Barack Obama’s Economic Legacy: The Billionaire-Boosting Big Four on His Wish List

By Gaius Publius. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius. Cross posted from AmericaBlog

I’ve been writing about Obama’s Legacy Tour (sorry, his second term) from time to time without focusing on the legacy itself. So this post will lay down a marker — in brief, what’s on Obama’s economic legacy list, and what will he get if he succeeds? Consider this the Legacy View from 10,000 feet.

I think the whole of Barack Obama’s two-term economic agenda is topped by these four items:

  1. Health care “reform” — a privatized alternative to Medicare expansion
  2. A “grand bargain” in which social insurance benefits are rolled back
  3. Plentiful oil & gas and passage of the Keystone Sludgepipe (KXL pipeline)
  4. Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement

And that’s the list. Privatized “Medicare expansion” (the ACA). Benefits cuts for SS and Medicare. Keystone. TPP. If Obama gets these four, he’s a happy man, and in his mind he goes out in glory.

Notice, by the way, that these are his economic wants. His social agenda — gay rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights and the rest — well, I’ll leave it to you to decide how hard he’s fought for these things, and why he’s fought for them (or not). This piece is only concerned with his economic wants. Why? The reason is here.

Why do I think he wants these things strongly? Occam’s switchblade: Because he acts like it. If you disagree, let’s wait till the Obama show is over, then show me the economic policy he’s fought for harder. (And no, I’m not counting the tepid stimulus tied to the bankers’ Never Go To Jail card. That was on his list (and he won), but it doesn’t top the items above. I think you could argue that this was his forced response to the end of the Bush II crisis, something he had to do before moving onto his own must-have agenda.)

What’s his purpose in pushing for these items?

I’ve examined each of these items separately before, and will again. (For newbies, the TPP discussions are here and here.) But I want to short-form the discussion. What does Obama get out of each of these high-priority items? Taking them one by one, a summary:

Privatized “Medicare expansion” (Obamacare or ACA) is a neoliberal solution to a public health care problem. It gives money to billionaires (in this case, insurance and Pharma CEOs) as a privatized way to solve a public need, and it blocks actual Medicare from being expanded to younger people. Win-win for the neolibs. Young people now will never get access to Medicare.

The “Grand Bargain” is a pretend way to solve a pretend problem (the deficit) with a disguised real goal — start the rollback of social insurance programs. (See here at 1:30 and elsewhere in the clip; note, that’s 2006.) Rolling back social insurance is a neoliberal wet dream. Clinton was on that path until a certain blue dress got in the way. The next Clinton will be on that path as well. Obama’s been after benefit cuts since his inauguration.

■ Oil and gas production under Obama is off the charts, at a mid-term high. This is obviously a big-time Obama goal, and getting Keystone approved is a clear must-have. Keystone has been fast-tracked since the beginning, and after a speed-bump in which the environmental movement reared its powerful head and asked for the wrong thing, it’s fast-tracked today. The latest government Keystone study was authored by the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada.

Keystone is coming. Make no mistake. Obama wants it bad. It will make him Climate Criminal Number One, but not in his mind.

■ TPP is the latest trade agreement in a gaggle of trade agreements that enshrine capital as the only entity with global travel rights. TPP too is coming, and every billionaire on the planet will pay both the House and the Senate major money to please-please-please make it so. Obama will eagerly sign if they pass TPP through Congress. (For an added why, see below.)

So that’s the big four. Remember that list —

Privatized Medicare expansion (done)
Benefit cuts (in process)
Keystone (coming)
TPP trade agreement (coming)

Did you notice? Every item on that list promotes billionaire wealth. By a lot. Obama got the first one, is working on the second, and he has more than three years to get the last two. Then he’s out of office and into Clinton land.

All four have to be blocked. We screwed up on the first — thanks, Dennis “Plane Ride” Kucinich and the other “bold” progressives in Congress. But we can still win the other three.

What does post-presidential Obama look like?

Post-presidential Obama looks like post-presidential Bill Clinton: World-wide acclaim. Sneaky neoliberal “do-gooder” foundation. Library (with obscure funding). And Bill Clinton money.

Since every item on his list promotes billionaire wealth, he’ll get Clinton money and then some (inflation, don’t you know, plus added value for extra effort). That means he’ll also get the Big-Money–funded foundation (“The Barack Obama More-for-Them Institute”), and of course, the donor-compromised library.

But what about reputation and acclaim? In my estimation at least, likely not. The man may have to live with disappointment after all. As I noted earlier, things are coming to a head, on many fronts. If they do, James Galbraith may be right (as quoted here):

For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

Because sometimes, there really is justice in the world. And also because, the minute people get that he really is Climate Criminal Number One (after all, he’ll be that Keystone dude till he dies), Obama will be Them, not Us, for as long as post-industrial civilization survives. Roughly the length of the rest of his daughters’ lives, I think, unless James Hansen is really really wrong.


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  1. Schofield

    Somewhere along the way this week I read something that suggests that both Obama’s terms should really be called the “Betraying Hope and Change Tours.”

    1. Dan Kervick

      Well, if what you were hoping for was an unprecedented destruction of public sector employment, the beginning of the end of social insurance programs, and a spectacular increase in inequality – then your hopes have all been fulfilled.

  2. R Foreman

    Rolling back social insurance programs doesn’t have any meaning, since they’re funded from payroll taxes on a current basis.

    Rolling them back is equivalent to saying the tax will be eliminated and everything I’ve paid in thus far will be returned to me.

    1. Ben Johannson

      No, rolling benefits back is saying, “Sorry, you’ll have to do with less!”. The whole point of reducing social insurance is so government can decrease its outlays; on what planet will workers get a refund for the amount they “paid” in?

      1. R Foreman

        Ouch I hurt my back.. I think I need (SS) disability pay for a few years until I retire (on SS).

        I’ve heard that disabilities are on the rise. People must be realizing they’ll never get out what they paid into social security.

        So goes every ponzi scheme though. I’ve heard the first SS recipient worked about a day, then received years of retirement benes.

        1. Procopius

          Dean Baker points out that because the program is so badly understaffed some dubious claims are being approved, some legitimate claims are erroneously being disapproved, and the whole process is bogged down so it takes way too long to process applications. If you’re in a physically demanding job and you get to be 60 years old it’s not unlikely you are going to get injured with long-term results. And the benefits aren’t particularly generous.

    2. Ms G

      No, actually the correct analogy is a trustee holding your money in escrow and deciding, before telling you or giving you any say in the matter, that “voila — money’s mine and I’m keeping it.” Good luck, sucker.

