April 8, 2011
The United States is moving backwards… fast. State budget cuts are decimating essential health and social services; public education is being destroyed; the social safety net is in tatters.
Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, has been particularly busy promoting the future cutbacks, repeating that “the country must live within its means” “deficits must be brought down dramatically” — something that will “require very hard choices.”
What are these hard choices? One possible option is no longer available. The biggest annual deficit producer is the U.S. military, which Obama will not radically reduce. Instead, he will increase it; Taxpayers will pay $660 billion (!) in 2010 toward the military.
A different “hard choice” that could fix the deficit is to drastically raise taxes on the very wealthy. To this end, Obama has made the wholly-inadequate pledge to “roll back the Bush tax cuts.” Taxing the super-rich an extra 4 percent”.
The solutions Obama has proposed are the ones thatGeithner is actually referring to when he says “very hard choices.” Last January, Obama told the conservative Washington Post that, to lower deficits, he would “reform entitlement programs” — social security, Medicare, etc. Reform in this case means to eliminate, or drastically reduce. The Washington Post reports:
“President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare “bargain” with the American people, saying that the nation’s long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs.”
By choosing not to drastically reduce military spending and not to greatly increase taxes for the super rich and corporations, Obama will have few other options: the federal deficit is too high, especially after the Bush/Obama bank bailouts.
It can be further presumed that, while Obama is getting the U.S. “financial house in order,” the Federal Reserve will assist by increasing interest rates — something demanded by U.S. foreign creditors — thereby significantly risking cutting into Wall Street’s most recent profits and opening up the possibility of transforming our Great Recession into another full-blown depression.
This is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” The imbalances in the U.S. economy are too massive; a giant “restructuring” must take place. The bank bailouts merely intensified the already enormous economic contradictions. Who pays for this restructuring will shape the future for years to come.
Once the Obama illusion is completely shattered, workers can begin to act independently. We must demand that the corporate elite pay for the crisis they created. Their efforts to push this crisis onto us must be fought at every step.
This can be done by clearly articulating our solutions to the crisis — taxing the super-rich and the corporations, a massive public works campaign, and ending foreign wars (for starters) — and promoting these ideas through community groups, students, the unemployed, etc. If we are united and fighting for a clear vision of the future, we will win.