By Stephen Lendman
With help from Democrats controlling both Houses, Obama put a criminal cabal in charge of furthering the greatest wealth transfer in history. In the process, he's hollowing out America, eliminating the middle class, centralizing power, eroding social services, destroying jobs and communities, and creating poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, a permanent underclass, and depravation under militarized homeland repression.
A man of the people promising change, in fact, is a shameless demagogue, a serial liar, a hardline corporatist serving big money wealth and power against ideals candidate Obama professed. He facilitated a Wall Street coup d'etat, lavished handouts on other corporate favorites, and now his latest December 6 betrayal, capitulating to Republicans on tax cuts for the rich and super-rich, throwing crumbs at working Americans to soothe public anger.
Despite a clear victory for wealth and power, Obama calls his decision "a good deal for the American people," defending it as a back-door stimulus plan, saying:
Business must create jobs. "The single most important jobs program we can put in place is a growing economy. The single most important anti-poverty program we can put in place is making sure folks have jobs and the economy is growing....if the private sector is not hiring faster than (currently), then we are going to continue to have problems no matter how many programs we put in place."
False as Roosevelt's New Deal agenda showed - 15 landmark laws enacted to deal with a troubled economy, including government funded stimulus to revive it. Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) aid pumped billions into the economy in loans to banks, railroads, farm mortgage associations, other businesses and states.
The Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) refinanced homes to prevent foreclosures, extending short and longer-term loans for up to 30 years. It prevented over a million home defaults - about one-fifth of those owned, the equivalent of 10 million today, at a time half were troubled, and annual mortgage lending and residential construction was down 80%.
The Civilian Conservation (CCC) put unemployed men to work on numerous projects - building roads, bridges, dams, state parks, planting trees, and various forestry and recreational programs for the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, and Soil Conservation Service.
The Civilian Works Administration (CWA) supplied over $3 billion for various work and transient projects, created temporary jobs for over 20 million. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) then replaced it.
The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) established the National Recovery Administration (NRA) as an initiative to revive economic growth, encourage collective bargaining, set maximum work hours, minimum wages, at time prices, and prohibit child labor in industry.
The Public Works Administration (PWA) initiated projects to provide jobs, increase purchasing power, improve public welfare, and help revive economic growth by putting people back to work - on projects, including electricity-generating dams, airports, schools, hospitals, affordable housing, and more.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) became the largest New Deal agency, employing millions in every state, especially in rural and western areas. Its programs found jobs for about 60% of the nation's unemployed on projects like construction and various types of development, but also in areas of education, the arts, health, and other community initiatives for professional and white collar workers, plus other efforts to feed children and redistribute food, clothing and provide housing.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provided navigation, flood control, electricity generation, economic development, and agricultural promotion in most of Tennessee as well as parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. It was Washington's largest regional planning agency and remains so today. It built 16 dams and a steam plant, produced electricity cheaply, and through the Electric Home and Farm Authority (EHFA) helped farmers buy major electric appliances with low-cost financing.
The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) restricted production by paying farmers to reduce and/or destroy crops and kill livestock to decrease supply and raise prices, inappropriately at the wrong time when millions were impoverished and hungry. It ran counter to vitally needed policy to produce low-cost food, make it affordable for millions, and relieve hunger. It also subsidized owners, not tenant farmers or sharecroppers badly needing help.
The Farm Credit Act helped farmers refinance mortgages over an extended time at below-market rates. By so doing, it helped them stay solvent. It also created the Farm Credit Administration to make loans for the production and marketing of agricultural products as well as regulate and examine banks, associations, and related Farm Credit System entities. It was a network of borrower-owned financial institutions to provide credit to farmers, ranchers, other agricultural interests, and rural utility cooperatives.
The Emergency Farm Mortgage Act provided refinancing help for farmers facing foreclosure.
Despite its flaws, failures and setbacks, FDR's New Deal was remarkable in what it accomplished - mirror opposite of Obama's betrayal, selling out to wealth and power interests at the expense of public need. In contrast, New Deal initiatives put millions back to work, reinvigorated the national spirit, built or renovated 700,000 miles of roads, 7,800 bridges, 45,000 schools, 2,500 hospitals, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 1,000 airfields, and other infrastructure projects, including Chicago's lakefront.
