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More Evidence of Failure of Obama’s Policies: Census Data Shows Median Incomes Fall, Income Disparity Rises

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Matt Stoller pointed out that income disparity, which is associated strongly with negative social indicators (crime rates, poor health outcomes) as well as lower growth, rose faster under Obama than Bush.

Newly released Census data provides more evidence of the failure of Obama’s economic policies. A Bloomberg story summarizes how it shows that median incomes fell even as those at the top showed income gains. And why might Obama think he can be indifferent to the fate of ordinary Americans? Might it not be unrelated to the disproportionate role that the 1% and even more important, the 0.1%, play in campaign funding?

From Bloomberg:

The U.S. Census Bureau released figures today that showed median household income fell, underscoring a sputtering economic recovery and struggling middle-class that are at the center of the presidential campaign.

The proportion of people living in poverty was 15 percent in 2011, little changed from 15.1 percent in 2010, while median household income dropped 1.5 percent. The 46.2 million people living in poverty remained at the highest level in the 53 years since the Census Bureau has been collecting that statistic.

“The gains from economic growth in 2011 were quite unevenly shared as household income fell in the middle and rose at the top,” Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, said on a conference call with reporters.

Average incomes fell for the bottom 80 percent of earners and rose for the top 20 percent, highlighting the need for “those at the top to share,” as the nation looks to reduce its budget deficit, Greenstein said.

The top 1 percent of households experienced about a 6 percent increase in income, said David Johnson, chief of the social, economic and housing division at the Census Bureau.

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124 comments

  1. The Rage

    Failing Obama policy? Your kidding right. Incomes have been dropping since the Keynesian wage inflation push model was dropped in the mid-70′s for the financially driven asset inflation model/supply sider bs.

    America has been failing since the recession of 1973 in that area. Thanks for us the computer revolution came along to buffer things for awhile.

    1. Bert_S

      My latest little project has been tracing the genealogy of the Trilateralists. Rockefeller was chairman of the Council of Foreign Relations. He turned that over to Peterson and started the Tri-lats. Wags say the real purpose of the tri-lats was to make the world safe for banks and oil companies. Quite prophetic.

      It goes like this: David Rockefeller begat Pete Peterson who begat think tanks who begat the Washington Consensus who begat Neo-Cons who begat Neo-Liberals.

      The Tea party was an illegitimate child along the way.

      If you don’t believe me just check out these wikis. It reads like a who’s who of US politics:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilateral_Commission
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterson_Institute
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peter_G._Peterson_Foundation

      And here is Blackstone – Pete’s “private equity” firm (euphemism for LBO vulture)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone_Group

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Spare me.

      Obama had enormous latitude when he took office. The Democrats controlled both houses, the banks were actually cowed, and the country was desperate for new measures. He had an opportunity to change direction and he refused to take it. He threw his lot in with the banks.

      1. Lois

        Unfortunately, I think that the policies “succeed” at least at what is intended. Lower wages for most, higher profits for the few. Neoliberal dream.

      2. Tom

        “Obama had enormous latitude when he took office. The Democrats controlled both houses…”

        Of course. That explains why health care reform sailed through so quickly and effortlessly.

        1. TK421

          Health insurance reform took so long because Obama thought if he just tried hard enough, for long enough, he could get some Republicans to join the effort. Which anyone with a nickle’s worth of sense knew was insanity.

        2. polistra

          Fact is, Romneycare DID sail through Congress. It was passed in a few months of work, all within one session. Very few major programs have passed so quickly and with so little change from the original idea. Normally it takes several sessions to ramp up to a big change, and the result is diluted beyond recognition.

      3. Carol Sterritt

        Yves, you poor rascal you. Have you no ability to go on Democratic websites, and have you no Democratic friends? If either of those two realities were in your day-to-day life, you’d would hear the one and only meme of the day – Obama wanted to change things, he really really did, but those damn Republicans wouldn’t let him.

        His Presidency is sort of like the old joke about how many Zen Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb? The answer: None, but the light bulb has to really really want to change.

        Obama wanted change, but nothing around him would do it, and he’s just too Zen to actually insist on actions like regulations – or doing a “Harry Truman” and giving the Fat Cats on Wall Street hell.

      4. Gillette

        Your argument depends heavily on the idea that Obama had complete control over the government for an albeit brief period and failed during that opportunity to take the actions that we can now recognize clearly in hindsight that he should have.

        1. Stan Musical

          Sorry folks but this sounds like a lovers’ spat (or 99% of contemporary cross-party political discourse) where neither side wants to admit the other may have a point.

          Obama, upon winning the Presidency, filled his oval office with Wall Street types and did nothing about Bernanke, Geithner etc, rather than throw all of the bums out. Check.

          The GOP, as usual, played their congressional hands much more effectively without having the majority, and (though this is outside the time frame currently being discussed) even more so from 2010 on.

          Face it, there are a whole lot of ignoramuses putting these same r/w wackos in power over and over, and any Prez left of far right has his hands full with them.

          So, maybe, just maybe you’ve both got a point, or two!

          1. Pitchfork

            I don’t think so, actually. The nomination and continued employment of Geithner, The Bernank, et al. were entirely under the president’s control. According to Sheila Bair, she wanted to put Citi into receivership and whack bondholders. Geithner, et al. convinced the president this was a bad (and scary) idea. Obamacare is a whole different kettle of fish, primarily legislative in nature and so the Republicans did have a bit of leverage.

      5. Paul Tioxon

        So, Yves, do you see him as the food stamp guy or the failure to use enhanced pixie dust to wipe out all middle class wage erosion since 1975? Detroit and Philly both were industrial complexes of over 2M each. How fast should he turn that around w/ congresssional majorities?

      6. Geojos

        Yes and no, Yes, income inequality is rooted in a long process, probably going back to Carter, and yes, Obama had an an opportunity to reverse the trend but sided with the idology of financial capitalism. No, it is short sighted to blame Obama but stupid to let him off the hook and be an apologist. The ‘villan’ is the mythologolgy of financial capitalism ( and perhaps even capitalism) and that took root after decades of organziing by Conservatives and the like. Until we attack anda change these policies and myths, there will be more Obamas and Romneys.

        1. bulfinch

          “The ‘villan’ is the mythologolgy of financial capitalism ( and perhaps even capitalism)”

          I see capitalism getting thrown under the bus a lot these days, thanks in large part to the grotesque iteration of it we have today. That’s too bad, for I feel that, despite the flaws inherent in even its purest form, capitalism provides a better engine for the realization and advancements of ideas and imagination than any other system going.

      7. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

        SPARE US!

        Income for the average American has been declining for the past 40 years concomitant with the demise of manufacturing employment. Recall Paul Volcker back in ’79 stating bluntly that the standard of living of the average American had to decline… He wasn’t kidding. But no one seemed to be listening. This is a SECULAR headwind that has been blowing for decades. Reversing it in 4 years in light of the worst “recession” since the Great Depression is a bit of a stretch don’t ya think? Did anyone really believe that Obama was going to lift US out of this 40 year hole in 4 years? Talk about pie in the sky!

        Since when is an absolute numerical majority an absolute voting majority? There is a difference. But obviously you don’t know what the difference is or you wouldn’t repeat this bromide ad nauseam. Congress is a very diverse group, reflecting diverse regional and ideological differences. Only if one assumes that each Congressperson was a clone of Kucinich or Sanders between 2008-2010 would one equate an absolute numerical majority with an absolute voting majority. Clearly this was and is not the case. Moreover, party discipline like that found in a parliamentary democracy is not the rule in American politics. It is much weaker in the Democratic Party than it is in the Republican Party of late, given the Tea Party and Grover Norquist. This is basic American Government 101… Is there a difference between a Southern Democrat and Dennis Kucinich? Or is the latter just another capitalist pig like all the rest? Let’s keep it simple.

