Last week Barack Obama named the pair of white male veterans of Wall Street and the Clinton administration who will be replacing the pair of white male veterans of Wall Street and the Clinton administration who had largely defined his first two years in office. The Professional Left did not take the news well.
"The appointment of the obscene corporate hack William Daley should put to rest any and all illusions people have on the Obama administration," wrote progressive political consultant Joe Costello to his listserv of likeminded progressives within hours of the announcement that the JP Morgan executive would be replacing Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff.
Gene Sperling, who replaces Larry Summers as chairman of the National Economic Council, a post he also held during the Clinton administration, garnered similar reviews. "He's just totally oblivious to the issues facing our financial system and the economy," said the economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Analysis, who greeted the news of Mr. Sperling's appointment with a blog post lamenting his "horrible track record" during the 1990s. "But the bottom line is that that's just not their priority. They do know what they're doing, in that they don't really want to do anything."
"If you want to get some traffic on this one," a former senior House aide told The Observer, "make your angle 'Obama's Fixers to End the New Deal.' They are going to dismantle Social Security. I guarantee it. And he won't suffer any push-back. But Obama is the extremist here; he is the wing nut. There's been a total collapse of political power on the left. The left is not even at the table, and they don't even realize it. You can't blame the voters. In 2006 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts. In 2008 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts. And in 2010 they voted out the party of endless war and corporate bailouts."
"These people are as clueless as World War I generals," wrote Harper's Magazine columnist Thomas Frank to The Observer in an email. "They have no idea what's going on in the country or how to deal with it. They just take the advice of long-discredited Washington experts and political scientists. There is nothing original or inventive about them, and I am almost ashamed that I ever thought there was."
The Observer consulted the acknowledgments of Mr. Sperling's 2005 book, The Pro-Growth Progressive, and canvassed a few of the more than 150 people he thanks. From the random sampling, no positive responses were received. Mr. Baker weighed in, as quoted above. Another economist said he had nothing positive or negative to say about Mr. Sperling. A left-leaning lobbyist phoned to say that, although he did not want to be quoted for attribution, he had called in part out of curiosity. "Gene really named me in his book? I mean, I've known him for probably 20 years now, but I don't think we've ever worked together on anything I agreed with him about." He added diplomatically, "But you can't blame Gene or Daley or any of these aides for the administration. They're carrying out Obama's policy. This is him. He's not the guy we elected."
Oh, he's the guy we elected all right.
You don't collect the largest amount of Wall Street campaign contributions of any presidential candidate ever and NOT be at heart a corporatist.
And as the Observer piece notes, Social Security is next on Obama's list (actually education is next, but Social Security is right after that.)
The first salvo against Social Security was fired this week when the 2% Social Security tax holiday showed up in your paycheck.
For me, that means $51 extra a paycheck.
And down the road, it means Social Security concern trolls bemoaning the "insolvency" of the program after voting for and/or promoting a 2% tax holiday to the fund.
And then the Obamaicans will spring into action to slash the program, raise the age and otherwise do in Social Security.
Forewarned is forearmed.
If Obama gets his way, the end is near for what little is left of the New Deal indeed.
And what little is left of the working and middle classes too.