It cut unemployment from 25% in May 1933 to 11% in 1937, before spiking after Roosevelt declared victory too soon. War production then restored economic growth, created full employment, and ended the Great Depression.
Overall, Roosevelt revived a sick economy. Obama's policies wrecked it by shunning massive job creation programs. Instead, he looted the Treasury for Wall Street, stresses warmaking over domestic stimulus, and ignores public need, except small measures like temporarily extending unemployment insurance, several tax credits, and adjusting the alternative minimum tax.
Longtime market analyst/insider Bob Chapman said despite trillions of Fed QE, the economy is "barely to the plus side....Only the speculators in banking and on Wall Street are having a good time. This is the same monetary and fiscal management that was witnessed in the late 1920s. Credit growth and financial flows increased exponentially." America, European, and other "economies are making the same mistakes, thus, no one is going to escape....It is not going to be pretty as prices rise, wages stagnate and unemployment grows." Counterproductive measures "can only mean worse results in the end." Growing problems look increasingly insurmountable, bad policies exacerbating, not relieving, them.
Economist David Rosenberg says "the bond market (is) signal(ing) that there is no commitment in the United States to get its fiscal house in order....It remains to be seen if a temporary move to reduce payroll taxes" gives the economy life. "By definition, people only alter their behavior based on changes to their income, wealth and job situation that are considered to be permanent."
The 2008 tax rebates were "fleeting" and ineffective. The "hyperbole" about Obama's "fiscal package is amazing - USA Today said it's a "sweeping tax deal." Moody's Mark Zandi called it "a game-changer." Rosenberg said "have mercy on me, please. If there is a game-changer, it is that we supposedly have a new Congress that got elected on fiscal probity."
Obama's compromise adds $984 billion to the deficit through 2012. "Yet there is nothing here that resolves either the ongoing crisis in housing or employment." At best, maybe people with extended unemployment insurance "will be able to turn up the heat....middle class (recipients) will be able to fill their tanks" at higher prices, and rich folks already have plenty to do as they please, and don't need more they'll save, not spend.
"Under closer inspection, there wasn't really that much 'new' in (Obama's) announcement, except" that he "repeal(ed) everything he said he stood for during the election campaign like reducing the extreme income bifurcation exacerbated during the Bush era."
That aside, his "bells and whistles" still leave growth "totally abnormal," a slow-growth economy producing way too few jobs, what it mostly needs to revive. Moreover, state and local cutbacks add another cloud as well as possible European debt defaults. Key is that administration and Fed policies show "the US has no intention of getting its fiscal house in order."
There will be a price to pay" for excessive borrowing and bad policies overall, especially ones leaving the housing market and jobs situation in disarray. The former is still cratering, the latter getting no stimulus help. On the contrary, Obama aggressively targeted labor, including through auto industry forced GM and Chrysler bankruptcy and reorganization wage-cutting, reverberating throughout the industry and others. At the same time, he intervened to quash any attempt to impose pay limits on executives of corporate swindlers, especially insolvent banks, leaving them free to speculate with public money but do nothing to increase lending to stimulate growth.
A Final Comment
Congressional Democrats still control both Houses with substantial majorities and will until the 112th Congress convenes in January. Yet, on December 7, New York Times writers David Herszenhorn and Sheryl Stolberg headlined, "Obama Defends Tax Deal, but His Party Stays Hostile," saying:
Despite Vice President Joe Biden's efforts to enlist support, he "failed to convince many of his old Senate colleagues to line up behind the plan at a tense lunch meeting....About a dozen Senate Democrats (voiced support). Aides said about 30 were firmly opposed, leaving 16 or so undecided" with no assurance deficit hawk Republicans will back their leadership's push for passage.
Opposition rhetoric from both Houses is strong. Senator Bernie Sanders called the deal "an absolute disaster and an insult to the vast majority of the American people," giving tax breaks to the rich, "driving up our deficit, and increasing the growing gap between the very rich and everybody else."
The same Bernie Sanders railed against Obamacare and financial reform, leaving industry giants unregulated, unaccountable, and unrestrained, then caved by voting to pass both. Expect a repeat if his vote is needed, as well as from enough Democrats to assure victory for Republicans and the wealthy, a giveaway transfer of more wealth to those already with too much, leaving working people on their own to take the hindmost.