It appears as if the President is facing a revolt in his own party tonight. The deal that he cut with the Republicans is so god awful that even the corrupt Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is calling it corrupt. So why would the President of the United States outrage his own base as well as moderates and independents who could indeed vote for him (or may not)? In other words, he has handed the wealthiest of the wealthiest a massive gift at a time when the masses are beside themselves with anger at the rip offs by and the economic disaster caused by these very people who no doubt will reap benefits from continuation of the Bush tax cuts.
The problem may not be the President’s negotiating ability or toughness. Nor is it likely that he did a bait and switch by campaigning as a liberal and governing like a neo-conservative. He is likely not making the decisions on his own. Let’s not forget that a power-elite exists – it is an established facet of American governance. This is not the ranting of a paranoid schizophrenic.
As long ago as the 1950s, the preeminent sociologist C. Wright Mills empirically established the existence of the power elite by demonstrating how members of the top, i.e., wealthiest, social class interlocked through institutions such as corporate boards, elite universities, social registers, marriage, foundations, and social clubs, and key government positions (The Power Elite, New York: Oxford University Press). As a graduate student in political science in the 1970s, I was introduced to the work of Mill’s disciple, G. William Domhoff (see Who Rules America?, 2010, New York: McGraw-Hill). There is no doubt in my mind that certain people rang up the White House and let the President know how he was expected to handle the tax situation.
In addition to the President’s cave in on tax cuts for the rich, just a couple of incidents have brought home the extent to which the dominant class has consolidated power over the governance of the United States. The Citizens United case provided corporations unprecedented and unthinkable power to control and manipulate elections.
Also, recently some of my liberal friends expressed dismay and puzzlement over Alice Rivlin’s role in developing and promoting a viciously anti-middle class deficit reduction program. She may be a liberal but she works for the power elite. Her associations include the Brookings Institute, the Commonwealth Fund, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and the Bipartisan Policy Foundation. These institutions have been created by and are dominated by the powerful and the wealthy. They reward her well and she serves their purposes very well.
In case it has escaped anyone’s notice, Peter Orszag left a top job the Obama Administration (head of the Office of Management & Budget). His new employer is the Council on Foreign Relations. It should come as no surprise that he has been writing op ed pieces in the New York Times in which he argued that Social Security benefits should be reduced. He of all budget experts must know that Social Security has nothing to do with budget deficits.
It is obvious that merely electing a seemingly liberal President is not sufficient to stop the corporate juggernaut that is rolling over the American masses. Moderates, liberals, and progressives must wake up and realize that they need to come together and fight back. Given the passivity and lack of motivation on the part of so many low and middle income Americans, this may seem like a remote possibility. But, greed knows no bounds. At some point, the oppression will become so outrageous that even the most apathetic victims of the greedy richest of the rich, will get up off their behinds and join the revolt.