Progressive Op-Ed Program
This article originally appeared at Alternet.org
Barack Obama told Oprah last year that he deserved a “B+” for his first year in office. If he were being more honest, he’d give himself a “C.”
I’ve been willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt simply because he is not George W. Bush. The Bush presidency was a Haley’s Comet of badness, the sort of presidency that America can survive only because it occurs once every 80 years. The only historical events comparable to the Bush presidency are Herbert Hoover’s and James Buchanan’s.
All the same, Obama has not had a stellar start. In fact, I’d argue that the most disappointing part of the Obama presidency so far has been its ordinariness. Despite a lot of initial progressive hype, Barack Obama campaigned as an establishment Beltway Democrat and so far has governed no differently.
Are you concerned about the country’s large budget deficits? Are you wondering how we are going to pay for two wars, bank bailouts and economic recovery projects while continuing to maintain our roads and bridges and pay for our schools and police and firefighters? Are you wondering what we can do about the great concentration of wealth and income into the hands of a very few at the top?
There are so many budget problems. It would be so nice if we could just go back to a simpler time.
Well there is something we can do to solve most of these problems in one fell swoop. We really can just go back to a simpler time. Why don’t we just go back to the income tax structure that we had back when budgets were balanced, our infrastructure was maintained, our schools were good, the economy grew at a nice, fast clip and the middle class knew that their incomes would grow steadily? What I am suggesting is that we just return the income and corporate tax rates to where they were during the Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations.
“Centrist” Democrats opposing a government-run public health insurance plan have seemingly forgotten the first rule of crafting public policy – namely, that the policy should be popular with the public.
First, some background: because both the Obama White House and Democratic leaders deemed a single-payer system too politically risky and difficult to implement, they settled on a mandatory insurance plan that would provide government subsidies to Americans who couldn’t afford to buy health insurance on the private market. The insurance companies generally favored this scheme because it would guarantee them tens of millions of new customers who had previously been priced out of the market.
Even though mandatory health insurance is essentially a way to pay off private insurers in order to attain universal health care coverage, most legislators don’t simply want to hand them a blank check. This is why progressives have insisted on a public option to compete with health insurance corporations.
White House Garden Won't Make Up for Obama's Nomination of Pesticide Lobbyist for US Chief Agriculture Negotiator
(This article orginally appeared at Alternet.org)
Barack Obama came to power by calling for a change in politics as usual, but he's not delivering on that promise. While his rhetoric is a breath of fresh air compared to the inflammatory and often dishonest statements of politicians past, his actions don't live up to his promise of change. In classic politician form, Obama has placated advocates of sustainable agriculture by planting an organic garden and appointing Kathleen Merrigan to the number two spot at the USDA while simultaneously pursuing a rather unsustainable agenda. Obama's own statements about food and agriculture trend moderate to progressive, but his nominations for top positions in his administration tell a different story.
(This article originally appeared in the San Jose Mercury News)
While America has always been a place where a person could get rich, it used to be that you got rich a bit more slowly, and everyone benefited in the process. This is because we used to have very high tax rates at the top.
A person could do very well, but income that came in above a certain level was highly taxed and used to pay for the teachers, police, courts and roads that enabled businesses to thrive. Just how high were taxes? During America's "golden years" of 1951-1963, tax rates were over 90 percent on income over $400,000. Then through the 1960s and 70s, they were 70 percent on income above $200,000.
This had many beneficial results — especially for the people who paid higher taxes. Back then, government could afford to invest in programs that improved everyone's standard of living, including health, knowledge and technology, all without borrowing.
(This article originally appeared at Guardian.co.uk )
It must be stated over and over again: the Fox News Channel is not a news channel.
It's a Republican party propaganda channel. As such, its first
amendment right to say whatever it likes ought to be protected, but not
its "right" to call itself "news". That's false advertising, and it
ought to be outlawed by whoever regulates such things.
Perhaps if they changed the name to the Republican News Channel (RNC for short), there would be no complaint. Until they do, however, they need to be called out by the rest of us for exactly what they are.
It was naïve to imagine the United States would elect its first African American president and move instantly into an enlightened, post-racial era. It was naïve, or perhaps unduly hopeful. This sentiment was strong among the college-age youth I interviewed while reporting for MTV’s Street Team in Oregon, in March of last year. “He’s gonna save America,” one young man said of then-candidate Barack Obama, his eyes ablaze and earnest. He spoke of more than simply escaping the long, dark years under George W. Bush. He was talking of stepping into a new day in the United States, where all people are valued for their character and not their skin hue.
Young or not, the student I interviewed gave voice to a shape of thought many Americans share on some level: that this man can save us. That a figure can step onto the world stage and usher us into an incredible new day we want so very much to live in.
(This article originally appeared at Alternet.org)
Just minutes after noon, on January 20, 2009, "hope" arrived for Constitutionalists and supporters of its First Amendment. A slight, little-noticed, but exceedingly noteworthy paragraph appeared on the new Administration's White House website "Technology" page.
"Encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media," the paragraph began, "promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum."
After more than a decade of private corporatization of virtually every inch of bandwidth across the public airwaves, a new day seemed to be dawning with a new Administration's indication that they might reverse years of cynical, self-serving mismanagement of the people's airwaves by a few, very large, very far-right leaning corporations who had been granted priceless government largesse in the form of broadcast licenses without the responsibility of serving the public interest in exchange.
"Hope" would be short lived. By summer, the paragraph had been quietly excised from the White House website without a trace, apology or even an explanation.