The 2012 election is next Tuesday. We face a choice between Barack
Obama, a candidate whose Presidency we can examine and evaluate, and
Mitt Romney, who is a dangerous cipher. My argument – made last week in “Progressive Case Against Obama“,
is that progressives should evaluate these risks honestly, with a
clear-headed analysis of Obama’s track record.This piece sparked a
massive debate that has had both Obama loyalists and Republicans resort
to outlandish name-calling, evidently as a result of their unwillingness or inability to address the issues raised.
is remarkable to see the level to which Obama defenders have sunk.
Let’s start with a basic problem – why is Obama in a tight race? Mitt
Romney is more caricature than candidate, a horrifically cartoonish
plutocrat whose campaign is staffed by people that allow secret tapings
of obviously offensive statements. The Republican base finds Romney
uninspiring, and Romney has been unable to provide one good reason to
choose him except that he is not the incumbent. Yet, Barack Obama is in a
dog fight with this clown. Why? It isn’t because a few critics are
writing articles in places like Salon. The answer, if you look at the
data, is that Barack Obama has been a terrible President and an
enemy to progressives. Unemployment is high. American household income
since the recovery started in 2009 has dropped 5%.
Poverty has increased substantially. Home equity – the main store of
wealth for the middle class – has dropped by $5-7 trillion, in contrast
to the increase in financial asset values held by Obama’s friends and
donors. And this was done explicitly through Obama’s policies.
came into office with a massive mandate, overwhelming control of
Congress, hundreds of billions of TARP money to play with, the ability
to prosecute Wall Street executives and break their power, and the
opportunity for a massive stimulus. Most importantly, the country was
willing to follow – the public believed his calls for change. Yet,
instead of restructuring the economy and doing obvious things like
hardening infrastructure against global warming, he entrenched
oligarchy. This was explicit. Obama broke a whole series of campaign
promises that would have helped the middle class. These promises would
have reduced household debt, raised the minimum wage, stopped
outsourcing, and protected workers. He broke these promises for a reason
– Barack Obama uses his power for what he believes in, and Barack Obama
is a conservative technocrat. Obama sided with Wall Street. He probably
made the foreclosure crisis worse with a series of programs designed to
help banks but marketed to help homeowners. These were his policies,
they reflected the views of his most valued advisors like Robert Rubin
and his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Moreover, he’s proud of this
record – the only mistake he cites in his first term is inadequately
communicating how effective he has been, focusing too much on getting
the policy right.
Continue reading here.