From JAMES HOULE
What sort of victory was this?
After defeating John McCain in 2008 by 7.2%, Obama has stumbled back for a second term with only 50.4% of the popular vote: a narrow 2.4% margin over the totally hapless Romney. In 2008 Obama’s win was fueled by a widespread disgust with George Bush’s performance. This week, nine million fewer voters chose Obama than in 2008, and there was widespread disenchantment with Obama’s first term performance. He received only one half million votes more than the inept John McCain had collected back in 2008! The President’s total vote was 13% less than four years ago, when his lead over McCain was three times as high. Total vote count was down 11 million across the country as many could not find a candidate they believed in. (WSWS 11-8-12) In California, 30% fewer went to the polls than in 2008!
If the people’s enthusiasm for your leadership declines by 11 million on your second try, would you as President interpret the message as “give us more of the same”? Yet some call the results a new mandate, while Obama himself talks of compromise with Republicans to work out a solution to the impending fiscal crisis on December 31st when both rich-guy tax increases and cuts in Social Security and Medicare are up for grabs? With a guarantee of four more years as President and slightly increased Democratic party strength in Congress, is it time for new initiatives and risk-taking, or is it time for more giving in to a leaderless Republican party? There was some good news in California where voters approved Proposition 30 increasing taxes on the rich and giving the Democrats a super majority in the legislature.
After 4 years of watching Obama with disappointment, what’s to watch?
As Editor of Obama-Watch.com, I have seriously considered giving it up. My hopes for “change we can believe in” the second time around are most meager and what are those campaign posters saying “FORWARD” supposed to mean? What does Barack Obama have to lose by taking a few risks, putting the squeeze on a recalcitrant Congress, barn-storming the country for a more equitable tax structure, and protecting Social Security and Medicare? He is less beholden to big money now since Romney got the larger share of financial industry campaign contributions. The Wall Street Journal even headlined last week that “Wall Street Took a Beating at the Polls” Paul Craig Roberts, he who was once Reagan’s Ass’t. Secretary of the Treasury, explains that these presidential elections are really competitions between ‘whores’ as to who best services the needs of the rich and powerful who really run the government (Global Research 11/8/12). Our endless wars were not discussed by the candidates during the interminable campaign, nor was the assassination of American citizens abroad without due process, the sidestepping of the war powers act, the obesity of our military establishment or the global warming trend.
Here comes the fiscal cliff!
We are hearing that Obama is offering to compromise as he approaches the year-end “fiscal cliff”: that platter of automatic cuts in spending and tax increases he unwisely put in place with the connivance of Republicans in Congress last year. Unless renegotiated by December 31st, wealthy tax payers will have their rates increased back to 39% from the current 35%, and the middle class will see payroll taxes (for social security and medicare) return to 12.4% from the current 10.2%. Capital gains would revert to 20% from 15% and long term jobless benefits will expire. In addition mandatory cuts of $55 billion will occur in both defense and domestic programs. Some economic pundits predict this could push us back into recession (Krugman, NYTimes 11/8/12). Obama now insists that “the wealthiest Americans pay a little more in taxes” and he has refused “to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. (Going from 35 to 39% is more than 10% – is Obama telling Congress he’ll accept less than that?). “I’m not going to ask seniors and students and the middle class to pay down the entire deficit” he said bravely. Of course not even Congressman Boehner has demanded such a thing but yet we see the President’s empty bravado while he offers to strike a bargain even before he gets near the negotiating table: “I’m not wedded to every detail of my plan, I’m open to compromise”. It is his inexperience in dealing with Congress (even after 4 years of practice at the sport) and his lack of vigor when in battle that have led to 11 million citizens not bothering to vote for him this time around. “Just say no and go over the cliff if necessary (on January 1st)” suggests Paul Krugman. He doubts the cliff is that steep and suspects a few months of pressure will get the new Congress to strike a deal when the public fully recognizes “that these troubles are being deliberately inflicted by the GOP in a last ditch attempt to defend the privileges of the 1 percent”. (Krugman: NYTimes 11/9/12)
So, Obama-Watch.com will continue to monitor our President’s performance and suggest how it could be improved. We will point out where you can get more information and decide for yourselves what’s really going on. We will watch most closely America’s actions abroad, for this is the area where our mass media misleads the citizens egregiously. Our overall intent is not to tell you what to think, but to give you a few facts and let you think for yourself. We will not tell you where to mount your protests or how you can change the world. We have developed Obama-Watch.com as a monthly Internet newsletter and have issued 49 Editions since 2008 commenting upon our 44th President’s actions and providing a scorecard on promises made and kept, promises undone or abandoned, and compromises made. Forward! You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your corrections, criticisms and complaints.