Posted Under: Capitalism,Economy,Obama,US Politics
Last night, the American House of Representatives passed legislation to raise the debt ceiling and heavily cut public spending – a historic move if you take into account the first has never been conditional on the latter. Today, the Senate unsurprisingly passed it.
This trimming of the budget was inevitable considering the normalisation of neoliberal policies. Horrendous facts and figures regarding the extent of the cuts aside, the focus is on negotiations which took place and the ideological victory won by the Republicans and their Tea Party offshoot who succeeded in their desire to see no tax increases. The Democrats were evenly split in House votes (95 for and 95 against), whereas the Republicans were heavily in favour of the bill (174 for and 66 against).
Talk of a compromise being made flatters to deceive, with even staunch Obama supporters disillusioned by this legislation. Obama’s posturing has been to attract support from the centre of his party and the independents who are worrying about the deficit and its relationship between Wall Street investment for Main Street businesses and services. However, this will not wash when imagining the destruction of public services, social security and education. If people don’t have these things, they can’t get to work, won’t be qualified to work, and won’t be able to afford the rising costs of living in urban towns and cities.
Its easy to say Obama isn’t to blame; that he’s held in thrall to corporate interests and a Republican majority in Congress. However, it is easy to say he is to blame too. It is foolish for anyone to think he has failed because no one person should ever have that much responsibility or power anyway. The criticism will always be easy if it is about him. I am not taking anything away from his agency as president here, but we must not forget the words being whispered into Reagan’s ear to “hurry up” by Don Regan , his policy man, during a speech, or Clinton and the continuation of the Washington Consensus, or Bush Jr. and both the recent invasions. These men, while being the public faces of the problem, deflect away from a festering undergrowth of corruption, corporate collusion, nepotism and class warfare perpetrated by those who wish to maintain the status quo, their own corporate welfare, and social immobility.
Commentators have suggested this outcome is a severe weakening of Obama’s already lacklustre authority and maybe even his re-election chances, but this is all too simplistic and linear. Americans love a narrative, preferably with a soundtrack, of individuals with ideals battling their nemeses and prevailing for the ambiguously greater good.
It is popcorn politics the American mainstream media try and peddle, and it is the American public who start feeling powerless and apathetic because of it.
While austerity will be pushed onto us here and we will fight it tooth and nail, it is the Americans I wish to see rally and fight this new bill once it is enforced. If a large scale movement can be built with the support and enthusiasm the “Save Our Schools” campaign has recently generated there, there will be huge protests in all the major cities in the U.S, which will in turn reverberate around the developed world.
It has been said capitalism would destroy itself for a profit. We may be witnessing the beginnings of America’s implosion. After all, as we’ve seen with Spain’s “Indignados”, a movement which has been virtually ignored as of late despite daily protests and demonstrations held by thousands, “No es la crisis, es el sistema” (its not the crisis, its the system) must come to mind.
I think, or rather hope, more Americans act on the realisation that it is not Obama who they are now feeling increasingly alienated from, but the sacred system which both major parties defend and maintain with very little deviation.