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The View From Martha’s Vineyard

As he and his daughters bicycle around the summer playground of the Northeastern elite, Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama is steadily bleeding away both the support of the nation and that of his most loyal constituency.

Several times, his approval rating in Gallup’s daily tracking poll has sunk to 39 percent, with disapproval reaching 54 percent. Support for his handling of the economy has dipped to the mid-20s. Only 11 percent of Americans, says Gallup, are satisfied with the way things are going.

Unemployment remains at 9 percent, as it has for two years. The Dow has lately lost 2,000 points, or $3 trillion in wealth wiped out. All that money the Fed pumped out is now being reflected not only in the price of gold, silver and Swiss francs, but in rising consumer prices — inflation. One in five U.S. children is living in poverty.

Middle America, some time ago, decided the “hopey, changey thing” was not working out for them. Now the patience of African-Americans with a president for whom they voted 24 to one is wearing thin.

At a Black Caucus confab in Detroit, Rep. Maxine Waters told an angry audience that if and when Black America demands that they confront Obama, the caucus is ready “to have the conversation.”

A collision between Obama and his base seems inevitable. For Black America’s situation, though tough today, seems certain to get tougher. Why?

First, black Americans held a significant share of the subprime mortgages that went sour when housing prices went south, and are thus over-represented among those who lost homes.

Second, black Americans, with a higher rate of poverty, depend more on the entitlement and social programs that Obama cannot avoid hoisting onto the chopping block in any “balanced” plan for dealing with the deficit-debt crisis.


Third, African-Americans are over-represented among the 22 million who work for local, state and federal governments. And while government workers came out best in terms of job security and salary hikes in the stimulus days of 2009 and 2010, in the austerity days of 2011, they are getting their fair share of pink slips. It is almost a truism: Whenever Middle America goes into recession, Black America flirts with depression.

Consider the U.S. Postal Service, with 600,000 employees, running a deficit of $8.5 billion and facing layoffs of 120,000. According to William Burrus, ex-president of the Postal Workers Union, 21 percent of all postal employees are black. When the cuts come, minorities will take a big hit.

That African-Americans favor a powerful federal government is understandable. After all, it was the federal government that crushed the Confederacy, freed the slaves, sent troops to integrate the South, enacted the civil rights laws, imposed affirmative action on companies and colleges, and created the Great Society that provided trillions in wealth transfers and welfare benefits and employs a share of the black population that is nearly twice its representation in the labor force.

That African-Americans would see states’ rights conservatives and small-government Republicans as hostile to the one powerful institution most friendly to them should come as a no surprise.

Here we come to Barack’s dilemma.

The nation he leads is facing a deficit-debt crisis that comes of an inescapable truth: Whether we are talking about commitments to go to war to defend scores of nations or commitments to entitlement and Great Society programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, earned income tax credits, food stamps and Pell grants, we Americans have handed out promissory notes we no longer have the means to meet.

We can no longer deliver what we have promised.

We are running deficits of 10 percent of gross domestic product with a national debt over 100 percent. We are on the path that Italy is following, which is the path that Greece pursued.

We are an overextended empire and commonwealth facing strategic and fiscal bankruptcy. If Obama is to lead the nation out of the crisis it confronts, he has to preside over a downsizing of the welfare-warfare state — the same state that sustains his base.

Not to worry, we are told. When the lazy days of summer are over, Obama will present Congress with his big plan for resurrecting the economy and ensuring the long-term solvency of the nation.

Obama’s September program — indeed, any credible plan to revive the economy and bring our books into balance — has to include a rollback of U.S. commitments at home and abroad.

Yet, domestically, this cannot be done without reducing future Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and cutting and capping the social programs of the Great Society. Moreover, half the nation cannot freeload forever, as is the case today, contributing nary a dime in federal income taxes.

And such reforms must adversely impact most Obama’s political and personal base.

If he proposes new taxes, Tea Party Republicans fix bayonets.

If he proposes downsizing the government and cutting and capping social programs, his most loyal constituents rise up against him.

Enjoy the Vineyard, Mr. President.

