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Obama/Boehner Two-Step

December 22nd, 2012

by Stephen Lendman

Previous articles explained fiscal cliff duplicity in detail. At issue is destroying America's social contract. Both parties agreed early in Obama's first term. They plan killing it incrementally by a 1,000 cuts.

Class war rages. Private wealth and power are pitted against essential public needs. Property rights, individualism, and free-market mumbo jumbo hammer ordinary people mercilessly. Neoliberal harshness reflects it.

Warren Buffet once said, "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's winning."

Obama, Boehner and complicit congressional leaders agree. Plans are to give corporations and America's privileged class more. Unprecedented wealth extremes will widen.

Public needs will grow. Shared sacrifice is one-way. Both parties concur. Obama and Boehner publicly dance around what both leaders agreed on months or years ago. Media scoundrels pretend otherwise.

On September 19, 2011, economist Richard Wolff headlined his Guardian op-ed "The truth about 'class war' in America," saying:

"Republicans claim (Obama's) millionaire tax is 'class war.' The reality is that the super-rich won the war" long ago.

Tax hike fear-mongering claims:

(1) raising them "amount(s) to un-American 'class warfare,' pitting" ordinary Americans against corporations and super-rich elites; and

(2) tax hikes negatively affect productive investment and job creation.

Evidence proves otherwise. Post-WW II, every personal income dollar raised was matched by $1.50 on business profits. Now it's 25 cents.

Ordinary households bear today's burden. Social justice are four-letter words. Corporations pay increasingly less. Nominally from 1989 - 2007, they paid 24.7% of profits. Since 2010, they averaged 12.4%. In reality, many pay much less.

Obama/Boehner's grand bargain assures new cuts. Obama's on record favoring lower corporate taxes. Expect nominal reductions from today top 35% rate to 28%. What's paid, of course, is much less.

Sometime next year, major tax code revisions will be quietly announced. Discussions about them are concealed. Otherwise, major social benefit cuts would look like double-dealing duplicity to fund corporate largese. More on what's coming below.

Wolff said US taxes over the last half century saw "a massive double (burden) shift from the richest individuals to everyone else."

Corporations and super-rich elites won America's class war. Everyone else lost out.

On December 13, Wolff revisited the topic. His Guardian op-ed headlined "Class war redux: how the American right embraced Marxist struggle," saying:

Republicans and conservatives used to say little about "classes and class warfare." America is a "classless" society, they claimed.

Most Americans are "wondrously comfortable and secure consumers," they say. Harsher views now prevail. Unguarded moments reveal them.

Prime targets are called "moochers." Romney called them "the 47%" always voting Democrat.

"Moochers" depend on government handouts, they claim. They include contractual federal obligations. They're for qualified eligible recipients.

Social Security and Medicare aren't entitlements. They're not welfare. They're insurance policies. They're funded by worker/employer payroll tax deductions.

Social Security provides retirement, disability, survivorship, and death benefits. It's America's most effective poverty reduction program.

It's worked remarkably well since inception. It once provided secure inflation-adjusted retirement or disability income. Manipulated CPI numbers erode annual amounts received.

It protects personal savings. It avoids risky private investments.

It's not going broke. When properly administered, it's sound and secure. Over time, it needs only modest adjustments. Doing so properly keeps it viable in perpetuity.

Medicare is America's largest health insurance program. Tens of millions are covered. Everyone over 65 and some younger disabled people qualify. So do others of all ages with end-stage renal disease.

Obama/Boehner/complicit congressional leaders/and corporate America want both programs privatized and eroded en route to ending them in their present form. They want Medicaid and public pensions treated the same way.

Death by a 1,000 cuts is policy. Expect it to play out over the next decade.

Both parties support class warfare. They want people most in need denied help. They want government reduced to militarism, national defense, homeland security, and defending corporate and super-rich privileges.

They want everyone else spurned, on their own, sink or swim. At issue is destroying America's social contract by neoliberal austerity.

Democrats feign resistance. It's cover for what they agreed on years ago. Obama's fully on board. He's corporate America's point man.

His people-friendly persona masks his diabolical dark side. No pun intended. He's contemptuous of popular needs. He heads the fight to destroy them.

Battle lines are drawn. Ordinary people are in the crosshairs. Political theater conceals what's coming.

Both sides agreed on $4 trillion in largely domestic cuts over the next decade. It's for starters. Quietly they're on board for much more.

Deficit cutting urgency is a ruse. Whatever amounts are cut, annual deficits will rise exponentially. Cutting them depends on sound policies both parties spurn.

