Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Obama's Progressive Credentials - The Middle and Working Class

      I’ve decided after a recent debate on Facebook to discuss in a blog series President Barack Obama’s Progressive Credentials. If you want to join the discussion on Twitter I’m adopting the hash tag #ProgCred, so if you want to discuss it that way, please feel free.
     The first thing to start with is to outline what Progressive is. I won’t be using Glenn Beck’s definition and I probably won’t be using Karl Marx’s definition, either, honestly. I hope to get a moderate, unbiased, unpartisan definition of Progressive that we can all agree on. So here is the definition I am going to use.

(This is a new definition, molded from the one below, which was supposed to be here, but the formatting fought with me.) Progressivism, economically, is something that focuses on the Middle and Working Class.

     So it focuses a lot on the Working and Middle Class. So it only made perfect sense for me to start with how Obama’s policies have affected that demographic of people.

So without further ado:

Obama's Progressive Credentials -- The Working and Middle Class

     He formed a Bureaucratic board or committee or panel or whatever for jobs when he first got into office. He got the President of GE, an international corporation that donated big to his campaign in 2008 (The company has spent more than $238 million over the last 12 years on lobbying … Those are lobbying numbers and may be completely independent of numbers spent on buying elections. In fact, GE donated 529,855 to Barack Obama in 2008 Election), to head that group. That president of course is Jeffrey Immelt. GE made 14.2 billion in profits in 2010. And though it is contested, it is believed that GE didn’t pay any taxes in 2009 or 2010. Which is curious seeing as Jeffrey Immelt is working closely with the President and the Middle Class the President claims to be working for is still paying their fair share of taxes. I call into question a conflict of interest. Jeffrey Immelt is the President of GE, a multinational corporation and he is also working on the Job and Competitiveness Council. His company is exporting American jobs and (potentially) not paying any American Taxes. In fact, GE receives tax breaks (GE actually got a $3.2 billion tax benefit) to export American Jobs (GE laid off 21,000 American workers and closed 20 factories , According to ABC News, more than half of the company’s workforce is now located outside of the United States). The system is corrupt, and the President isn’t even talking about it. This, right out of the gate, raises questions about President Obama’s Progressive Credentials as it pertains to the Working and Middle class. (ABC)
     The second thing I’d like to address when it comes to noticing President Obama’s policy’s affect on the middle and working class is the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Obama threw a lot of money at a lot of problems. I understand progressive to mean that you work to help the middle class, and maybe somewhere along the way Obama learned that throwing money at the problem would fix the problem. But I want to look at the numbers.
     President Obama spent $100 billion on education in ARRA. Since 2008, when the economy collapsed, about 294,000 education jobs have been lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now call me crazy, but don’t we need teachers to have education. Oh, no sorry, this is the “No Child Left Behind” Era, we just need tests. I’m hearing Pink Floyd people… (The Blaze).
     Obama also spent a healthy chunk of money on healthcare. $155.1 billion to be exact. And while the number of actual people uninsured is up for debate, even the lowest number is inexcusable. Some say 46 million are uninsured. Some say the number would be closer to 26.5 or even as low as 8.2 (The Spectator).
     And what it comes down to is the Middle and the Working class, yes they need an education, yes the need healthcare, but they need WORK! And the numbers show that they just don’t. The real unemployment and underemployment rate is 25% (Yahoo News)! So essentially, the president spent 700 billion dollars, conservatively, in order to improve infrastructure, save education jobs, keep people insured and to give tax breaks to people so they would spend and hire more and we’d see an uptake in this economy. None of the numbers above show that. Even though GE rakes in big money and gets tax breaks for building overseas without having to pay any taxes here.
     Also, while I’m talking about the Middle Class I’d like to take a look at loans and foreclosures.

     So even though banks were supposed to have tax incentives to loan and money left over from Bush II to give out as loans, loans have been going down since 2007. Maybe we can give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one and say that we paid for continual lower loan rates with reform? (StLToday).
     There were 2.9 million U.S. properties that received foreclosure fillings in 2010 (Realty Trac). Again, maybe this is the price we pay for regulation. But I find it curious to look at the profits of GE and of all the banks, to look at how much the president makes as president, and how much he accepts as a candidate, how much Dodd and Frank take or took as members of Congress compared to the numbers of people without homes, healthcare, teachers to teach them, or jobs to work at.
     One last note about the middle class before I wrap up with bank reform. I think a true Progressive would address Unfair trade. It puts people out of work here and hires them in a country like China for much less. But the cost of the workers and working conditions they use. Countries like China use sweatshops and they load those sweatshops with slaves and children. It is unfair to the middle class of foreign countries and it is unfair to the middle class of America. But we give companies and corporations tax credits to do it! A real Progressive would be for fair trade, not free trade and would be for capitalism not corporatism.
     Okay, now to banking reform, which as we’ve seen with loans and foreclosures and things very much affects the Middle and Working Classes. Let’s look at how the big banks that were ‘regulated’ are doing (I am of the personal belief that if Obama was a true Progressive he would have looked directly past Dodd - Frank and went to try to pass Glass - Steagal. But I can say with almost certainty that he didn’t even mention Glass - Steagal during the whole bank regulation debate.)
BofA 10.4 Billion
JPMorgan Chase 17.4 Billion
Citigroup 10.6 Billion
Wells Fargo 12.4 Billion
Goldman Sachs 9.6 Billion
     So how is that the banks are doing so well (ie. They can afford to pay big bonuses and they can afford to buy Presidential candidates, even more than one of the same party in the same season) but the middle and working class are barely hanging on?
     Now, hopefully we can open up the conversation for counter - argument and rebuttal. I am more than happy to have it. But with all the reading and research I’ve done since Barack Obama has been President has not convinced me that he is either a Progressive or for the Middle or Working Classes. This is the first installment in a series where I aim to highlight his disconnect with Progressivism.
1. CNN “GE received a $318 million tax credit in 2009” -

2. The Blaze - “AP’s Fact Check Again Hammers Obama Jobs Plan Makes Giant Leaps”

3. The Spectator - “The Myth of the 46 Million”

4. Yahoo News - “Actual Unemployment Rate Soars Above 25 Percent”

5. St. L Today -

6. Realty Trac - “Record 29 Million US Properties Receive Foreclosure Filings in 2010 despite 30 Month Low in December”

7. Azreg - “Top 5 US Banks Profit Over 60.4 Billion in 2012 -

Alexander Fisher








The Progressive Movement began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in cities with settlement workers and reformers who were interested in helping those facing harsh conditions at home and at work. The reformers spoke out about the need for laws regulating tenement housing and child labor. They also called for better working conditions for women.

A decline in loans also occurred nationwide as lending fell to $7.38 trillion at the end of 2010, a 0.2 percent decline from 2009, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That represented the 10th consecutive quarter of loan declines.

Obama’s Progressive Credentials - The Working and Middle Class

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