Le Devoir, Canada
Actions Speak Louder than Words
By John R. MacArthur
Translated By Malina McLennan
3 December 2012
Edited by Kyrstie Lane
Canada - Le Devoir - Original Article (French)
“And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together,” proclaimed Obama to the masses on the night of Nov. 7 in Chicago. “Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil.”
How? What? The grand populist, enemy of the elite, thoroughbred socialist, defender of big government, would simply preach fiscal “reform”? And this only to “reduce” the federal deficit, not to tackle economic inequality? Obama fans may not have immediately noticed this highly conciliatory tone, but Republican enemies were quick to recognize these half-baked sentiments. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal – the daily chronicle to the “one percent” – was delighted at the guardian angel of the Democratic party’s even softer remarks: “Obama’s words [this afternoon] gave Republicans comfort. The president did not mention taxes or the need to raise them. He still encouraged Congress to pass the law presented to the Senate last summer that would prolong the current tax rates for the middle class… in other words, Obama only said that the richest Americans should ‘pay a little more taxes in the spirit of bipartisan agreement with regards to the budget.’”
In my youth, my dad engrained the principle of “actions speak louder than words” in me at a young age, particularly when it came to understanding the realities of politics. I will not argue against this – in fact, I do my best to apply it to my work – but sometimes a politician’s words are worth considering. In Obama’s case, actions often follow words – or at least the omission of certain words – quite closely. It can be seen that Barack Obama has clearly demonstrated that he is pursuing appeasement of the right wing and its well-to-do members, knowing fully well that the grotesque polarization between the extremely rich and the rest of America is dramatically increasing.
But the American left – as well as the vast majority of Canadians and Europeans who would have voted for the president if they could have – is not that interested in textual analysis. Always on the lookout for a sign of Obama’s good intentions, excited for the symbolic benefits and the halo of redemption that come with having a black president, the intellectuals of the liberal class never cease to delude themselves. However, this president is not the first to betray his campaign slogan. Since Obama’s image is so bright that it is blinding, it is better to turn to the views of another prized Democrat such as Charles Schumer, New York senator, Wall Street spokesman and member of the Senate Committee on Finance. On the same day that Obama shook hands with Republican Head of the House of Representatives John Boehner, Boehner revised his previous position and made it known that a compromise was plausible: the marginal tax maximum on individual revenue would stay at George W. Bush’s 35 percent in the upcoming year instead of returning to Clinton’s 39.6 percent. According to Obama and Schumer, it would be better to eliminate the “loopholes” that only benefit the rich.
Affluent Americans are impressively talented at evading loopholes. One of the more scandalous examples would be the loophole that permits investment fund partners to treat their bonuses as long-term capital gains instead of ordinary income, making them subject to a 15 percent tax instead of 35 percent. Under the compromise suggested by Schumer or the fiscal code reform offered by Obama, can a modification of this infuriating gap, this gift to the financial elite, be predicted? I doubt it, and until now, it has not even been addressed in the debates over the “fiscal cliff,” which according to its promoters is a more important threat than the cliff of poverty or the deepening fault line between socioeconomic classes.
Having said that, Obama’s deception does not stop there. During his victory speech, he poignantly mentioned that “a decade of war is ending.” Last week, thanks to the New York Times, we learned that the White House and the Pentagon are looking to prolong the presence of military forces in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, the year announced by the Obama administration for the complete removal of troops from combat. According to correspondent Michael Gordon, a reliable source on military power, the number of soldiers could be as high as 10,000 Americans and several thousand from other NATO countries. It remains to be seen just how high of a technical scale will be needed to help support the forces of the corrupt and largely fictitious government of Hamid Karzaï. One thing is certain: Obama will do his absolute best to honor his eloquent acceptance speech. By talking of America’s grandeur and spirit, Obama described himself as “hopeful tonight because I’ve seen the spirit at work in America.” Where? “I’ve seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb.” Well, the number of those will surely increase. And the pro-Obama left wing will be able to congratulate his patriotism.
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