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Obama staging fightback – Economic and political


Fri, Feb 3. 2012

On November 4, 2008, history was made in the United States of America when Barack Obama became the first Black person to be elected as President. He was sworn in during an emotional ceremony on January 20, 2009, watched by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. President Obama’s term of office ends this year and he is eligible for re-election for a second term when the 2012 Presidential election is held on November 6.{{more}}

Obama’s election to the highest post in his country did not come easily. Being black, he had to overcome the legacy of racist prejudice which continues to discriminate against persons of colour. In addition, Obama’s middle name, Hussein, a common one in the Islamic world, but even worse, a reminder of the infamous Saddam Hussein, became a target for bigots trying to smear anything remotely connected with Muslim culture in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Then, Obama also holds many liberal and even progressive views at a time when right-wing backwardness permeates much of American society.

For all these reasons, plus Obama’s championing of the underprivileged in American society, a great deal of hostility was invoked against his original campaign. In spite of his convincing victory, that hostility never ceased during his four years in office. With the Republican party taking over the House of representatives and being a blocking minority in the senate, the US Congress became a major obstruction to Obama being able to implement his programme or fulfil his promises to the electorate.

It seemed not to matter that the two successive terms of George Bush had severely weakened the US economy, mounted up huge debts, trapped the country in two costly (both in terms of money and human life) wars. Unemployment was rampant, poverty widespread and the gap between the rich and the poor became an ever-widening chasm. Obama was blamed for all the ills and his racist detractors, raking all the mud they could find from the Florida straits, through the length of the Mississippi and all the way up to Alaska, set out to make him a one-term President. The false legacy they want to portray is that a black President is disastrous for the USA.

Obama’s hesitancy to firmly confront the enemies of the American people and his waffling in the face of their intransigence did not help either. Many of his strongest supporters began to lose faith and he was soon in political trouble. His opponents became emboldened and donning a robe of pseudo-religion set out on a vicious campaign of lies and calumny. Obama’s re-election seemed in doubt.

Thankfully, he is leading a fight-back. In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama exposed the lies and slander. The President pointed out that contrary to Republican propaganda, in the six months before his accession to office, 4 million jobs had been lost in the USA and another 4 million before his policies began to take effect. In the last 22 months, as the US economy tries to shrug off the worst depression for 80 years, 3 million jobs were created.

Flying in the face of reality, his opponents have dubbed him the “Food stamp President”, implying that he has created more poverty cases than any other President. Yet the facts show that under George Bush, more Americans were added to the list of those requiring assistance through food stamps than under Obama’s administration. They resolutely oppose his plans for rich Americans to pay a fairer share of the tax burden.

It is on this count that President Obama is demonstrating his mettle. He has made it clear that he is standing firm on this, on support for social programmes in health, housing and education, and in banking reform. Already his party, through Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, has introduced in the Senate a “Pay a fair Share Act”, under which persons earning more than US $1 million annually should pay taxes at a rate of 30 per cent at the minimum, the so-called “Buffett Rule”. If enacted, this, according to Citizens for Justice, would bring US$50 billion into the Treasury of the United States.

It is because of such positions for fairness and justice, because racism so blinds the right-wing zealots that they can’t bear to see a black person succeed in the highest office in the USA, that such vitriol is being hurled at Obama. It is in the interests of all who believe in fairness, justice and equality that he succeed.