For too long, Republicans have possessed a very narrow agenda for selecting their candidates. Basically, it has been a requirement of candidates to promise that they would not increase taxes.
Then George W. Bush came along, topping the “no tax increases” promise with huge, multitrillion-dollar tax cuts for the rich. And Mr. Bush delivered. The U.S. national debt has now ballooned up to $15 trillion.
Then came loud calls to lower the deficits. Nothing was held sacred. Not Medicare, the main health insurance for the elderly and the severely disabled. Not Medicaid, the only health insurance for the severely poor. And not Social Security, whose treasury has frequently been raided by both parties.
We all remember both political parties being so polarized that neither would allow for a compromise so the government could continue to pay its bills — and the failure of the “group of 12” to solve this mess, even though President Barack Obama offered to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the aforementioned entitlement programs.
This betrayal by a Democratic president — to even consider cutting the benefits of the elderly, the disabled and the poor — has resonated throughout the Democratic community. Notable cracks in support for the president have widened in several vital areas. The 2008 enthusiasm for Obama from the youth of America has now dimmed to a whimper. More youths are attracted to the Occupy movement’s calls for attention to income inequality.
Every political party depends on its base to drive it to victory at the polls. This is where Obama has truly failed. He has totally ignored the liberal base — indeed, actually maligned us.
Obama has broken promises to the workers and the poor. In 2008, he promised to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011; it has stagnated at $7.25. His administration has strayed further and further from labor unions, a mainstay for virtually every Democratic political victory at the polls. The unions did not receive support for legislation that would have created a fair environment for unions to organize corporate workers. Obama has done nothing to stop the surge of outsourcing of Americans’ jobs. He has not fought to remove tax schemes that reward corporations for firing Americans.
Obama’s narrow focus on protecting corporations, rather than protecting the 99 percent, was highlighted again when he failed to veto a phony credit card “reform” bill. On Feb. 17, Mr. Obama visited Boeing headquarters and proposed cutting taxes for large and very profitable corporations. U.S. corporations, on average, pay 10 percent in taxes; thanks to tax-avoidance strategies, the official 35 percent rate is phony. U.S. corporations pay less than half what their foreign contemporaries pay.
Obama’s new budget also calls for making 79 percent of the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent. These tax cuts will cause more teachers, firefighters and police to be fired. Children attending public schools will continue to have overcrowded classrooms and outdated textbooks. More public libraries will be closed.
In the 1980s, Canadians voted out both major parties. If they can do it, so can we. There are more than 50 vibrant and successful Labor parties around the world today.
Obama has let us down — but that doesn’t mean we need to stay at home on Election Day. A labor-based third party can and should be created in time for the 2012 elections. We deserve a real choice this time.
• Greenebaum won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. House seat in Maryland in 1984 and in California in 1988.