Barack Obama at times seems to be the unluckiest person on the face of the earth. He just can’t catch a break. Or maybe his bad luck is a result of ignoring his progressive base and scientific evidence and instead trying to negotiate and compromise with congressmen who are financially motivated toward helping banks and corporations more than our own people. When bad events happen that scientists and academics have been warning about for years it is difficult to chalk them up to bad luck.
Take the nuclear accident in Japan. It wasn’t but three months ago that Obama was touting nuclear power before congress as a major leg in his clean energy program promising $36 billion in his budget to the industry to design and build new reactors. Unlucky, right? But scientists have been warning for decades about the risks of nuclear power, especially the on-site storage of spent fuel rods which was at the heart of the Japanese disaster. Last month, Obama named Jeffrey Immelt to the President’s Economic Recovery Board and then we find out it was GE that designed and built the Japanese reactors. Yesterday we hear that GE is not paying any taxes on $14 billion of profits but is instead receiving a $3.2 billion rebate. And Immelt is the man that is supposed to be investigating how to close corporate tax loopholes?
On March 31, 2010, the New York Times reported that Obama was coming out in favor of offshore drilling. The article said, “The proposal — a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations — would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.” Not twenty days later, BP’s Deepwater Horizon platform explodes in the Gulf of Mexico and causes the largest oil spill in history. Unlucky timing? Not when you realize progressive environmentalists have been warning about the risks of offshore drilling for years.
More recently, Obama did little as state workers in Wisconsin had their collective bargaining rights expunged. Do people really believe that a single janitor can effectively negotiate his wages with a powerful state government without collective bargaining rights? Obama had a chance to use the bully pulpit to explain why collective bargaining is so important in labor negotiations and instead the task was left to Rachel Maddow who performed it brilliantly as she made it the lead story on her broadcasts for weeks. And this in an environment where almost all the benefits from the increased productivity of workers in our country over the last thirty years has gone to the country’s top 1%.
Obama is now fighting three wars in Muslim countries, depending on your definition of war. Progressives have warned even before the beginning of the Afghan conflict that such military action might lead to the unintended consequence of inflaming peaceful Muslims against American policy and causing the number of terrorists in the world to increase, not decrease. Wars seem to go on forever in America and no one knows why, but it is clear that only one party benefits from war: the weapons manufacturers and defense contractors like Halliburton who saw its stock price increase six-fold during the Iraq war. It would be a mistake for Obama to be influenced by, or compromise with, defense industry lobbyists, their paid shills in congress or the phony defense policy think tanks funded by defense industry dollars.
Similarly, Obama has stayed relatively quiet as the Supreme Court has chosen to give corporations the same political rights and powers as citizens and his economic advisors. Many progressive congressmen turned out to be unlucky in their reelection campaigns as corporate money flooded the 2010 congressional elections. Why doesn’t Obama come out strongly in support of publicly financed elections?
On the economic front, Geithner and Summers decided to bail out our largest banks while virtually ignoring the millions of Americans who are struggling with underwater mortgages. Unions have been warning for decades that our middle class was under threat from completely unregulated open trade with low wage countries. Obama agreed to a Republican plan for additional tax cuts for wealthy Americans even though he knew the country was facing record deficits and that the Forbes 400 richest people in America had more wealth than the poorest half of all American families, 150 million people in total. Is it unlucky now that the country continues to struggle with nearly 10% unemployment (the real number is much higher when you include part timers wishing to work full time and those that have given up looking for a job), slow growth forecasts and trillions of dollars of government deficits when your advisors cared more about the profits of Wall Street and their executives’ bonuses than the well being of average Americans?
Obama believes that in a representative democracy, to get things done, one needs to be willing to compromise with the opposition. And, it is presumed that a compromise that gets a bill passed is better than doing nothing. Doesn’t compromise and moderation typically lead to better solutions to our problems? I am not so sure. It depends on what is motivating the opposition. Compromise with immoral, unscientific or corporate controlled opponents is unacceptable and wrong.
I see Obama’s opposition motivated by four forces;
There may be reasonable disagreement on real policy issues like whether an economic stimulus paid for with borrowed money is good for the country.
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