Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I WANT YOU TO BE RESPONSIBLE

President Obama will hold a "fiscal responsibility summit" in Washington next Monday with the goal of reining in government spending. Watch out.

With our federal budget deficit heading toward $1.4 trillion this year, or nearly 10% of our overall economy, something must be done. Look out.

Obama adviser John Podesta says the summit is the first step in a process to help the public "understand how the financial balance sheet of the federal government comes back into order."

Translation: Middle class and poor folks are going to really get nailed.

According to the Washington Post Obama's team has invited big business, economists and a range of other "special interests" to the event which will feature five breakout sessions. Larry Summers (refer to Naomi Klein interview here) will lead the discussion on Social Security. Hold onto your hat.

Former Republican senator Jon Danforth calls it a "media event." He's right, they are preparing the American people for the clamp-down.

The Post also reports that one of the key goals of the summit is, "Controlling spending on a vast social safety net for the elderly and the poor that threatens to bankrupt the government."

Then they say, "Lawmakers also will be asked to dedicate more money to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and perhaps another round of cash to prop up the crippled financial system and to stimulate the sagging economy."

Translation: They want to cut Medicare and Social Security so they can fund two wars and more bailouts for Wall Street. And they will call it "fiscal responsibility." Watch out for this kind of change, it will kill you.

Each day we get another tiny glimpse of the Obama plan. When he went to Canada this past week he told our neighbors to the north that his campaign promise to renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement would "have to wait."

You might remember that during the campaign one of his top economic aides went to Canada and was caught, in an unguarded moment, telling them that Obama didn't really mean all this fair trade talk about changing NAFTA, it was only a campaign tactic. So in a way he kept this promise - to the Canadians anyway.

Obama is being credited by the Washington pundits as "changing his tone." So he got off Bush's horse, took off his six-shooter holster, and is now "projecting an image of competence and reengagement." In the end most of the big economic and military policies will be much the same but the tone will be more gentle and inclusive.

What about our side? Well, on Tuesday next week, the day after Obama's fiscal responsibility media event, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) will hold a briefing in Washington on his proposal to cut the military budget by 25%. He is inviting organizations to come to the event and to then go home and build support for this version of "fiscal responsibility." So we do have a horse in this race being led by Rep. Frank and it is up to us out here in the hinterlands to put a saddle on it and grab Paul Revere's lantern and begin riding the local circuit and sounding the alarm - "Fiscal responsibility is coming, cut the military budget."

You see there is a war going on inside the Democratic party today. It's a battle between those who want to enable the corporations and those who want to help the people who put them into office. It's time to pick a side in this contest.

We can see the score now. How it turns out is up to you. Take responsibility or face the consequences.

3 Comments:

Blogger Loring Wirbel said...

This is all true, but it is also important to mention the war going on within the Republican Party between the "let's be reasonable" would-be centrists, and the hard-core right who want to stick with pure laissez-faire economics of doing absolutely nothing for the poor, using racist terms to denounce the president, and plotting for a coup a la the Michigan Militia during the Clinton administration. It is this cluster of Republican purists that caused Majority Whip Clymer to call southern Govs. Perry, Jindahl, Barbour, and Sanford "virtually racist" on Friday. He said they all were willing to take federal funds for Katrina, but were going to reject any federal funds from the stimulus package - ostensibly because they were being economic purists, but actually for class-race reasons, Clymer said, because the funds would go to poor, black counties.

None of this should lessen our critique of Obama, on this front or on military fronts (he expanded CIA missile attacks inside Pakistan over the weekend), but it should make us realize a basic fact about the total meltdown of the global economy. Whatever we may like about Social Security, Medicare, welfare, anything, financing for any and all social programs (and for most DOD programs) may be running out very quickly no matter what anyone does. The utter meltdown of the global financial infrastructure may reduce the entire planet to a barter economy in a matter of 18 months or less. This is a perfect time to think about an absolute restructuring of budgetary priorities worldwide, but as it happens, Obama's options may be few and scary.

2/21/09, 11:20 AM  
Anonymous The ACTivist magazine said...

"This is a perfect time to think about an absolute restructuring of budgetary priorities worldwide"

And a time to think about the role we as individuals (and collectively) play into the hands of the globalists - ie - we need to sit down and think very carefully and seriously about our "lifestyle"; how it is connected to the "global economy"; and what WE must change in order to get our autonomy back and justice for all (or as many as possible).

Nicely done Bruce. I have reposted it on The ACTivist magazine.

2/21/09, 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Joan D said...

Obama & Crew's Fiscal Policy Sure scares the heck out of me -- no money for Social Security but plenty of money for war, war, & more war? Doesn's mkae sense. I have paid out of many, many paychecks for Social Security benefits the past 64 years -- the years of my active work life -- what is the government doing with the capital & interest earned on my money? This myth that I need a younger owkring person's payments to pay my monthly check is a phony argument guaranteed to enhance deep class divisions between youth & the elderly, the haves & have nots. Joan W. Drake, Washington, DC

2/26/09, 8:05 AM  

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