        So given the constant anti-Obama anti-Democratic Party rants evinced on this blog that began shortly after the guy took office [Husdon, Auerback, Stoller, et al], one has to ask who is most likely to benefit from this behavior come November if the “LEFT” votes 3rd Party or stays home? How will the average American fare under a Romney-Ryan administration, better or worse? Will this decline in wages continue or cease with incentivized job creators fattened by additional tax cuts? Will Mitt and Paul lift all our boats in a mere 4 years? Or is the message that IT DOESN’T MATTER – we’re screwed either way?

        Because when it is all said and done, Yves, when the alternative to voting for the lesser of the two evils is disparaged and removed from the table, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE. Who will benefit MORE from such a strategy this November, the Republicans or the Democrats?. No need for voter suppression if some of the voters stay home voluntarily because they are convinced voting for the lesser of two evils is pointless. How will voting for Jill Stein improve the standard of living for the average American in the next four years? Will any of the 1% go jobless, homeless, or hungry as a result?

        Or are you an adherent of the immiseration thesis? Squeeze ‘em until they revolt? Or an APOCALYPTIC believing that collapse is the only solution? In either case then it has to get worse before it gets better, right? Tell that to the jobless, homeless, or hungry? Is the negativity trap and retreat on principle evinced on this blog contributory to the paralysis of the “LEFT” – its irrelevance to politics? More importantly, is this by accident or design?

        Tell me Yves – PLEASE. I am more than interested in your response. I suspect others are too!

        1. Nell

          I hear your frustration (we have the same impasses here in the UK). The sad truth is that at the Federal level neither party Democrat or Republican are going to deliver the kind of economic policies that will benefit the majority of the population. Even if some of your politicians mean well, the economic paradigm they are following inevitably leads to increased inequality with its commensurate drop in demand (low income for consumers, less consumption, increased unemployment).
          See the following for data on income distribution in the US and UK http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue59/Fullbrook59.pdf

          Is there a way to make your vote matter? In the short-term – no. In the long term possibly yes – if you vote for someone other than Democrat or Republican. Politicians seeing a change in voting patterns will take note and this might encourage a change in tack.
          Personally, if I was living in America, I would set aside federal politics and go local. If you want to improve the economics in your own area then campaign for local policies that increase the local multiplier effect, set up a local currency, and investigate the possibilities of using local powers of eminent domain to fix the problems related to negative equity in housing.
          Below are some links -
          Local multiplier effect – http://www.pluggingtheleaks.org/about/index.htm
          Local currency – Bristol Pound is the best one I have found as it allows for the currency to flow through various sectors of the local economy (many local currencies end up in someone’s pocket doing nothing).
          http://bristolpound.org/
          Eminent domain -http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/from-an-unlikely-source-a-serious-challenge-to-wall-street-20120720

        2. Stan Musical

          Mickey, good points well put. I was getting at the same point about Dems in congress but you put it simply and clearly:

          “Since when is an absolute numerical majority an absolute voting majority? There is a difference.”

          Also that the GOP is much more disciplined–mostly, except when they accidentally speak their minds.

          As to NC trying to scare off leftist voters, I’m not so sure, but the effect may be the same.

          In any case, as guilty of it as I am myself, I agree we need less talk–especially when it’s divisive–and more action. Lots more action.

          Unfortunately we’re unlikely to see enough of that unless things get a lot worse…or until they do.

  2. Cletus

    The Rage is correct.

    if I must choose between these two, I would choose Obama.

    Thank god there are 3rd party candidates.

    That said, Romney will pulverize what’s left of our economy.

    1. The Rage

      Romney would try to do what Bush did. Cut taxes for the wealthy and hopefully blow up another financial bubble. Maybe another war ete ete. That said, I don’t think the financial community is in shape for another.

      Would be interesting to see if they had the guts to “gut” transfer programs this time unlike with Bush.

      1. Mark P.

        My sense is that, yes, they would have the guts to try gutting transfer programs, to some extent.

        They’ve had to lie so very brazenly about the fraud that became catastrophically visible in 2008 — our collective Wile E. Coyote moment — so as to remain in business, and they’ve essentially gotten away with that. So nothing fazes them much now, they’re completely uncowed and they will — because why not? — go for it. Wall Street has had their eye on social security for the last decade, after all.

        As you suggest, what they don’t understand — or, as likely, don’t care about — is the reality of just how looted and structurally unspound U.S. society has already become.But that won’t stop them.

  3. Ed

    Was the fall in median household income adjusted for inflation? Its not been or barely been keeping up with inflation for decades (and i realize the CPI data is heavily massaged), but if median household income dropped in terms of nominal dollars that indeed is news.

      1. Ed

        Adjusted for inflation, this is not a big story. It should be well known by now that median household income in the U.S. has stagnated for some decades, probably declined adjusted for inflation when you account for all the changes the government has made to adjust the CPI downward.

  4. chris

    I guess the Big Dawg didn’t have that “math” in mind during his much celebrated DNC speech.

    Surely he wouldn’t have expounded upon Obama’s huge success at saving the economy (and putting into place the economic “structure” for renaissance USA) had he known, huh?

    Surely those who are still cheering Clinton’s oratory (while remaining curiously sober about Obama’s) are chagrined by the new data and will re-think their unbridled glee.

    Surely not…

  5. Paul

    “Matt Stoller pointed out that income disparity, which is associated strongly with negative social indicators (crime rates, poor health outcomes) as well as lower growth, rose faster under Obama than Bush.”

    Unemployment is still high and the stock market has increased tremendously since Obama took office. Most financial assets are held by wealthy people whereas most unemployed people are not wealthy. This is lazy analysis unless you believe Obama has control over the stock market. One can criticize the administration about its handling of the jobs crisis, but throwaway points like this one more closely resemble cheapshots instead of substantive criticism imo.

    1. ggm

      The bailouts were designed in part to prop up equities and other risk assets. QE, for example, does little else.

      1. krb

        Exactly! In fact, it accentuates the wealth disparity. Bernanke strategy has been to “take asset prices higher than they otherwise would be” (per NY Fed’s Brian Sack). However, Bernanke can’t control where the bank speculators use the aid, so food and energy commoddities have gone up alongside equities. And the lower and middle class spend a FAR HIGHER percent of their income on fod and energy than the wealthy, while having a FAR LOWER percent of theri wealth in the stock market.

        Be very clear, QE.1,2,3,4,etc is NOT a jobs program. It is wall street centric, and lines the pockets of the banker elite while sticking it too the lower and middle classes, retired and elderly.

        Keep score, pay attention to who is cheering for more QE and who is against it, and you’ll know what segment of the population those people are siding with. krb

    2. TK421

      “One can criticize the administration about its handling of the jobs crisis”

      Aren’t jobs and income two closely-related issues? I mean, most people I know get their income from a job.

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Looks like the Obamabots are out in force.

      Obama chose to do nothing about housing, which is a much bigger part of houseshold balance sheets than housing. His measures to combat unemployment were half-hearted, yet his Administration has put shoulder to wheel to help the banks (both in 2009 and more recently with the mortgage “settlement”) and to push through health care “reforms” that enrich health insurers and Big Pharma. He ignored what Bill Clinton described as the most important responsibility of a Democratic president, “jobs, jobs jobs”. Ronald Reagan was more freaked out when unemployment rose to 8% than Obama was when it was over 10%.

