The idiom "crossing the Rubicon" means to pass a point of no return, and refers to Julius Caesar's army's crossing of the river in 49 BC, which was an act of insurrection and could not be undone. After Caesar crossed the river with his legions, he uttered the famous phrase "the die is cast." We use that phrase today to mean that events have passed a point of no return. President Obama has crossed a line and there is no return.
Obama's betrayal of a core protection for the working class is now a Washington Post headline: "Obama budget would cut entitlements in exchange for tax increases." Obama's newest proposal is "to change the cost-of-living calculation for Social Security in a way that will reduce benefits for most beneficiaries." This has been a key Republican request for a while. It is true that many Democrats are opposed to cuts in Social Security and Medicare, but Obama has put it on the table.
For those of you who voted for Obama because you believed he would defend Social Security and Medicare, you had to ignore numerous articles claiming that an erosion of these programs was precisely the point of the fiscal cliff and precisely the point of the "Grand Compromise."
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Chris Hedges, on numerous occasions, blasted Obama for being a "poster child for the death of the liberal class." Obama has weakened Social Security and increased our debt to such a point that, to balance the budget, he can get by with putting Social Security on the table. The 1% have built up our military budget, crashed the economy, stolen pensions, and none of the high-ranking criminal banksters have been brought to justice — instead, the feds have bailed out the banks and the bankers. The oligarchs are still hungry — greed knows no natural limits —and now the last "protected" source of working class resources is coming to the table to be divvied up in an economic system where the rich get richer and the poor get prison.
Before the election, Hedges predicted what we see unfolding. Whoever won the election, in September 2012 Hedges assured us that "corporate power … is poised to carry out U.S. history's most savage assault against the poor and the working class." We've already lost the battles on taxes and have lost the battles on saving the banks for the wealthy. There is not a lot left that we can lose. Yet, Hedges wrote that what little left in the government that serves the American working class would be appropriated. "All the things that stand between us and utter destitution — Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America's states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors — are about to be shredded by the corporate state. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent."
If political economics is only vaguely in your peripheral vision, this will sound like the usual screeching of an administration critic who is a progressive. Those of you, who admire Obama for his ability to compromise and charm the Republicans, will see this as but a lot of hot air.
It's not. Obama is about to cross the Rubicon and put Social Security to the chopping block, perhaps in exchange for a small percentage of higher taxes on the wealthy. This is the last source of money that the wealthy want to get their hands on. They've tried putting Social Security into the stock market, but that didn't work. This is bonanza of trillions of dollars which, as historian Noam Chomsky notes, adds nothing to the security of the wealthy but which they've had their eyes on for decades.
Now Obama leads a direct assault on Social Security because a compromise is "needed." The fact is that the wealthy are already enjoying such low taxes that they would have bankrupted our nation in the 1950s. And that's the wealthy that keep their money here in the United States and not in an offshore tax evasion haven. It doesn't matter that we are continuing to fight a war in Afghanistan, that Americans detest and which continues to send home our own men and women is flag-wrapped caskets. We could say we need to cut these wasteful wars, but that won't do since the Oligarchs always profit from wars.
Once Social Security and Medicare are on the chopping block, Obama has done his job. Obama, pretending to be a "liberal," has led DC politicians across the Rubicon. Cutting Social Security, once beyond the pale, is part of the so-called "compromise" Obama is heading up.
You might want to say that Obama should be ashamed. But because Obama's only doing what many saw as part of his agenda for years, it makes more sense for him to be proud he's weaseled Democrats into this situation. Our only alternative is to occupy the streets, and the Obama regime has ensured that doing this will be much more difficult than it was just a couple of years ago.