Nov 04 2012

Pragmatic Centrism

The Left Wing Case Against Obama and Obama’s Next Term

by Ian Welsh

2012 November 3

The key thing to realize is that Obama is the President who normalized Bush’s Republic.  He normalized routine civil liberties violations, normalized anti-immigrant raids, normalized the eternal war on terror, pushed executive power even further than Bush with a unilateral war against the wishes of Congress in Libya and by arrogating for himself the right to kill any American.  He made sure the rich not only stayed rich, in the face of a financial collapse which he could have used to break their power, but has increased inequality significantly.  The wealth and wages of ordinary Americans have dropped, the portion of the country’s income going to the wealthy has increased, and the US is well on its way to becoming a corrupt petro-state.  Nothing is more hilarious than Mayor Bloomberg endorsing Obama because of climate change, when Obama has quite deliberately overseen a huge increase in hydrocarbon production and openly embraces so-called “clean” coal.   Obama may agree that Global Warming exists, and Romney may pretend that it doesn’t, but the policies of the two are functionally identical and the money Obama spent on renewables was so horribly misspent as to do nothing but discredit the industry.

The argument for “who cares” is simple enough.  Yes, Romney will be worse than Obama in certain respects, but if Obama is not in charge, then the Democrats are far more likely to oppose both civil liberties absuses and efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Let me tell you how Obama’s second term will play out.

1) He will appoint a milquetoast “liberal” to the Supremes.  You’ll keep the remains of Roe vs. Wade, but he’ll keep doing things like overruling Plan B as an over the counter medicatin, because he doesn’t really believe that girls impregnated by their fathers have a right to an abortion.  And every case that enshrines oligarchy, like Citizens United or HCR, will go for oligarchy (you aren’t stupid enough to think that Roberts switched his vote for any reasons other than to give insurance companies their bailout and gut Medicaid, I hope.)

2) The economy will struggle along till he gets his grand bargain, then it will absolutely crater.  You’ve got a couple years of lousy but not awful economy at most, use it, because years 3 and 4 are going to be awful.

3) He will make a Grand Bargain.  Winning by only a small margin of the popular vote will help with this.  The rich will pay slightly more, but most of the money will come from cutting Social Security, Medicare and other such programs.  The Republicans will give him just enough votes to pass it, so that it will be the Democrats who have gutted SS and Medicare.

4) The Republicans will nominate a right wing crazy in 2016.  He will stand a good chance of winning, because the Democrats, having cut SS and Medicare will now stand for nothing other than “fear the Supreme Court!”  In fact, the Republicans will run as the defenders of SS and Medicare.

Because the Republican Congress is now extremely far right wing, in fact reactionary, when they get their President, they will be able to do almost anything they want.  And all they will need is the House and 51 votes in the Senate, because they will not play stupid games about the filibuster, they’ll pass under reconciliation or just do it with 51 votes and tell everyone to go fuck themselves.  There will be no nonsense about super-majorities.  HCR will, at that point, be removed or gutted.  The court decision making Medicaid optional, however, will remain the law of the land.

Reelecting Obama does mean a better economy for the next couple years.  It does mean that people who can afford health care with mandated issue, and who must have it to make the bridge to Medicare, will get that.  It means nothing else.  It will gut the Democratic coalition, it will make a reactionary right wing president far more likely, it will kick the restructuring of the economy which is needed down the road further, making it more difficult when, or rather if, it ever occurs.  It will make the Grand Compromise, meaning SS and Medicare cuts, far more possible than if Romney were in power and Democrats were opposing the bill.  And yes, poor women will still be able, at least theoretically, to get abortions (upper middle class women are always able to get them, since they can travel.)

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