An Interesting Way in Which Barack Obama’s Race Helps Him


By: inoljt,

The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be an election highly focused on economics and class. It seems that one of the main themes of the election will be class, or the gap between the rich and the poor. At this point, it’s pretty likely that the main Democratic attack on Mitt Romney will be an attack based on class. Mitt Romney will be portrayed as rich and out-of-touch, a Wall Street banker.

Now what does this have to do with the title of this post?

Well, obviously this critique of Mitt Romney wouldn’t work if his opponent was also a billionaire businessman. The attack against Mitt Romney relies on the fact that Barack Obama is not rich, is not out-of-touch, and is not a Wall Street banker.

Except one of these things is false. Barack Obama is rich. His income level squarely puts him in the top one percent.

One can make a good argument, of course, that Obama’s wealth is a very different thing from Romney’s wealth. Obama is wealthy mainly due to the success of his books. He has never been and will never be rich in the way Mitt Romney is. Before gaining political success, Obama was pretty heavily indebted. Not to mention that he deliberately chose to be a community organizer after college, not the most high-income of jobs.

But more importantly than all these facts, there is the fact that Barack Obama just doesn’t look very rich. The typical American does not think of Obama as belonging to the top one percent when they look at him. Obama just doesn’t exude wealth in the way Mitt Romney’s very presence does.

Why is this? The answer is pretty simple: it’s because Obama’s black.

Despite the occasional successful black entertainer or athlete, the black community is still very strongly associated with poverty. Think about, for instance, the first image that usually comes to mind when people talk about poverty in America (and especially urban poverty).

The result is that Americans almost never associate Barack Obama with being rich, even though today he has become quite wealthy. This is one of those subconscious things which most people don’t even realize is happening in their minds. Nor even do many political experts realize this. Nor did I for the longest time.

But the fact that Obama is African-American, and the fact that very few people associate African-Americans with wealth, will end up making a huge difference in the 2012 presidential election.



Obama Can Win the Working Class ... all of them


"Broadening the tax code" is what Republicans say they want to do.   That will solve our problems.   That means raising taxes on the poor and working class.  It is that simple   For once Republicans are ADMITTING they want to raise taxes.   


One of the Most Heartless Articles I’ve Ever Read

By: Inoljt,

The rising cost of higher education is one of the main ailments affecting America. The earnings differential between those with college degrees and those without has become greater during this recession. This is because the recession hit jobs like construction, which don’t require a college degree, especially hard.

So as college becomes more expensive and more important, it becomes harder for the poor to climb the economic ladder. American inequality is a fundamental problem today, and the rising cost of college doesn’t help.

With this context in mind, I recently had the displeasure of reading one of the most heartless articles I’ve ever looked at. This article, by conservative commentator Michael Barone, argued that the rising cost of college is due to government subsidies. Specifically, college is so expensive because the government keeps on giving money to poor people so that they can attend college:

…government has been subsidizing higher education with low-interest college loans, Pell grants, and cheap tuitions at state colleges and universities.

The predictable result is that higher education costs have risen much faster than inflation, much faster than personal incomes, much faster than the economy over the past 40 years.

What is Mr. Barone’s presumed solution? Stop giving federal aid to poor people who want to attend college! After all, “government subsidies can go too far.”

Firstly, Mr. Barone is wrong on why college costs are rising so exponentially. The value of “government subsidies” has in fact gone down as college tuition has risen. The federal Pell Grant gives low-income students money to attend college. When it was first introduced in 1979, it covered three-fourths the cost of the typical four-year university. Today it covers only about one-third the cost of a typical four-year university. For private universities, it amounts to barely more than one-tenth the cost.

But that’s almost beside the point. What this article really brought to mind is my fundamental problem with conservatism and the Republican Party. Mr. Barone’s article lacks a single note of empathy for the poor. Indeed, in today’s political climate, conservatives have actually made the phrase “helping the poor” sound like a bad thing.

And this pattern is not just related to the poor. It always seems that conservatives and Republicans are against actions helping those society has left behind – whether it be minorities, immigrants, the poor, women, or whomever. Fundamentally, and to speak impolitely but honestly, they just don’t give a damn about anybody unlike themselves.



Bryan Fischer: Talking the God Talk Not Walking the God Walk

The American Family Association’s resident knothead, Bryan Fischer, is no stranger to controversy. His claims are so odd and his beliefs so narrow, I can never quite decide if he’s a run of the mill crapweasel or an exceptionally smooth manipulator of his flock’s built-in fears and prejudices. Either way, he’s quite convincing. I guess I’ll stick with the former and not the latter. So it’s settled, he’s a run of the mill crapweasel.

Fischer posits in a recent blog post that, “poverty has won”. I’m actually with him on that one. Any random chart about the rapidly growing gap between the haves and have nots is clear on that point – even for a man with the perception of your average tree stump. However, its Fischer’s interpretation of those random charts that’s so troubling and his prescriptions so off the mark.

In Fischer’s eyes, poverty is a wacky sort of socialist plot, “We need more people in public office who think like Christ and fewer people who think like Karl Marx,” he advises. I’m with him there too and I’m an atheist!

However, if he’s not so hot on Karl, he’s even less so on African-Americans in a decidedly less than Christian way.

Suckling the Government Tit
Fischer says welfare has trashed the African-American family with incentives for literally screwing like rabbits to glom onto the juicy, government tit. “It’s no wonder we are now awash in the disastrous social consequences of people who rut like rabbits,” he said. According to him, the bunnies should be getting married instead.

Fischer knows whence he speaks about marriage. He knows that homosexuals can’t do it lest the Republic fall. He knows wives should always obey and submit to their husbands. He knows that BJs do not a good marriage make. And the married darkies? They’re just raising Easter bunnies in the hood to steal tax dollars.

But unlike his unparalleled knowledge of marriage, the Assistant Messiah™ doesn’t know sh*t from shinola about the rest of the world.

Bryan, just a few notes for your sleeve the next time you take the Holier Than Thou Grad School test. Don’t worry, a little cheating is OK as long as it’s for Jesus – it’s the 11th Commandment, “It be OK for the holy to use crib notes.”

Many of those rutters are married rabbits – the straight ones anyway. They went down to the local padre and tied the knot. And wouldn’t you know it, the next day their poverty parted like the befouled Red Sea. Go ahead, ask one. He’ll tell you all about it.

And it’s not just the blacks Bryan. All white people are pious and married and full of the bounty of Christ, if you can call their poverty a bounty. And the brown folk? Why all of them are in the running to helm ConAgra instead of just pick veggies for them. Damn, how that God stuff works! You think blacks are just like all the other poor people except even more so – an impediment to the spread of the gospel and tax cuts.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d wager he knows as much about poverty as he does about Jesus, which is to say not much. On the other hand, I know a little something about it.

My grandparents lived in abject poverty. Without exaggeration, their house looked like Snuffy Smith’s. The only advantage it had over a cardboard box was a deed somewhere. It left them free to use the back room for kindling, which is exactly what they did one particularly bad winter. Freezing isn’t much of an option when you can’t get out in hip-deep snow to chop wood. They probably used the deed to start the fire too. Yet my grandparents were married, one grueling day after another for nearly 50 years. And poverty was an unwelcome house guest for every damn one of them.

Controlling Asscakes Like You
Oh BTW, they were white. And they faithfully went to church. And they prayed many times a day, but God must’ve been busy trying to control asscakes like you.

They didn’t take a dime of the government’s money – partly because they were too uneducated to figure out how. Yet, they plugged along, rutted some, and ate the rabbit for dinner, because what they hunted wasn’t for sport. It was what saved them from starvation – no miraculous 3 loaves and fishes for them, just a gruelish stew of rabbit sans loaves (because they couldn’t afford flour) and fishes (because the streams were all toxic from unregulated coal mines).

Do some African-American families choose to let their families go all to hell? Yup, but so do whites and Latinos and even members of churches. However, many of them are married and the problem persists. Just as many aren’t married, but somehow manage to do right by their families despite bigger obstacles than the AFA braves over a 3-martini lunch with a grifter politician who prefers to buy votes than work for them. And they do it with a little help from Uncle Sam. That seems like a fair trade for companies working some poor bastard to death at 3 jobs because there isn’t anything else. Just a little unexpected, indirect corporate welfare.

Should people who have abandoned their families man-up and take responsibility? YES! Will poverty for most of them stop by following your golden rules, don’t bet on it.

