Starving the Poor: More Bipartisanship by this White House

Having noted two weeks ago the smug self-satisfaction of the insignificant right-wing Congressman from Indiana, Marlin Stutzman, in drastically cutting food stamp appropriations in next year’s pork barrel for farmers (like Stutzman), impartiality requires me to point out who was responsible for the cut that actually took place in benefits to the poor yesterday. That cut was neither Tea Party backed nor even a result of a sunset provision in the original bill (which you may have concluded from media reports of the cut). Originally, the increased aid to the poor for nutrition, part of the so-called stimulus which became larded with tax breaks for the wealthy, was designed to stay in place until the cost-of-living rises overtook it. It was in 2010 that the cut took place. You might remember that that was a time when Democrats held both house of Congress (and with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate). The request came, not from the Heritage Foundation, but from the White House. The funds were diverted to a program for school lunch assistance championed by the First Lady. In the face of reluctance of several congressional Democrats, the White House promised to restore the funds from some other program before the cuts would have to take place. That promise, like so many of this White House, went unfulfilled. You can see the whole sordid history of the White House’s actions in yesterday’s article by George Zornick in The Nation.

It is of course not news that this Administration is a center-right government. It is that reason that drives Republicans nuts (but also allows them to veer further rightward in their quest for a stratified, unjust authoritarian society). It still interests me (at least) how this President can talk the talk of a progressive, yet champion policies that are not only not progressive, but whose clunky features come from a bizarre notion that good public policy can be devised by designing programs that “appeal” to both the left (or at least centrist Democrats)  and right.

It has long been clear that Barack Obama has no interest in the details of public policy. Unlike FDR or JFK, he has no close advisors or even functionaries that come from academia. A lifetime of study on an issue is not something that particularly interests this president. Nor does he have a real feel for political give and take, like LBJ, or the ability to relate to working men and women, like Clinton. And he has no real connection with the downtrodden, the oppressed or the hopeless like Hubert Humphrey or Bobby Kennedy. And certainly not the willingness to stand on principle like George McGovern. So where does this man find his deepest inspiration?

According to an article by Dylan Byers in yesterday’s Politico, he gets his middle brow beliefs from middle brow writers, namely the laughably pretentious opinion-tasters that cover the corridors of the status quo: the tenured pundits of big dailies: the writers who shill for the thought-of-the-day, who are handsomely paid for dressing up things-as-they-are as things-as-they-should-be. Take a look at the list of who the President chooses to talk to “for hours” according to Byers: David Ignatius, Jeffrey Goldberg, Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, Paul Gigot. The one thing this group has is the talent for appearing to add value to received wisdom. It is no wonder that they are liked by a politician who advocates for conservative positions with a liberal flair.

We live in a time when culture and art have been debased and commodified, where compassion has been eliminated by ridicule and where politics have been digitalized and securitized. It may be scant comfort to the poor who will have less to eat from now on because of the policies of the powers that be, which show no sign of being changed even by this “socialist” President, that when he entertains his guests who make six figures for writing inanities to hide the injustice of this country, the  President only serves coffee.

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  1. Glad to have stumbled on your blog. I hope you don’t mind, but I shared this bit of wisdom on my fb. Keep on writing, and I’ll keep on visiting.

    -Arianne

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