Tuesday, November 01, 2011

What Happens When The 1% Goes On A Jihad Against America-- And They Do It From INSIDE Our Government?


Michigan Republican Fred Upton is a worthless multimillionaire who inherited everything he's got from his grandfather. Not only is he an unaccomplished, spoiled creep, he's one of the ten richest members of Congress and a very close ally of John Boehner and of the Koch brothers. Boehner made him chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and put him on the SuperCommittee-- in both cases to make sure the interests of the 1% would be 100% protected. That has always, after all, been Upton's key roll in Congress. This morning's Washington Post took a somewhat related look at Upton's grotesque political opportunism.

The Upton family fortune comes from their multinational company, Whirlpool, still headquartered Benton Harbor in Upton's very hard-pressed southwest Michigan district. Upton refuses to divulge exactly how much of the company he still owns, but his IRS forms indicate that it's between $1 million and $5 million worth of stock, as well as millions of dollars-- between himself and his wife-- in shares of Exxon Mobil, Stryker Corp., Pfizer, AT&T, BP, Dow Chemical, General Electric, IBM, News Corp., Philip Morris, Verizon and other companies that have benefited gigantically from his services-- and have repaid those services by financing his climb to power within the Republican caucus.

Can anyone protect us from these 1%-er predators who have used their inherited wealth to build political power and grab greater and great shares of the national wealth? Whirlpool is one of the most notorious companies for devastating the American jobs market, particularly in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana-- but (as we'll soon see) everywhere in America-- by shipping tens of thousands of good manufacturing jobs overseas to low wage hellholes. Upton has always led the fight to reward American companies-- particularly the ones he has an ownership stake in-- for offshoring and outsourcing. We'll come back to Michigan in a moment, but Whirlpool made a big mistake by tangling with Arkansas this month. We've introduced you to Ken Aden, a progressive blue collar Democrat and young Iraq and Afghanistan war vet who's running for Congress against 1%-er Steve Womack in northwest Arkansas. He was the one who responded to reports of Democrats on the SuperCommittee putting Medicare and Social Security on the bargaining table by saying that too many Members of Congress had "completely sold out to corporate interests. Now more than ever we as citizens must educate ourselves when it comes to the corporate prostitutes who claim to represent us and our families. We will be able to identify them by their works and voting record. Whether you have a D or R before your name... if you back attempts to cut Medicare and Social Security, you are nothing but a criminal." Yesterday Blue Arkansas broke the story of Aden going after Whirlpool, reiterating that "[t]his his is the kind of Democrat we need running in every district in Arkansas." They contrasted Ken's press release on Whirlpool selling their Fort Smith factory down the river to that of incumbent Steve Womack's. Ken:
The news yesterday that Whirlpool will be closing it’s plant in Fort Smith is horrible, but it’s hardly a surprise. Whirlpool has been shifting jobs out of that facility for years. In 2006, the plant employed 4600 people in the Fort Smith area. Today it employs none. To those who lost their jobs, I can offer only my heartfelt sympathy for you and your families. Whirlpool’s decision years ago to shift more and more of it’s production to Mexico is a direct result of the kind of disastrous trade deals that keep exporting middle class jobs to other countries-- and are supported by my opponent.

I think it’s important to keep this closure in mind when you look at the increase in revenues and profits, year over year, that Whirlpool reported today. This wasn’t an issue of an unprofitable plant, this was an issue of squeezing more profit out of cheaper labor overseas. This is, of course, wildly inconsistent with the company’s statement that the reason for closing the plant was lack of demand-- leading some to question whether the move was really about sales or about the slightly higher costs of skilled American labor. Count me among those asking that question and doubting seriously that this was anything other than a large manufacturer abandoning the people who’ve made it successful for decades.

While Whirlpool won’t admit it, the real issue is reducing manufacturing costs and the easiest, most tax beneficial way, is to take advantage of manufacturing outside of the US. It’s hard not to excuse Whirlpool for taking advantage of loopholes granted to them by Congress and members of Congress like Steve Womack. All that’s left for the people of Fort Smith is getting rid of the people who put those loopholes in place in the name of free-- not fair-- trade.

My opponent’s recent vote for three more of President Obama’s job-killing free trade agreements was one of the most inexcusable of his short tenure in Congress, given the desperate employment situation in his own district with manufacturing employment down more than 36% since 2000. While his constituents suffered, Womack voted to make it easy for their employers, some of whom were contributors to his campaigns, to move their jobs. He then talked about all the cheap goods that free trade brings, without mentioning the difficulty the unemployed have in buying products-- like refrigerators-- without an income from a job.

The people of the 3rd District are already hurting. Their best option at this point is to make sure they do the only thing left to them: fire Rep. Womack next year. They need to remember when they go to the polls his stand with the President and against this district on job-killing free trade agreements, and his desire to continue to give massive tax breaks to his millionaire friends and donors, while doing nothing for his constituents. The people of this district must finally realize that when Steve Womack had the opportunity to really create and save jobs in Northwest Arkansas, he put partisan politics above people.

Womack, who is a zombie-vote for every Republican trade and economic policy that encourages Whirlpool behavior-- in his own district and beyond-- sounded... just like Fred Upton: "I am disappointed with Whirlpool’s announcement, and my heart goes out to the employees and their families. Despite the news, I consider the Fort Smith region one of America’s most attractive areas for economic development. It is ideally situated with incredible infrastructure and a quality of life second to none in the country. With a qualified workforce and the supporting institutions, I am confident we’ll find another corporate partner who believes in Fort Smith and the enormous opportunities it offers." What a freak! Ken Aden is the newest addition to the Blue America list of endorsed candidates. John Waltz, like Ken, a committed blue collar, New Deal Democrat-- and an Iraq and Afghanistan vet-- is also on that Blue America page. And he and Ken are on another page together as well. John sent me this e-mail today in response to Ken's press release:
This is certainly not unexpected coming from Michigan's Sixth District where Whirlpool is "headquartered" and how they have bled jobs from this country for years. Of course, this has been done with the enabling by the Whirlpool heir and corrupt swindler Fed Upton who has repeatedly touted bad trade deals like NAFTA as great for this country. More like good for the pockets of his wealthy pals and himself. 

Adding insult to injury usually these jobs are shipped away for slave labor, but in one instance it was the opposite. Whirlpool is currently paying German workers to make washers and dryers for $35 an hour... I am sure folks here in America would be happy with making $25 an hour. Unfortunately many politicians like Upton do not get it because they have been bought and sold just like our jobs have been.

Electing this kind of Democrat-- not the 1% wannabes the DCCC is always looking to recruit-- is how we move the 1% Movement from Zuccotti Park into the U.S. Congress. I hope you'll help candidates like Ken Aden and John Waltz here at Blue America.

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At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

I refused to interview at Whirlpool for a headhunter looking for somebody in strategy and development. It was obvious they were just looking for somebody to justify their giving up on the US instead of looking for a way to change the game and make it work. A very sad group of busyness executives now, it was a decent company once.


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