The economic plan announced Saturday by President-Elect Barack Obama, with the goal of “saving or creating” 2.5 million jobs in 2009 and 2010, is a measure that has already been outstripped by events. The deepening crisis of American and world capitalism could destroy that many US jobs in the next six to nine months alone.
The collapse of the auto industry itself would wipe out 2.5 million to 3 million jobs according to most estimates, canceling out the entirety of Obama’s plan, even if it were to be enacted quickly and in full by the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress. The broader recession, well under way, is expected to increase the ranks of the unemployed by a million or more by next spring.
Obama announced his jobs plan in a brief radio speech on Saturday morning, excerpts of which were also posted on YouTube. He noted the most recent, extremely ominous, economic figures: “New home purchases in October were the lowest in half a century. 540,000 more jobless claims were filed last week, the highest in eighteen years. And we now risk falling into a deflationary spiral…”
The gauzy, patriotic rhetoric conceals a lie. The economic and class divisions in the United States are not small; they are the largest and widest in American history. Never has such a tiny minority of the population monopolized such a huge proportion of overall wealth, to the detriment of the vast majority. As for the demand that action be taken “above all, together,” it means that the financial aristocracy, which is responsible for the crisis, should not be compelled to pay for it. Instead, the burden will be placed on the backs of “all,” i.e., on working people.
Obama aides signaled the next day that he was retreating from his campaign promise to roll back the Bush administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy. Top adviser David Axelrod, appearing on two Sunday television interview programs, did not contradict reports that Obama would instead allow the Bush tax cuts to continue for another two years, when they are scheduled to expire. Another Obama adviser, William Daley, former Clinton commerce secretary, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that a continuation of the tax cut for those making over $250,000 a year until its scheduled expiration at the end of 2010 now “looks more likely than not.”
In other words, these selections demonstrate that Obama will pursue economic policies determined by the same class interests upheld by his Republican predecessor. The primary concern will be the defense of the financial system—i.e., the accumulated wealth of the financial aristocracy, embodied in the giant banks, hedge funds and other huge financial institutions, whose parasitic and speculative operations precipitated the current crisis.