Obama’s Austerity Budget?

“The budget for fiscal year 2013 proposed by the Obama White House Monday is a thoroughly cynical exercise. It calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in social spending cuts, further devastating public services and the living standards of working people.
This is combined with populist demagogy about taxing the rich, although the administration knows full well that no such measures will pass either the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The budget incorporates $1 trillion over ten years in cuts to domestic social spending already agreed on with congressional Republicans in last year’s negotiations over raising the federal debt ceiling. To these cuts will be added a total of $638 billion in social spending cuts.
(…) The staggering rise in total federal debt, from $5 trillion when Bush took office to some $10 trillion when Obama entered the White House, and now approaching $15 trillion, is a demonstration of the colossal scale of the plundering of the US economy and the US Treasury by the super-rich. Both Obama and his Republican opponents agree that the price for the bankruptcy of American capitalism must be exacted from working people, through the destruction of jobs, living standards and social programs.”

Regardless of Obama’s populist rhetoric, he is only a puppet in this political and economic environment, in which a handful of wealthy billionaires decide what the election results will be, making it a beauty contest with ever more super-PAC funding that will find no end. The system is demonstrably crumbling and eventually collapsing. The staggering national debt, the massive private debts, including student loan debts, the exorbitant Wall Street and corporate profits much of it offshored, the rapid extension of the U.S. dollar (indicating higher inflation), the weakly recovering employment levels, most of which takes place in the un-unionized low-income sector, the complete sell-out of our political institutions on all government levels, are all contributing factors.
I hate to sound the voice of the pessimist, but Greece (22% additional wage cuts, 150,000 public-sector layoffs, 40% spike in suicide rates, massive increase in homelessness, cuts in hospital, education, pension services etc.) points us the way forward in almost all western countries. How do we sustain growth that is large and equitable in the advanced capitalist societies? We can’t, and the debt regime since the 1980s helped us cover up this structural problem. No longer, and the looting billionaires will ultimately pay their price too via the loss of what Wendell Holmes called “civilization”.


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