Obama's Neoliberal Budget


Fantasy Island Ahead


by Stephen Lendman

Main Street America’s in protracted Depression. Conditions go from bad to worse. More than ever, vital stimulus is needed. Lots of it.
Obama’s solution is force-fed austerity. In term one, he prioritized it. His FY 2014 budget offers more of the same.
He’s waging financial war on ordinary people. He’s targeting middle America, those most disadvantaged, seniors, and others approaching retirement.
He’s beholden solely to bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and America’s super-rich. He’s harming others so they benefit.
His agenda reflects the worst of neoliberal harshness. It imposes misery. It makes conditions for growing millions intolerable. It’s economically destructive. It shows what most people face.
Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith is right calling the “budget battle” a scheme to “squeez(e) the middle class dry, and those who pretend otherwise are simply insulting the intelligence of their audience.”
More on Obama’s budget below.
The White House blog turned truth on its head. It said it offers “a fiscally-responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth.”
It “replaces the across-the-board spending cuts….with smarter ones, making long-term reforms, eliminating actual waste and programs that are no longer needed.”
It “grow(s) the economy and strengthen(s) the middle class.”
A New York Times editorial headlined “The President’s Budget,” saying:
He proposed “a host of good ideas.” He wants spending cut “by about $1.2 trillion over a decade.” He showed Republicans he’s willing to “compromise.” He put them “on the spot to do the same. Naturally (they) refused.”
Washington Post editors headlined “Obama’s 2014 budget is an offer to negotiate,” saying:
It “represents the best hope for (a) bipartisan deficit-reduction deal before….statutory borrowing limit(s arrive) late summer.”
He “offered a plausible, responsible road map….Republicans should respond in kind.”
The Chicago Tribune welcomed Medicare and Social Security cuts. It falsely said they’re “on paths to insolvency.” They’re “the biggest drivers of total federal deficits.”
Both programs are fiscally sound. Minor adjustments only are needed. They’re not entitlements. They’re contractual federal obligations. They’re for eligible recipients who qualify. Payroll taxes fund them.
Militarism, imperial wars, repressive homeland security, CIA, Pentagon and other black budgets, corporate handouts, and pork drive out-of-control deficit spending. Don’t expect media scoundrels to explain.
Straightaway in office, Obama prioritized neoliberal harshness. Destroying New Deal/Great Society gains reflects policy. Popular needs don’t matter. Monied interests alone are served.
People are exploited. Profits are privatized. Ordinary ones bear the burden of debt. Privileged Americans enjoy a disproportionate share of wealth and power. Others are hung out to dry to serve them.
Criminals run Washington. Obama’s their titular head. He’s a crime boss. He’s ideologically hardline.
He’s ruthless. He’s duplicitous. He serves wealth, power and privilege. He’s anti-democratic, anti-populist, anti-labor, anti-welfare, pro-business and pro-war. He’s heading America for tyranny, third world status and ruin.
He wants social America destroyed. It’s on the chopping block for elimination. He’s robbing ordinary people to make privileged ones richer.
Slash and burn reflects policy. ObamaSpeak masks it. He claims he’s “willing to make tough choices that may not be popular within my own party, because there can be no sacred cows for either party.”
He wants Medicare cut $400 billion over 10 years. Hundreds of billions were cut earlier. Expect much more ahead. Means testing Medicare and Social Security looms. So does privatizing federally mandated programs.
Obama proposed a Social Security COLA. He wants it based on chain-weighted CPI. It’s a scam. It’s the latest gimmick to destroy benefits.
It assumes when prices on some products rise, consumers choose lower-cost substitutes. Perhaps so for steak v. hamburger.
It doesn’t hold for rents, other housing costs, transportation, gasoline, electricity and other energy costs, as well as medical expenses highest late in life.
These expenses hit ordinary people, especially seniors, hardest. According to The Senior Citizens League (SCL), retirees stand to lose over $18,000 in benefits over their lifetimes. “All seniors, whether already retired or not,” will lose out.
Small annual cuts accumulate to thousands of lost dollars over a lifetime. Cutting benefits erodes buying power. Doing so devastates seniors on tight budgets.