      But that’s apparently the new meaning of “trustee” and “fiduciary” these days. Another example of terms reflecting a fair moral and legal society having been gutted from the inside and operating as the exact opposite of their original meaning.

    3. EricT

      Rolling them back is the equivalent of introducing a retrogressive tax increase 30 years ago on the people who could least afford it. Ronnie would be laughing his ass off if he wasn’t dead.

  3. Gerard Pierce

    If there were any real justice in the world, more than a tenth of a percent of us would have figured out how badly Bill Clinton sold us out.

    How many of those without jobs can even spell NAFTA?

    1. AbyNormal

      NAFTA wasn’t just a ‘piece’ of the puzzle…

      As leading promoters of NAFTA, the firms surveyed for this report were the most likely to embody the promised benefits of NAFTA. This report reveals how the real life experiences of these pro-NAFTA companies three years into NAFTA now embody a very different story — one which shows that NAFTA is not working. New U.S. jobs are not being created by NAFTA and NAFTA is causing major U.S. job loss.

      1. nonclassical

        ..there there’s “NAFTA ON STEROIDS”=”Trans-Pacific Partnership”:

        “The TPP has been cleverly misbranded as a trade agreement by its corporate boosters. As a result, since George W. Bush initiated negotiations in 2008, it has cruised along under the radar. The Obama administration initially paused the talks, ostensibly to develop a new approach compatible with candidate Obama’s pledges to replace the old NAFTA-based trade model. But by late 2009, talks restarted just where Bush had left off.

        Since then, US negotiators have proposed new rights for Big Pharma and pushed into the text aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would limit Internet freedom, despite the derailing of SOPA in Congress earlier this year thanks to public activism. In June a text of the TPP investment chapter was leaked, revealing that US negotiators are even pushing to expand NAFTA’s notorious corporate tribunals, which have been used to attack domestic public interest laws.

        Think of the TPP as a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny. Indeed, only two of the twenty-six chapters of this corporate Trojan horse cover traditional trade matters. The rest embody the most florid dreams of the 1 percent—grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation. They include new investor safeguards to ease job offshoring and assert control over natural resources, and severely limit the regulation of financial services, land use, food safety, natural resources, energy, tobacco, healthcare and more.

        Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars. Buy America and other Buy Local procurement preferences that invest in the US economy would be banned, and “sweat-free,” human rights or environmental conditions on government contracts could be challenged. If the TPP comes to fruition, its retrograde rules could be altered only if all countries agreed, regardless of domestic election outcomes or changes in public opinion. And unlike much domestic legislation, the TPP would have no expiration date.

        Failure to conform domestic laws to the rules would subject countries to lawsuits before TPP tribunals empowered to authorize trade sanctions against member countries. The leaked investment chapter also shows that the TPP would expand the parallel legal system included in NAFTA. Called Investor-State Dispute Resolution, it empowers corporations to sue governments—outside their domestic court systems—over any action the corporations believe undermines their expected future profits or rights under the pact. Three-person international tribunals of attorneys from the private sector would hear these cases. The lawyers rotate between serving as “judges”—empowered to order governments to pay corporations unlimited amounts in fines—and representing the corporations that use this system to raid government treasuries. The NAFTA version of this scheme has forced governments to pay more than $350 million to corporations after suits against toxic bans, land-use policies, forestry rules and more.”

        1. Nathanael

          The garbage in the TPP is the sort of stuff which United Fruit used to do to Central America (with the threat of guns).

          Now, South America has repudiated this type of US corporate imperialism, and repudiated it very successfully. The elite in the US don’t seem to have really noticed properly that this model has DIED. They are actually still trying to use it on South America (with utter failure, because South Americans are on to them). B

          But I suppose their attempts to use it outside South America may be successful for a few more years. As long as nobody outside South America talks to any South Americans. How likely is that, really? :-)

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Right you are, Gerard. The most bewildering phenomenon is that so few can spot the neoliberal in threadbare progressive drag, the ravening wolf under silken mocha fleece—still, even after five years—in the information age. If you include the lunatic fringe, convinced he’s a Marxist, more than 98% of American voters have no idea who he really is. I’ve often said his style of perception management is a masterful deception that makes Reagan look like a B-movie amateur. The Obama nation is a mindbender.

    3. jake chase

      Yes. Clinton and Obama- the same guy in different colors. Those who voted for either of them (and generally voted for both of them) have only themselves to blame. I wonder what cloud cover the next Democratic Party sellout will have? Personally, I’m betting on Female. Those listening closely can probably hear the hysterical cheerleading already.

      Liz Warren perhaps? Running against Carly Farina? Does Bush have a sister? I suppose anything is possible. Why not a midget? A ballplayer? A Rapper? How about Marv Alpert? If Ralph Kiner were alive I would vote for him, just for the ad libs.

      Can anyone imagine Obama saying ‘three fifths of the earth is covered by water, and the other two fifths by Gary Mathews?’

  4. TK421

    “It will make him Climate Criminal Number One, but not in his mind.”

    What mental gymnastics allow him to keep from feeling like a climate criminal?

  5. David Lentini

    Obama is a symbol of our post-Viet Nam culture, a symptom of the sickness and decrepitude that develops when the citizens of a democracy become self-indulgent and too materialistic. The rot really started at the end of World War II, when the great wealth and power the US found it had led to the halting of the New Deal and Four Freedoms with Truman, replaced by a consumer society and the return of the wealthy to power. By the end of the ’50s, the major players were in place to make their move–neo-classcial econmics was established, albeit still in a nascent form, Wall Street was cheering a return to ’20s-style investing, Madison Avenue was perfecting its ability to mislead the public and, more importantly, becoming a key player in political campaigns. By the end of the ’60s, the Boomers were turning on the Democrats over the Viet Nam War, which was not only illegal but kept the Boomers from enjoying the comforts they had come to see as a right.

    Once the war ended, the radicalism faded out and left a cynicism that has marked those of us who were born at the tail end of the Boom and later. The popular culture of the ’70s and early ’80s is especially replete with the “take the money and run” attitude that will be the legacies of Clinton and Obama. Their presidencies will look like Risky Business and Kelly’s Heroes writ as large as possible.

    Only when the public returns to more lofty thoughts, like what kind of government they need rather than want, will we have a chance at getting reforms.

