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What the One-Percent Heard at the State of the Union

By SHAMUS COOKE | CounterPunch | February 19, 2013

When President Obama speaks, most Americans hear what he wants them to hear: lofty rhetoric and a “progressive” vision.   But just below the surface the president has a subtly-delivered message for the 1%, whose ears prick up when their buzzwords are mentioned.

Obama’s state of the union address was such a speech – a pro-corporate agenda packaged with chocolate covered rhetoric for the masses; easy to swallow, but deadly poisonous.

Much of Obama’s speech was pleasant to the ears, but there were key moments where he was speaking exclusively to the 1%. Exposing these hidden agenda points in the speech requires that we ignore the fluff and use English the way the 1% does. Every time Obama says the words “reform” or “savings,” insert the word “cuts.”

Here are some of the more nefarious moments of Obama’s state for the union speech:

“And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms [cuts]…”

“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms [cuts] that will achieve the same amount of health care savings [cuts] by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms [cuts] proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.”

This ultra-vague sentence was meant exclusively for the 1%.   What are some of the recommendations from the right-wing Simpson-Bowles commission? Obama doesn’t say. Talking Points Memo explains: 

-Force more low-income individuals into Medicaid managed care.

-Increase Medicaid co-pays.

-Accelerate already-planned cuts to Medicare Advantage and home health care programs.

-Create a cap for Medicaid/Medicare growth that will force Congress and the president to increase premiums or co-pays or raise the Medicare eligibility age (among other options) if the system encounters cost overruns over the course of 5 years.

There were many other subtly-delivered attacks on Medicare in Obama’s speech, all ignored by most labor and progressive groups, who clung tightly to the “progressive” smoke Obama blew in their face.

Obama’s speech also included a frightening vision of a national privatization scheme to previously publicly owned resources. But it was phrased so inspirationally that only the 1% seemed to notice:

“I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital [wealthy investors] to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children…we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers [corporations]…”

Obama’s proposal plans to “rebuild America” in the image of the wealthy and corporations, who only put forth their “private capital” when it results in a profitable investment; resources that previously functioned for the public good will now be channeled into the pockets of the rich, to the detriment of everyone else.

Allowing the rich to privatize and profit from public education and publicly owned infrastructure (ports and pipelines, etc.) has been a right-wing dream for years. This will result in massive user fees for the rest of us, while further dismembering public education, which Obama’s ill-named Race to the Top education reform is already successfully accomplishing.

Obama’s speech also put forth two massive pro-corporate international free trade deals, which would further drive down wages in the United States:

“We intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership [a massive free trade deal focused mainly on Asian nations]. And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership [free trade deal] with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

While praising free trade Obama disarmed labor and progressive groups by throwing in the meaningless word “fair.”

Lastly, Obama’s drone assassination policy was further enshrined in his speech. Drone assassinations are obvious war crimes — see the Geneva Convention — while also ignoring that pesky due process clause — innocent until proven guilty — of the constitution.

But Obama said that these programs will be “legal” and “transparent,” apparently good enough to keep most progressive groups quiet on the issue.

There were plenty of other examples of sugar-coated poison in Obama’s speech. It outlined a thoroughly right-wing agenda with no plan to address the jobs crisis — sprinkled with pretty words and “inspiring” catchphrases.

Some labor leaders and “progressive” groups seem dazzled by the speech. President of the union federation, AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, praised Obama’s anti-worker speech:

“Tonight President Obama sent a clear message to the world that he will stand and fight for working America’s values and priorities. And with the foundation he laid, working families will fight by his side to build an economy that works for all.”

And here is the real problem; as President Obama follows in the footsteps of President Bush, labor and progressive groups have found their independent voice stifled. The close ties between these groups and the Democratic Party have become heavy chains for working people, who find themselves under assault with no leadership willing to educate them about the truth, let alone organize a national fightback to win a massive jobs-creation program, prevent cuts to social programs, and fully fund public education. Obama’s second term will teach millions these lessons via experience.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

February 19, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

By Carolina Rossini and Maira Sutton | EFF | August 21, 2012

EFF has been fighting against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) intellectual property chapter for several years. This agreement poses a great risk to users’ freedoms and access to information on a global scale.

We have created this infographic to capture the most problematic aspects of TPP, and to help users, advocates and innovators from around the world spread the word about how this agreement will impact them and their societies. Right-click and save the image for the PNG file, or you can download the PDF version below.

We thank Lumin Consulting for working with us on this project.

Take Action TPPAttached Documents

tpp.pdf

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secret Obama Trade Agreement Would Allow Foreign Corporations to Avoid U.S. Laws

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | June 15, 2012

In order to secure a new international trade agreement with Pacific nations, the Obama administration appears willing to grant foreign corporations the power to avoid U.S. laws.

This revelation came in the form of a leaked document posted online by Citizens Trade Campaign. The material came from negotiations to establish a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact and its authenticity verified by Public Citizen.

According to the Huffington Post, which also reviewed the document, foreign corporations operating within the U.S. could disregard certain domestic requirements and regulations by appealing to an international tribunal—that would have the power to overrule American law.

“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text,” wrote Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, “may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations.”

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Congress have complained about the secretive talks and being kept in the dark. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has introduced legislation requiring the administration to disclose details of the discussions.

Although Congress has not been privy to the negotiations, 600 U.S. corporate advisers have enjoyed access to TPP texts and been permitted to advise U.S. negotiators.

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Obama Trade Document Leaked, Revealing New Corporate Powers And Broken Campaign Promises (by Zach Carter, Huffington Post)

Public Interest Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment Text (by Lori Wallach and Todd Tucker, Public Citizen)

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement Chapter (CitizensTrade.org)

What will be in the New U.S. Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement? It’s None of Our Business (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment