Obama declared, â€?We need a rescue plan for the middle class,â€? but the composition of his Transitional Economic Advisory Board belies his claim to be focusing on the economic difficulties of ordinary people. The panel consists entirely of representatives of the corporate and financial elite and the Democratic wing of the political establishment.The link above is from a Trotskyist organization. Obama is sometimes depicted as "left wing". I would suggest there is a strong division within the American left. The old, economic left placed a lot of emphasis on creating greater economic equality. Marxists and Social Democrats had a high profile in the US—especially among recent immigrant communities, but those influenced by thinkers like Henry George, Robert Owen and Edward Bellamy were more important historically in the U.S. up to the introduction of the New Deal.
The 17 members of the panel include billionaire Warren Buffett, the richest man in America, the CEOs of Xerox and Google, the chairman of the board of Time Warner, Hyatt Hotels heiress Penny Pritzker, and Citigroup Vice Chairman Rubin.
Joining them in the meeting that preceded the press conference were former Clinton administration officials William Daley, Robert Reich, Laura Tyson and Lawrence Summers, as well as two former commissioners of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Volcker and former Fed Vice Chairman Roger Ferguson, former Democratic Congressman David Bonior, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The panel had the obligatory gender and racial diversityâ€”two black members, two Hispanics, four womenâ€”but not even a semblance of class diversity. There was not a single individual representing workers, the unemployed, consumers, homeowners or those facing foreclosure and homelessness.
Nor were there any representatives of the labor federationsâ€”the AFL-CIO and Change To Winâ€”which poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the Obama campaignâ€”or of African-American, Hispanic and womenâ€™s organizations, such as the NAACP and NOW.
The New Left that emerged in the 60'sÂ placed a lot more emphasis on civil rights, racial integration, gay rights and gender issues than we traditionally saw among the older U.S. left. The last 40 years have seen a mainstreaming of many ideas that were strong in the New Left. These have included the pervasiveness of affirmative action and political correctness—especially in media and academe, and the transformation of the United States via immigration.
These changes have occurred during a period in which wealth and income has become far more concentrated in the US. The American middle class has had their assets depleted while the composition of the upper class in America has changed dramatically from its "WASP" origins. I would suggest that Obama is very much more identified with the New Left than the Old Left.
The thing is, the jobs issue just won't go away. The need to represent ordinary Americans in major economic decisions won't go away. A lot of ordinary Americans just aren't PC-and if you started asking a cross section of Americans what they wanted, one of the high priorities would be reduction of immigration to the US. The jobs issue in the US is heavily tied to immigration-and none of the established left groups in the US are really equipped to deal with it. I think ultimately we may see a resurgence of left populism in the US that is highly skeptical of immigration.