    1. jake chase

      I would say the rot started when Roosevelt manipulated the US into War II. Of course, it was all about oil, keeping Japan out of the Pacific Rim, and saving England, which deserved to collapse for its monstrous and inept bungling in the Middle East after America saved its bacon in WWI. I remain amazed that nobody seems to understand Roosevelt’s perfidious role in all this, his fronting for the Rockefeller interests as early as 1933, when he publicly went after Rockefeller’s enemy, Morgan, using that grandstanding Pecora committee, then put stock manipulator Joe Kennedy in charge of the toothless SEC.

      It just shows you propaganda dies hard. How many people realize that Woodrow Wilson was a front man for Morgan? History books still consider him an idealist. He gave us the Fed, the Income Tax and WW I. How’s that for hope and change?

      Come to think of it, the rot started in 1912, when Wilson got elected because TR splintered the Republican vote.

      1. YankeeFrank

        You really are such a vague generalist and conspiracy theorist aren’t you? Roosevelt “manipulated” us into WWII? Come off it. Right. We should’ve let the Nazis take over Europe and let the Japanese bomb us with impunity. Right. Oh yeah, I’m sure you’re a subscriber to the “Roosevelt knew the Pearl Harbor attack was coming” meme. The only problem with that particular conspiracy theory is that even if we had been able to successfully defend against the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor it would’ve pushed us into WWII. There was no reason for Roosevelt to leave our navy completely unprotected and vulnerable in order to “manipulate” us into WWII. And I guess we should’ve also let the Nazis exterminate half of Europe instead of fighting back. The idea that WWII was a war we shouldn’t have fought is one of the most morally bankrupt notions in history. WWII was THE one war it was our moral duty to enter and win. All the silly rewriting of history that you are doing and that passes for scholarship among right wing loons and fascist-apologists is thankfully perceived by 99% of us as foolish and morally vacuous. Nice try though.

        1. jake chase

          You’ve been watching too many Hollywood propaganda movies, and the Nazis have taken over Europe, and perhaps we should have plunged into war in 1915 to protect the Armenians, and who the hell is we in all this? People said the same bullshit about Viet Nam and Iraq and Afghanistan and your type keeps buying it hook, line and sinker.

          Vague conspiracy theorist? Nothing vague about it. It is always about money and power and not another damn thing.

          1. Nathanael

            Your conspiracy theory is, frankly, stupid, and the reason has already been explained.

            Bluntly, the Japanese were going to attack the US regardless. This was insanity on their part, much like GW Bush’s insane insistence on attacking Iraq.

            We would have been in WWII in the Pacific no matter what FDR did. You might as well claim that Saddam Hussein “manipulated” Iraq into the Iraq War — it’s a really dumb, stupid conspiracy theory.

            The last opportunity to prevent the Japanese government from militarizing, going mad, and attacking everyone had been missed back in the 1900s.

            Get a clue.

            The US actually *was* manipulated into the Spanish American War (by Hearst and others), and that one was *entirely* about money and power.

            Woodrow Wilson ran what can only be called a scheme to get the US (then very isolationist) into World War I — in this case, his hidden agenda was being able to rewrite the map of Europe after the war, and he largely succeeded; his agenda was nothing to do with money. (The causes of WWI in Europe, on the other hand, were partly money-related.)

            WWII, in contrast, was driven by psychological madness in the leadership of Japan and Germany: a combination of power-hungriness, racism, and empire-building with a lack of any sense as to what was actually possible.

            You are a one-theory-to-explain-everything manaic, and it’s a bad habit to be in. Some wars have different causes from other wars.

  6. Middle Seaman

    Anti-Clinton resembles the anti-black or antisemitic diatriab we are used to. People just never get tired of it. We are talking Obama and what he does and not what a pressident in the 90s of the last century would’ve done if.

    Other than that I agree with more blunt words. Obama is a right winger with the intelligence of our average right winger. We already have the most backward social safety net of any significant development country, but Obama still thinks it’s way too much.

    He never fooled me.

  7. profoundlogic

    Love it! I was pondering similar thoughts yesterday, and what it is this guy really stands for (other than himself). The answer seems to be not much.

    I firmly believe that the big O is following the same playbook as his Democratic predecessor. It’s sad really, when you look at the opportunity for real change and reform that was squandered. Something tells me his legacy won’t survive the end of his second term, as the “grand bargains” come home to roost and the consequences of those missed opportunities to reform the financial system wreak havoc with the popular message he is spinning.

    1. Brindle

      Obama will ultimately go down as one of our worst presidents.
      Obama had a mandate from the voters in 2008 to do big, positive things; almost like his campaign rhetoric, once in office, was a nuisance to him, like a fly buzzing around that was swatted.
      The image I have had of Obama for years now is that of a carnival barker–Ivy League version.

      1. Ms G

        ” … carnival barker–Ivy League version.”

        Yes. And also, lest we forget, Greeter at the Bill Clinton casino in Macau — working for cash tips, of course. (Hat Tip Lambert)

      2. Nathanael

        I’ve been trying to decide whether Obama is most like Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, or Buchanan. There are merits to each comparison. The comparison gives hints as to how far away we are from a cataclysm.

        (I think GWB is most similar to Polk. Except Polk won his wars.)

  8. Serf Music

    Are you sure that Obama’s not just a lazy, shiftless ——?

    Does he really set his own agenda, or do other people do that for him?

    1. Ms G

      Ask Obama — he said of himself recently that “there is a laziness in me.” This was in an article highlighting the extensive time he spends on golf courses and Obama’s upbringing in Hawaii (beaches, etc.)

      Don’t listen to me, listen to Obama.

      Lazy, shiftless, tool who knows his brief — lazily cruise through 8 years and collect decades of guaranteed Gold Plated Lifestyle at golf resorts, beaches, etc. for him, Michelle and the girls.

  9. Serf Music

    …for example, how many people really believe that he even so much as read “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”?

    Q: Did he sign “Obamacare” into law without even reading it?

    A: Yes, he did!

    1. Ms G

      Well, with Pelosi supposedly stating for the record that the only way to find out what Obamacare (“ACA”) said was to sign it (first), it’s not like Obama was improvising or anything …

      The first Lutte Finale must build around health care.

  10. Brooklin Bridge

    It sucks but,

    The reason Obama doesn’t care about reality is because he doesn’t live in it and doesn’t care to. And his legacy won’t either. As long as it serves the interests of the billionaires, he will get the benefit of the main stream media for as long as he lives or for as long as that media lives, which ever expires first, and the media has proven a powerful antidote to reality.

    A relative handful will follow him with knowing eyes; knowing that he betrayed them and all his promises, but though they number in the millions they will be few and they will have little but obscure outlets to share their thoughts and frustrations. Freedom of expression is a most exaggerated concept in this country.