      1. telee

        This is the rcovery as planned. It was for the financial elite and the rest of us will be serfs of the new corporate feudalism.

      2. Carol Sterritt

        I have said this several times both here at NakedC and elsewhere, but it is a point worth repeating. During the last Depression, of 1929 to WWII, thirty five states had legislatures containing enough statesmen within their hallowed halls that laws were put on the books prohibiting foreclosures.

        If this fact was the only one known to me, it would be enough proof of how very corrupt the nation has become over the last 80 years. Currently I don’t know of one single state that has forbidden foreclosures on a primary residence.

        However, I do know that during the 2011 session, a bill was put forward inside the Calif. state legislature, and it would have tweaked the banking regulations just a teeny tiny little bit. If passed, it would allow for a little bit of fairness for consumers. Immediately the vulturistic lobbyists descended on the state Capital, and two Democratic assembly people flipped their positions, and the bill went away.

        There are few that are not out right bought and paid for. Here in Lake County, I am allowed to vote for no one, and that is exactly what I will do when it comes to voting for the state assembly.

      3. fladem

        Wow, what a re-write of the Reagan Presidency. First, he tried to make cuts in social programs in 1981 – and got his hat handed to him by Tip O’Neil. So if he was “freaked” out about unemployment, it didn’t show in the policy proposals he sent to Congress. Reagan was for austerity before austerity was cool. As David Stockman noted in the famous 1981 interview, Reagan’s policy was trickle down economics. Reagan didn’t get austerity because the House wouldn’t give him austerity, not because he didn’t want it.

        So that part of the argument makes little sense.

        Now if Reagan was really, to use your term, “freaked out” about unemployment, he would have beaten up Volcker, since the recession was caused by the Fed. The recovery was also caused by the Fed’s decision to take their feet of the breaks.

        But what is REALLY astonishing is how you misread the politics in the early 80′s. The exit poll in the 1982 elections showed the public was split 47-40 about whether unemployment or inflation was the bigger problem. The Reagan people where pretty clearly worried about inflation first.

        There is more to say, but the re-write about Reagan doesn’t survive even a cursory review of the facts of 1981 and 1982.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Google Plaza accord. That was a radical move to help US unemployment.

          And Reagan presided over huge budget deficits. He pushed through tax cuts without corresponding budget cuts. That is big time economic stimulus. Reagan presided over “twin deficits”: a huge budget deficit and a huge trade deficit. There was nothing even resembling austerity there.

          Don’t try quoting David Stockman to someone who read his book on his time in the Reagan administration.

          1. Bert_S

            And the big Reagan deficits where to ramp up defense spending – so the money did find it’s way into our pockets!

            At least mine. I think that was the last and only time I ever won the guv spending lottery.

          2. Majorajam

            The Plaza accords had the express purpose of rebalancing global trade, hence the cooperation of nations whose leaders could give two figs about US employment. It’s a revealing historical revision though- revealing of the degree to which Obama derangement syndrome is weighing on your faculties.

    4. Glen

      Central banks are controlling the stock market, hand in hand with about ten mega banks. To think the stock market is actually a MARKET at this point is insane.

  6. Jim

    For all that’s wrong with the US, at least it’s a natoin state – we don’t have President Obama ceding monetary and (possibly) fiscal authority to some ill-defined group in Mexico City.

    That’s precisely what’s going on in almost every nation that comprises the Eurozone.

    Thanks to the EZ, the UK has become the premier nation in the continent of Europe.

    1. Susan the other

      When the EZ finally gets its politics together it will function for the benefit of each country as if each were a state, a federation of states. It will function just like the United States. But I betcha they won’t have our totally insane trade policies. I’d just like to point out that Britain has a very bad economy. It can’t be happy about this turn of events. It will be shut out. If and when the EZ starts to really function while Britain can’t do anything to improve its economy, it (Britain) is going to be begging to be a full member of the new and improved EU.

      1. Jim

        Yes, I’m certain that Spaniards can’t wait to cheer for a team from the US of Europe in the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia.

        With respect to Britain, it’s one government away from prosperity. It can elect a government which opts for a fiscal deficit of 10%, and, because it issues its own currency, not pay more than 2.00 for 10-year debt.

        If Spain decided to do that in a few months (post a deficit of 10% of GDP), the market would demand 10% for the same maturity.

        One more thing, Susan. Do you honestly believe that a US of Europe is long-term viable? You do realize that the US had to fight the Civil War to preserve its integrity.

        Moreover, the US has a common lanaguage. Would the residents of Spain and Germany accede to have their children learn German in school? Would the residents of Greece agree to have their military under northern European command?

      2. J Sterling

        Britain’s economy is in a bad way because it’s voluntarily doing, all by itself, what Eurozone countries are forced to do. As an independent nation, it has the freedom to do better, if the Con-Liberal coalition government can be persuaded to abandon austerity economics, or can be replaced by a government that will.

      1. Carol Sterritt

        Thank youfor a very sane response to the jingoistic entry. The NAFTA, GATT and now the Trans PAcific Plan are all treasonous activities, that further separate the average person from the ability to play inside a decently constructed market. it is interesting that to get NAFTA to pass, it was considered an “Act” so that it required only a majority win in the voting. If it had been classified as other than that, it may have required a 66 2/3 approval from COngress.

        I live in California, where already the state has had to fork out close to a billion dollars to some Canadian entity, so that our oil refineries could stop purchasing the MTBE poisons that were destroying our water. One Billion dollars to avoid buying a toxin! And that is simply one example of how these “Acts” are ruining our nation.

        But I am sure that Top Officials like Bill Clinton end up seeing some very advantageous activities in their personal lives. Clinton for example touts his global outreach of charities. The Big Industries can then pay him through that charity for his getting the vote on NAFTA and GATT.

  7. david j michel jr

    I am a soft headed lib,and I believe we should re elect pres.obama,just think we can wipe out the border between U.S. and mexico , making things more fair,lowering wages for the middle class .we also can give lots of cheap labor for obamas friends,(campaign contributers),you know the 1% he talks about then they can afford to pay there fair share. then the obama money tree can give me my check,so I can smoke my medical MJ.,and get maried to my same sex partner,bash thoes bad christians,and prase Islam.

    1. Carol Sterritt

      I can’;t tell what part of yoru post was a rant and rave, and what part was being snarky, but I do want to point out that most Calfirnians wanted the Medial Marijuana clinics. That the proposition on the ballot was voted in by quite a majority. And that once in place, the clinics were employing many formerly unemployable people, at decent wages also.

      Then Obama and his DOJ put the kaboosh on the clinics. Over 5,000 jobs have been lost, and also there will probably be prison sentences for some people.

      Not that Obama is morally opposed to marijuana. In fact, the public has had several assurances that with a prescription, medical marijuana will be obtainable – from a pharmacy in Great Britain. Talk about unnecessary outsourcing!

  8. Susan the other

    If we suffer structural inequality the system needs to be changed. One thing that needs to be changed asap is our attitude toward the labor market, or employment. Labor should never take the hit for “inflation” like it is currently. Unemployment is being used as the tool to keep inflation low and the excuse give money directly to the private banks. It should be the other way around. Money should be given to companies and workers which could then trickle up to the banks. And inflation would not be a problem if there are enough goods being produced. Our screwed up trade policies supply this country with plenty of goods, paid for by a deficit and unemployment! I don’t know why people don’t call this treason.

