Friday, November 05, 2010

Obama needs a Tea Party of his own to deliver change

The beleaguered US president may be the head of an imperial system. But he can still wind down the war on terror

Seumas Milne, The Guardian, Nov 3, 2010

There’s not the slightest mystery about the sweeping Republican advance in Tuesday’s US midterm elections. It’s the direct outcome of an epoch-changing crisis and a failed economic model. Six million Americans have fallen below the poverty line in less than three years, official unemployment is close to one in 10, two and a half million people have had their homes repossessed, living standards are dropping and an anaemic economic recovery already risks going into reverse.

Most Americans may not blame Barack Obama for the crash. But they know his spending programme hasn’t turned those numbers round, while millions have been drawn to the racialised populism of the ultra-conservative Tea Party movement. In the political space left vacant by Obama and the Democratic mainstream, a big business-funded campaign has channelled rage against Bush’s bank bailout and the featherbedding of corporate America into blind opposition to government action and the president’s stimulus package.

In reality the stimulus has saved up to 3.3m jobs, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, even though it represented only a small fraction of the collapse of private demand. It would have needed to be much larger – and combined with far tougher intervention in the banks – to overcome the impact of the credit collapse.

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