Dog Whistle Politics and Impending Democratic Congressional Losses
This is part II of a multipart series to demonstrate how everyone in Washington””and one-term President Barack Obama in particular””are telegraphing the fact that they will be gearing up for a major campaign to steal money from Senior Citizens by making drastic changes to ”œfix” the Social Security program. Part I can be read here.
“You didn’t elect me to do what was popular. You elected me to do what was right.”
–One-term President Barack Obama,
Speech to Congressional Black Caucus, Washington DC, September 18, 2010
I was pecking away at my computer, absentmindedly watching Countdown with Keith Olberman when I heard something that made my blood run cold.
We always knew this was going to be hard. I said it was going to be hard, remember? I said I was going to tell you some things you didn’t want to hear. I said that we were going to have to make some difficult choices. I said not everybody was going to be happy with every single decision I made.
You did not elect me to do what was easy. You didn’t just elect me to read the polls and figure out how to keep myself in office. Whenever you read the media in Washington, all they’re concerned about is, boy, his polls numbers are down, so that must mean that he didn’t do the right thing. Just because your poll numbers are down. That’s how everything is measured.
But you didn’t elect me to look at the polls. You elected me to do what was right. You elected me to do what was right. That was change you could believe in — that I was going to do what was right, not what was expedient, not what was convenient.
Now think to yourself. Was he talking about Medicare for All or a Public Insurance Option during the Health Care Reform debacle?
Noooo”” those were popular measures that would have been expedient in that they actually reduced the deficit and solved many if not all of our problems related to the delivery of health care.
Was he talking about Wall Street reforms?
Noooo”” those were also popular measures that could have seriously curtailed the plutocrats who rule both Wall Street and Constitution Avenue.
What in the world could possibly be universally unpopular yet sold to us as doing ”œwhat was right?”
Social Security is the last big nut that they’ve never been able to crack. It’s a spigot of money within the economy that they have never been able to tap, and if they could only tap into that cash flow by privatizing it, or divert some amount of money out of the pipeline, the diverted money can be directed into already well-established money pumps flowing directly into their bank accounts.
They’ve been coming at it from twenty different angles, undaunted by facts, mercy, or anything to the contrary, like a persistent, relentless, horny twenty-year old trying to get into your pants:
- ”œHoney, the deficit’s too big, so we have to reduce benefits,”
- ”œPeople are living five years longer as comatose zombies in Intensive Care Units, so we should raise the retirement age,”
- ”œInflation? Excluding fuel, food, housing, and medical costs, inflation was 0.5 percent, so no Cost-of-Living Adjustment for you! (Besides, do Seniors really need to drive cars, heat their homes, eat food, have a roof over their heads, or get medical attention to survive? Seriously!)”
- ”œSocial Security is only intended to supplement the pension your employer defaulted on years ago, and the 401(k) you could afford to pay into if you paid Zero to 15 percent income taxes like the guys who run your 401(k).”
- ”œHistorically, the stock market has outperformed other investments, just not in your lifetime, or well enough for you to ever retire.”
- ”œWe just can’t afford Social Security. We have to spend $2 Trillion on ”˜emergency supplemental spending’ for our unforeseen costs arising from a ”˜Mission Accomplished’ that’s lasted nearly a decade. Nobody Could Have Predicted it would appear in the budget again in 2010. Or that it will in 2011. And 2012. Yeah. Those wars.”
- ”œWe just can’t afford Social Security. The Federal Reserve floated $3 Trillion in exchange for Treasuries to buy exotic derivatives contracts at face value when anyone else could get them Over the Counter for 4-5 cents on the dollar.”
- ”œThe Social Security Trust is just worthless scraps of paper in a vault somewhere. Not like U.S. Treasury Bonds. Actual Very Serious rich people might have those.”
- ”œEveryone feels so entitled these days. We must cut entitlements. What makes you so special? Why are you so entitled? Paying into Social Security every paycheck, all your working life, for fifty years? Did you ever think of Warren Buffet’s feelings? Doesn’t he deserve a few billion of that? At least he works for his money. You’re just retired.”
And so on and so forth, all in the service of creating an atmosphere of inevitability in Washington. Remember the days of ”œwe cannot wait for final proof in the form of a mushroom cloud?”
All the signals are flashing red that the lame duck Democratic congress will vote on the discredited Catfood Commission’s recommendations to cut taxes on the wealthy while simultaneously cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and that if it passes, One-term President Barack Obama will sign it into law.
The political reality that confronted one-term President Barack Obama when he took office was borne more out of awkwardness than inability. How could he make so many initial ”œconcessions” to the Corporate Right, how many crocodile tears would Mitch McConnell wring out of him, when the Democrats held the magic number, 60 seats in the senate, and a majority in the House? Why oh why would he be so reluctant to hasten Al Franken’s ascension to the Senate? Why did they drag the debate out long enough for Ted Kennedy to die? Why would he let Martha Coakley go down in flames in Massachusetts? Because 59 plus Franken equals no compromises. No compromises minus Ted Kennedy equals Health Care ”œReform”, aka ”œChange You Can Believe In” just right.
The quote at the beginning of this post is nauseatingly galling when you consider the many messages it conveys to its many intended audiences. To the public, it is just clichÃ© political tough talk they’ve heard before: You didn’t elect me to do what was popular. You elected me to do what was right. Rah team.
To wizened civil rights leaders that language that brings to mind a protest march despite opposition from all the white people in a community, despite their dogs and fire hydrant hoses, despite their hatred and insults and lynchings, because the protest marchers were there to do what was right.
And to the plutocrats Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, and Ben Bernanke, it signals that this member of the Joshua generation, standing on the shoulders of the Moses generation, will lead them to a perverse promised land, where every function of government and profit is privatized, every loss is borne by impoverished masses, the wealthy rule every aspect of the land without regulation of any kind, no law no court and no attorney general will dare stay their hand, and Obama will have finally given them their due, something no Republican could ever accomplish in his wildest dreams: the last money spigot in America, the rock of financial salvation that American workers could count on if all else failed, the one thing that would let them keep their dignity in impoverished old age, the trust fund they have toiled to contribute to for all their working lives to take the burden off their own Moses generation: Social Security.
You didn’t elect me to do what was popular.