Saturday, May 28, 2011

Learning Something New Every Day

The other day I was shocked to see a news clip of former president Bill Clinton grabbing Paul Ryan and telling him to "keep up the fight" to cut entitlements. I was shocked. The Democrats are supposed to be for "the little people" and here is a former leader showing he sides with the rich, big business, and the Republicans. I couldn't believe my eyes.

But Dean Baker has brought me down to reality. He points out that I didn't really know the "real" Bill Clinton:
Bill Clinton, Who's Known for His Plan to Cut Social Security

In an article reporting on how the Republicans are backing away from the Ryan plan for privatizing Medicare. the NYT quoted former President Bill Clinton on the need to cut Medicare spending. Mr. Clinton was speaking a daylong conference of the deficit sponsored by Wall Street investment banker Peter Peterson.

It would have been worth reminding readers that Clinton is a big proponent of cuts to Social Security. At the deficit conference that Peterson sponsored last year, Clinton boasted that he had wanted to cut Social Security but congressional leaders from both parties blocked him. The cuts that he wanted would have reduced benefits by approximately 1 percent a year. This means that retirees in their 70s, 80s, or 90s, would be getting almost 15 percent less in Social Security benefits today, if President Clinton had gotten his way.

His desire to cut Social Security puts Clinton far outside the mainstream in the Democratic Party. In fact, it puts him far to the right of the majority of the Republican Party. It would have been appropriate to remind readers of this fact so they could put Mr. Clinton's interest in cutting Medicare in context.
Live and learn. I knew Bill Clinton was part of the New Democrats in the US and aligned with the Third Way in the UK. I knew these were more "centrist" than the Democrats in the US or Labour in the UK. But I didn't realize how right wing some of their ideology really was. I've learned something new!

How are ordinary people supposed to get a government that stands for them when the political party run people like Obama touted as a "community organizer" but really is a "Wall Street organizer" and Bill Clinton run as a "populist" when in fact he was a front for big money interest? No wonder people give up and call the two parties in the US Tweedledee and Tweedledum. They run front men who pretend to take positions while keeping mum about their real ideology.

From Wikipedia:
In politics
  • During the 2000 United States presidential election, candidate Ralph Nader pointed out that George W. Bush and Al Gore were not very different in their corporate policies, and called them Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

  • Helen Keller, the first deafblind recipient of a Bachelor of Arts degree and a prolific writer and left-wing activist said this of democracy in the US. "Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee."

  • Leading up to the United Kingdom general election, 2010, Tory leader David Cameron compared coalition-building British party leaders to "Tweedledum talking to Tweedledee, who is talking to Tweedledem."
The average Joe on the street doesn't have time to read the minds of politicians to find out what their real ideology is. The whole point of party politics is to get the party to vet the candidates so that the party name counts like a "brand" label that provides a guarantee about the product. Sadly, political parties these days are too busy cashing in and getting rich to be bothered with acting like a real political party with a real political platform and some real quality control over their candidates.

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