See Bryan, poverty knows no color. It’s an equal opportunity scourge. Growling bellies know no race.  Red or yellow, black or white, poverty is poverty. Perhaps you’d do well to remember the last line of the little ditty:

“Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!


Weekly Audit: Republicans' Budget Declares War on Medicare

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Republicans are poised to unveil a model budget on Tuesday that would effectively end Medicare by privatizing it, Steve Benen reports in the Washington Monthly. House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) is touting the budget as a strategy to reduce the national debt.

Ryan’s plan would turn Medicare from a single-payer system to a “premium support” system. “Premium support” is a euphemism for the government giving up to $15,000 per person, per year, to insurance companies to defray the cost of a health insurance policy.

As Benen points out, privatizing Medicare does nothing to contain health care costs. On the contrary, as insurance customers weary of double-digit premium increases can attest, private insurers have a miserable track record of containing costs. They excel at denying care and coverage, but that’s not the same thing.

The only way the government would save money under Ryan’s proposal is by paying a flat rate in vouchers. Medicare covers the full cost of medical treatments, but private insurers are typically much less generous. So, after paying into Medicare all their working lives, Americans currently 55 and younger would get vouchers for part of their health insurance and still have to pay out-of-pocket to approach the level of benefits that Medicare currently provides.

Taking aim at Medicaid

The poor are easy targets for Republican budget-slashing, Jamelle Bouie writes on TAPPED. Ryan’s proposal would also cut $1 trillion over the next 10 years from Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor, by eliminating federal matching and providing all state funding through block grants. Most of this money would come from repealing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which is slated to add 15 million people to Medicaid.

Block grants are cuts in disguise. Currently, Medicaid is an entitlement program, which means that states have to enroll everyone who is eligible, regardless of the state’s ability to pay. In return, the states get federal matching funds for each person in the program. Ryan and the Republicans want to change Medicaid into a block grant program where the federal government simply gives each state a lump sum to spend on Medicaid. The states want to use this new found “flexibility” to cut benefits, narrow eligibility criteria, and generally gut the program.

This is incredibly short-sighted. The current structure of Medicaid ensures extra federal funding for every new patient. So when unemployment rises and large numbers of new patients become eligible for Medicaid, the states get extra federal money for each of them. But with a block grant, the states would just have to stretch the existing block grants or find money from somewhere else in their budgets. Medicaid rolls surge during bad economic times, so a block grant system could make state budget crises even worse.

Ryan’s proposal has no chance of becoming law as long as Democrats control the Senate. The main purpose of the document is to lay out a platform for the 2012 elections.

Fake debt crisis

In The Nation, sociologist and activist Frances Fox Piven argues that the Republicans are hyping the debt threat to justify cuts to social programs:

Corporate America’s unprovoked assault on working people has been carried out by manufacturing a need for fiscal austerity. We are told that there is no more money for essential human services, for the care of children, or better public schools, or to help lower the cost of a college education. The fact is that big banks and large corporations are hoarding trillions in cash and using tax loopholes to bankrupt our communities.

She notes that Republican-backed tax cuts for the wealthy are a major contributor to the debt.

Jesus was a non-union carpenter?

Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones reports on the religious right’s crusade against unions. He notes that James Dobson of the socially conservative Family Research Council tweeted: “Pro-family voters should celebrate WI victory b/c public & private sector union bosses have marched lock-step w/liberal social agenda.”

Harkinson reports that the Family Research Council is backing the Republican incumbent, David Prosser, in today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court election–a battle that has become a proxy fight over Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-collective bargaining bill:

The FRC’s new political action committee, the Faith, Family, Freedom Fund, is airing ads on 34 Wisconsin radio stations in an effort to influence the April 5 judicial election that could ultimately decide the fate of the law. The ads target Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, who’s running against a conservative incumbent, David Prosser, for a seat on the state Supreme Court. If elected, Kloppenburg wouldalter the balance on the court in favor of Democrats, giving them the ability to invalidate the recently enacted ban on public-employee collective bargaining. “Liberals see her as their best hope to advance their political agenda and strike down laws passed by a legislature and governor elected by the people,” say the ads. “A vote for Prosser is a vote to keep politics out of the Supreme Court.”

Roger Bybee of Working In These Times argues that recalling Republican state senators in Wisconsin is not enough to defend workers’ rights from Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union onslaught.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The MulchThe Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.




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