Contrary to false claims about no one over age 55 affected, “chained” CPI takes effect immediately if enacted. COLAs will be cut 0.3% annually. Possibly much more in high inflation years.
Doing so adds up. Seniors with average benefits retiring this year stand to lose $18,634. It’s an estimated 7% cut over a 25 year retirement. According to SCL chairman Larry Hyland:
“It’s outrageous that a change that could put a significant dent in seniors’ pocketbooks is being passed off as a minor technical adjustment.”
“Seniors have already been watching the value of their benefits erode, to the point where millions of them are barely able to scrape by.”
“Annual cost-of-living adjustments are crucial and should represent seniors’ true costs.”
Obama calls his budget “balanced and responsible.” Americans overwhelmingly oppose Social Security and Medicare cuts. They do so for good reason.
On April 10, former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich headlined “The case against cutting Social Security and Medicare,” saying:
“(S)eniors pay 20 percent to 40 percent of their incomes for health care. They can’t switch to lower-cost alternatives because they either don’t exist or (they) aren’t in a position to shop for them.”
Healthcare costs rise “much faster than inflation.” They do so annually. For growing numbers, they’re unaffordable.
Social Security’s current COLA way underestimates “how badly inflation (eats away) at the meager savings of most seniors.”
Social Security today “is more important than ever. Private pensions (have) all but disappeared.” Homes retirees regarded as nest eggs are worth far less.
‘Most retirees haven’t saved nearly enough.” Many have to keep working to get by. “Social Security is just about the only thing many seniors can count on.”
It’s not responsible for growing deficits. “It’s been in surplus for decades.” They’re used “by the federal government to pay its other bills.”
Cutting Medicare benefits doesn’t wash. Means-testing reflects grand theft. Ordinary Americans will be harmed most.
Medicare isn’t the problem. Predatory healthcare providers drive costs higher. Universal coverage would change things. Cost control would follow. “Retirees wouldn’t be paying a large and growing portion of their incomes for health care.”
“Social Security and Medicare are the most popular programs ever devised by the federal government – and among the most successful.”
“Together, they have drastically reduced poverty among the nation’s elderly, one of the great triumphs of modern times.”
Democrats used to defend programs too vital to lose. “Why should (they) now lead the charge against them?”
Obama’s committed to do so. He wants social America destroyed. He wants more deregulation. He wants business able to operate regulation-free.
On January 18, 2011, his Executive Order 13563 headlined “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”
Weeks later, his Chamber of Commerce speech elaborated. He promised to “remove outdated, unnecessary regulations.”
“I understand the challenges you face,” he said. “I understand you are under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up.”
“I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders and the pressures that are created by quarterly reports. I get it.”
He doesn’t “get” or give a damn about growing human needs. He’s beholden solely to monied interests. He’s their man in Washington. He hasn’t disappointed.
He has lots more giveaways in mind. His budget includes “initiatives to support manufacturing communities, including a new tax credit to strengthen their ability to attract investments and jobs.”
“And it expands my Administration’s SelectUSA initiative to help draw businesses and investment from around the world to our shores.”
He wants social America gutted to provide corporate and super-rich elite benefits. He wants ordinary people hung out to dry. He wants retirees and others most in need hit hardest. He wants privileged ones alone served.
He wants public education destroyed. He wants it made another profit center. His budget attacks it. He wants liberal arts and other programs replaced with curricula addressing what employers need “to fill the jobs available right now and in the future.”
They’re largely low-pay/poor or no benefit/temp or part-time service jobs. Many households need two or more to get by.
Obama’s neoliberal and hardline. He’s unapologetic. He wants ordinary people abandoned. He wants them bearing burdens they didn’t cause. He wants wealth, power and privilege alone served. He represents the worst of rogue governance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
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