  9. Middle Seaman

    The joke was that Bush I lacked vision. Bush I, however, was a decent person. Obama not only lacks vision, he is a conniving and lying person. He is also far from smart.

    The oligarchy controls him easily and will in his 2nd term. No one is around to protect and serve the non-rich. Some of us knew who Obama is in early 2008, others found out a much later.

    1. Lambert Strether

      If you think the goal of the 1% is to turn the United States into a second world extractive economy, with wages and a political economy to match, these statistics are evidence of success, not failure. Just as the disemployment figures are.

        1. kevinearick

          Low wage corporate and high wage government is their increasingly efficient battery, a virus which has gone global, courtesy of dc electronics.

          look at apple…

      1. Jessica

        Perhaps it does not matter one way or the other, but I am not convinced that that is the goal. The predictable result, yes, but the goal no.
        I am not sure our elite actually has any coherent goal right now. Each faction or group is just interested in keeping its own looting or well-paid prostitution (economists and other paid-for academics, for example) going. There is a general defense mechanism that unleashes lies and/or pepper spray at perceived threats. But an actual plan, I don’t think they have.

        1. kevinearick

          Take a look at electric grid control, specifically the race at the margin.

          my german brothers have been employing the middle class and equal opportunity to build a global “gas” chamber, and i can tell you from experience as an upity up consultant for over 1000 organizations, the idiots in dc are clueless.

        2. dirtbagger

          I think you are mostly correct about a lack of a plan. However there are some groups (Peterson Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, etc) who have been lobbying decades for this very economic stratification. Whether or not they are going to like the long term consequences of their actions is going to be another matter.

  10. kevinearick

    Direct democracy, which is where we are going, requires the ability to see the unseen. have you noticed the code response, increased inequality and electronic market crash, each time capital attempts to close the deal.

    labor fully expects capital to be successful, replacing middle class income with government entitlement, until it can’t…

  11. TK421

    I think I’m supposed to say “there’s nothing a president can do about this!” Then, three minutes later, I’ll post a link to something stupid Mitt Romney said and say “we have to re-elect the president so Romney doesn’t drive this country into the ground!”

  12. billwilson

    I agree a bit of a cheap shot.

    While I agree that Obama appointments (Geithner, Summers and Holder) were horrible and that he failed to take advantage of the short period when he had a filibuster proof number in the Senate (a short window it was), at least some blame needs to go on the GOP/Tea Party for their obstructionist tactics. I also find it almost impossible to conceive that the results would have been even a slight bit better under McCain/Palin (I shudder at the thought).

    Obama’s problem continues to be that he is a conciliator/mediator looking for common ground … but in today’s Washington such does not exist … and not a bold leader as such. His type was what was needed after 9/11.

    All that said, the feds continue to dump $100 billion a month in stimulus into the economy, so it is not like nothing is being done. What is astounding is that the market continues to roar higher in blissful ignorance that $100 billion in juice to the economy each month (and to their sales levels) is NOT sustainable except with massive money printing.

    1. TK421

      Well, the filibuster isn’t etched in stone, it’s a rule each Senate makes at the beginning of a legislative session. The Democrats chose to have a filibuster that needed 60 votes to break, so it’s not like they are blameless.

  13. psychohistorian

    How does one write the scenario of reducing the middle class of America to Vietnam wages?

    It is all part of the current Shock Doctrine events in US and EU to eliminate social safety net so standard of living can continue to be redefined downward.

  14. craazyman

    the country is getting too big. everybody is looking at everybody all at once, like in a trance and nobody can move. this is what happened to the Aztecs and Montezuma and we know how that ended.. what’s needed is local currencies to break up the trance and get people back to working with their hands and feet. I don’t think any president can do much here and the idea of a president itself is sort of part of the trance.

    the best thing a president can do at this point is shut up. Obama’s on TV way too much, he talks way to much, too many magazine covers, too much PR. I mean enough already.

    The president, back in the 1800s, was almost anonymous. Nobody know who it was or cared. that’s how it should be, almost.

    If Romney wins, the best thing he could do is stay in the White House and not come out for 4 years. No state of the union speeches (just send an email to Congress), no wars, no tax cuts, nothing. The American body politic needs time to heal.

    He can come out if he wants to but only for personal reasons. Like shopping or going to a football game. That’s it. No official business.

    1. skippy

      Got to agree with your reference to the past Cman, that how it went down, although the environment had the final say, they just opened themselves up to it…

      Skippy… reminds me of a vid I saw of kids huffing gas out of BBQ tank in the living room (good slightly upper middle class kids). 3 kids huffing on the couch, rubber hose attached to the bottle, high as. One lights a smoke and its face melting time for all. One described, upon realizing he was on fire and his face was slagging… I knew what was happening but, I wasn’t really there, weird shit man.

      The bright light on the DC Hill… yeah… its on fire… but, their not really there….

    2. Robin Hood

      We never had a president, or if we did no one knew.

      There was the King but usually he was off on a Crusade to the Middle East or just terrorizing France. The only bad thing then when he was gone was the Robber Barons did what ever they wanted.

      I think the way Thailand does it is interesting. They have a King, a Parliment and a military. Then they take turns being in charge. Sometimes ya vote, sometimes not. Life goes on.

  15. kevinearick

    Ever notice soros is always at the tip of syringe, pointing out the path of least resistance, and pressurizing the plunger from behind…

  16. Hugh

    There is an excellent summary press release at the Census:

    http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb12-172.html

    and the full report is here:

    http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf

    The full report has lots of tables and some nice graphs.

    A couple of points. Those without healthcare coverage declined in 2011 but all this decrease came from Medicaid and Medicare, not from private insurance.

    Real median household income (that is adjusted for inflation) was:

    All races: $50,054
    Asian: $65,129
    White, non-Hispanic: $55,412
    Hispanic: $38,624
    African American: $32,229

    page 5 of the full report has a great graph of income by race over the last 50 years. You can see the relative flatness of wages over this period. The bump in wage gains (all races) of the Clinton years has been all but wiped out.

    Female to male earnings ratio was little change at 77%.

    page 15 has a historical graph of poverty by age group. The historic decline of poverty among elders from levels of 30-35% down to the current 8.7% is a testament to what government can when it tries. Poverty for 18 and under, and 18 to 64, was unchanged from 2010, but poverty among 18 and under is at 1994 levels, and that among 18 to 64 remains at historical highs. These numbers show what happens when government abdicates its responsibilities.

    Perhaps it is just me but I find it telling that the report has no graph for wealth inequality. The data are in the tables but a graph really focuses and distills that kind of information in a way that tables just don’t.

  17. Timothy Gawne

    WRONG WRONG WRONG.

    More evidence of the SUCCESS of Obama’s policies!

    What do you thing that this disgusting lying whore has been paid to do, anyhow?

    The man is a genius! A b******, a traitor to his nation and his class, sure, but still a genius.

    Stop denying it. Just deal with it.

  18. Hugh

    Also re the Republican obstructionist defense for Obama and the Democrats’ failures, Mitch McConnell announced about two weeks after the November 2008 elections that he intended to pursue an obstructionist course. Senate Democrats could have done away with the filibuster by simple majority via the enabling resolution at the start of the 2009 session. Also it was the Democrats themselves, most notably operatives like Rahm Emanuel, who ran a bunch of Blue Dogs in districts and states where in this particular election much more liberal candidates could have won.

