Posted on Jul 5, 2011
By Robert Scheer
Face it. We live in two nations, sharply divided by an enormous economic
chasm between the super-rich and everyone else. This should be an obvious fact
of life for most Americans. Just read the story in Tuesdayâ€™s Wall Street Journal
headlined â€œProfits Thrive in Weak Recovery.â€ Or the recent New York Times story
pointing out â€œthat the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last
year was $10.8 million,â€ a 23 percent gain over the year before.
In the midst of a jobless recovery, those same corporations are sitting on
more than $2 trillion in reserves, refusing to invest in this country, as
increasing percentages of their profits are garnered in tax-sheltered operations
abroad. And the bankers who caused the economic meltdown have turned against
President Barack Obama, who saved them; instead they favor a tea-party-dominated
Republican Party that seeks to limit any restraint on corporate greed while
destroying the ability of state and federal governments to bring some measure of
relief to ordinary folk.
The whole point of the tea party is to focus concern over our stagnant
economy on something called â€œbig governmentâ€ while ignoring the big corporations
that have bought the government as an accessory to their marketing strategies.
Big government is big precisely because it now exists primarily to make the
world safe for multinational capitalism, whether through a bloated defense
budget, trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement, or monetary
policies that serve the interests of the largest companies.
It was their lobbyists who got Congress to end sensible regulations of
financial shenanigans, and now, with the new tea party members of Congress as
their most stalwart allies, they are yanking the teeth from the very mild
regulations that Obama got through the last Congress. As The Associated Press
reported: â€œCongressional Republicans are greeting the one-year anniversary of
President Barack Obamaâ€™s financial overhaul law by trying to weaken it, nibble
It is nothing short of demagogic for the Republicans to be complaining about
the debt when it was the radical deregulatory policies that they pursued which
caused all that governmental red ink in the first place. What a hoax to pretend
that teachersâ€™ pensions or environmental protections are responsible for a debt
that increased by 50 percent as a direct consequence of the banking collapse.
Yet they want to gut even the tepid regulations that became law under the Obama
administration, foaming at the mouth about sensible regulation as job killing
when it is the uncontrolled greed of Wall Street that is at the root of our high
Congressional Republicans are cutting funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as if those already underfunded agencies are centers of anti-business radicalism. The CFTC is run by former Goldman Sachs partner Gary Gensler, who, back when he was in the Clinton Treasury Department serving under another onetime Goldman leader, Robert Rubin, teamed up with Republicans in Congress to gut financial regulation. He is one of the Obama regulators who has managed to delay even the minor controls that the Dodd-Frank law requires for the still wildly out-of-control $600 trillion derivatives market.
What a joke that the tea party assertion that radicals have taken over the
Obama government is embraced even by lobbyists for Goldman Sachs, whose former
executives have populated the Obama administration as widely as they did the two
previous administrations. All they are missing this time around is that they
didnâ€™t get to have one of their own named as treasury secretary, as was the case
in both the Clinton and Bush cabinets.
This week, the Los Angeles Times reported on Goldmanâ€™s renewed lobbying
efforts in Washington aimed at watering down what remains of the promise of
Dodd-Frank. True to Washington tradition, Goldman has hired Michael Paese, a
former top staffer for the â€œliberalâ€ Rep. Barney Frank to head its Washington
operation, which last year spent $4.6 million lobbying Congress to soften the
bill, a task now made far easier with Goldmanâ€™s tea party allies in the new
Republican-dominated House. As the Times noted, â€œGoldman has spent much of its
money on hired guns from major Washington lobbying firms, including former
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and former House Minority Leader
Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.).â€
Between the faux populism of the tea party and the army of sellout
ex-congressional staffers and politicians from both parties, the Washington fix
is in. Short of hitting it big on a lottery ticket, the vast majority of
Americans are sentenced to a future of lowered expectations, insurmountable
personal debt and dismal job prospects.
They may not know it, however, thanks to the constant propaganda from a
corporate culture dominated by images of a classless nation in which all consume
the delights of the American dream, from the perfect smartphone to the perfect
pill for bladder control, while merrily hacking away on the perfectly manicured
golf course of oneâ€™s fantasies.