“Like any worthwhile compromise, both sides had to make tough decisions, and give ground on issues that were important to them, and I certainly did that.” -- Barack Obama, April 8, 2011.
Last weekend, Republicans and Democrats squared off in a budget showdown of historic proportions. Fortunately for thousands of federal employees who might not get their paychecks, or countless tourists who would be denied access to national parks and museums, cooler heads prevailed. At the 11th hour both parties reached a hard-fought consensus that narrowly averted a government shutdown.
"Press coverage of the budget impasse followed standard operating procedure: focus first and foremost on the personalities. Then play up the high-stakes drama angle."It’s a good thing too. Otherwise, we might have hurt the economic “recovery.” At least that’s the way politicians, pundits and the U.S. press corps framed the story.
Of course, press coverage of the budget impasse followed standard operating procedure: focus first and foremost on the personalities. Then play up the high-stakes drama angle. After all, the outcome of budget showdown might well determine Obama’s prospects for re-election next November. And then there’s all that nail biting over House Speaker John Boehner’s ability to satisfy Tea Party budget hawks.
Yes, nothing like a bit of political theater to make economic policy debates “must see TV” -- right up there with the NCAA Finals and American Idol.
What gets left out of the dominant media narrative is how thoroughly our elected representatives are shaking us down and selling us out.
The budget showdown is symptomatic of a broader assault on working class families and a fast-disappearing middle class. Battered by record foreclosures, stagflation and -- at last count -- three wars, the health and well-being of the American people is being sacrificed for the sake of corporate profit taking and executive compensation.
Coupled with recent attacks on public service employees, the “tough decisions” Obama and the Republican’s made last week are part of a broader campaign to make hardworking Americans pay for Wall Street’s addiction to casino capitalism. And they’re just getting started.
"What gets left out of the dominant media narrative is how thoroughly our elected representatives are shaking us down and selling us out."
This week Obama unveiled an economic strategy that is sure to please the corporate plutocracy. On the chopping block: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- some of the country’s most popular and, arguably, most successful programs. While Brian Williams and the evening news anchors fixated on Donald Trump’s 17 percent showing in a recent NBC poll, the survey showed 77 percent of respondents opposed cuts to Social Security, 76 percent opposed cuts to Medicare and 67 percent opposed cuts to Medicaid.
In the meantime, any hint of a tax hike will be met with the inevitable Republican gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments.
Meanwhile, the only entitlement programs that really matter these days -- subsidies to the insurance companies, Big Oil and nuclear power industry, to name but a few -- are certain to continue. After all, how is a socialist like Obama ever going to raise over $1 billion for his re-election campaign?
Kevin Howley is associate professor of media studies at DePauw University. He is editor of Understanding Community Media (Sage, 2010). He writes regularly on media, culture and politics at e-chreia.