Our readers write: How rad is Obama’s agenda?

Our April issue featured stories on the militarization of the Mexican border, the need for a general amnesty for undocumented immigrants, and the opportunity represented by the financial crisis to reboot America for the post-petroleum age. Our multiple-choice April Exit Poll was: “Which of the following is President Obama most likely to do?” We received 24 votes (which we hope does not indicate that we have only 24 readers). The results follow:

Pass a general amnesty for undocumented immigrants: 21% (5 votes)
Demilitarize the Southwest border: 8% (2 votes)
Renegotiate NAFTA and CAFTA, put the breaks on the pending Colombia free trade agreement: 0% (0 votes)
Cut the Pentagon budget: 8% (2 votes)
Instate a “Green New Deal,” including a crash conversion from the oil economy: 13% (3 votes)
None of the above: 50% (12 votes)

So the winner is: None of the above.

One reader, Joey W. of (we surmise) Ithaca, NY, offered commentary. He writes:

Obama is in the process of escalating the military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Meanwhile has made it clear that he has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq.

Obama is beefing up the National guard on the Mexican border as his first step in dealing with the immigration problem..

His economic policy seems to be centred on the old trickle down theory that if we give enough money to those on the top, in this case the bankers, everyone will share in the subsequent prosperity.

He has started an all out assault on Labor the likes we have not seen since Reagan, who Obama expressed his admiration of in the campaign, took on PATCO. The Card check legislation that Obama, and his Democratic Congress, promised to pass if elected, in dead in the water. To make matters even more explicit, Obama told the UAW to give back major concessions to GM or else.

All this in his first 100 days. I can’t wait to see what is next.

World War 4 Report replies: Of all your accusations, only the first really holds water. Yes, Obama is escalating the military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although, we’re far from convinced that the Pakistani government’s current strategy of capitulating to the Taliban is any better than the US strategy of bombing their strongholds. This is what the secular left forces in the Muslim world call the “two poles of terrorism.”

As to the rest: Obama has not “made it clear that he has no intention of ending the occupation of Iraq.” The draw-down of troop levels is to take place over a 16-month period, and was started in March. He says he is carrying out a “very gradual withdrawal,” but will “remove all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.” Now, we should certainly keep the pressure on Obama for a speedy and complete withdrawal. But it is too early to say he’s broken his cautious promise for a “gradual withdrawal.”

Despite fierce pressure from the right, Obama is not (yet) “beefing up the National Guard on the Mexican border.” He has only said he will consider it—while ruling out army troops (demanded by many on the right).

On economic policy: Reagan’s “trickle-down” doctrine was predicated on deregulation and slashing social programs. Obama has started to reverse both these, at least tentatively. And while he’s certainly gone along with the Wall Street bail-out (started under Bush, recall), he’s also come up with some proposals to help the little guy—plans to help borrowers maintain their mortgage payments, and get credit flowing to small businesses. Congress hasn’t passed them yet, and we’ll see if they go anywhere and how they work (or fail to). He has also imposed some discipline on Detroit, at least, as the price of a bail-out. (AP, Radio Netherlands, April 26) We’ll see if a deepening crisis will compel him to take a heavier hand with Big Business.

The UAW give-backs are troubling, and point to the possibility of austerity being imposed with organized labor’s connivance in the name of crisis. But UAW reached a deal with the administration and Detroit. (Dayton Business Journal, April 26) PATCO was busted. Not analogous.

As for the Employees Free Choice Act, it isn’t dead yet, and Obama’s position remains in favor. (Helena Independent Record, April 14) His support has been a lot more lukewarm since he’s taken office, which should come as no surprise. But if you are getting your news entirely from The Nation and Democracy Now!, you should read the fine print.

See our March Exit Poll results. Please answer our new Exit Poll.