A Christmas Carol in November?

November 20, 2012

Mitt Romney says Barack Obama gave away "gifts" to win the election--but a lot of us are looking at coal in our stockings. Jesse Hagopian explains.

FAILED REPUBLICAN presidential candidate Mitt Romney has his electoral loss figured out.

His grand analysis stems from the political sage Rush Limbaugh, who said in the election aftermath, "It's just very difficult to beat Santa Claus...Every Obama voter may not be religious, but they believe in Santa Claus."

Romney has embraced this worldview, believing that Santa Obama made Christmas come early and with his big bag full of goodies for Blacks, Hispanics, women and young people, he was able to win their votes. In yet another leaked commentary to his campaign donors, Romney was caught on tape saying:

The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people. In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups...

The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift...With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift. Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women.

With regards to African American voters, "Obamacare" was a huge plus--and was highly motivational to African American voters...But with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for the children of illegals--the so-called DREAM Act kids--was a huge plus for that voting group.

Mitt Romney on the campaign trail
Mitt Romney on the campaign trail

Romney's comments can best be summed up as Ebenezer Scrooge meets the white Citizens' Councils: "Bah humbug and white male power."

Romney is right, then, if what he meant in his comments to his big donors was that he lost the votes of Black people, Hispanics, youth and women because these constituencies felt that, by comparison, he had nothing to offer. Romney made this clear to all with his previously leaked statement, "There are 47 percent who are...dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it"; his out-of-touch "binders full of women" debate comment; and his call to make life so difficult for immigrants that it will result in "self-deportation."

Apparently visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, Romney said on this recently leaked donor call, "Frankly, we're still so troubled by the past, it's hard to put together our plans for the future."

Top Republicans like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are auditioning for the Ghost of Christmas Future role, who, like Dickens' original spectral visitor, rises from the mist with prophesies--in this case, how the Republican Party will be weeping over its grave if they can't stop getting caught spouting racist and sexist comments.

Jindal called Romney's statements "absolutely wrong," adding, "I don't think that represents where we are as a party and where we're going as a party. That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election."

BUT IF Obama gave any gifts to Blacks, Hispanics, women and young people, they were gag gifts.

Health care came wrapped in box that said "universal," but when we tore off the glitzy wrapping, we found out Santa's Obamacare game arrived broken--with rules that let the insurance companies take windfall profits and win with every role of the dice, because it forces everyone to buy private insurance, will levy fines upon people who refuse to buy and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, leaves of millions without health insurance.

Obama's immigration policy was wrapped in a nice bow of support for the DREAM Act, but when we opened it, we found another lump of coal: Obama deported and split apart more immigrant families than George Bush.

Obama promised big gifts for women's rights, but never actually made the purchase. During the health care debate, he ended up issuing an executive order reaffirming the Hyde Amendment, which bars poor women from using federal funds to obtain an abortion, to get anti-choice Democrats to support the legislation.

Besides access to abortion being further restricted under the Obama administration, women's economic status plummeted. According to National Women's Law Center, the poverty rate among women rose to 14.5 percent in 2010--up from 13.9 percent in 2009--the highest level in 17 years. By 2010, more than 7.5 million women had fallen into "extreme poverty rate," meaning their income was below half of the federal poverty line.

Obama's student loan cadeau to young voters came in a gift bag marked "forgiveness," and yet, according to the Federal Student Aid office, borrowers who enroll in Obama's reformed Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan, despite whatever benefits they receive, may end up paying more interest on their student loans than if they repaid them in the previous 10-year period program.

IBR stretches repayment out over a longer period, during which time interest continues to accrue. As well, the Obama administration admits that only 6 million people would be affected by the loan consolidation portion of his program with another 1.6 million qualifying under the changes to the IBR plan--meaning the plan will impact only about one-fifth of the 36 million people in the U.S. with student loan debt. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Obama's post-election present, his promised "grand bargain," the reward for the good voters who sealed his re-election, may turn out to be the exploding cigar of gag gifts--making cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the name of compromise to cut the federal deficit.

I wish Mitt Romney and Rush Limbaugh's belief in Santa Obama was true--but like all of the fairy tales they have spun about the election, it just isn't so. The fact is, Obama has more closely followed the tag line of film Bad Santa: "He doesn't care if you're naughty or nice" Witness the magnates who crashed the global economy, but nonetheless have been rewarded with soaring profits since President Obama took office.

This year, instead of asking for very little and receiving even less, Blacks, Hispanics, women, youth and all working people should demand the things that we have already paid for with our taxes, but--because of endless wars, bank bailouts and corporate welfare--have yet to receive:

-- Expand Medicare to include everyone in the country
-- Strengthened Social Security system
-- Free abortion and contraception on demand
-- Schools not jails with free education, from early childhood through college for all people regardless of immigration status

The president can't pretend he doesn't know what we want: nothing short of this basic list of things that much of the industrialized world already has--which will, of course, send the likes of Mitt Romney and Rush Limbaugh into Grinch-like tirades.

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