The fix is in. If you read the media tea leaves, it looks like Medicare and Social Security benefits will likely be cut to avoid going over the contrived fiscal cliff because signs are that both U.S. political parties and the Obama Administration have already agreed to it. Reading between the lines of the media speaks volumes to this truth.
It is not so much what is being said by politicians but what isn't being said. Have you noticed the dog and pony show around President Obama "drawing a line in the sand" about tax increases for those making $200,000 and up, and House Majority leader John Boehner feigning a fight? With populist rhetoric, President Obama is sure to rally his "base" which will soften the blow when he supposedly cuts benefits to Medicare and Social Security. I particularly marveled when word leaked by the Obama Administration that he would not be averse to rescinding the tax increase after one year. Hint hint.
The reality? On matters of economics, the Democratic Party does not look a whole lot different from the Republican Party. The Democrats who are right of center as a party long ago abandoned the ideals of FDR who created policy that saved capitalism from itself in the 1930s and defended working people against its excesses. We need today's Democrats to put up a fight and they are taking a pass. Crimes of gargantuan proportions have been committed since the 1980s and continue with instruments like derivatives. Now, the thievery continues with potential cuts to Social Security and Medicare. As Senator Bernie Sanders says in Heist:
"If you really did the investigation, the Democrats would not be able to simply say; oh it was that George W. Bush, it was him. Well you know what, it was a lot of Bush. But I'm afraid the Republicans would be able to say, sorry, not just us, take a look at Robert Rubin, secretary of treasury under Bill Clinton, and all of the Rubin guys. They were working with Allan Greenspan; they were working with Phil Gramm, to deregulate all of this stuff. So you got true bipartisanship -- everybody wants bipartisanship, you got it!"
I'm still amused when I read or hear people talk about how both parties are separated by ideology with Democrats wanting big government while Republicans are for smaller government. This is just more subterfuge to deceive the public about what is really being negotiated between volleys on the capital's basement tennis courts. Both parties support big government to help their favorite industries (think Wall Street, military contractors or Big Pharma, for example,) and occasionally the 99 percent.
So Act Two of the ideological dog and pony show is trotted out on stage mainly to entertain the masses as Economic Policy Institute Co-founder Jeff Faux describes in Heist.
"If Greenspan and Rubin had really believed the ideology that they preached, they would not have bailed out the S&Ls the way that Greenspan did... Rubin would not have bailed out the Wall St. holders of Mexican bonds in 1995. Greenspan would not have bailed out the stock market in 2000 and 2001. The only explanation I can have for this is that it's a class question. These people were protecting their class. And what class was that? That was the class -- global class -- the network of financial wheeler-dealers who had essentially dominated the world economy."
Did you see the actual details (or those not leaked to the media) of the financial wheeler-dealer and former Morgan Stanley Director Erskine Bowles' plan to repair our budget? These were provided by one of the two members (Elizabeth Warren being the other) of the Senate -- Bernie Sanders, who retains any credibility. According to Senator Sanders, Simpson-Bowles would cut Social Security benefits for current retirees by reducing the cost of living adjustment; cut Social Security benefits for middle class beneficiaries by 35 percent; raise the eligibility age of Social Security to 69; and cut Veterans benefits. (Remember during the campaign how both parties invoked these benefits as sacred.) But our favorite Simpson-Bowles bullet point is the one that would reduce taxes for the super rich and corporations, which has already done such wonders for our economy.
There is some good news. A truly progressive social movement is in its infancy in this country but who would know about it? Certainly not the mainstream news media. First we had Wisconsin, then Occupy Wall Street, the re-election of President Obama, the election of truly progressive candidates Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren who demanded and won a seat on the Senate Banking Committee. And now we have fast food workers demanding a living wage and the right to join a union! Imagine that.
And the good people of California voted to raise taxes on the rich, defeated an anti-union initiative, and Washington state voted in legalization of gay marriage and marijuana. The 99 percent is awakening to the menace of corporate rule. Our work now is to not be fooled by the rhetoric of the Democrats who quietly and spinelessly agree to the severe, slow cuts outlined in Simpson-Bowles. Read behind the headlines to know where your bottom line is.