    Finally, ours has become an Imperial Presidency, even a Presidential dictatorship. It is simply nonsense to say that Obama was hamstrung. Like the filibuster canard, Obama and the Democrats were only hamstrung when they wanted to be. Or to put it another way, what happened in the last 4 years is largely what Obama and the Democrats wanted to happen.

  19. jerry

    I think many of you are putting far too much importance on the narratives and the personalities and “goals” of politicians. These are career politicians, they are not idealists – they are opportunists and must react and do what they can with the circumstances before them. When you have enormous financial and insurance industries essentially controlling our political system, it is not realistic to assume that Obama or anyone else would be able to put forward meaningful reform.

    The only way that our current political system will reflect the wishes of its people is when the people demand it and fight for it. We can ruminate over every election cycle and each configuration of lawmakers and their backgrounds and blame them for X, Y, and Z, but this is the way our system works. FDR wasn’t some incredibly virtuous god of a man, he was a skilled politician who responded to the times. Our politicians are only as good as we make them.

    1. Hugh

      So what’s next? The 11-dimensional chess meme? We have heard all these wheezes for 4 years now, and we keep debunking them. It’s not that Obama fought and lost. It’s not that he did nothing. He’s been actively pursuing an anti-99% corporatist agenda for his whole Presidency. Wake up and smell the coffee.

      There is no evidence that Obama has yielded to pressure from his base. When people were protesting in Wisconsin, Obama was nowhere to be seen. When Occupy was at Zucotti Park, Obama wasn’t. There’s a teachers strike in Chicago, Obama’s hometown, but no Obama in sight. Maybe if Obama had been honest back in 2008, he could have run on the platform of Change We Can’t Believe In.

      So I guess the takehome here is and if we are to take you at your word, the best way to send a message to Obama and the Democrats is not to vote for any of them. Good point.

      1. jerry

        “There is no evidence that Obama has yielded to pressure from his base”

        Of course he did, his base is the 1% as you say. On issue after issue he has yielded to them – ACA, Dodd-Frank, JOBS act, etc. They are his strongest supporter, they are the ones who put him in office. You don’t make it as a politician fucking over the people who put you in office.

        I agree completely there is no reason to vote for him or any Democrats or Republicans, but that is because voting in this system is a useless political tool, the only way to affect change is through strong social/community movements like Occupy – who knows what it would have been by now if the camps hadn’t been shut down?

        But to sit here week after week complaining about Obama did this and Democrats did that – what else would we expect? There is no strong enough force from the left at this point to change things politically. Had Occupy grown and developed further, it may have been a useful tool, but as a politician you sure as shit do not stick your neck out to embrace some foggy, uncertain movement only to have it peter out and lose your career over it. As I said above, politics is a generally cowardly, opportunistic profession, these are not ideologues.

        1. Hugh

          Do you really want to go there? The ACA was a sellout to the insurance industry, BigPharma, and BigMedical. Dodd-Frank was a laughable cave in the banks. Glass-Steagall was never on the table.

          Dodd-Frank itself was little more than an authoritization to agencies to write rules, and that rule writing process has been completely gamed by the banks.

          The JOBS Act is not a jobs bill. It stands for Jumpstart Our Business Startups and is one of the most blatant invitations to fraud in recent memory.

          As for “You don’t make it as a politician fucking over the people who put you in office,” I can only assume you are unaware of election history of the Democratic and Republican parties over the last 40 years.

          1. jerry

            I think you’ve confused my posts entirely. The 1% are the ones who put Obama in office, they are his supporters, they are his base. The legislation he has put in place is for their benefit, not ours. When I say you don’t fuck over the people who put you in office, I’m talking about the 1%, not the dispensable citizenry.

            Try re-reading my comments in that light.

  20. Kos reader Stella Boucharessas

    I am Kos reader Stella Boucharessas. I will vote the Democrat.

    At one time, I too had been troubled by such things as Obama’s kill lists, drone assassinations, the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA, expansion of the war in Afghanistan, the big fat corporate giveaway called Healthcare Reform, the failure to prosecute any Wall Street criminals, etc…

    And I wasn’t sure his heart was in the right place, or that I could support him a second time around.

    But that was before Wolf Blitzer on CNN had a Special Report on Obama about the time he got up on a stage in front of thousands of people in Milan Italy and, costumed as a Soprano, sang Daracelli’s Aubade, repeating the measures that the orchestra conductor whispered in his ear, one after the other.

    Daracelli’s Aubade can be interpreted either as a song or poem greeting the dawn, a morning love song, or a song or poem of lovers parting at dawn.

    After hearing this Special Report from none other than the Wolf himself, I no longer worry about Obama’s drone assasinations or kill lists, nor do I have any doubts concerning his good intentions.

    Anyone who could spontaneously improvise such a moving performance of Daracelli’s Aubade in front of thousands of Italian opera fans, has got to be a good-hearted feller.

    I am Kos reader Stella Boucharessas. I will vote the Democrat.

  21. LA-Crystal

    And yet, we are back to square 1. How many here actually think Romney would do anything better? Take a look at his vague plan and tell me it will move the income gap in the right direction. Seriously.

    We can keep bashing Obama, but reality is what it is. We now live under the Citizens United decision that allows about 50 people (more or less) to determine how we will be governed. Until the citizens of this country sign up and work for a Constitutional Amendment and some real campaign finance reform, it is not going to get any better.

    A reform in the news industry is also sorely needed. I’ve seen a few tiny sparks of hope there.

    I’ll vote for Obama, because Romney’s policies would be some multiple of the worst of Obamas.

    1. Peter Pinguin Society

      LA Crystal: “I’ll vote for Obama, because Romney’s policies would be some multiple of the worst..”

      At the Peter Pinguid Society this is the kind of thing we love to hear. Morons who have fallen for the old lesser evilism scam that we’ve already used ten thousand times before.

      It never fails…ha ha ha

      That’s why we’re the 0.01 percent and you’re the 99 percent schmucks.

      Because you’re f**king morons.

      Ha ha ha

      We are the Peter Pinguid Society. We are the 0.01 percent.

  22. Avg John

    The problem is the poor and the middle class produce only real wealth such as autos, houses, services, and other widgets, whereas the wealthy can produce unlimited imaginary paper wealth, seemingly out of thin air. Somehow this power to create such unlimited amounts of assets out of thin air has made the average person feel smaller and smaller and ever more impotent and alienated. Somehow, people must snap out of their denial and see this economy for what it is, a giant fraud. About 90 % of Wall street services and products could be eliminated without any damage to the real economy, if we had a leader with the guts to take them on. President Obama promised to back Main st not Wall street and he was an epic fail from the very start.

  23. Peter Pinguin Society

    Peter Pinguid Society meeting behind closed doors:

    PPS member #1: Maybe we should change our strategy, I mean how much longer can this lesser evilism scam keep working?

    PPS member #2: But we’re talking about the American public here. Trust me, it’ll keep working as long as we want it to.

    PPSmember#1: Yeah, but how f**king dumb can you get, for Christ’s sake, we’re already pulled this one on them a million times before. How long before they figure out Emma Goldman was right when she said if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal.

    PPS member #2: But we’re talking about the American public here. They’re never figure it out. Trust me, they’re dumb as dirt, they believe whatever absurdities we have the media them, we can keep pulling this con forever and they’ll never catch on.

    PPS member #1: Yeah, but there’s no difference between the two parties now. We both know there’s only One Party, the Peter Pinguid Wall Street Party of Money, with two right wings, one called Republican and one called Democrat. How much longer will they fall for this bullsh*t?

