by Scott Creighton
UPDATE: (H/T Jan) Obama apparently has to officially enact the cuts by the end of the day meaning he has to literally sign the documentation to start the Miracle of America process.
“For one thing, Obama must sign an order formally starting the “sequester” or spending reductions, which according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, would amount to $42 billion in the current fiscal year.” NBC News
“President Obama will officially enact the cuts by the end of the day Friday – but there will be cuts.” Fox “News”
It’s curious that people like Glenn Greenwald have already been making excuses for Obama by claiming he has “no choice” in enacting this process because “it’s the law”. In fact, as you will see below, it’s “the law” that Obama and his team created. But aside from that, it’s also “the law” that he doesn’t kill U.S. citizens without due process, but he does. It’s also “the law” that he doesn’t wage wars without congressional approval, but he does. It’s also “the law” that he doesn’t wage an all out campaign against whistle-blowers, but he does. And it’s the law that he provides congress with the documentation that he claims gives him authority to rain hell-fire missiles down on anyone anywhere in the world… but he doesn’t.
Fact is, President Obama, just like Bush before him, ignores “the law” when it suits him and people like Glenn Greenwald know that all too well. Don’t expect him to ignore it this time. He will sign it or his robo-signing machine will while he starts his three-day weekend on the links somewhere.
UPDATE: For more background on this process please read:
The “Miracle of America”: Addendum Feb. 2010
UPDATE: It is also important to note that aside from Obama’s culpability in the creation of the sequestration budget via the suggestion of his National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, it was his White House Budget Director Jack Lew (now Sec. of Treasury) and his White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors who met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in July of 2011 to push for the inclusion of the sequestration plan… not as a budget tool, but rather a looming deadline to force a deal.
This is the Miracle of America as it was the Miracle of Chile and the Asian Miracle and the Russian Miracle before it. This is neoliberalism or the IMF structural adjustments program:
IMF structural adjustments (how many have we already seen set in motion in America?):
- Cutting social expenditures, also known as Austerity.
- Focusing economic output on direct export and resource extraction,
- Devaluation of currencies,
- Trade liberalization, or lifting import and export restrictions,
- Increasing the stability of investment (by supplementing foreign direct investment with the opening of domestic stock markets),
- Balancing budgets and not “overspending”,
- Removing price controls and state subsidies,
- Privatization, or divestiture of all or part of state-owned enterprises,
- Enhancing the rights of foreign investors vis-a-vis national laws,
- Improving governance and fighting corruption.
As the deadline hits and the poor and working classes are about to be slammed with the second round of the American Austerity Plan a.k.a.The Miracle of America (especially here in my home state of Florida), our Vichy politicians are busy pointing their fingers and pretending its somebody else’s fault while they sit in their mahogany lined studies in their overstuffed leather chairs sipping 16-year-old scotch and snickering back and forth to one another… far away from the peering eyes of any TV cameras.
The president is doing what he does best; going on a PR tour to sell the idea that he wanted a kinder/gentler austerity. He went to a shipyard yesterday, he was so concerned about the pending cuts that took effect today. The shipyard is in my former home state, Virginia. People are going to be out of some work because of this “sequester” plan. The fact that he COULD have stayed in DC during that time working on a deal is lost on the apologist dems but not the hypocritical conservatives. What they seem to forget is there was 2 years they had to cut a deal to avoid these brutal cuts to the poorest and weakest in our society, but they never did jack shit to work out an alternative plan. And there was good reason for that. There was never any intention to work out a plan.
In stark contrast to “mostly false” statements by Obama (“The sequester isn’t something I proposed, it’s something congress proposed“) the “sequestration order” comes from the Budget Control Act of 2011, specifically from a proposal put forth by Obama’s National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling and then forced on the senate leadership by White House Budget Director Jack Lew (now Sec. of Treasury) and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors… but let’s not forget it is just one small part of an neoliberal genocidal austerity process that they have been pushing for years looking to get the United States on par with the other countries we wrecked in the crash of the derivatives markets that we created. This is economic and social reform not unlike the Miracle of Chile the Chicago Boys technocrats dumped on the people of that nation after staging a coup in ’73.
Back in the day before it started polling badly in their online focus groups like Think Progress, they used to call this plan the Simpson-Bowles plan. It was called that until people started rightly associating that with the Obama administration because it was his White House that created it with Executive Order 13531 after failing to get congress to do it for them.