    On the other hand, if the ruin of his public image can further the interests of the 0.01%, then indeed will his legacy be challenged, but with a twist. It will only be presented publicly in a light that furthers the perceived intests of that elite.

    1. Nathanael

      The 0.01% are mostly crazy and will ruin Obama’s image just for kicks, or because they can, to show off their power.

      Make no mistake. This 0.01% are not forward-thinking conquerors, they are petty bullies.

  11. Timothy Gawne

    Very good points, but with respect, one whopper of a mistake.

    “Immigrant rights” is NOT a social issue, it is a core financial issue.

    It should be called “using an excessively high rate of importing foreign workers to increase competition for jobs thus decreasing wages and increasing profits”, but that doesn’t sound good. So the rich have spent decades waging a massive propaganda campaign trying to equate opposition to forced population growth with racism. It has thus become an unthinking knee-jerk liberal reaction, but I humbly suggest that this needs to be rethought.

    Funny how the ‘rights’ of poor Americans to send their kids to rich school districts are not respected, nor are the ‘rights’ of poor Americans to trespass onto the private country clubs or walled mansions.

    1. Ms G

      The core financial issue of immigration is a key component of the “free trade – globalisation” class wargare engine (see e.g., Yves’s post yesterday). *That* is the correct conceptual category, not “social” issues, like LGBT, etc.

    2. Klassy!

      “kneejerk reaction”. Nicely put. Liberals, who pride themselves on their open minded and nuanced thinking refuse to look at this issue from the point of view of the citizen who might have a bigger and more personal stake in the issue. It is easier to simply cast them as a racist. I think it makes them feel all warm inside too.

      1. Nathanael

        There’s another way to look at it, though.

        Currently, rich people are allowed to move their money where-ever they like. But poor people aren’t allowed to move where-ever they like.

        A socially just policy would be to allow poor people to move from country to country, but to prohibit rich people from moving their money around.

        At the moment, “immigrants” are not the problem affecting jobs in the US. *Outsourcing* is the problem, with the jobs going to India and China and so forth. Require the money to stay in the US, and allow the immigrants in, and we’d be back at least to the sort of prosperity we had in the 19th century.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    Let’s also not forget that he is accelerating the privatization of the public schools, which is re-directing billions to the vulture edupreneurs who are taking over the schools, busting the teacher unions, and transforming teaching into temporary, at-will employment.

  13. mk

    “Why do I think he wants these things strongly? Occam’s switchblade: Because he acts like it.”
    Behavior is truth
    Words don’t mean sh*t.

  14. sherparick

    As President Obama wisely stated in his speech last week in Israel, “speaking as a politician, I can tell you politicians will only make pogress when their is popular agitation for that progress.”

    Much of the criticism of Obama is that he has governed pretty much exactly on the platform he ran on in 2007-08, a platform that except for the Iraq war, was slightly to the right of Hilary Clinton’s platform on domestic issues. He ran as someone who accepted the Neoliberal consensus of the last 30 years, with the difference between the Club of Growth types in the Republican Party is he wanted to provide some cushion for losers at the expense of slightly higher taxes on the winners of the Great Market Economy Lottery.

    The demise of the labor movement, the collapse of environmentalism as a electoral force, and similar collapse of a electoral movement for reproductive rights, particluarly in Red and Purple States, explains why ACA was passed, but not “Medicare for All.” ACA was the most progessive piece of social legislation passed since Medicare in 1965. Neither the Carter administration or Clinton administration were able to pass anything as progressive. There were not majorities in either the House or Senate in 2009-10 to pass it. If you want something like it to pass, fix the problems I stated above: a labor movement that once again effects electoral outcomes; an environmental movement that does the same; and reproductive rights movement that would scare Governors and legislatures from Florida to North Dakota from going near abortion rights.

    See also:

    I guess it is the “ad hominenm” attacks on Obama and lack of political reality that bug me (also some of the commenators start using “lazy and shiftless” rerference to a Black President, it makes me wonder about their “liberalism.”

    We are in a system which has the form of a Democracy but in reality is an Oligarchy (which was essence of AG Holder’s admission tha the Big Banks are to TBTF, TBTP, and hence their Suite 3 Executives, are above the law). Further, supposedly one see supposedly democratic and center-left Governments or oppositions in other countries that are either also advancing, and certainly not opposing, the same “entitlement reform” neo-liberal agenda (See the EU and Japan).

    In an election between a “Center Right Party” (the Democrats), that at least believes in some amelioration Capitalism, and a Right-wing coalition of Theocrats and Plutocrats who feel enraged and filled resentment (while spending $50,000 a piece at a fundraiser) that losers are not suffering enough (quote last year’s Plutocrat: “the 47% (a/k/a the losers) think they are entitled to food, housing, and health care.”), you pick the party that does the least harm, even thouugh it chiefly responds to the concerns of 1% and not enage in self-righteous self-induldgement. And you organize and contribute to the grass root organizations that might eventually change things (for fail nobly in the attempt.)

    1. bobh

      You should boil all that down to a single syllable and chant it continuously to yourself as things get worse. It will keep you from thinking about how you got conned.

    2. Lambert Strether

      When you wrote “ACA is the most progressive piece of legislation,” you forgot to put the ironic quotes round “progressive.”

      ACA had its origin in a proposal from the Heritage foundation designed explicitly to head off single payer. That proposal was first passed into law by none other than Mitt Romney, a Republican. The Federal bill that was passed as the ACA (“ObamaCare”) was drafted by Liz Fowler, a WellPoint VP on secondment to Max Baucus’s office as Chief of Staff.

      Hence, it should come as no surprise that:

      1) Those first covered by the ACA — in time for the 2012 elections — were not those in the greatest medical need, but demographically Obama voters (youth; professionals already in the system with insurance but with dependents who were not covered);

      2) The ACA is a bailout for the health insurance companies that guarantees them a market but does not control costs

      3) The ACA is a Trojan horse for privatizing Medicaid and Medicare and, ultimately, all forms of social insurance (after all, why shouldn’t Social Security be the “public option” for retirement, if any?)

      1. Klassy!

        1) Those first covered by the ACA — in time for the 2012 elections — were not those in the greatest medical need, but demographically Obama voters (youth; professionals already in the system with insurance but with dependents who were not covered)
        Good point, but besides being an obvious grab for voters it served to keep the great lie going– you know the one where the middle class is kept form seeing that their interests are more aligned with those at the bottom of our economic pecking order rather than those at the top.

    3. Dan Kervick

      The Democratic Party is too far gone.

