Thursday, December 08, 2011

More on Obama at Osawatomie; also, Geithner in Europe

President Obama's speech at Osawatomie Tuesday and the aftermath shows a typical Obama pattern. Lots of sensible and progressive-sounding phrases, which he pepper-sprays in the speech itself by talking bipartisan drivel, then followed by kicking the Democratic base in some way.

Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks of 12/07/2011 had a withering analysis of Obama's Osawatomie speech, focusing on the contrast between his progressive words and his often conservative, one-percenter policies.

This whiny nonsense about how, golly gee, the President just doesn't have much power to do stuff is not really compatable with an attempt to cast Obama as a ferocious advocate for the 99%. Here's White House spokesman Jay Carney doing a version of that routine:

Part of the Obama routine is to also say nice things that sound good to his Democratic base, then go out and whack the base in some way. We saw the same patte this week: Digby, Postpartisan depression: The Democrats join the War On Women Hullabaloo 12/07/2011; Charles Pierce, A Lesson for Kathleen Sebelius Regarding the Pill Esquire Politics Blog 12/07/2011.

Eric Rauchway (TR? Obama's more like Taft Politico 12/07/2011) takes issue with the White House's efforts to use his Tuesday speech to identify Obama with Republican Progressive President Theodore Roosevelt (though certainly not with John "Osawatomie" Brown!):

Obama could have been a Roosevelt. But an electorate eager for a White House scourging of Wall Street got, instead, an Oval Office cozy with the corner offices of lower Manhattan — exemplified by Peter Orszag’s slide from the director of the Office of Management and Budget to Citigroup.
Rauchway also picks up on the self-pepper-spraying of Obama's Osawatomie speech:

Perhaps Obama should have been a Roosevelt — but not TR; the other one, the Democrat. Obama's speechwriters appear to know it, though he doesn’t say it. In Kansas Tuesday, the president said, “trickle down … didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ‘50s and ‘60s.”

What did work, and what did lead to those booms, was the Franklin D. Roosevelt program whose name Obama apparently dare not speak: the New Deal.

But Obama omits mention of the Democratic Party’s signature New Deal. He credits FDR’s landmark domestic policies — like the minimum wage and social insurance — to TR for having wanted them. He praises FDR only for the G.I. Bill — which, Obama said, garnered bipartisan support.

The president went to Kansas to do his version of the "New Nationalism." [Teddy Roosevelt's signature reform slogan] But his New Nationalism is the old Obamaism — elevating bipartisanship above all else. [my emphasis]
Meanwhile, Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was in Europe, praising Italy and Spain for knuckling under to Germany's demands for self-destructive austerity economics during this depression. From Euronews 12/08/2011:

See also Reuters U.S. has great interest in strengthening euro zone: Geithner 12/08/2011. A euro collapse would take down some large European banks, if they don't go down first, in turn exacerbating the eruozone crisis in Europe by their collapse.

But the Obama Administration prescription for Europe is to keep bleeding the patient with austerity economics. The Obama Administration is very aware that a European financial system crisis - which is unfolding already - could have huge negative effects on the US economy. Speaking of which, here a quick report on the state of European banks from Reuters:

Yet the Obama Administration's program for Europe is the same as it is for the US: austerity economics:

"The world can be encouraged by the progress of the last few weeks," Geithner told a press briefing in Milan.

"The U.S., the world economy have a very strong interest in the efforts being made to strengthen Europe," he said.

Geithner was in Milan on the last stop of a whistle-stop tour of Europe to lobby for action on the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis ahead of an EU summit on Friday.

Geithner expressed support for [unelected Italian Prime Minister Mario] Monti, who was hurriedly sworn in last month to push through austerity reforms to try to pull the euro zone's third-largest economy back from the brink.

"Mr Monti has committed to a very strong program of economic reforms to restore confidence and strengthen Italy's ability to grow in the future.

"He has a lot of credibility, not just in Europe, but in Washington, New York and around the world," Geithner said.
The Obama Administration is committed to austerity economics. And it has clearly been self-destructive in Europe as well as the United States. Promoting more of it for Europe just increases the chances that the European problems will spread to the US during the 2012 election year. Heckuva job, Tim!

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