“No Breaks For Barack”

If we should ever separate, my little plum, I want to give you just one bit of fatherly advice: Never give a sucker an even break!”

W. C. Fields — “Poppy”— 1936

You have to hand it to the G.O.P.

They knew a sucker when they saw one.

There they were the morning of November 5, 2008, facing a newly elected Democratic President, Democrats outnumbering Republicans in the House (257 to 178) and Senate (58 to 41) with political pundits pronouncing their party more endangered than Delta smelt.

But since assuming office on January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama has folded like a lawn chair — a paper hat — a cheap suit — metaphors abound — and he’s done it time and time again. Elected through his soaring campaign rhetoric of, “Yes, we can!”, it now seems clear that he can’t — or –worse—-he won’t.

Barack Obama wasted his first two years of Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress to such a disenchanting extent that more than half the youth vote which elected him stayed home last November, resulting in an historic electoral swing to the right.

If the legendary “Urban Cowboy” was — “Big Hat — No Horse!” — Our President has defined himself as — “Big Talk — No Walk!”

We remain the only nation in the entire industrialized world without some form of universal health care for its citizens. Obama caved early on this one, even refusing to put a “single- payer” proposal on the table at the outset of negotiations. A single-payer system of health care would largely cut insurers out of the process, permitting government to be the sole payer of health care claims by consumers and providers and eliminating a profit motive, saving billions in the process.

We now witness the most uneven distribution of wealth between rich and poor in our history on the planet, virtually the worst inequity anywhere among free governments. Obama tossed away elimination of tax breaks for the rich and private corporations at the end of last year for little in return except an extension of emergency assistance to the unemployed, haughtily defined by Republicans at the time as a thoroughly questionable expenditure. He traded a cake for a cookie.

As unionism in general and collective bargaining in particular have come under bitter attack by State governments in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, our President has remained disturbingly disengaged.

An insatiable American War Machine — that “Military – Industrial Complex” President Eisenhower warned us about in 1961– IS NOW ADDING FOURTEEN BILLION DOLLARS A WEEK TO OUR NATIONAL DEBT. President Obama has limited military withdrawal from Afghanistan to a minimal level against former promises and now entertains the notion of leaving significant troops in Iraq past a deadline pledged by his predecessor, George the Conqueror. Then there’s Libya.

Alan Cheah, my “For Your Consideration” colleague, bets “that 99% of Tea Party members do not belong to the social circles being protected by (Eric) Cantor and (Jon) Kyl”. Both of these dangerous dudes have been dangling all of us over a potentially deadly economic abyss to avoid any tax increases on the truly well-off.

For that matter, I have never heard any Tea Party patriot defending those obscene banking practices which threw us into a deep recession in September of 2008 or the “banksters” who profited before, during and after everything collapsed around us. 2011 will be their best year yet. This debacle remains functionally unaddressed by President Obama and a bought and paid for Congress. There have been no meaningful changes in Federal Law since the bottom dropped out, even as hundreds of corporate criminals are heavily rewarded, yet are still uncharged – let alone unpunished.

Ironically, with their deep embracement of the U.S. Constitution, Tea Party folks may even come to our rescue in early August by observing that the 14th Amendment clearly states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” There is no need for a “debt ceiling” referenced anywhere in the document, especially regarding interest payments on current obligations already “authorized by law”.

The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from less than 9 percent in 1976. From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

For any practical purpose, that top 1% of our population now own and operate the United States of America. If you’re in the bottom 99%? They believe they run YOU. And they’re certainly exercising a frightening degree of demonstrable control over our Chief Executive, whose earnest inclination to conciliate at any cost against the interests of the American middle class is leading us to Seriously Unfair, Commons Killing, Economic Ruin.

And that spells S -U- C -K- E -R.

17 Responses to ““No Breaks For Barack””

  1. Peter Leinau Says:

    As the 2012 election machines warm up the Democratic stratigists will once again remind us how much worse a) it would have been with McCain and Palin, 2) how much worse it will be with whoever the Republicans run, and 3) how futile it is to consider supporting a 3rd party alternative not already endorsed by the puppetmasters. So, dear friend and colleague, what are we to do?

  2. petercavanaugh Says:

    You know what? Right now, Howard Dean is looking good to me for contesting Obama in the primaries if he should become ready and willing. He’s the one who energized our youth base anyhow.
    With the field of G.O.P. candidates as uninspiring as it is and will be — Howard would have a fabulous chance. Plus–he’d be going for TWO terms. Screw it. I’ve had enough.

  3. Ron Kemmerer Says:

    As of yesterday, Obama threw out Medicare and Social Security on the table for negotiating purposes.If we would just stop the waste and fraud in these and other government entitlements, we would save billions in spending per year. Aid to foreign countries, some of which are openly hostle to the U.S., is a ridiculous expenditure. We give millions in aid to Pakistan primarily as “hush money”, so they don’t sell a nuclear device to the militants . Then, they get bent out of shape when we ask them some pointed questions about Bin Laden.What the hell kind of foreign policy is all this?

  4. Don Richards Says:

    Peter C — with apologies to The Who, it’s lookin’ like we did indeed Get Fooled Again.