      All these party leaders care about in the end is money, and where it comes from. I strongly encourage everyone to quit whatever party they belong to, if they still belong to one, and encourage everyone they know to do the same. Yes we live in an oligarchy. But the parties still depend on massive infusions of campaign cash from the lower orders. The only thing that will make them sit up and take notice is drying up that cash.

      1. Nathanael

        The Whig Party was a dead party walking in 1850, but the Republican Party didn’t get going until almost a decade later.

        The Democratic Party was written off for dead in 1860, but it somehow survived.

        Of the two parties we currently have, I actually expect the Republicans to be the party which dies, because they’re the one committing purges. I expect the Democratic Party to continue its long historical record of ideological incoherence, which it has had since Andrew Jackson. It will probably end up being the right-wing party after the Republican Party dies.

        (The Whigs became a pro-slavery party through purges; when they died, the new party, the Republicans, was an ANTI-slavery party. When the current Republican Party dies, the party which replaces it in the two-party system will be a LEFT-wing party.)

        This is assuming that the party system realignment happens prior to the discrediting of the entire national government, of course. Given that the government now openly kidnaps, murders, and tortures people without trials, that’s not a conclusion I can safely make; governments which do those things tend to fall violently.

  15. steelhead23

    Barack Obama may not be very good at much, but at one thing he excels. He is a better snake-oil salesman than P.T. Barnum – and sure as hell, he will sell us all down the river.

  16. alex morfesis

    knowing more than I want to know about the chicago crowd that the emperor obama hatched from, thought dust giveth that crowd a bit too much credit…

    privatized insurance will become public insurance in fifteen years when the MBA(move the business to asia) crowd has run it into the ground and have fumbled the executive pensions. So… better to allow the ego’s to privatize and make sure the insurance industry wind down scenario works for the average american when the eventual crash comes.

    the “grand bargain’ about benefit cuts…nonsense…benefits are always changing…read the federal register every once in a while…you might get an understanding of how this democracy really works…

    keystone is a problem…as long as you are not having your son or daughter sitting in a metal tin can bouncing off the coast of someplace sevensistersplus international has an interst in …how many people crying about environmental issues that come with having home grown fuel are insisting their children and cousins children join the navy ?? and how many suadi arabian woman have to be treated like dogs so that someone can feel good about their environmental ethics ? every time you fill up at the station you sustain apartheid against woman in saudi arabia…do you hear the screams every time you slide your atm card into the payment slot ? I do…

    TPP or tp(toilet paper) promises…dont know if you have noticed…but the billionaire crowd is running out of countries to exploit…if you think people are worried about burma and north korea and cuba because they care what happens to their little serfs ? they need new places to make the spread between your refusal to buy quality locally and your feel good moment you crave and demand in that you can afford to “buy something” after working 35 to 60 hours this week in a job you hate. Where you end up buying something in frustration as against giving some thought to long term planning…you may not be a drug addict, but most people are addicted to feeling good and quicky catharsis…these billioniaires are just good at exploiting basic human weakness…but the fun part is they are running out of countries to exploit in our lifetime…

    the future is bright…get over it…the number of americans owning free and clear homes will grow exponentially in the next twenty years, leaving companies to have to pay people a reasonable wage or they wont be motivated to work for them…

    people read unemployment accounts, but how much of that is TOTAL HOUSEHOLD DESTITUTION…in the olden days(before the “accord”)we are told…there was only one bread winner in the family and therefore…blah blah blah…well maybe you should read about when did child labor in this great democracy of ours actually end…it might be enlightening…

    most households have some form of money coming in…pension…401k…chilc support/alimony, actual work…side work…business from home…and family who can afford to lend money to each other…many things and factors that led me to give up any thoughts of wasting my
    time getting an economics degree in my youth since it was obvious the formulas being spouted were not taking reality into account…

    you want to make a difference…your congressmen take bribes in the form of campaign donations…if ten percent of the population found a way to hand over just 500 dollars to their idiot in dc…they would outbribe the major corporations and special interest groups…and it would send a clean message to them…they might manipulate us, but we are the ones that sheepishly place you there…and when they see that people are putting money on the table, this democracy will begin to function as envisioned by ben franklin

    1. nonclassical

      ..when the american people conclude that $$$$ is PROPERTY-not $peech-and
      that it is ILLEGAL to influence legislation by contributing PROPERTY, AND the peasants march on Supreme Court fundamentalists so stating, american government will have reformed…

      1. alex morfesis

        the current cast (in the movie called life) residing under the dome in dc has been trained to roll over and bark twice for doggy treats…it is what it is…one can ask that somehow they find in the depth of their souls that they should be like franklin and payne…or we can deal with who they are or have allowed themselves to become and tickle their %&$X with a feather…i mean typically nice weather… one can say it is better to be a lion for a day than live on ones knees forever…or one can notice that when you flip the electric switch the lights go off…

    2. Zachary Smith

      *** the future is bright…get over it…the number of americans owning free and clear homes will grow exponentially in the next twenty years, leaving companies to have to pay people a reasonable wage or they wont be motivated to work for them… ***

      Well sir, I’m undecided about whether you’re an unusually clever O-bot or have been smoking some really good ‘stuff’.

      That said, your post appears to be an ‘outlier’ among some really perceptive comments.

      1. alex morfesis

        I gave up smoking goofy stuff in college…

        hey wait…that’s when I gave up on being an economist…


    3. scraping_by

      Thank you for the selections from The Big Red Book of Neoliberal Mythology.

      “privatized insurance will become public insurance in fifteen years…”

      When it’s run into the ground, the billionaires will see who can keep paying for it. If not, it will just become another subject too vulgar to bring up in polite conversation. The history of privatization is not just loot ‘n scoot, but leaving things lay afterwards.

      “benefits are always changing…”

      Benefits never change to deprive the citizens of their due. That’s not ‘change’ that’s ‘short-changed’. Equating minor bureaucratic changes with lessening people’s ability to live is comparing apples and road apples. A small similarity doesn’t make a category equivalence.

      “suadi arabian woman have to be treated like dogs…”

      The one’s minderbender time. There’s no technical reason for hauling oil sludge from one end of the continent to the other. It makes a lot more environmental, economic, and technical sense to refine it on site and ship higher margin goods. The inevitable poisoning of large sections of the American Heartland seems to be the goal rather than a side effect.

      And no good-hearted person needs to choose between a post-apocalyptic novel and financing repellent social systems. Conservation and alternate energy has to be dangerous to the oil companies, they spend so much time and money sabotaging them.

