteen months ago. How funny and unrealistic the White House could get ? Continue to be this funny, Obama could become one of the irrelevant U.S. Presidents. Only hype, but no substance. The majority of the people that voted for Obama, voted for him hoping that he would be a different type of a leader. He is proving them wrong. Like the rest of most of the past U.S. Presidents, Obama is more interested in the welfare of the greedy bankers who are actually destroying America, than he is in fighting for the interests of the millions of common people that actually put him in the White House.

    According to Charles Hugh Smith, of Two Minds:

    “the “problem” in the U.S. economy is not a lack of credit or high costs of credit: the problem is too much debt and the fact that there is no market demand which requires expanding business. Indeed, everyone already has everything, and replacement of existing goods in a bloated consumer economy cannot generate GDP growth of 3-5% a year. Rather, replacement instead of expansion means the GDP will contract by 3-5% each year–a fact that is already visible if you emoved the 12% of the economy that is Federal spending generated by the $1.6 trillion annual Federal deficit.”

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/quantitative-easing-fail-spectacularly-2010-10#ixzz14DSdwyRc

    By the way, I am not against government stimulus per se, I am only against when billions of tax payers’ dollars is handed to U.S. banks and other financial institutions who happen to be the creators of the economic mess the U.S. is in, to begin with.

    As long as stimulus money is not used on programs that directly benefit the citizens, Quantitative Easing 2 would not add a single U.S. citizen to the employed list. As usual, QE2 also would continue to prolong the misery and tragedy of the American people by giving more stimulus money to the banks, so that, they continue with their greed of amassing more profits while the deficit becomes insurmountable and life becomes desperate for the average U.S. citizen. Here is the truest example of neo-liberalism in action.

    Professor Mekonen Haddis

  2. Annette says

    Let’s face it folks, we got duped by Obama. Our first black Prez, he’s well educated, he must be reasonably alternative, he must be “one of us” and supportive of the bread and butter workers of this country, right?

    But either someone has a gun to his head, or he completely fooled us and has no intention of saving the middle class from the steady onslaught of the Plutocracy. I’m guessing it’s the latter, given the way he still mouths words intending to trick us into thinking he’ll enact policies in our favor. Have you noticed that while he’s promoting Republican policies he manages to not fall back on their old catch phrases like “Trickle Down” economics? Somehow, Obama has gotten away with telling us exactly what we want to hear while still enacting policies that hurt us while making the rich richer (eg: Universal Health INSURANCE).

    Obama, the Great Orator. Let’s see how he convinces us that decimating Social Security will help us.

  3. Joe Weinstein says

    Never mind FDR’s faults, his strengths and readiness to fight for some progressive programs could indeed teach Obama. But Obama isn’t interested in being a fighter for anything. His apparent main desire is to be accepted by Republicans, even if his sellout policies make him ever more unacceptable to most Democrats.

    Besides meanwhile insisting on progressive values and choices and programs, for 2012 progressives and other concerned Americans will have to insist on a truly credible Democratic nominee for President – which at this point looks like it can’t be Obama.

    John L. S. has a point. Genuine progressivism does call for measures to control – or better, to do away with – the non-reason and non-precaution that is inherent in concentrating all political power in an oligarchy comprised of relatively few high offices (on the federal level, just a few hundred in all). But mass voting – via referendums, initiatives, etc. – is a poor way to do this, because it is expensive, non-deliberative, and comes down to being popularity contests in which a serious and involved person has no more say than an utterly unconcerned and ignorant one. A better way, suggested by an approach used in ancient Athens, is to have each important decision or choice be made – and preferably again reviewed (with veto power) – by a randomly picked deliberative jury of ordinary citizens.

  4. says

    If you believe in progressivism, you have to believe in referendums, initiatives, recalls, and a vote on the executive offices, like the Attorney General and Treasurer. We have none of those on the national level. Do not make claims the Democrats, or DINOs [Democratic-In-Name-Only] having the high ground on that issue. The convention that made Obama their candidate refused the delegates from Florida.

  5. marshall says

    Why any president would want to be like FDR and his deals is beyond me. The man had too many faults and sure had no idea on how to improve our economy, and the current holder is much like that. One of FDR cabinet members wrote that FDR was spending the US into an early grave. My mother and her family were destroyed, lost all their wealth, by FDR policy and the banking system, and they were never unemployed.

    We were saved by WWII and the full employment that gave us, NOT FDR. Look at his joint address to congress in 1945 and note the new “RIGHTS” mr FDR wanted all citizens to have. Those also sound like the current office holder. The progressives are running the west coast now, why would we want them to run all 50 states???

    I am sure you are a nice guy and well meaning, but I also think you would approve of FDR’s new rights and that would ruin us all. I would suggest you read the short stort “compassionate squirrels” by Ken Kuhn, you may rather like his ideas.

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