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#1 Comment By libertarian jerry On August 19, 2011 @ 9:42 am

Pat,except for Ron Paul,what is the Republican alternative? All the other candidates will not do the radical things necessary to right the ship. If,in 2008,McCain would have won the election would there have much change in which the economic cards were played out? I doubt it. We need,in America,a political revolution to repeal the Federal Reserve,the Income Tax,the New Deal and the Great Society along with the Warfare State. There are no other half way measures. The laws of economics will not allow it. As far as Obama’s constituency is concerned,they know what side their bread is buttered on. In the end,you could no easier train this constituency to be productive then you could “train a maggot to be a vegetarian.” The parasitic political class will back their leader.

#2 Comment By James Canning On August 19, 2011 @ 11:07 am

Is Black America opposing the idiotic squandering of trillions of dollars on ill-considered military adventures in the greater Middle East, unnecessary weapons, unnecessary foreign troop deployments?

Is Black America opposing idiotic US support for Israel’s continuing oppression of the Palestinians?

#3 Comment By James Canning On August 19, 2011 @ 11:10 am

Surely Black America is able to comprehend that a very great deal of poverty, among young “blacks”, arises from the fact they are the children of parents far less able to raise them, than Asians who in many cases arrived in the US fairly recently with very little in the way of financial assets.

#4 Comment By Ken Hoop On August 19, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

I’m glad you mentioned the wars and implied war on terror, James, because Pat got real specific on “entitlements” and related, but did not specifically say the funds for the war(s) should be cut off, nor did he ever in the past specifically support Paul-Kucinich legislation or any other legislation to do that, regards either Iraq or Afghan war.

And for my part, I do not believe an ethical nation cuts benefits until a good fraction of the banksters who collapsed the economy are put in prison, something missing from Pat’s piece.

Not that blacks or Tea Party members for that matter,have been active on any of these protest fronts either.

#5 Comment By George On August 19, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

Is Black America opposing the unrelenting onslaught of mass immigration into the United States? Surely Black America is able to comprehend that these millions of new arrivals, legal and illegal, are crowding them out of jobs in the private sector.

#6 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On August 19, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

“black Americans, with a higher rate of poverty, depend more on the entitlement and social programs”. And this, of course, would be the “black Americans” executives and board members of Lockheed-Martin (85% of revenue from federal contracts, including IT services for many “entitlement and social programs), Haliburton, Northrop-Gruman, Blackwater, DynCorp, Colt Firearms, etc.; who rely on the warfare state entitlement programs, as well as the “black Americans” who “approved” the subprime loans, and sold the “hot potatoes” (and hedged their bad bets via derivitives/credit default swaps); including ALL the balck Americans at Goldman Sachs. Seriously, Pat; the “theme” of your screed is worth consideration, but the information you present in support of your analysis is pathetic. The bottom line is; Obama is Bush 2.0. He’s a neo-con in neo-liberal clothing. He has let failed “black America” in the same manner in which his predecesor failed the white working class Americans. When you identify the chickenhawks and “to big to fail” types (and of course the Federal Reserve Bank) as “freeloaders” you’ll be on the mark.

#7 Comment By Zac in Virginia On August 19, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

James, it sounds like you’re saying black people just can’t raise kids as well as Asian people can.
As for black positions on the war and on Israel, in my experience a lot of black folks are to the left of their white peers.

#8 Comment By Constitution Doug On August 20, 2011 @ 12:12 am

There was a reason the constitution gave the power to coin money. The founders knew a sound money was only based on hard dollars, gold and silver. That Perry called fed chair almost treason was wrong by half. Bernyankme is only one of a long line of criminals dating back to the 1910 meeting at Jekyll Island, Georgia, at the southern estate of J. P. Morgan, when the cartel of northeast bankers and their European brothers first laid out the concept of the fourth central bank of the U. S.

