The American people have made it clear that they want and expect our politicians to stop the partisan bickering and work together to create jobs and move the economy forward. President Obama has alienated some of his base because he is willing to work with Republicans, and has made the argument for bipartisanship as a means of working for the American people in his speeches going back to the beginning of his administration. However, a recent Obama speech has taken the bipartisanship issue just a bit to the extreme and if true, exposes the President as misguided, misquoted, or misleading. Unfortunately, the President is not misquoted.
It is one thing to talk about bipartisanship in the context of equal participation and compromise between Republicans, Democrats and the White House, but the President is abandoning all pretext of compromise and bipartisanship by forging ahead with the Republican agenda that he knows is detrimental to the American people and the country in general. This week President Obama has made some moves that suggest he has ceded control of the country to corporate America and has mandated all Americans to submit to conservative principles that are destroying the country.
On Monday the President gave a speech at the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to encourage the organization to support his agenda of cutting the deficit by freezing annual domestic spending for the next five years. Obama also said that the driving force on the deficit is entitlement spending, although Social Security has no part in breaking the budget. The tax deal Obama made with Republicans in the lame duck congress did not help Social Security by giving a payroll tax holiday, but if the Social Security tax rate was the same for all income earners, the trust would be solvent for generations. Now that there is a payroll-tax holiday, Obama will be hard-pressed to get Republicans to bring the payroll tax back to the rate it was before the holiday, and it will be nearly impossible to make the rate equitable across all income levels.
Obama admitted that entitlement spending is “going to require both parties to work together because those are some tough problems that we’re going to have to solve. And I am eager to work with both parties and with the Chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on a sounder fiscal footing.” Apparently, bipartisanship in this president’s administration means sitting down and taking orders from one of the largest lobbying organizations in the country and allowing the corporatist Republicans to control the agenda. Obama may as well declare Social Security dead and save the country any pretense of a safety net now if he is going to give control of the economy to the newly-formed branch of government; the Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce also wants the Obama Administration to eliminate regulations and corporate taxes, and it appears that the President is more than willing to acquiesce to their corporatist agenda. He said that he wanted to lower the corporate tax rate, and if past negotiations and compromise are any indication, the corporate tax will be eliminated altogether. The president also spoke about eliminating regulations that were a burden to business to stimulate hiring, and gave lip service to the necessity of some regulations to guarantee a clean environment and higher quality of life, but with his record of compromising, he will allow the Chamber to eliminate regulations entirely.
The only part of the president’s speech that suggested he has some morality left is his reference to the income inequality and demise of the middle class. The president commented that the American people “see a widening chasm of wealth and opportunity in this country, and they wonder if the American Dream is slipping away.” Obama did say the government has a responsibility to address the income disparity and called on corporate America to do their part. He said, “As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate and succeed. … But as we work with you to make America a better place to do business, I’m hoping that all of you are thinking what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire more American workers, what you can do to support the American economy and invest in this nation. That’s what I want to talk about today –- the responsibilities we all have — the mutual responsibilities we have — to secure the future that we all share.”
The president still labors under the illusion that corporate America cares about the American people or the nation. President Obama often talks about shared or mutual responsibilities, but he does not understand that corporate America has no responsibility to the American people to create jobs or invest in the nation. Just because the president is allowing the Chamber of Commerce to set his agenda concerning the economy and social programs like Social Security, there is no mutual anything and that is Obama’s failing. He may really believe in the altruism of the corporate world or their deep-seated desire to support and strengthen the middle class, but reality tells a different story.
When Obama the candidate was campaigning he made a promise that lobbyists would not have influence on his administration, but by going to beg the Chamber of Commerce for their help eliminating regulations, Social Security, and corporate taxes, he has broken that promise. The president is not naïve, but by thinking Republicans are going to abandon their corporatist programs for his morally superior agenda of helping the American people, he is misguided.
The president appears to be desperate for the business community to like him. Perhaps giving the Chamber the keys to the economy may help in the short term, but when campaign season rolls around, they will take the wealth he is giving them and spend it to defeat his candidacy. Obama will mourn the day he begged for the Chamber of Commerce to run the country, and America will mourn the day our president became a Conservative shill.