      “the fun part is they are running out of countries to exploit in our lifetime…”

      You’ve never heard ‘better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven!” Milton knew his oligarchs.

      Anyway, it’s a feature, not a bug. Uneducated, economically insecure folks spend their times scratching a living rather that writing to their congressthings. The elite vision of humanity is themselves and a handfull ruling a mass of lumpenproletariat. And if the proles have too much sense and dignity, just take away a few more rights and protections. Social insurance, the rule of law, vested property rights, all that to be cleared away.

      “the number of americans owning free and clear homes will grow exponentially in the next twenty years, leaving companies to have to pay people a reasonable wage or they wont be motivated to work for them…”

      Yes, I read those early 90’s books, too. However, owning a home is not related to economic security. It’s a budgeted cost and cannot be counted as income. And they’re already solved that reasonable wage thing by arranging to import as many foreign workers as needed to drive wages down to starvation. It’s nothing personal, it’s only business.

      “how much of that is TOTAL HOUSEHOLD DESTITUTION…”

      Volunteer your local food pantry and look into the faces of your neighbors. Given the mishmash of Reagan jolly words you’ve assembled, it might not matter, but at least you can say you’ve been there.

      Anyway, ‘starved to death’ is rather a low bar to set. There are enough material goods in the world, certainly in America, to set a higher bar for ‘not enough’. Bankruptcy comes to mind, even if the screaming howlers are even now being trained to blame the victims.

      “most households have some form of money coming in…”

      Not even close to true. A large segment of the population has one income, and no reasonable alternative resources. Even if the old folks could move in on the kids, the kids probably won’t have the resources for the old folks’ medical needs. ‘A little money coming in’, even when that’ true, doesn’t mean adequite to the household needs. Once again, ‘starved to death’ is a low bar to set.

      “and when they see that people are putting money on the table, this democracy will begin to function as envisioned by ben franklin…”

      Even in the unlikely even that the citizens can outbribe the oligarchs (mathematically unlikely) it’s no real protection. There’s no legal force behind a bribe, so they tend not to stay bribed.

      The mythology of competing money has been enshrined in many works of fiction and right wing propaganda, but I repeat myself. In truth, the money spigots both during and after a term are in the loving grasp of the oligarchs. They’ve got nothing else to offer as an argument.

      Oh, and Ben Franklin spent the Constitutional Convention asleep in his sedan chair. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Northern money and Southern slaveholders. Very New York.

      The neoliberal dreamworld is thinning out like a mist burning off in the morning. Here’s hoping the rest of us don’t get cooked before it’s gone.

  17. Pepe

    ” ACA was the most progessive piece of social legislation passed since Medicare in 1965″

    Damning with faint praise?

    This was a post about Obama’s legacy, not the problems with the Dem party.

  18. briansays

    clinton like obama came from modest means at best but were bright enough and eager enough to capture the attention of those who could help them–this desire to serve elites has gained both admission to the club and it continues to drive them

    contrast them the the man expressly labeled “a traitor to his class”

    “In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government. The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.”

    Franklin D. Roosevelt, 18 July 1940

  19. Susan the other

    I have a different take on Obama. When Gaius Publius says he “did not count the tepid stimulus tied to the Bankers’ never-go-to-jail card,” I am frankly stunned. Obama’s relentless protection of the banksters at the expense of all concepts of justice and fairness; even by gutting the justice system itself; pushing through acts as treasonous as the State AG Settlement; and backing Holder without flinching – the whole banking crisis is the single biggest devastation of the social contract this country has ever experienced. That is Obama’s legacy. A first-class racketeer. ACA is a work in progress – it will improve or fail; Social Security likewise; KXL is basically a military operation – if they were environmentally wise they’d just pump that stuff back down all holes in Texas and wait to refine it until all hope for peace was lost; and the TPP is going to be short lived in its present form because it is clearly just another monopoly and tax dodge all in one for the rich.

    But the failure of the entire banking system, without so much as a mention by Obama during his entire tenure? That is his legacy.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      I agree with Susan. Furthermore, the nearly four remaining years in his second term is a long time in a world populated by “black swans”. Given what has happened multiple times over the past three decades and the subsequent policy choices that have been and are being made, I think a meaningful probability should be attached to a disruptive debacle in the financial system occurring sometime during the remainder of his second term.

      Should that happen, I expect he will be considered expendable when… “The Time Has Come To Sing Sayonara”: – presented with combined Japanese “QE For A Few” and “German Austerity” overtones. (Or alternatively, for a comprehensive “mood music” goodbye, there’s Pat Kirby’s original rendition of “Sayonara”: – replete with QE overtones from the “Original Home of QE”.)

      … After all, this is “Rome” we’re talking about now and there is nothing more important to the real “deciders” under the current structure than their personal wealth and the power that flows from it. We have seen that already.

    2. Gaius Publius

      Thought I’d jump in. I agree with Susan about the banks — putting banker prosecutions off-limits and making them whole with taxpayer money is a v.big deal.

      What I meant in the article is that I don’t think that’s a top agenda item for Obama 2.0 (mainly b/c it’s done), and it wouldn’t have been a top agenda item coming in (Obama 1.0) if things hadn’t blown up under Bush II. That is, dealing with the 2008 crisis was thrust upon him, he dealt with it in typical neolib fashion, then moved to his own list.

      But yes to Susan the Other, expanding the protection from Rule Of Law umbrella outward from first, major protected pols (Weinberger), then to connected minor ones (Corzine), then to connected bankers, is major. No question.

      It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to Adelson.


  20. Doug Terpstra

    Brilliant analysis from the vast left-wing conspiracy, but I do agree with Susan: it’s so difficult to determine the top four regressive policy goals among so many consistently interrelated. For instance, how about “war criminal number one”? Surely the undeclared unilateral drone wars on Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and (soon) Iran rank right up there, along with the NDAA, the perpetuity of Gitmo, rendition, etc.

    On that track, I love Galbraith’s foresight into Obama’s nightmare legacy. But to the eyes that will haunt him in the future I would add those of the Palestinians and the bloodshot vengeance in those of thousands of Yemeni, Afghan, Pakistani, and (soon) Persian families of collateral-dead.

  21. Thomas

    For much less effort, Holder will get perhaps as much wealth just for licking the stamp on the get of jail card.

  22. TimR

    Why would any eyes haunt him in the future if they don’t haunt him now? And they’ll probably still believe in him anyway, and blame their troubles on whoever Obama tells them to.


