As the US Congress reconvenes following the Thanksgiving Day holiday, the media is once again ratcheting up its propaganda offensive over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
Behind the orchestrated wrangling between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans over averting the supposed catastrophe of automatic tax increases and budget cuts due to take effect January 1, the details of plans to impose unprecedented cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are being worked out behind the backs of the American people.
There is bipartisan agreement between the two corporate-controlled parties to slash social programs upon which tens of millions of working people rely for health care and retirement income. The main issue under debate is how to package the cuts so as to best confuse public opinion and obscure what is really happening.
In this, President Obama is taking a leading role. His primary concern is to make the slashing of social programs that keep millions out of poverty seem necessary, while providing this reactionary attack with a fig leaf of “fairness.”
The bipartisan conspiracy against the American people was highlighted by the announcement from Republican House Speaker John Boehner that Republicans would be meeting with Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton and co-chair of the deficit commission set up by Obama in 2010. Bowles and his Republican counterpart, former senator Alan Simpson, proposed $4 trillion in deficit-reduction measures, mainly in the form of regressive changes to Medicare and Social Security and huge cuts in other social programs, together with a tax “reform” that would slash rates for corporations and the rich.
For his part, Obama has “balanced” his demand for drastic social cuts with a call for the “wealthiest Americans” to “pay a little more in taxes.” The Republicans have said they are willing to accept increases in revenues, but have balked at increasing tax rates.
Obama’s call for a token increase in taxes on the highest earners, whether in the form of an increase in the top tax rate or some lowering of deductions, is nothing but a smokescreen. Any slight tax increase that might initially be imposed on the rich would be more than offset by the “comprehensive tax reform” supported by both parties.