Saturday, December 12, 2009

Matt Taibbi: Obama's Big Sellout

I don't necessarily agree with solutions Matt Taibbi often promotes to resolve the issues he diagnosis, but his diagnoses are typically spot-on. Here's the intro to his latest diatribe on Obama and the can read the full article here:
Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected.

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we've been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is?

Whatever the president's real motives are, the extensive series of loophole-rich financial "reforms" that the Democrats are currently pushing may ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, some parts of the new reforms border on insanity, threatening to vastly amplify Wall Street's political power by institutionalizing the taxpayer's role as a welfare provider for the financial-services industry. At one point in the debate, Obama's top economic advisers demanded the power to award future bailouts without even going to Congress for approval — and without providing taxpayers a single dime in equity on the deals.

How did we get here? It started just moments after the election — and almost nobody noticed.

One aspect I didn't like about this piece: toward the end Taibbi goes on a mini-rant about the tea-baggers, which, even though deserved (as rants against ignorance is always deserved), it is misplaced. He accuses them as being the problem voter that allows Obama to get away with his misdeeds, but he's wrong. Its the apologetic liberal, the person that looks to Obama and thinks he'll eventually bring peace, help the poor, support the unions, and legalize pot, if only we just let him do his job. They are the problem. At least the teabaggers are protesting SOMETHING. Where are the left-wing peace activists when Obama sends 30,000 troops into Afghanistan? Where are the left-wing socialist activists when Obama is bailing out wall-street and leaving main street to fend for themselves? Some write about it, but noone is putting their feet on the street. They are the problem for the same reason the Christian right were the problem when Bush was president: they excuse all of the major fuck ups, rip-offs, and infringing on individuals because they've been fed enough propaganda to make them think that their president views life the same way they do, and that's all they need to have that warm and fuzzy feeling when they sit down at night and watch American Idol.


Christopher Furlong: said...

"Its the apologetic liberal, the person that looks to Obama and thinks he'll eventually bring peace, help the poor, support the unions, and legalize pot, if only we just let him do his job. They are the problem."


Josh said...

Glad we agree on something.