I wrote time and again that the Republicans in Congress had decided to allow the U.S. economic crisis, which was inherited by Barack Obama from George W. Bush, to continue, along with the suffering of the American people, in the hope that voters would blame the Democratic president for this and prevent him from winning a second term.
My opinion is easier to attack because I always wrote in support of Barack Obama against his Republican rivals. Today, I will quote a view that confirms the one I held from the outset, which is that of Bob Woodward, the prominent American journalist whose fame began with the Watergate scandal.
His latest book, the Price of Politics, chronicles 44 days of negotiations in the summer of 2011, between the administration and Republican legislators to reach a ‘grand bargain’ on various social welfare entitlements and to increase treasury revenues.
Each line of the book is documented. Indeed, Woodward obtained official records of the negotiations, and conducted private interviews with senior players, including President Obama, John Boehner (Speaker of the House after the 2010 midterm elections), and Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate, as well as other participants in the negotiations – which were first over a stimulus package and then over the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Perhaps pages 341 and 348 of the book that comprises 428 pages explain the policies of the Republican Party better than any debate. According to the contents of page 341, the Republicans refuse any compromise when it comes to raising taxes on the wealthy, and at the same time, they want cuts to social, healthcare and unemployment benefits which provide support to 50 million Americans – something that the Democrats, in turn, reject absolutely.
Page 348 would have been humorous, were it not for the fact that the issue it addressed poses a threat to the U.S. and world economies. Jack Lew, the White House Chief of Staff, lost his temper when the Republicans objected to cutting 2 to 4 billion dollars from the Pentagon budget, which stood at 879 billion dollars, and started shouting, “This is bullshit! We will not bend.”
Lew then took to attacking John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, as if they were present inside the meeting room, and bellowed at the walls, saying that they wanted to destroy the world economy for 2 billion dollars and cursed them. Lew would then say “Fine, let’s have this fight.”
Another point that I believe is worth shedding light on for the readers of Al-Hayat involves the contacts between Rahm Emanuel, former Representative in the House, former White House Chief of Staff and current mayor of Chicago, and Eric Cantor, then-Republican House Minority Whip. Both men had collaborated in the past to support Israel.
Emanuel is a Jew who wanted to become a ballet dancer, and served in the Israeli army during the First Gulf War in 1991. Meanwhile, Cantor is the only Jewish Representative in the House.
In his first meeting with senior leaders of the Democratic Party and the GOP on 5/1/2009, i.e. two weeks before entering the White House, Barack Obama said that he wanted a bipartisan partnership to solve economic problems, and an agreement between the two parties over a stimulus package, with the proposed figure being somewhere between 800 billion and 1.3 trillion dollars.
Emanuel contacted Cantor and told him that the partnership was real, and said, “We want to work with you. We are serious.” But according to Woodward’s well-documented book, Cantor was afraid that collaboration and partnership might cause the Republicans to remain a minority in Congress in the next election.
What Woodward did not say, but was clear in every paragraph of his book, was that the Republicans, in their attempt to prevent Obama from winning a second term, deliberately blocked the administration’s proposals in order to blame the president for what they did to their country under the ignorant President George W. Bush. Bush was nothing but a front for neoconservatives to rule in his name.
This was their only position. Even the Budget Control Act of 2011 was not passed until the last minute, a few hours before the U.S. was about to default for the first time in its history on its debt, i.e. it would have gone bankrupt.
However, real bankruptcy lies with the Republican Party and its rightwing leadership, or the entire U.S. electoral process itself. Indeed, the president is hostage to contributors’ money, and there are committees contending to buy or sell the president. The founding fathers had perhaps never imagined something like this would happen.
(The writer is a columnist at the London-based al-Hayat, where this article was published on Oct. 14, 2012)