    PPS member #1: Correct, there’s only One Party, the PPS Party with two right wings, but trust me, as long as we keep lying and pretending to these 99er schmucks that elections matter and they have a choice, they’ll keep believing it forever.

    Just watch, we’ll have the “Leftie” candidate eliminate Social Security and Medicare while we continue the stealth bailouts of Wall Street and we’ll be having this exact same conversation in 4 years, just wait and see, they’ll never catch on, how much do you want to bet on it?

    We are the Peter Pinguid Society, we are the 0.01 percent.

  24. LeeAnne

    Obama has to concentrate on the little stuff; he’s a little guy: the beer over some racial thing and the Trayvon Martin stand out as cases that reinforced the programmed among us and gave them something black and white, trivial in the world order of things, to get excited about for a few days.

    We can’t have a discussion that makes any sense about the economy without also discussing the loss of civil liberties; the murder, assassinations, torture, secret lists, body searches, gun confiscation, food, water and air pollution, the threat of imprisonment and secret lists for trivial offenses against goon behavior at the airports, denial of credit for small businesses -on and on.

    The increase in the loss of our civil liberties and threatened secret lists at the same time with the currency is being abused to affect transfer of wealth to the few carefully selected for the cult of money has its purpose.

    Its out-in-the-open for the same purpose. The purpose is to maintain the US dollar in the world in spite of the lawlessness that has concentrated the law and paper wealth into the hands of the few carefully selected co-conspirators who know to keep their mouths shut.

    The value of the US dollar is directly tied to its military and the use of it. The use of it is being demonstrated all over the world wherever possible having to do with maintaining the US dollar by force. Order in the US requires control of its population.

  25. LeeAnne

    I meant ‘now’ at this stage in the debasement of our currency open control of the population is required -as code to the rest of the world that it can be done. And that other rogue leaders in other countries have our support for doing the same things to control their populations; just as Wall Street/Fleet Street, US/UK dhowed the rest of the world how to fleece their populations with debt and control them with austerity. Pure evil.

    Banksters and gamblers in the non-producing sector of the economy including upper corporate management with no skills other than to negotiate with LBO counterparties for this or that offering, merger, more counterfeiting leverage, require population control to continue operating lawlessly.

  26. ad nauseum

    How many times does this point have to be pounded…..

    living standards in the Tier 1 West (incl. Japan) will keep falling as long as companies can outsource production to countries with cheap labor costs and near non-existent environmental/safety/health standards.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PQrz8F0dBI

    100% protectionism is a bad thing, but so is 100% free trade.

    1. Bert_S

      They are trying to blame it on “robots” and automation lately. So more pounding is neccesary.

      Course after you send it to the 3rd world, robots are the only way to get it back!

      But at least you can be a robo programmer, scheduler, or manager.

    2. jonboinAR

      Exactly. The failure to protect our industrial base is at or very near the root of both our limp economy and the slow collapse of median wages and wealth. Least as I see it, it is. I was worried about it when Clinton began implementing various free-trade measures, arguing that we could all work somewhere else like the software industry, or something (they weren’t too clear, which is part of what worried me). Of course I was too inept or lazy or something to do anything about and guess I still am.

      Anyone want to start a group to push for a) intelligently implemented trade barriers; and b) a constitutional amendment to bar corporate personhood?

    3. F. Beard

      Actually not.

      Suppose, for example, that all Japanese corporations, including banks, were equally owned by all Japanese citizens. Then, wouldn’t inexpensive foreign labor benefit all Japanese citizens? Or a least the Japanese population could vote their shares against the use of inexpensive foreign labor?

      The problem isn’t necessarily free trade but that the benefits of it are unequally shared.

      1. jonboinAR

        Policy-wise, Mr B, you’re way out of my league there. I haven’t the slightest idea how to achieve the changes you propose or what are the implications of even attempting to. Briefly envisioned, looks like Marxism you propose. I’m just thinking, myself, of a little strategic protectionism. I think it would help us a fair amount.

        1. F. Beard

          Well, our money system is crooked. The rich and entrepreneurs are allowed to steal purchasing from everyone else.

          So if our money system was reformed then it should be expected that the real capital in the world would become much more evenly owned.

          Also, I don’t know that “Thou shalt not steal” is particularly Marxist unless you think God is a Marxist.

          1. jonboinAR

            No it was the sharing the means of production amongst all part, a noble idea, always, but how to get there?

  27. Gil Gamesh

    As the Exceptional Nation, best loved by God (not the Muslim God, mind you, you know, the Protestant God…Aryan Jesus), we can achieve a Gini 1. Go USA!

  28. nasrudin

    Questions for eViL-lesserists:

    Is there ANY limit on how much evil your preferred faction of the Big Capital Party could enact that would compel you to stop supporting them (as in, NOT voting for them), and supporting their continuing movement in the direction of greater evil?

    “I’d rather vote for what I want, and not get it, than vote for what I DON’T want — and get it.”

  29. OldGrunt

    Well, another day in the World of Obama!

    Unemployment claims up —

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/49016234

    US Median Income Lowest since 1995!

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ed14fc70-fc51-11e1-aef9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz26M2tHc00

    ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS IN LOWER CLASS SINCE OBAMA CAME TO OFFICE!

    http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/09/12/survey-one-third-of-americans-in-lower-classes-since-obama-took-office/

    And look who is visiting the White House next week when Obama DOES NOT HAVE TIME FOR ISRAEL!

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/09/unreal-obama-invites-muslim-brotherhood-egyptian-leader-to-meet-next-week-refuses-to-meet-netanyahu/

    …And just a little reminder: when we watch Obama on 60 Minutes this week demeaning Romney, just remember this —

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/barack-obama-used-troop-deaths-to-ding-bush-mccai

    Are you really going to place your family’s future in the hands of this FAILURE?

  30. RonTruth

    One news pundit said that “median family income, over the past years, and I include the 8 years of George W.Bush, gone up for the families at the top, and down for those at the bottom.” When those incomes at the bottom who are the working poor and the “middle class” go down, it is because the Teapublican Party, when in power, ALWAYS lower taxes on those who will NOT spend the extra money they get from a tax cut, and by proxy, with a tiny one-time tax rebate check of about $500 to the 97% of incomes at the bottom, cause the rich to get richer and the rest of the country to GET POORER. Once the poor have spent their pittance on two trips to the shopping malls, and the layoffs begin when they have spent it, then middle class and working poor people “GET POORER and the RICH get RICHER! That old Teapublican way. “Oink Oink Oink” said the piggy.

  31. R. Freedom

    Should we work towards a new constitution?
    Or should we cause one more revolution?
    Where is the hope & change promised to help me?
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    And I’ll get on my knees and pray
    We don’t get fooled again
    Don’t get fooled again!

    In November, I “hope” people will vote for real “change.”

  32. Horace Manure

    The direction of median incomes, like levels of unemployment are the result of a fairly wide variety of factors that manifest over long periods of time. Thus, attribution of undesirable aspects of the current economic environment to Obama or unspecified policies only fuels further misunderstanding and ignorance.

  33. keep calm, carrion

    Be kind to the Obots. Delusional partisans are the salt of the earth. Studies show Joe Blow’s perception of the economy is strongly colored by party affiliation. Like some poor chump who paid through the nose for a sporty lemon, Dems want to be proud of their stupid shit choice even as they’re fidgeting around it on the shoulder of the interstate. This reliable pattern of self-deception is a gold mine of exploitable market inefficiencies. In 2000 I unloaded shitloads of outrageously-priced risk assets on Dem dupes brainwashed by their party. Then in 2008 I unloaded some more on GOP dupes brainwashed by their party. Now I’m unloading some more on Dem dupes brainwashed by their party.