    On the ACA: I know somebody who works in the insurance industry, a conservative (in the libertarian/Austrian camp), who thinks the ACA is designed to fail, thus designed to turn into a government takeover of the insurance business. IOW, he thinks the ACA is just a ruse to get to Obama’s (supposed) real goal of more government involvement in the economy, and less private industry.

    I would like to see NC writers and commenters address this theory, since it requires more technical expertise in the ACA than I possess, to argue with it at all.

    1. Hugh

      Depends upon whether your think its purpose is to extract rents for Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Medical or to deliver affordable healthcare to the maximum number of people. If the first, it is an qualified success. If the second, more than an abject failure, a crime.

      1. Otter

        More likely its purpose is one last orgy of profit-taking before removing real medical care from ‘the masses’.

        From the perspective of the oligarch, when a horse is lame you shoot it, when a cow is sick you rush it to the slaughtergouse. Medical care is an inefficient drain on resources.

        The oligarchs will be able to buy whatever they think they need, wherever they prefer to receive it. Corporations will revive for extremely grateful employees basic nursing services. The people will be able to buy potions and amulets… likely from the same corporations disguised as grubby storefronts and hedgewitches. The unfit and the undesireable will die.

    2. James

      TimR, FWIW your friends take on the ACA is also what I believe it to be.
      It’s like a game show contestant w/a parting gift in that the math longterm does’nt add up so until all powers outside of insurance industry see that and repeal it the insurance co.s make out like bandits.
      Look at the premium increases to date. (50%?)
      By the end of Obamas term this will be painfully obvious to all as premiums will have skyrocketed to the point of unafordibility and then by 2-3 years into the next president it will change.(spend years making a problem and then spend years fixing it) It gives them purpose and connected industries make billions while we all argue amongst ourselves.

      I truly feel terrible for this Country and it’s People that the last several so called Leaders have instead sold this Country out for their own Ill-gotten gains.
      That is all.

    3. Barmitt O'Bamney

      The failure of the ACA, will be the failure of the underlying private insurance industry, the same failure which was already pending. Insurance premiums were on track to double in ten years, as noted by Paul Krugman during the year the legislation was taking on its horrid shape. And per the ACA, they could still double in under 7.5 years without even triggering Congressional review – so that gives an idea of how little they expect the law to beneficially restrain costs. Premiums could rise catastrophically, exactly as predicted before the “reform” was designed and passed, and Congress would not have to consider itself under obligation to review anything it or its partners in crime had done to the American people. No, ACA isn’t a brilliant subterfuge to destroy private health insurance, but was rather a ham handed ttempt to stave off the mass unsubscription that was looming, due to the ever spiraling premiums, and the imminent retirement of the Baby Boomer cohort. They fixed it by fiat, naturally. “We’ll just make it a law that you HAVE to buy it no matter what! Plus we’ll throw in some minor benefits to candy coat it” Fix It Again, Tony. As far as I can see, the “reform” of cost-plus pricing (aka the Medical Loss Ratio) gives insurers the most perverse kind of incentive: wink at providers who want to raise their rates so they in turn can pass on the increases freely to subscribers and thus raise their own gross as rapidly as possible. That will make net profits look sweet, even if they aren’t really growing, and keep the suckers on Wall St. happy. “Cost plus” pricing is the same scam that enabled Halliburton to run amok and rack up the billions in Iraq. Obamacare, to simply vastly, proposes do to our health care system what Dick Cheney did to Iraq. Pillage and profit! With insurers forever freed from having to compete with the cost/risk of no coverage, we’ll be damn lucky if the catastrophic “doubling in ten years” prediction is the worst that happens to us. The fix will fail, but it wasn’t meant to fail. It will buy more time for the racketeers of health care, but not nearly as much as they hoped. ACA is not going to destroy private health insurance by some ingenious long range strategy – good old market based greed is going to do that. Doing nothing at all would have been a much better, quicker and surer strategy for Democrats, if destroying private health insurance and supplanting it with publicly funded Medica* had been their real policy goal. Securing the public good vis a vis anything wasn’t and isn’t their policy goal. “Rehabilitating” the insurance rackets as a captive clientele for legislative tweaks, and thus a steady source of bribe money for themselves, was the real policy goal. Taking on the management and funding of health care delivery as a function of government would burden them with all the liability of making the system work, but reward them with none of the sweet, sweet lucre they require to make it worth their while to bother themselves with the People’s health and survival. As it is, though, the Democrats are going to be covered with stink when Obamacare explodes. It’s their stinky mudbaby, and when it extravagantly expires all over the place, the Republicans can say, “We were against it! We warned them!”

      If Obamacare is such an insidious plot against the future happiness of the health insurance oligopoly, as your friend in the bizness imagines it to be, why is it that the stock prices for firms like Wellpoint and Aetna and United Healthcare have been in an unbroken uptrend since their lows (with the market in general) at the time of Obama’s first Inaugural? Aetna:
      Shouldn’t these stocks have gone down and stayed down? The market has risen generally since then, since for most stocks, the worst news was (widely believed) to be over by this point in 2009. But for health insurers, the bad news was supposedly just beginning in 2009 and 2010 – that is, unless Obamacare isn’t actually bad for them. Surely the sharpies of Wall St. can see through the subterfuge of Obama’s “socialized medicine” and grasp the lethal plot he has laid against the Aetnas and Wellpoints?

    4. Nathanael

      The ACA is best described as a nothingburger.

      It won’t change the underlying trends.

      As noted by others, the underlying trend is a death spiral for private insurers: increased premiums, and reduced number of people paying them. The ACA will… not change that signficantly. It will just end up being a regressive tax, since it will be far cheaper to pay the “penalty” than to buy gazillion-dollar-a-year private insurance.

      ACA was an attempt to save the private insurance companies. It will fail, however, because they are unsalvageable.

  23. Hugh

    I too agree with Susan. Obama’s greatest legacy has been his protection of the banksters. He never investigated or prosecuted them for the biggest frauds and financial crimes in human history. Instead he bailed them out, allowed them to cook their books, and encouraged their continued gambling and predations, ensuring an even greater collapse and meltdown in our future than the one in 2008.

    1. Lambert Strether

      I would generalize that to Obama’s greatest legacy is the destruction of the rule of law. That’s what destruction of the land title system and its retroactive putative legalization in Obama’s Mortgage Settlement boils down to. As Yves pointed out: We’ve now put a price on fraud: $2000. That’s a lot of money to me, but nothing at all to those who have trillions.

    2. Blurtman

      Recall that it was only a few months after being elected in 2009 that Obama claimed on the Leno show that no crimes were committed by Wall Street. This claim was repeated numerous times thereafter, but with absoultely no investigations to back up the claim. He can indeed read quite well from the teleprompter.