They knew at that time, they would have to lie to congress and the American people to get this boondoggle past. For it was nothing more than a cartel to get control of the banking system to stamp down the flood of new banks opening at the the time that was diluting the large northeastern and European banks share of a market based on hard dollars. Also, the scheme of substitution of hard dollars for a fiat paper currency would ultimately allow bailing out riskier bank assets on the backs of the American tax base as needed, using financial crisis to be avoided. Sound familiar boys and girls?

The cream rising to the top to make this scheme work until the day it collapses of it’s own weight was on a parallel path at the time. That the Federal Reserve Act came into being in 1913, as the country’s first income tax was ratified by the last state, in 1913. Giving the cartel criminals and their pet politicians what was thought at the time to be unlimited source of funds to bail their brother bankers and politicians out as needed. Substituting actual tax layers for tariffs and other fees that prior to 1913, funded the federal government.

Today, when buyers of T-Bills dry up, The Fed buys them up making a book entry for the purchase, sending the flood of new entry’s for money out in the banking system, resulting in our nearly 15 trillion in debt the people yet to be born, should the dumbocrats permit the birth that is, to face. Any one hazard a guess as to why they cannot allow The Federal Reserve to be “audited?” There isn’t anything there, other than the vermin that work there and on occasion crawl out from under the rock they’re hiding under to lie to the American people, usually through their elected representatives. They rarely have the courage to come out and face the people, even though the mainstream media is dumber than a box of rocks, and won’t ask probative questions of them. Many people that remain critical thinkers will see right through their lies. That’s why they can’t let Ron Paul within a mile of the White House, and the Tea Party scares the crap out of them. In their mind, the great unwashed see right through them and their enablers in the mainstream media.

#9 Comment By Captain America On August 20, 2011 @ 10:45 am

Sweet article, Pat. Keep ’em coming! I got yer back!

#10 Comment By James Canning On August 20, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

Zac in Virginia – – In England, Chinese parents manage to get their children into the best schools open to the general public at a rate four times higher than their percentage of children would indicate. Indians obtain twice the level that their percentage of children would indicate. Thus, the Asian parents are far better than working class whites.

Do you think “black” parents in America match the Asians for peformance of their children at school?

#11 Comment By Mitchell Young On August 20, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

“Is Black America opposing idiotic US support for Israel’s continuing oppression of the Palestinians?”

When a member of Black America in a position of some power does so, she finds herself out of that position of power. See Cynthia McKinney.

#12 Comment By Mitchell Young On August 20, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

“Chinese parents manage to get their children into the best schools open to the general public at a rate four times higher than their percentage of children would indicate. Indians obtain twice the level that their percentage of children would indicate. ”

Well, wouldn’t these hard-working, talented folks be doing their home countries a favor by staying there. After all, for all the hype, both Mainland China and India are rather poor.

#13 Comment By Mitchell Young On August 20, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

“as well as the “black Americans” who “approved” the subprime loans, and sold the “hot potatoes” ”

Five words: Franklin Raines and Stanley O’neal.

#14 Comment By michael On August 21, 2011 @ 8:42 am

First, support withdrawal of our military from the fruitless, wasteful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then talk to us about ending or reducing “entitlements”.

And consider this conundrum; Keynesians–including Obama–have driven us deeply into debt by trying to “stimulate” aggregate demand. Reducing “entitlements” will reduce aggregate demand by reducing the purchasing power of the “parasites” you rail against.

So what next? Eliminate aggregated demand by reducing “entitlements” and then “stimulate” the economy by making huge gifts to Wall Street and bankers?

#15 Comment By Michael On August 21, 2011 @ 9:52 am

Know you the truth….I am Muslim African American a lot of conservatives and libertarians talk a lot about how the government is to big, yet I have not yet seen a single plan detailing what size the Federal or State government should be. Now our constitution speaks in carefully crafted language of limited government yet it does not say either what size the government should be.It does however give congress the power to add to or subtract from whatever its size is it states “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States”. It is past time to admit that in fact our Founding Leaders had no doubt the the Federal and State government growth would be continous.The principle I think they alluded to was the need to have only essential stabilizing government. We as a nation have allowed a usurping of private enterprise by our collective failure in folks we elect to lead our government.The facts are clear private printers are able to do a better job of printing for government than either Federal or State government likewise with almost all goods or services currently provided by these governments. The cost of conducting business in this manner is a principle cause of our economic situation.
Our Nation is the most technologically advanced in world history. We have smart bombs both conservatives and liberals as a rule have failed our Great Republic what happened to smart allocating of tax receipts. Maybe Thomas Jefferson comes to mind. Our government needs to start a systematic relinquishing of its excessive appetite for ownership of what is essentially private enterprise. That will renew our Republic.

