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The Return of Socialism?

By Editorial from the Socialist Worker  Posted by Bia Winter (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Republican hype notwithstanding, the scale of the economic crisis and the Obama administration's break from past policies are reshaping U.S. politics--not only at the top, but throughout society.

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TO HEAR the Republicans tell it, President Barack Obama is proceeding, as the Russian revolutionary Lenin once put it, to "construct the socialist order."

"The stimulus, the omnibus, the budget--it's all one big down payment on a new American socialist experiment," House Minority Leader John Boehner told the Conservative Political Action Conference last week. "They're laying the groundwork for everything in these bills--expanded welfare, government-run health care, green jobs, the works. They even want to pay irresponsible neighbors' mortgages off for them."

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Boehner's rant shows--if more proof was needed--just how out of touch the Republicans are.

Expanding welfare? Only a traitorous Red could be in favor of such a measure as unemployment soars to its highest level since 1982. A government-led expansion of health care? Every patriotic American knows that if 50 million people in the U.S. lack health insurance, it's because they don't appreciate how the free-market system works. Green jobs? That's an anti-capitalist scheme cooked up by '60s radicals.

And only a communist revolutionary could be in favor of helping homeowners in danger of losing everything because they got stuck with one of the extortionate sub-prime mortgages pushed on them by outfits like Countrywide--which, after all, were only out to make a profit, and isn't that the American way?

But if you're a member of the Republican Party right now, you're duty-bound--in addition to pledging allegiance to Rush Limbaugh--to regard the Obama administration's proposals as tantamount to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

The corporate media haven't been much help in separating fact from fantasy. They've had a hard time comprehending the new era in U.S. politics, where the dogmas of the past that they repeated for years--about big government being bad and tax cuts as the solution to every problem--don't fit anymore.

Their bewilderment was encapsulated in the empty-headed cover story in a recent issue of the far-from-radical Newsweek, titled "We're all socialists now."

Obama, for one, doesn't think so. When a reporter aboard Air Force One asked him if his policies amounted to "socialism," the president laughed it off. But with the S-word being bandied about so frequently, he apparently thought he better take the question more seriously--so he called the New York Times personally to defend himself:

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It wasn't under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. And it wasn't on my watch that we passed a massive new entitlement, the prescription drug plan, without a source of funding. We've actually been operating in a way that has been entirely consistent with free-market principles, and some of the same folks who are throwing the word socialist around can't say the same.

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SO MUCH for socialism, Obama-style.

Still, what's actually taking place in Washington needs to be recognized as a break from the period of conservative dominance in U.S. politics that began under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and ran through the Bush presidency.

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