  24. Lambert Strether

    So, the much-reviled single payer hippies were just as right on single payer as another set of much reviled hippies were on Iraq.

    It would be nice to hear some acknowledgement of that from “progressives,” but file that under Hell, Freezes Over, When.

  25. Eureka Springs

    I think Susan, Hugh, Lambert and Gaius are all correct.

    Now, how do we proactively delegitimize?

    General Strikes?
    Pen and push for an entire platform of very specific amendments in an article V?
    Stop talking about Obama, D’s or R’s entirely.
    What else?

    1. peace

      I agree. We must persist with civil disobedience, emails to our representatives, and exemplary lawsuit and other actions by Occupy the SEC

      I respectfully disagree with Galbraith’s partially karmic view of history on this issue in which he believes that Obama’s injustices will eventually be recognized. Unfortunately, this is a form of false consciousness that could pardon inaction. It promotes a perception that “History seems to work these things out without my input; so Obama will probably get his comeuppance eventually.” I do not believe this is Galbraith’s intention but it can be a demotivating unintended consequence of assuming history will acknowledge injustice. History is constantly being reconstructed and it is influenced by nationalism, positive halo bias and other social and political influences that obscure the truth. Justice requires our vigilant action — Thank you Yves, Mexico, Lambert, et al., Occupy the SEC and yes Galbraith’s work too.

    2. Nathanael

      Rejection of the legitimacy of the criminal government (which keeps political prisoners without trial for years on end, violating the Constitution and human rights, and throwing away most claims to legitimacy)?

      I don’t know. I figure there’s no point in hastening the collapse, it’ll happen regardless. Focus on setting up institutions which will survive the collapse. That means starting locally.

  26. Jackrabbit

    “Climate Criminal Number One?” Don’t bet on it.

    First of all, TPTB are already setting up the fall guy for Global Warming – the same fall guy as always ( tobacco-related illnesses, diabetes epidemic, sub-prime, etc. ) – the victim(s) (again). And people will accept that blame because, hey, they DID use oil and the media wouldn’t lie. It’s almost too easy.

    Secondly, the TPTB have been and will continue to glorify Obummer as evidence of ‘post-racial’ America for many years to come.


    Lastly, it is at once ironic and pathetic that the money that the oligarchical Powers-That-Be use to stay on top actually comes from the people. Why does no one point this out? Over time, companies have combined into larger companies that could drive down costs and obtain market pricing power. Excess profits have been used to gain further advantage via technology and government influence.

    A goodly part of the money that is extracted from people – who would never think of giving money themselves – is used to fund campaign contributions, favors, lobbyists, think tanks, etc.

    So when you hear people lament that “there’s nothing we can do to break the grip of money in politics” tell them: its YOUR money that they’re using, dumba$$!

  27. mac

    I cannot agree with this as I think Obama has no agenda, he is an actor using a script written by those who direct him. He was selected in the beginning because he has no agenda other than self aggrandizement.
    He was selected because he looks good, sounds good and allows people to vote for a black man and prove to themselves that they are not prejudiced.
    He is the “empty suit” of all “empty suits”!

    1. Doug Terpstra

      I like “snake in a suit”. After all, Obama is a Chicago-bred hustler and Harvard-trained shyster, cagier and more diabolical than your typical empty-suit sociopath, who made it to the top whore house in record time. Yes, he is reading a carefully-crafted script, but he’s at least coauthor, who can feign empathy convincingly, adlib smoothly (as when he confided to Medvedev about having more flexibility after his [re]selection), and run the game himself. He’s also shrewd enough to foresee the harm inflicted, while maintaining almost plausible deniability.

      It’s hard to imagine facing the infamy of his legacy, but it’s not an unfortunate mistake; it is the product of deliberate, concerted effort. Maybe he just doesn’t care, or like his Wall Street cronies, he craves power and dominion, or in control of nukes and drones, he suffers twisted messianic delusions.

      1. Nathanael

        He’s still pretty empty.

        He’s not smart enough to realize that he has the power to kill the billionaires and seize real power. He’s no Julius Caesar.

        And he doesn’t realize that the billionaires will happily throw him overboard after he does their dirty work, either.

        So Obama is STUPID.

  28. F. Beard

    The problem is that the benefits that government provides to the non-wealthy are much more obvious than the benefits the government provides to the wealthy. Indeed, how many of you think the Fed and government deposit insurance are for the general welfare instead of special privilege for an unstable, inherently dishonest form of private money creation that benefits the banks and the so-called “credit-worthy” at the expense of everyone and is a proven threat to world peace too?

    Counterattack! Threats to the safety net for the 99% should be met with counter threats to the safety net for the banks. Indeed, it is the “safety net” for the banks and their other privileges that cause the need for a safety net for the rest of us.

  29. Progressive Humanist

    If POTUS signs of on Keystone, without requiring them to issue insurance bonds on each mile of pipe plus and secured escrow acct for disaster relief, plus a secured account for carbon credits on the spent fuel, plus an increase in social security benefit,

    I (independent; neither O-bot nor tea-drinker) will be referring to Potus as President dirty-carbon Koch from now on, and his legacy will do likewise.

  30. JGordon

    I am very thankful to Obama. Prior to 2009, I had some belief that America was good and that politicians generally had the common good in mind.

    But since Obama’s term in 2009, I’ve come to understand that politicians are lying, corrupt snakes and that the world will be better off after our putrid society collapses. Really, without Obama there I might still be living in that fantasy dreamworld. Now I see that the only rational thing to do is give up on society, get on welfare, and stock up on ammo.

    1. Nathanael

      Arable land. A community filled with people who will help prevent any contamination by direct action — a community of environmentalists. A community of people who will help protect you against land theft attempts.

      Water supply. Solar panels. Et cetera.

      Remember, the survivors after a collapse are not loners with guns and ammo, but close-knit *communities* (perhaps with their own militias).

  31. Nathanael

    Obama is an idiot.

    He has sacrificed the option for REAL power — the sort of power that Emperor Augustus had, the sort of power that most Presidents and kings can only dream of — in favor of these sops to a deranged group of billionaires who will crash and fall anyway.

    (They will crash and fall because they are out of touch with reality, and they are failing to provide for the needs of the people. Just like the ancien Regime in France, the Imperial regime in Russia, and so on. Most of them don’t get replaced with populist revolutions; the deflationary regime of Weimar Germany got replaced with Hitler. But they collapse nevertheless.)

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