Saturday, October 30, 2010

Money Makes The World Go Round... And In An Information Society, It Can Also Define Truth, Facts Be Damned


So does it all just come down to a messaging problem? Obama has been out-messaged by the corporations whose interests he wasn't serving. A Bloomberg poll done earlier in the week shows that voters getting ready to head to the polls and reject Obama and his vision of governance, are loaded to the brim with carefully-manipulated misinformation. By overwhelming margins, two to one, in fact, voters think taxes have risen, the economy has shrunk, and billions have been lost on Obama-initiated bailouts. None of that is true but that is the information likely to determine the direction the country will be headed after Tuesday (backward-- and, knowing the cowardice of the Democrats-- at full speed).
The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, expects to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue Wall Street banks and has overseen an economy that has grown for the past four quarters.

Most voters don’t believe it.

A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 24-26 finds that by a two-to-one margin, likely voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections think taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won’t be recovered.

“The public view of the economy is at odds with the facts, and the blame has to go to the Democrats,” said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the nationwide survey. “It does not matter much if you make change, if you do not communicate change.”

The Obama administration has cut taxes-- largely for the middle class-- by $240 billion since taking office Jan. 20, 2009. A program aimed at families earning less than $150,000 that was contained in the stimulus package lowered the burden for 95 percent of working Americans by $116 billion, or about $400 per year for individuals and $800 for married couples. Other measures include breaks for college education, moderate- income families and the unemployed and incentives to promote renewable energy.

Still, the poll shows the message hasn’t gotten through to Americans, especially middle-income voters. By 52 percent to 19 percent, likely voters say federal income taxes have gone up for the middle class in the past two years.

As Robert Reich pointed out Wednesday, $4.2 billion can buy someone, oh, like say a self-serving bunch of billionaires and corporations and foreign powers with their own agendas-- a lot of conventional wisdom.
The number of dollars spent isn’t the issue; it’s the lopsidedness of where the dollars come from. Even if the total were only $1000, democracy would be endangered if $980 came from large corporations and wealthy individuals. The trend is clear and worrisome: The great bulk of campaign money is coming from a narrower and narrower circle of moneyed interests.

Anyone who doubts the corrupting effect has not been paying attention. Our elected representatives have been acutely sensitive to the needs of Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund managers, and the executives of big pharma, big oil, and the largest health insurance companies. This is not because these individuals and interests are particularly worthy or specially deserving. It is because they are effectively bribing elected officials with their donations. Such donations are not made out of charitable impulse. They are calculated investments no less carefully considered than investments in particular shares of stock. They are shares in our democracy.

Why $4.2 billion and not ten times that amount? Because the high-rolling political investors don’t need to spend a dollar more in order to exert overwhelming influence.

This figure, by the way, leaves out the tens of billions of dollars dedicated to lobbying, lawyering, and public relations-- all of which deliver specific legislative outcomes the campaign money fuels. The economy of Washington, D.C. depends on this gigantic flow of funds (supporting the polished facades of refurbished hotels, fancy restaurants, trendy bistros, office complexes of glass and polished wood, well-appointed condos, hotels with marble-floored lobbies and thick rugs, restaurants serving $75 steaks and offering $400 magnums of vintage French wine.) Washington’s seven suburban counties are listed by the Census Bureau as among the nation’s twenty with the highest per-capital incomes.

In case anyone hadn't quite gotten the message, Reich followed up yesterday with an even more pointed warning: Halliburton and the Upcoming Election. And he's as clear as Paul Revere was: "Next Tuesday Americans will be deciding whether to hand over even more of our government to corporations that have been plundering America-- such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Wellpoint insurance, Massey Energy, and Halliburton, the giant oil services company." Thanks, teabaggers, for buying it:

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