#16 Comment By James Canning On August 21, 2011 @ 11:18 am

Mitchell – – Thanks. I think some noise from “Black America” would be welcome, but of course very few politicians can condemn US support for Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, and expect not to lose their job.

#17 Comment By Bill Pearlman On August 21, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

The ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! time that a nation went to Africa and came back with people has full citizens was Israel, with the Ethiopian Jews. So, I guess if Blacks line up with palestinians that look to kill fellow Africans then the only conclusion one can draw is that Jew hatred trumps everything.

#18 Comment By Frank On August 21, 2011 @ 8:03 pm


“Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, earned income tax credits, food stamps and Pell grants”, I am not sure what “black Americans” you are referring to, but these entitlements benefit primarily middle and upper income white people, as does the vast corporate welfare scheme, know as the Department of Defense.

Thus, your glorious Republican Party and Tea Partiers will not pursue such cust in any serious form, as they know that the constituenhts, who have bought and paid for those entitlements will revolts and they will soon find themselves out of elected office.

Basically, Pat just another in a growing line of race-baiting articles without any relationship to the reality that is our current state of political and economic disfunction.

Maybe you ought to just retire, your time has past.

#19 Comment By EyeOnMadisonStreet On August 22, 2011 @ 9:03 am

Wait a minute: Social Security, enacted in the early 30’s, is a program of LBJ’s Great Society boondoggle of the 60’s? Worse, while I’m willing to overlook an occasional anachronism, it is really unacceptable to have Social Security tarred with the same “entitlement” brush as food stamps and subsidized housing. What about the little matter of us working stiffs having actually PAID for the paltry sums we get back? As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s not our fault the government has already spent what was, supposedly by law, to be set aside for us, and badly mismanaged what they couldn’t get their hands on so that it yields a laughable return relative to market performance over the same period. Social Security cuts, other than some minor pushback of the retirement age, say, one or two years, to take account of increased longevity and the general improvement in people’s health, are treachery against working Americans and should be fought with wholesale refusal to pony up one more of Pat’s “dimes” to the payroll tax.

As for those of us “freeloaders”, “contributing nary a dime in federal income taxes” : how’s about paying us enough so that we actually reach the level where income taxes kick in?! Has Pat’s ear suddenly turned to tin, or is it his heart that’s turned to stone?

Am I the only one getting tired of hearing PJB express sympathy for politicians and parties?

#20 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On August 22, 2011 @ 10:23 am

I sure hope Pat doesn’t bump into John Payne at the water cooler. There could be fisticuffs!

#21 Comment By Canadian On August 22, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

Pat. uuh, what is this?
The erosion of manufacturing job is the main source of problems for Black Americans. They mostly depended on good paing blue collar jobs to improve their conditions, and now tehse jobs are gone.
Detroit lost 25% of its population for a reason.

#22 Comment By scott craig On August 23, 2011 @ 5:42 am

70% of the American economy was and still is consumerism. Up to 70% of the goods in the big box stores are foreign manufactured. Mostly from China. HELLO! Hows that free trade working out? After WWII we have consistently had the lowest savings rate of any modern country. Social Security is an absolute necessity,so is medicare. Cutting either of these will be a disaster. Pure mismanagement on the governments part. I went to a few tea party meetings and found many and I MEAN! many, were receiving social security checks and medicare benefits. Tea party people are either clueless or crackpots. The military has to be toned down. Corporate welfare, ditto. D.C. is a lobbyist racket run by the beltway weasels.A republic doesn’t have leaders, unless the citizens are all foolish or children. It has representatives in all branches. WAKE UP! America!