Art by Yousef Amairi

Art by Yousef Amairi
the struggle continues

August 13, 2010

ON OBAMA, AN APPRAISAL: Count this as a comment from "some on the left"! By Bruce Bostick, People's World Online, July 5, 2010

Bruce Bostick is a retired Ohio steel worker active in the United Steelworkers of America (USWA)

Count this as a comment from "some on the left"!
We worked our asses off to elect the Democratic Party majority two years ago, amid great promises of "change" and aid to working and poor people in our nation. It was a time of great joy and hope. At last, we, myself included, believed that some things would shift our way.

Obama had directly and personally promised aid to retirees who had had their pensions stolen under the Bush regime. The soon-to-be-elected Democrats promised that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would be a priority. A new era of peace and diplomacy was upon us. At least we would be heard, or so we thought!

We could count on some level of shift in the tax structure, from us, to the rich. 

As well, organized labor promised that "we'd not even take a day off," that we would see unions put resources and man power and woman power onto the streets. A new, powerful people's movement, led by labor, was coming into being and we all were welcomed to help build this massive new movement to support the coming anti-corporate shifts. 

I certainly believed! I fought with those "on the left" who didn't. I wrote and organized, lobbied and pressured, talked, then begged and prayed.

All to no avail! 

The promised shift has not occured! The Employee Free Choaice Act (EFCA) is not even mentioned, single payer is "off the table," taxing the wealthy is just not to be even touched. Hell, even ith the Democratic majority, we cannot even get a badly needed extension in unemployment insurance. We who had our pensions stolen still wait, in vain, for the promised help. 

Unfortunately, organized labor did more, much more, than "take a day off." The top leadership of organized labor took nearly two years off! There have been no resources, no aid to building a grassroots movement, no real push to tax the rich, shift the burden and put funds into the hands of poor and working folks. 

What we did get was massive bail-outs of Wall Street financiers, a "jobs" bill that gave billions to contractors, a health care law so convoluted that it is a centerpiece of the GOP election campaign, a law that taxes worker's benefits instead of those that have the wealth.

We are still at war, escalating in Afghanistan.

We're getting ready for a major attack of retiree benefits, coming, this time, from the Democrats. 

Now, two years later, we hear -- what? "We must elect Democrats or else........," what, things will continue as they are? As a sports fan, it reminds me of the situation with a bad team that has one good player. While some fans would say, "don't trade him, he's our only good player." To which others reply, "hell, we can lose with you, let's get someone new that could help us!" 

Even with the Democratic majority, we've now got the time bomb waiting for us, put in place by President Obama, (Entitlement Commission) set to explode ("bi-partisanly," of course) to raise the Social Security eligibility age and cut benefits. Nowhere to be seen, or heard, is "the Obama that knows better," the one that spoke knowingly of the need to raise the cap on Social Security taxes, so the wealthy also pay, in order to "save Social Security!"

I am not arguing to get on board the "Tea Bag" train, or to vote Republican. Leave that to the Democratic majority, they've made that argument, far better than the right wing ever could!

No, what I am so damned angry about is that we now are trying to build the "Jobs Committees," (i.e. grassroots movements), now, at the time that literally everything we do will been looked on as "electioneering" by the public. If this work had been done two years ago, (as promised, and promised, and promised, etc.) we'd be in the catbird seat today! 

As well, had there at least have been the tipping of a cap to labor's issues, at least hearings on EFCA, on pension theft, etc., if at least some effort been made to raise taxes on the wealthy and pass a real, live jobs bill to rebuild our nation's deteriorating infrastructure, average folks would feel as though there is a reason to vote. In my entire lifetime of work in the labor movement, I've never encountered anything close to the cynicism, disgust and outright red-hot anger on the part of union workers when I've attempted to discuss the upcoming elections with them. 

I really don't know what to expect from an upcoming GOP victory. Probably things will get worse. But without the real work needed to build the grassroots movement for jobs, and I hope to God it isn't too late now, we can expect little or nothing from the present majority party as well! 

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