Back in 2000 ‘luminaries’ of the left such as Phil Donahue, Michael Moore, and Ani Difranco (all current Obama supporters), were seen working all across America for Ralph Nader’s presidential campaign. Michael Moore had called Bill Clinton “the best Republican president we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln.” He had also called the Democratic Convention of that year, “the other Republican Convention.” Back at that time, he said, “Clinton did things that Reagan and Bush could only dream of.” And lastly, he put it better than I could have said it, “The smartest thing the Republicans could do to continue the Reagan Revolution is to actively push for the election of Al Gore.” The Michael Moore of the present day has become what Michael Moore of 2000 worked so adamantly against, taking on the role of head cheerleader for the Republican-lite policies of the Democratic Party. The Democratic-wing of which died in a plane crash with the great Senate populist Paul Wellstone.
Barack Obama has taken on as his advisers some of the best people that brought the Clintonian Republican-lite policies to the White House. A set of policies that are often referred to as the Washington Consensus. The term Washington Consensus is basically synonymous with market fundamentalism, and it has been sharply criticized by prominent movers and shakers in the Democratic Party such as George Soros and Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz is an illustrative name to bring up in all of this (he now endorses Obama, I guess he’ll never learn). He is a former World Bank economist who questioned whether stringent austerity measures are always proper to impose on third world nations’ economies. He left the World Bank under a cloud of suspicion that the Clinton Treasury Department had asked for him to be removed from his position there.
One would think these rebels against the Clintonian policies would want some assurances that Obama would not be a Clinton presidency part II. Surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to be what they’re asking for at all. In fact, I’m not even sure if they’ve noticed who Barack Obama has advising him at his side. They are many of the same people who brought us Clintonomics (or Rubinomics), and other like-minded folks. To head his economic team, Barack Obama chose Jason Furman. Furman is well known by labor activists for writing a 2005 article defending Wal-Mart as a “progressive success story.” Furman is tied closely to Robert Rubin, a Wall Street insider and Clinton economics guru. AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka has said of Rubin, that it’s hard to tell the difference between he and Republican Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
William Daley, chairman of Bill Clinton’s NAFTA task force (who still strongly believes in NAFTA), is advising Barack Obama. Michael Froman, a Citigroup executive, and former Rubin chief of staff is advising Obama on economic issues. Jeff Liebman, who has supported partial privatization of Social Security, is an economic adviser to Barack Obama. David Cutler, who has written about the positive effects of ballooning health care costs, is an adviser to Obama. Even George Will’s favorite ‘Democratic’ economist is advising Barack Obama, Austan Goolsbee. Salon.com, hardly an online journal of the far left, summed up Obama’s economic philosphy as follows: “Obama appears to be pushing a relatively market-friendly agenda that does not map neatly onto liberal Democratic traditions.”
Bill Clinton advanced goals similar to some of Obama’s stump speech talking points, in 1992, under his proposed economic policy of “Putting People First.” Yet Clinton’s economic strategy changed markedly during the two-month period between the November election and his inauguration in January 1993. During this time, Clinton decided that the top priority of his administration would be to pursue the interests of Wall Street, and not the working people who make this country great. Bill Clinton, at the time, had no book of memoirs to tell us in advance what his actions would be once he assumed the office of the presidency. Conversely, Obama does have a memoir in which he possibly foreshadows some of what lies ahead, “Reagan’s central insight — that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing that pie — contained a good deal of truth.”
Michael, for both our sakes and all the hard working people of this nation, I hope that you were wrong in what you said back when you were campaigning for Ralph Nader in 2000. If you were right, Michael, we’ve got eight painstaking and arduous years up ahead.