A slight hint as to the destiny of this commission’s plan is evident at the very beginning. Remember back in Jan. of 2010 they wanted congress to generate the commission and then to agree to accept their recommendations without having to vote on it AFTER neolibs like Simpson and Bowles wrote it. In effect, they would be locked into whatever the technocrats on the commission demanded without one party or the other taking responsibility for it.
That plan failed when the Senate voted to nix that idea with a vote of 53-46. It was the republicans who shot it down by the way.
Thus, Obama the “socialist” set forth to create the austerity commission himself by executive decree and did so with the previously mentioned Executive Order 13531.
This commission, the Simpson-Bowles Commission, otherwise known as the The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, were tasked to design the first wave of American Austerity back in much the same way Greece was hit with their first wave of austerity back a couple years ago. The report was finished in Dec. of 2010… OVER two years ago and just AFTER the midterm elections of that year.
Their plan was supposed to be a warning, a last step measure which would force congress to “make the hard decisions” and come to an agreement on savage cuts to Americans and as the name suggests, permanent REFORM of the social contract between U.S. citizens and their government.
But in reality, look at the timing. This was set to kick in March 1st of 2013 just AFTER the elections of 2012.
Think about that for a second. Obama’s “big plan” could have been thwarted by him losing the election, as if our elections weren’t rigged. So the deadline hit at the very beginning of his second term in office, as he was riding the wave of “progressive” post-”election” support and long before the midterm elections of 2014.
After the Simpson-Bowles commission failed to reach an agreed upon consensus even among members of the commission themselves, the Budget Control Act of 2011 delgated the creation of The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction colloquially referred to as the Supercommittee, formed by congress also failed and published this statement in Nov. of 2011:
“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.” Wiki
The committee was formally terminated Jan. 31st, 2012.
As I said before, the Simpson-Bowles Commission failed in an internal vote to put forward it’s IMF style “economic medicine” but it also failed in a congressional vote put forward by a congressman who used their plan to form his own in a desperate attempt to pass it anyway…
“The plan released on December 1, 2010, fell short of a supermajority on December 3, with 11 of 18 votes in favor,  Voting for the report were Bowles, Coburn, Conrad, Crapo, Cote, Durbin, Fudge, Gregg, Rivlin, Simpson, and Spratt. Voting against were Baucus, Becerra, Camp, Hensarling, Ryan, Schakowsky and Stern.
On March 28, 2012, Representatives Jim Cooper (D-TN) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) put a bill modeled on the plan, with, according to analyst Ezra Klein, “somewhat less in tax increases,” to a vote in the House where it was rejected 382 to 38. 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans supported the bill” wiki
So here we are, two years later, and Obama is still talking about the 4 trillion in cuts demanded by his commission. Simpson and Bowles have been doing the same thing:
“Simpson and Bowles have done further outreach themselves. In November, 2011, Simpson and Bowles submitted written testimony to the “supercommittee” charged with making budget adjustments by Congress, urging the 12 supercommittee members to “go big” toward the $4 trillion in savings the NCFRR had recommended v. the $1.2 trillion deficit reduction most discussed by the committee of congresspeople and senators.” Wiki
Last year they even tried yet another attempt to get the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan passed in congress, and it failed miserably as well…
“Additionally, during the spring of 2012, a Budget Resolution based in part on the Simpson-Bowles plan was voted on in the House of Representatives. The plan was voted down 382-38” wiki
In the end, the Budget Control Act of 2011 is where we get the “budget sequestration” we are facing today. It set Jan. 2nd as the beginning of the end but that date was bumped back to today. It had been used before, first under Reagan and then again under Clinton in ’97.
But while everyone is running around trying to pretend they did everything they could to AVOID these cuts, this “economic medicine” being dished out to the people of the United States like it was dished out to the people of Chile and Argentina and so many other little nations we imposed it on, the fact is, these fascist measures and the process to force them upon the people of America were created by our lovely little “socialist” president and his cabinet only AFTER they tried to get even more vicious measures passed in congress.
“Ultimately, the solution (“sequestration”) came from White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, who, on July 12, 2011, proposed a compulsory trigger that would go into effect if another agreement was not made on tax increases and/or budget cuts equal to or greater than the the debt ceiling increase by a future date” Wiki
Any protestations that Obama and the dems or the republicans profess at this point to be trying to avoid these brutal cuts is just play-acting and PR. The fact is, they have a long documented history of pushing for these economic Miracle of Chile reforms, this “economic medicine” that we forced and the IMF forced on countless people in countless countries over the past few decades.
The Miracle of America has begun. The financial elites sit back and chuckle while Rome burns.