Obama’s first year, pt. 3

Patrick Miner

Over the last two weeks, I have written on President Obama’s first year in office. The first part of this three-part column concentrated on his escalation of the conflicts in the Middle East and the second part covered his environmental policy.
My column on Obama’s wars in the Middle East was much shorter than I would have liked, and my analysis of his stance on the environment was limited to the topics of nuclear power and emissions standards. To cover all the material that could be covered, I would probably need to continue writing columns on this topic for the rest of the academic year. So, this column addresses several subjects through the lens of the 2011 budget proposal before concluding the series.
First, a word on the Obama administration’s past budgeting moves and some of their results.
The Wall Street bailouts that started under Bush and that have continued under Obama are not expected to end any time soon. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner announced in December that the Troubled Asset Relief Program would be extended until October of this year, but the Congressional Oversight Panel said that the bailouts are unlikely to end at that time and may continue for several years.
According to The New York Times, Goldman Sachs was the largest recipient of public funds from the $180-billion, taxpayer-funded bailout of AIG. The company received $13 billion of the bailout money plus additional funds from the $11 billion that had originally been sent to the French bank, Société Générale.
Then Goldman Sachs posted record profits in 2009 of $13.4 billion. That company’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, received $9 million in bonuses in 2009. Other companies that received TARP money have given outrageous bonuses to their executives: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase received $17 million; James Gorman of Morgan Stanley received $11 million. Geithner’s excessive bailouts of Wall Street, fully supported by Obama, do nothing to help Americans recover from the recession – they only serve to make the rich richer.
For the fiscal year 2011, Obama is requesting a $3.8 trillion budget, the largest budget ever requested. Some may point to the economic crisis at hand as a reason for this large sum, but actually, Obama’s plan puts a freeze on many domestic programs that would boost the economy.
He said, “I’ve proposed a freeze in government spending for three years. This won’t apply to the benefits folks get through Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare, and it won’t apply to our national security, including benefits for veterans. But it will apply to all other discretionary government programs.”
Spending on education and unemployment benefits is being cut while war spending is increasing to all time highs. The Pentagon’s budget will increase by three percent on top of war appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama also proposes spending $7 billion on our nuclear arsenal despite his supposed goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world.
That money would obviously be better spent in starting the process of dismantling our nuclear weapons to show other nuclear powers that the United States is committed to nonproliferation and disarmament.
The budget proposal serves as a good indicator for what the next year might bring, and if we read the 2011 proposal, the message of what is to come is clear: more war. Instead of using taxpayer money to improve schools and help put food on the table for those who have lost their jobs, Obama plans to use these funds to bail out Wall Street, to upgrade our nuclear arsenal and to continue to kill civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
Whether failing to help those hurt by the recession, failing to put forth healthcare reform that covers all Americans, failing to support renewable energy, failing to close Guantanamo Bay, failing to end U.S. torture of prisoners, failing to dismantle nuclear arms or failing to end our wars in the Middle East, Obama is sure to deliver.
He himself once warned of the disgrace that he has become: “Too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.”
Obama: Please show some leadership and prove me wrong.