Why Did the President Cross the Road? To Kneel Before the Corporate Throne of the Chamber of Commerce
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Editor's note: It's interesting how two analyses of the same event -- in this case President Barack Obama's speech to the Chamber of Commerce on Monday -- can be so different. In the article below, David Swanson interprets key portions of the President's speech as a capitulation to the Chamber and its right-wing agenda, especially when it comes to Obama's freezing domestic spending for the next 5 years. Obama appeared to blame entitlements for the deficit, and he avoided factoring in defense and military spending as potential solutions, even though the U.S. spends more on its military than the rest of the countries of the world combined.
Over in AlterNet's Hot News and Views, Jed Lewison, writing for the Daily Kos, strongly argued that Obama challenged the Chamber to support his agenda, and found his speech to be strong and heartening. We'll let you decide who you agree with.
Why did the President cross the road? To kneel before the corporate throne of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And here's what he had to say there on Monday.
President Obama again stressed that he wanted to freeze non-war/military spending well into the next president's tenure:
"That's why I've proposed that we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. Understand what this means. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and bring this spending -- domestic discretionary spending -- down to the lowest share of our economy since Eisenhower was president. That was a long time ago."
President Obama again pretended that Social Security is breaking a budget that it is not in any way a part of, and that Social Security is in trouble. (In reality the damage he did to it a few months back could be repaired and more by simply requiring people with large incomes to pay in at the same rate as people with small ones):
"Because the driving force on our deficits are entitlements spending. And that's going to require both parties to work together, because those are some tough problems that we're going to have to solve. And I am eager to work with both parties and with the Chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on a sounder fiscal footing."
Which branch of the government is the Chamber exactly? I need one of those Constitutional refreshers that Congress attaches to bills now. And how can the Chamber support, i.e. destroy, Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid if it is not a branch of government?
Obama avoided, at least for a while, the topic of spending on that majority of the budget that goes to the military and wars, and which he has proposed not to freeze. There were more important matters to attend to first. Such as lowering corporate taxes (who knew there still were any?):
"Now, another barrier government can remove -- and I hear a lot about this from many of you -- is a burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world. You know how it goes: because of various loopholes and carve-outs that have built up over the years, some industries pay an average rate that is four or five times higher than others. Companies are taxed heavily for making investments with equity, yet the tax code actually pays companies to invest using leverage. As a result, you've got too many companies ending up making decisions based on what their tax director says instead of what their engineer designs or what their factories produce. And that puts our entire economy at a disadvantage. We need something smarter, something simpler, something fairer. That's why I want to lower the corporate rate and eliminate these loopholes to pay for it, so that it doesn't add a dime to our deficit. And I'm asking for your help in this fight. I think it can be done."
And removing regulations: