Even as the much of the world still rejoiced at Barack Obama’s election three days ago, today the president-elect gave the first signs of caving to politics as usual.
Some saw in his Chicago press conference the audacity of pandering to wealthy political backers in the powerful financial industry.
When a reporter asked point blank whether Obama plans to raise taxes on the rich in 2009, the president elect danced away from the question (see below). Suddenly, with his economic brain trust arrayed behind him, his campaign stance of taxing the nation’s wealthy was verboten.
Many of the back-up advisers on prominent display were CEOs from the same financial industry that created the current crisis, lobbied for a massive taxpayer bailout and is now reaping the resulting federal windfall.
As Kevin Phillips pointed tonight on Bill Moyers' Journal, an influential amount of Obama’s campaign support came from Wall Street. Phillips also noted that there was not a single representative of labor unions among Obama’s financial advisers.
Could it be, as Phillips suggested, that Obama is already captive of the non-productive, greed-driven industry of finance?
Has he divorced himself from the very industries that actually produce manufactured goods and employ much of the American work force?
Three days into the presidential transition, has Obama set out on the wrong trail with a posse of self-serving sidekicks?
Here is the tax increase question and Obama’s answer:
DO YOU INTEND TO SEEK AN INCOME TAX INCREASE FOR UPPER-INCOME AMERICANS IN 2009?
"My tax plan represented a net tax cut. It provided for substantial middle class tax cuts, 95 percent of working Americans would receive them. It also provided for cuts in capital gains for small business, additional tax credits, all of it is designed for job growth. My priority is going to be how do we grow the economy, how do we create more jobs. I think that the plan that we've put forward is the right one, but obviously over the next several weeks and months we're gong to be continuing to take a look at the data and see what's taking place in the economy as a whole. But understand the goal of my plan is to provide tax relief to families that are struggling but also to boost the capacity of the economy to grow from the bottom up. All right. Thank you very much you guys."