They include ending permanent US wars, cutting defense spending sharply, shutting down overseas bases, reinstating progressive taxes, and making corporations and large investors pay their fair share.

Most important is putting money power back in public hands where it belongs. Doing so ensures long-term, inflation-free prosperity. It's possible with minimal taxes on ordinary people.

Good policy isn't rocket science. It's time-tested effective. What worked in other countries and colonial America can be replicated now. Both parties reject it. They have other fish to fry.

Their plans involve thirdworldizing America. Political theater will unveil it step by step. Obama agreed to $1.2 trillion in largely domestic yearend cuts.

Boehner raised his initial $800 billion to $1 trillion. Expect agreement on around $1.1 trillion. Simpson-Bowles recommended it two years ago for starters. All parties have much more in mind.

Boehner's on board for modest tax increases on incomes of $1 million or more. Obama suggests $400 million. Expect compromise around $600 million. On average it's what America's 1% earns.

Word awaits on expected tax revenues raised v. bracket manipulation and specific spending cuts. Expect Medicare and Medicaid to be hit hard.

Final deal terms may mandate around $500 million cut from Medicare alone. Expect it mostly in higher Part B and Part D deductibles and copays.

Defense increases, not cuts, are planned. War profiteers rest easy. Reductions will come from weapons systems Pentagon officials don't want, overseas troop drawdowns, and veterans benefits most of all.

Retirees will pay higher healthcare premiums and co-pays. Overall benefits will be cut. Promises made were broken. Neoliberal harshness targets them like other Americans. Even wounded and disabled vets increasingly are on their own.

"Broadening the tax base" is code language for major code revisions coming. Ordinary people will be hit hardest.

Expect mortgage deduction caps, state and local tax deduction limits, less allowed for charitable and medical insurance deductions, lower education credits, raising the Social Security retirement age to 67 or higher, and other ways to squeeze America's middle class and least advantaged.

Obama and Boehner feign negotiations. They're on board in principle. Public two-stepping is deceptive. Deal parameters and terms were agreed on long ago.

Corporate bosses are on board. Obama's been meeting with them multiple times weekly. Tax relief, greater handouts, and other incentives bought their support. What they back becomes policy.

Key bosses matter most. They're lobbying Congress for Obama. Heavy lifting is done. Final details await announcement. Most planned cuts are backloaded. They'll begin in 2014 or 2015. Others will kick in later.

December 31/January 1 are fictitious deadlines. Cuts can come any time. They can be made retroactive to yearend.

March 27, 2013 is a real deadline. America runs out of money when its debt ceiling is reached. US law requires Congress authorize borrowing limits to fund federal programs.

Doing it means raising the ceiling by late March or sooner. Expect agreement in principle by yearend. Details come later. Two-stepping continues.

Media scoundrels provide background music. Corporate approval sealed a done deal. Neither side of the isle dares disagree.

Campaign contributions depend on going along. Money talks. In Washington it buys influence. It demands consigning America's social contract to history's trash bin.

Middle class and disadvantaged households are increasingly on their own. Harder than ever hard times await them.

A Final Comment

In 2009, the Nobel Committee continued its long/inglorious tradition. Another war criminal got its peace prize.

Obama followed Henry Kissinger, Shimon Peres, Yitkak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Al Gore, Kofi Annan, three other US warrior presidents, and other candidates deserving harsh condemnation.

On December 19, Time magazine added another award. Obama became its person of the year for the second time. It called him "both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America."

It omitted saying he helped make it unsafe and unfit to live in.

It ignored his war on humanity, his police state governance, his kill list, his self-appointment as judge, jury and executioner, and his self-designating himself power to have any US citizen arrested and imprisoned uncharged indefinitely for life.

It forgot about numerous other violations of international, US statute and constitutional laws. So many exist, it's hard remembering them all. Instead of denouncing his rogue governance, it praised what causes so much harm to so many.

It shouldn't surprise. In 1938, Time named Hitler person of the year. In 1939, Stalin followed. Future Nazi collaborator Pierre Laval won in 1931. So did Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

In 1937, facist Chinese leader Chaing Kai-shek was Time's choice. Kissinger, Nixon, GHW Bush, Bill Clinton twice, Newt Gingrich, GW Bush twice, and Bernanke were future inglorious choices among others.

Perhaps Netanyahu will win next year. Qualifying depends on colonizing all valued parts of Palestine he doesn't yet control. Perhaps he's pushing overtime to meet Time's deadline.

-###-

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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