America’s Media: Dancing Around the Budget Debate Charade

America’s Media: Dancing Around the Budget Debate Charade – by Stephen Lendman

Previous articles explained an Obama-led bipartisan conspiracy to destroy America’s social contract, returning the nation to 19th harshness harshness. But you’d never know it from major media reports, op-eds and editorials, ducking the issue even when critical.

The debate charade’s gone on for weeks, both sides concealing their basic agreement on major cuts for political advantage.

Republican strategy is attacking big government, excluding its biggest part related to defense spending, imperial wars, and one-sided support for corporate interests and America’s super-rich.

Waging no holds barred class war, they echo Ronald Reagan’s 1976 Chicago’s South Side presidential campaign speech theme when he attacked “welfare queens” without calling them Black. Today, all working Americans are “Black” in terms of struggling more than ever to make ends meet, and needing political Washington’s help, not greater planned trickle-up poverty.

Obama and congressional Democrats agree with Republicans but won’t admit it. According to Washington Post writer Zachary Goldfarb, Obama’s also gambling on winning the political center saying:

His “political advisers have long believed that securing an agreement (even by slashing entitlements) would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president’s standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm election and who say reining in the nation’s debt is a high priority.”

Perhaps Obama needs new advisers, given clear evidence that Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare with good reason. Their payroll taxes pay insurance premiums to receive them.

Taking the money and running may jeopardize any politician’s reelection, especially for high office. That said, Obama’s strategists may, in fact, count on winning by default, given no viable Republican candidate opposing him. At least, not so far.

There’s no ambiguity where Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal stands, including in a July 30 editorial headlined, “The Debt-Limit Hobbits: The GOP fantasy caucus is empowering Nancy Pelosi,” saying:

“The shame is that the debt-limit absolutists have weakened (Boehner’s) hand in negotiating a final bill with Senate Democrats. At the most practical level, (his) plan is better than (Reid’s).”

In other words, under orders from Murdoch in charge of editorial policy, scorched earth slash and burn social contract cuts should leave none of them in place even if it takes multiple steps over many months to complete it. Failure will make Republicans “not (look) like adults to whom voters can entrust the government.”

The editorial omitted saying what “voters” they mean. For sure, not working Americans.

Like the Journal, The New York Times also supports cuts, at the same time playing off good guy Obama v. irresponsible Republicans, instead of exposing political Washington’s dark side.

On July 29, after Boehner’s bill passed in the House, it’s editorial headlined, “It’s Up to the Senate,” saying:

Only the Senate can avoid default by “piec(ing) together a compromise that can pass with bipartisan majorities in both chambers. (Doing so) would eliminate the imminent threat of financial chaos.”

In fact, the debt ceiling will be raised. Default won’t happen and Times writers know it. They also know both sides agree on destroying America’s social contract, but won’t denounce it responsibly. Doing so would expose its one-sided support for wealth, power and privilege, while pretending to care about working Americans it never did and doesn’t now. Only its rhetoric differs from positions Murdoch’s Journal endorses.

On July 26, columnist Thomas Friedman, a shameless free market fundamentalist, headlined “Can’t We Do This Right?” endorsing slash and burn cuts as long as by strategic planning, saying:

“Only after” constructing one can we say, “OK, given our current fiscal predicament, where should we cut spending and where must we raise new tax revenues so that we can bring our government back to solvency and, at the same time, reinvigorate our formula for growth and success.”

He then quoted Johns Hopkins University Professor Michael Mandelbaum (“a foreign policy expert,” he said) stating:

“Such a plan requires cutting, taxing and spending. It requires cutting because we have made promises to ourselves on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that we cannot keep without reforming each of them.”

Mandelbaum may know foreign policy. Neither he or Friedman understand economics or they’d know and admit Social Security and Medicare are fiscally sound, needing only minor adjustments to keep them that way, not major cuts.

Moreover, Medicaid provides essential healthcare to society’s poor who’d get none or too little without it. Only a heartless corporatist would support policies denying them. Perhaps Friedman and Mendlbaum do without saying so.

In a July 24 column, Friedman also endorsed the “radical center,” even though “it sounds gimmicky,” he said. He explained the idea earlier in 2007, suggesting that if Obama won the Democrat nomination, he “might want to consider keeping Dick Cheney on as his vice president.”

Why? Because he’d be much more effective with a Cheney “standing over his right shoulder, quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm.” For Friedman, in other words, mixing Obama’s right wing politics with Cheney’s is centrist. Maybe for zealots like himself, not for mainstream Americans, wanting better options they’re denied.

On July 29, Times writer Jackie Calmes headlined, “That Aug. 2 Dealine? It May Be Impossible, Veteran Lawmakers Say.”

Citing former Senator Tom Daschle as well as former Republican Reps. Tom Davis and Vin Weber’s views in Calmes’ words saying, “This time, be afraid. Be very afraid,” instead of exposing the fraudulent debate, explaining the stakes responsibly, and endorsing what’s best for all Americans. In addition, saying no deal is better than a bad one, causing irreparable harm to millions.

Instead Calmes also quoted a Chamber of Commerce headline, saying:

“Failure to Raise Debt Ceiling Could Turn the Economy Back Into a Recession.” For Main Street, in fact, it’s been in Depression since 2008, what neither the Chamber or Times writers will admit forthrightly. Instead, they shamelessly front for wealth and power, claiming it’s for the good of the country.

In virtually all US managed news reports and opinions, supporting powerful interests at the expense of working Americans is standard policy, saying like a July 29 Washington Post editorial headlined, “Debt-ceilng sanity is now in the Senate’s hands:

“(W)e continue to hope enough clear-thinking lawmakers will conclude that the time for compromise is now.”

Unexplained was that any deal leaves working Americans in the cold, on their own and out of luck, especially after subsequent cuts eliminate what round one omits.

That’s the ugly future no major media report will explain. That’s why popular anger has to stop it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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