  5. petercavanaugh Says:

    Kinda looks that way. For the longest time, I tried to convince myself that Obama was just toying with those folks and had some ultimate game plan which would carry the day. You know what?
    He’s even starting to look beaten. DAMN!

  6. Les Marsden Says:

    Peter – I can only offer the highest praise for this entry, the greatest compliment imaginable:

    “It was beyond brilliant; it was far better than it might have been even: had I written it.” I trust you know that THAT is the pinnacle of achievement. Bravo, Cavanaugh.

    Right on the money. Right on Obama – the gutter-row pseudo-Republican corporatist president, right on the Tea Party’s inability to realize they’re being bought, paid for, HAD and USED worse than a faux-strawberry-scented condom (sized extra-small, by the way) – hell, OTIS CRIBLECOBLIS FOR PRESIDENT!

    He could scarcely be any worse; but – the best thing to be said for Obama: no matter how disappointing, no matter how tragically bad his performance: he SHINES when compared to ANY Republican, bar NONE.

  7. Charles Walker Says:

    From the WSJ:

    President Obama has laid out the most ambitious and expensive domestic agenda since LBJ, and now all he has to do is figure out how to pay for it. On Tuesday, he left the impression that we need merely end “tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans,” and he promised that households earning less than $250,000 won’t see their taxes increased by “one single dime.”
    This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can’t possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama’s new spending ambitions.
    Consider the IRS data for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and “the wealthiest 2%.” Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That’s about 7% of all returns; the data aren’t broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% — about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 — paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. income.
    Note that federal income taxes are already “progressive” with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He’d also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won’t come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
    But let’s not stop at a 42% top rate; as a thought experiment, let’s go all the way. A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That’s less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable “dime” of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.
    Fast forward to this year (and 2010) when the Wall Street meltdown and recession are going to mean far few taxpayers earning more than $500,000. Profits are plunging, businesses are cutting or eliminating dividends, hedge funds are rolling up, and, most of all, capital nationwide is on strike. Raising taxes now will thus yield far less revenue than it would have in 2006.
    Mr. Obama is of course counting on an economic recovery. And he’s also assuming along with the new liberal economic consensus that taxes don’t matter to growth or job creation. The truth, though, is that they do. Small- and medium-sized businesses are the nation’s primary employers, and lower individual tax rates have induced thousands of them to shift from filing under the corporate tax system to the individual system, often as limited liability companies or Subchapter S corporations. The Tax Foundation calculates that merely restoring the higher, Clinton-era tax rates on the top two brackets would hit 45% to 55% of small-business income, depending on how inclusively “small business” is defined. These owners will find a way to declare less taxable income.
    The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can’t possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.
    On that point, by the way, it’s unclear why Mr. Obama thinks his climate-change scheme won’t hit all Americans with higher taxes. Selling the right to emit greenhouse gases amounts to a steep new tax on most types of energy and, therefore, on all Americans who use energy. There’s a reason that Charlie Rangel’s Ways and Means panel, which writes tax law, is holding hearings this week on cap-and-trade regulation.
    Mr. Obama is very good at portraying his agenda as nothing more than center-left pragmatism. But pragmatists don’t ignore the data. And the reality is that the only way to pay for Mr. Obama’s ambitions is to reach ever deeper into the pockets of the American middle class.

  8. Lindsey Pyron Says:

    Of course without the profit motive, there will be no need to be efficient or watch the bottom line driving up costs. Govt regulation on medical devices, lawsuits and other items directly raise our medical costs. I am with a guy on a scout trip how evaluate medical devices. A unit that costs $180 to manufacture, costs the vendor about $10 million in mandated govt testing. I am not saying some of this does not need to be done, but government is NOT the answer. Let them show me that can make Medicare and Medicaid efficient first, then I will get on board.

    • petercavanaugh Says:

      “Let them show me that can make Medicare and Medicaid efficient first, then I will get on board.”

      GREAT! It’s called “The Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System”. Welcome aboard, Lindsey! You’re my new favorite son-in-law!

  9. Charles Walker Says:

    And most Proglibacrat news outlets are supported by George “I vas only followink da orderz uf mein zuperior offizers” Soros. So what?

  10. Mike Seeley Says:

    Hey Peter C.,
    Dead on the money as usual! I can’t tell you what a disappointment this guy has been. I think we need to pressure the Dems to dump him. I have written them to make that point. I will NOT ever again support this guy in any way shape or form.

    • petercavanaugh Says:

      Lawrence O’ Donnell, for whom I have great respect, signaled yesterday that he believes Obama is playing classic “Rope A Dope” on the whole
      debt ceiling deal. While tempted to fantasize along with Mr. O’Donnell, it seems to me there’s just way too much of a pattern there by now to allow such suspect speculation.
      Florida’s Alan Grayson, who announced yesterday he WILL be running in 2012 to regain a seat in Congress, offered a superb analysis last night on Ed Shultz when he said that Washington is now all about “meanies” and “weenies.” Quote, “”The meanies want to take Social Security and Medicare away from grandma and grandpa and the weenies are quite willing to go along with it and compromise.”

  11. Cassie Duffy Says:

    Hey Pete, Is your friend Charlie married? Cassie

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