  34. Rueben Scott

    This is further evidence that the BUSH policies fail. Obama’s policies have never been voted on by the House. The jobs act sits on Boehner’s desk. The Bush policies continue to victimize the country.

  35. Majorajam

    Wow Yves, I generally like this blog, and I don’t like to use the word garbage, but this is garbage.

    Obama inherited a badly imbalanced global economy that is even now no where near emerging from an unprecedented global debt orgy. The declining median incomes, the trend toward more jobless jobless recoveries, the trend toward larger fiancial crises following monetary ‘clean-up’ operations, ZIRP, the proliferating financial assets, the Asian mercantilism, the hopelessly imbalanced European monetary union, etc. etc. etc. Obama walked headlong into these things.

    If you’re going to argue that some policies could’ve been better even substantially better, I’d agree with you, so long as you weren’t arguing as you seem to be that the difference would be turning water into wine. But I would strongly disagree that there is anything that could remotely be considered a corrective to what is ailing us out there, and even more so would I object to the idea that anything that would’ve made a very significant difference would’ve been remotely feasible.

    Take genuine debt relief for instance, which I assume is near and dear to your heart, and rightfully so. Would it have helped? In theory, no question. In practice there are significant questions about how it could be implemented across a country of 300 million with vastly differing real estate markets and regulatory and institutional frame works from state to state. This is not Iceland, and if you read up on how that was accomplished, it was far from easy.

    But that misses the point entirely. Whether or not debt relief was desirable and practicably feasible, would it have been politically possible during the few months when Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate to get votes for it from the likes of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, etc. etc…? All while the administration was working on health care reform? Are you kidding me?

    I just. Words fail to describe how irritiating this kind of non-analysis analysis is. Why don’t we blame Obama because we didn’t get ponies while we’re at it?

    Put it like this: You haven’t established an analytical framework that accounts for current circumstances, so cannot even begin to relate something as complex as the state of median incomes to individual policy initiatives, let alone the political feasibility of said. And yet you get yourself linked to RCP, for what is probably the first time, simply because you’re a useful… liberal critic of Obama/stooge for Romney, whose economic policies would be worse in every conceivable way.

    The only thing I can say to that is, garbage.

    1. jonboinAR

      We blame him for playing the politics of compromise, reasonableness and conciliation while the Republicans, who were in their nadir, were taking no prisoners. They bluffed, and won, because Obama behaved as a callow neophyte. By controlling the national political rhetoric as they did, by THREATENING to filibuster and so forcing deep compromise, all while in a distinct and seemingly demoralized position, the Repubs earned the (stupid in my view) respect of the electorat and were rewarded at the midterms with large victories, a complete and devastating comeback.

      = General George McClellan

      1. Majorajam

        U can blame him for small pox and the chicago fire for all I care. It doesn’t make it so.

        Liberals like you mystify me. You think someone like Obama who grew out of the establishment and came to power with their consent was somehow going to turn into Charles Coughlin once he got into office. U don’t give any thought as to what types of circumstances can actually give rise to that kind of change.

        And of course, it never occurs to you that your theory of politics is so utterly contradicted by electoral experience, e.g. of one Alan Grayson. Are u really so deluded to think legislators like Nelson, Landrieu, Lieberman, Lincoln, Conrad, Byah, etc. etc. would’ve gone along with a stridently liberal Confrontational approach? I wonder what kind od mind bending substance would have to be freebasedby the deciliiter to pull that off.

        1. jonboinAR

          They (the Blue Dogs) might not have gone along with a “stridently liberal Confrontational approach”, especially considering they failed to oppose the stridently “conservative Confrontational approach” the Republicans took and were successful with. But they could have been exposed for the double-agents they really were.

          Yeah, how could the Dems have realistically opposed the “stridently conservative Confrontational approach” when their majority in the Senate was only 6/5 and some of it was iffy, any kind of forceful opposition to that oh-so-powerful conservative MINORITY which was at its political NADIR would surely have ended in disastrous defeat?

          What I’m saying here is I think the electorate would have understood that the real stridency, the confrontational tactics, were originating from the Right side and understood and rewarded the Dems for standing up to them, especially Obama, had he forcefully advocated his positions. They certainly rewarded Reagan, decades earlier, for his percieved courage. Look what happened to Obama and the Dems for coming off callow and craven in those first two years.

          1. Majorajam

            Finally an argument, even a reasonable one. I won’t get into counterfactuals because I’m out of time just now, but we should note that liberals who did stand on principle did not do as well electorally as one might expect if that theory were true. But I’ll grant that the difference between that kind of leadership coming from the bully pulpit and a congressional or senate seat is vast, and the comparison tenuous. If I get more time later I’ll come back to this.

          2. Steve Z

            Like many I have been disappointed in many aspects of the first term. Specifically with respect to ACA, I would have liked to see Mr. Obama start with single payer and negotiate down to public option if necessary. I am sure the cries of “socialism” from the right would have been deafening. Why popular causes never get any traction was the subject of Matt Stoller’s piece a short while ago, “Why the Big Issues are Missing…” (Sep 1), an upsetting, but likely true perspective. (So will some of you very smart people suggest how we break this cycle?)

            But to infer, as someone did a day or two ago, that passing the ACA was a cake walk is gross distortion of history. (Max Baucus was left out of the list above.) The Dem majority included “moderates” – i.e., beholden to big insurance donors – who were nearly as obstructionist as the GOP. Still there are some good things in ACA. The question is whether it deflated any momentum toward getting what we really need – true universal single payer. As a physician, I see daily evidence of patients deciding between their health and other financial obligations – like food, mortgage, rent, education. I am embarrassed we cannot do what the rest of the developed world has already done.

          3. jonboinAR

            I just think that, politically, when he became President he was in over his head, and he got his you-know-what handed to him. Others, more conspiracy-minded, maybe me when I’m in a different mood, think that it was all a part of a scheme and that he has always been doing what he was “hired” to do.

          4. Steve Z

            @jonboinAR
            You have succinctly summed up my feelings as well. I am, at times, susceptible to the more conspiratorial line of thought, but I also find it to be depressing and emotionally exhausting. I also have found that truth tends to be more nuanced, not so black and white, more of a mash up of complex forces and highly flawed human actors.

    2. Kos reader Jethro

      Hi fellow Kos reader Majorajam. I am Kos reader Jethro.

      The reason I will vote for Obama as Lesser Evil is because I love the way that Lesser Evil and his aides meet every week to draw up lists of people to be killed all over the world. This is sooo bitchin, I love that sh*t!!

      They even get to kill people who are completely unknown, who might simply be “behaving” a little strange, you know, like if you’re a desk jockey in DC and you google somewhere in the Middle East and see something that looks a little odd or unspecified somewhere, well, it’s probably indicative of malicious intent, so you’d better send in the drones, baby, blow them f*ckers away, atta boy!!

      I am Kos reader Jethro, I will vote the Lesser Evil, I will vote the Democrat.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      This is perhaps the most contentless Obama apologia we’ve yet seen here, certainly on a per word basis.

      What the apologists inevitably miss in their excuse piles is that it isn’t only what Obama didn’t get done that is wrong; the stuff he did accomplish is a litany of human and civil rights nightmares on a nearly unprecedented scale saucily tossed together with an overeager front window four year fellation of every cartoon villain billionaire who tossed their couch change into his bribe cup.

