An essay by Matt Stoller (“The progressive case against Obama”), published yesterday in Salon, is the most extraordinary piece of analysis I’ve read in this political season, or in any other. And, as a progressive (and possibly as an erstwhile Obama supporter), I have to say it rocked my world (and I’ve never said that before).
Stoller, a longtime Democratic activist and major fundraiser, makes the progressive case against voting for Obama. For me, this was painful reading: Even though I’ve been aware of many of Obama’s shortcomings, Stoller made me aware of some very serious others.
If nothing else, all liberals and progressives should read this essay so at least we can say that we voted with our eyes wide open.
And if you are inclined to say, “Yeah, but what about women’s rights? At least the choice is clearly in favor of Obama on that issue” Or, “What about the Supreme Court?” … STILL you should read Stoller’s essay.
“Under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama, however, that number is 93 cents out of every dollar. That’s right, under Barack Obama there is more economic inequality than under George W. Bush. And if you look at the chart above, most of this shift happened in 2009-2010, when Democrats controlled Congress. This was not, in other words, the doing of the mean Republican Congress. And it’s not strictly a result of the financial crisis; after all, corporate profits did crash, like housing values did, but they also recovered, while housing values have not.”
” … during the transition itself, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson offered a deal to Barney Frank, to force banks to write down mortgages and stem foreclosures if Barney would speed up the release of TARP money. Paulson demanded, as a condition of the deal, that Obama sign off on it. Barney said fine, but to his surprise, the incoming president vetoed the deal. Yup, you heard that right — the Bush administration was willing to write down mortgages in response to Democratic pressure, but it was Obama who said no, we want a foreclosure crisis. And with Neil Barofsky’s book ”Bailout,” we see why. Tim Geithner said, in private meetings, that the foreclosure mitigation programs were not meant to mitigate foreclosures, but to spread out pain for the banks, the famous “foam the runway” comment. This central lie is key to the entire Obama economic strategy. It is not that Obama was stymied by Congress, or was up against a system, or faced a massive crisis, which led to the shape of the economy we see today. Rather, Obama had a handshake deal to help the middle class offered to him by Paulson, and Obama said no. He was not constrained by anything but his own policy instincts. And the reflation of corporate profits and financial assets and death of the middle class were the predictable results.”
I’m not sure how I’m going to vote this time. (UPDATE: It didn’t take much thought to figure this out. See my comment below).