Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Damning Indictment

Trey Smith


Below are snippets from two articles that discuss the so-called "fiscal cliff," poverty and the collusion of our two corporate parties. Some readers will dismiss both because they are posted on the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). I simply ask those of you with an open mind to see if you can find something wrong with their analyzes. Both appear to be spot on to me, but then, I'm a Socialist!
Nearly 50 million people are living in poverty in the United States. This was the dire news delivered eight days after the presidential election in a report from the US Census Bureau.

The new report’s findings — which factor in expenses and government-provided benefits, providing a more accurate picture of US poverty — are a damning indictment of American capitalism. Based on data from 2011, three full years into Obama’s first term, the report is also a commentary on the reactionary character of the administration and its response to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The shocking news that nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty prompted virtually no comment on network or cable news broadcasts. It was met with silence in Washington, where Democratic and Republican politicians are conspiring to implement draconian cuts to social programs that will throw millions more into the ranks of the poor.

Barack Obama has made a practice of all but excluding the word “poverty” from his political vocabulary, and his first post-election press conference, held the same day as the release of the Census report, was no exception. He felt no need to note the dire growth of poverty as he set the stage for negotiations with the Republicans over a multitrillion-dollar austerity package that will savage basic social entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

The sharp growth of poverty, homelessness and hunger in America over the past four years is the result not simply of purely economic forces. It is above all the result of a calculated drive to utilize the crisis to lay siege to the living standards and democratic rights of the working class.

In an article published Thursday, the New York Times starts off with an extraordinary admission — that during the elections the Democrats and Republicans colluded to cover-up planned cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs that they were both planning to make after the elections.

With characteristic cynicism, the Times makes this point as a virtual aside within an article providing details on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the set of scheduled tax hikes and spending cuts being utilized to push through the unpopular cuts.

In the article, “Demystifying the Fiscal Impasse That Is Vexing Washington,” the Times asks, rhetorically: “Many Americans must be wondering: What is all this about a ‘fiscal cliff?’ And why did it receive so little attention during the presidential campaign?”

The answer follows: “Well, it’s complicated — the so-called cliff, that is. And most solutions are politically painful. In a rare show of bipartisanship, or mutual protection, both parties ducked the debate until after the election.”

This claim amounts to an admission that both candidates conspired against the American people to prevent any discussion of what Obama has called his “first order of business.” This is because the plans are “politically painful” — i.e., overwhelmingly opposed by the population.

What does this say about American democracy and the political and media establishment of which the Times is a part? The elections are supposedly the one time in which the population has the ability to vote on the future course of government policy. Yet not only do the two parties agree on all essentials, but they deliberately seek to avoid any discussion on their actual plans.

Moreover, it points to the bipartisan drive to give entitlement cuts, long regarded as the “third rail” of American politics, an aura of inevitability.

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