      1. Majorajam

        Shorter KS: “I may be totally ignorant of economics, history, political science not least as they relate to the subject of this post, but I am highly impressed with myself”

    4. Hugh

      Nice concern trolling. Do you really think your brand of Democratic tribalism is going to fly around here? I mean you do know that Joseph Lieberman was Obama’s mentor in the Senate, and even though Lieberman backed McCain, Obama didn’t kick him to the curb and Lieberman ended up retaining his chairmanship of the pork riddled Homeland Security committee? You do know that people like Rahm pushed for Blue Dogs to run even though far more liberal, and viable, candidates were available? Of course, you do. We have been debunking all your BS about Obama and the Democrats for years now. But you Democratic bots are just like your Cheneyesque counterparts. You wait 5 minutes and repeat the same old lies and excuses all over again.

      The healthcare debate taught you nothing. The failure to investigate and prosecute the largest frauds in human history, ditto. Torture? Ditto, ditto. Obama’s Cat Food Commission and his attempts to gut Social Security and Medicare don’t faze you for a second. It’s not like you are a little wrong or just a little off the beam. It is more like you are luxuriating in being as ridiculously wrongheaded as possible. But seriously what has your ideology gotten you? Do you really think it will save or protect you? People like you remind me of that horse in Animal Farm, true believers whose well earned reward is to be shipped off to the glue factory.

      1. Majorajam

        I’m not sure how often concern trolls start off by stating that a post is garbage, but then I suppose that’s no less accurate than the remainder of your drivel. As to what’s going to fly, ‘around here’, my comment was for Yves, who despite what appears to have happened to her, does know a thing or two about finance, economics and history. The rest of you who collectively, and I do mean collectively, are about as informed as your average North Korean can go to the gym and pump each other for all I care.

        1. Hugh

          Tetchy. “Wow Yves, I generally like this blog, and I don’t like to use the word garbage, but this is garbage” is the standard opening of concern trolls everywhere.

          Then you trot out a series of wheezes, but principally the “Obama was powerless” and “revolving villains” ones. What is it with you guys? You can’t come up with new material? All you do is recycle the same lame lines, stuff some of us have been refuting for nearly 4 years now and hundreds of times.

          We have an Imperical Presidency where Obama can wage war (Libya) completely ignoring Congress or anyone else and execute American citizens (Awlaki) on his say so alone. Yet in the face of this dictatorial power, you say he is powerless.

          In 2008 and 2009, the banks were completely at Obama’s mercy. They needed trillions and Obama could have investigated and prosecuted the lot of them. So what did Obama do? He made sure they got the trillions by whipping for the TARP and reappointing Helicopter Ben. Oh, and he said forget the prosecutions.

          And this most progressive of Presidents, aside from a few faux progressives whom he got rid of (everyone makes mistakes), never named a single real progressive to his Administration. Neoliberal and neocon Clintonistas? By the boatload. He even kept Bush’s people on at Defense and among the US Attorneys.

          But we are supposed to overlook all this and so much more just because it is an election year and you want your tribe/party to win. Just because you have drunk the koolaid doesn’t mean the rest of us have to.

          1. Majorajam

            You might want to double-check that timeline of yours genius. Wouldn’t want to play into the impression that you were less than informed. TARP was passed while Obama was a senator. Not sure how much whipping he was doing on that one.

            Ahhhh, against the stupid even the Gods toil in vain, and yet I tilt. Did it ever occur to you, Hugh, that you are reading the same things because you aren’t actually, you know, actually reading what people are writing? Did I just blow your mind? Or is that thing so deeply fortified beneath lock and key it would take a small nuclear device to free it?

            It might also blow your mind, were that thing remotely accessible, to know that the subject of this post and my comment was median personal income. Now, I doubt you are minimally versed in the subject, but you should still probably be aware that the President’s decision to prosecute hostilities in Libya without Congressional authorization was not likely to have impacted that.

            Ditto those few things you mentioned that are actually remotely on topic unless that is- as many argued were the justification for not doing things like prosecutions of bankers, disclosure of Federal Reserve borrowings, aggressive nationalizations of financial institutions, etc. etc. etc.- would have made median incomes lower, possibly much much lower. At least over the horizon we are discussing (again, in keeping with an idea that there is an underlying subject here). In other words, your hobby horse is not really getting it done here.

            See, those of us who have read Kindleberger and Fischer and Minsky and Reinhart/Reinhart/Rogoff, etc. etc. are in a position to comment on these things. Those of us that are students of history are in a position to discuss the types of things that this blog’s hive mind keeps wanting to change the subject back to- the feasibility of radical change, and the types of political leadership and activist strategies that can affect it.

            You, by contrast, are in a position to flaunt your ignorance like so many puffed out peacock feathers, which clearly you are expert in. So wake me up when you grow up.

            PS As to whether anything I’ve said counts as concern trolling, no, it doesn’t.

  36. RobM

    There are multiple issues on which you and I agree on the obama Presidency. The handling of the bank failures, mortgage/housing policy and financial regulation are definitely attributalbe to the President. The income gap this time around is being drvien by at least two factors he has no control over.
    The first is the collapse in wage income has been occuring since 1970. Two the inequal distribution of income since the beginning of his term is being caused by FED policy which is juicing returns on financial assets and doing nothing for wages or ordinary savers.

    1. Hugh

      What you are describing are some of the effects of kleptocracy. Obama is just the most recent presidential servant of it.

      What is lacking from your points is agency. The appeal to vast historical forces and impersonal forces is part of the con. Wages didn’t just go flat and stay that way for 40 years. People with vested interests were making decisions and influencing policy to make sure this happened. And it wasn’t everyone’s wages who went flat. While the incomes in real terms of the bottom 80% stagnated, the top 20% were making out quite literally like bandits.

      As I pointed out above, the American Presidency has enormous power far beyond what was prescribed in the Constitution. So the arguments of Obama’s impotence simply don’t wash. When Obama wishes to act, he does. The problem is that he is not acting in our interests but in those of the rich and the elites of which he considers himself very much a part. I mean who do you think reappointed Bernanke at the Fed and pushed his name through a reluctant Congress?

  37. Blacksaint

    What does the 26 cities over 250K and the greatest poverty level have in common?

    All are heavy unionized and all have been controlled by Democrats for many many years!

    Does this fact and the Blue States bordering on Bankruptcy penetrate the mental fog surrounding. the Liberal mind and their emotions that they use in place of thinking?

    Of Course NOT!

    Never have so many been oblivious to the obvious.

    They still think the Democrat Politicians are concerned about their Welfare.

    The same party and polities that reduced the black population into welfare bondage and the most dependable Democrat voters will work just as well for the rest of the population.

    Just reduced them to poverty and Depending on Welfare and you have a Democrat voter for life!

    President Zero and the Democrats are pursuing the same polities and spreading poverty for the rest of the Nation that have turned those cities and blue States like Calif., Illinois, New York etc. into basket cases and made them dependable votes for the Democrats!

    The more the Democrats can spread Poverty, Welfare and the Entitlement mentality the more Democrat voters they make and the closer they get to a Third World Socialist Food Stamp Paradise controlled Lock, Stock and Barrel by the Democrat party!

  38. Kurt Sperry

    Unprincipled Obamabots and now teabaggers, the mindless partisans waft in like flies. It’s not the heat, it’s the stupidity. OK, who left the door open?

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