Saturday, November 02, 2013

Why Would Congress Let Wall Street Gamble With Our Families' Futures?


Fred Upton's Monkey Court

On Wednesday, the House voted 292-122 to gut a significant portion of the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection law. Irresponsible banksters addicted to risky gambling will once again be able to take those risks knowing that if they get into trouble, the taxpayers will be forced to pick up the tab. As we saw on Thursday, Wall Street's own political parties-- the Republican Party and the New Dem Party-- forced the dangerous legislation through. I asked the congressional candidates endorsed by Blue America who are running against opponents who voted for the amendment how they see the situation and why their congressman was willing to disregard the best interests of his own constituents in favor of Wall Street. Nick Ruiz, who's running for the central Florida seat occupied by conservative Republican John Mica, didn't shy away from drawing the connection between big campaign contributions and a willingness to forget about his own district. Nick:

"When Rep. Mica isn't busy voting to gut Social Security, he's voting against minimum wage COLA increases; if he's not busy deregulating polluters and pollutants so fracking, drilling and surface runoff can destroy our environment for five minutes worth of energy and profit, then he's wasting money on interstate toll roads to gouge consumers and busy trying to privatize public train routes and airport security; when he's not stealing money from retirees, veterans, the disabled and the poor through fake conservative Social Security schemes, or cracking jokes on immigration reform-- then he finds time for another favorite pastime: the further enrichment of Wall Street tycoons by allowing them to offer shoddy investment advice to retirees, or to trade derivatives however Wall Street wants, so long as they give him tidy contributions in return for these bank bonanzas, all while giving ordinary working families and individuals the shaft. Mr. Mica, voters say your time is up-- it's time for you to go."

Tom Guild in Oklahoma City saw it much the same way and has no fear in saying so in clear, stark terms. "Mr. Lankford," he told us, "as they say in the furniture business, can’t be bought but can apparently be rented for long periods of time. In his recent Federal Election Commission report, Lankford received a majority of his campaign funds from Wall Street PACs and the Koch Brothers. His Wall Street overlords have his vote in their hip pocket, and he receives fat campaign checks from Wall Street and their PACS. It seems that 'free enterprise' in Lankford’s lexicon means that Lankford’s buddies on Wall Street are guaranteed all the profits, but taxpayers bear all the risks. And he says he is against taxpayer bailouts? What a scam!"

Last week we all saw Fred Upton's pathetic "monkey court" in action, as Upton carried water for the extreme right in another effort to take away health insurance from millions of working class families. His "court" duty certainly didn't prevent Upton from repaying his debt to the Wall Street elites who help fund his miserable political career. He voted for the amendment. His progressive Democratic opponent, Paul Clements, didn't let it go by unnoticed. "We the American people bailed out banks that lost their shirts in the 2008 crash because they were 'too big to fail,' but now we once again have four mega-banks too big to fail. We also have a bill,  H.R. 992, that supports more taxpayer insurance for the kinds of risky deals that led to the crash. We should be going in the opposite direction, doing more to ensure that banks pay the price for their mistakes. We need to make sure that average Americans are not providing insurance for risky bets by high flying financiers." Bingo!

Blue America is backing two candidates in California, Eloise Reyes and Lee Rogers and both are running against hard core Wall Street shills, respectively Gary Miller and Buck McKeon. Reyes and Rogers say would have voted against the bill. Eloise: "Anyone who wants to see the effects of the harmful lending practices of Wall Street just needs to visit the Inland Empire. Empty homes and foreclosure signs can be found on nearly every street. There is no other region of the country where subprime loans accounted for a larger proportion of the overall mortgage market. It is deplorable that any Member of Congress would vote in support the type of predatory practices that put families at risks so that Wall Street and K Street can increase their profit margin. We have already seen what happens when Wall Street is left to regulate itself. Why would anyone support legislation that promises to lead us down the same path again?"

Rogers is an an especially odd situation here because the man he's running against, McKeon, is personally a severe gambling addict so sees nothing against banksters exhibiting the same behavior. Rogers told us after McKeon's latest vote for Wall Street that "Americans are tired of bailing out the big banks when their risky trading goes South. This bill puts taxpayers on the hook if traders lose out on bad bets. We shouldn't be insuring their gambling."

Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, respectively the conservative Big Business shills who run the DCCC and the DNC, are not supporting any of these candidates. Neither wants to see progressives in Congress. Israel absented himself from the vote and Wasserman Schultz voted with the Republicans. If you'd like to help make sure we get a better Congress in 2014, please consider contributing what you can to the candidates who want to go to Washington to represent average working families, not corrupt Wall Street predators. You can do that here.

New Dem shill voted with the GOP for Wall Street banksters

And speaking of the wretched Wasserman Schultz, David Sirota has a superb article in yesterday's Salon everyone should read. The topic is best summed up in the subtitle: "Here's why plutocrats control our politics: Corporate America knows both parties are up for sale." Sirota writes that "Similar to green washing or so-called 'gay washing'/'rainbow washing,' liberal washing is all about wrapping corporate America’s agenda in the veneer of fight-for-the-little-guy progressivism, thus portraying plutocrats’ radical rip-off schemes as ideologically moderate efforts to rescue the proles… If corporate America cooks up a scheme to rip off the middle class, Republicans will provide the bulk of the congressional votes for the scheme-- but enough establishment-credentialed liberals inevitably will endorse the scheme to make it at least appear to be mainstream and bipartisan. Yes, it seems no matter how venal, underhanded or outright corrupt a heist may be, there always ends up being a group of icons with liberal billing ready to drive the getaway car."
The most reliable way to liberal-wash something is to get a famous Democrat to support it. This is because even though many Democratic politicians, party officials, operatives and pundits are neither liberal nor progressive, the media nonetheless usually portrays all people affiliated with the Democratic Party as uniformly liberal on all issues.

The famous examples of liberal washing come from the White House. A few decades ago, Democratic President Bill Clinton liberal-washed corporatist schemes like NAFTA and financial deregulation. Today, it is Democratic President Barack Obama liberal-washing the insurance industry’s healthcare initiatives and now joining with a handful of Democratic legislators to liberalwash-- and legitimize-- the right-wing crusade to slash Social Security benefits.

…Out on the campaign trail, it is often the same kind of liberal washing. As just the most famous example, then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker used his billing as a liberal hero to famously liberal-wash the private equity industry’s predatory business model and its anti-public school agenda. In return for his efforts, he was showered with Wall Street cash, which helped him then buy his state’s Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate-- and, ultimately, the U.S. Senate seat itself.

At the municipal level, this kind of thing can be even more shameless, and it involves not only Democratic politicians but also leaders of traditionally liberal organizations. A few years ago, for example, some (but not all) prominent union leaders helped liberal-wash Rahm Emanuel. Those union leaders endorsed the former investment banker in his run for Chicago mayor, despite Emanuel being the architect of the union-crushing NAFTA and calling liberals “fucking retarded.” Once elected, Emanuel used his manufactured liberal credentials to then liberal-wash a full-scale war on organized labor. That war has included school closings and efforts to privatize municipal services-- aka policies designed to undermine public-sector unions.

…Until liberal washing becomes anathema to more of the genuine left, there is little chance of combating today’s plutocratic politics. It is a politics that manufactures the parameters of economic debates so that only corporate-friendly outcomes are possible. It is a politics that relies as much on money and votes as on permissive semiotics-- the kind that permits labels like “liberal,” “progressive” and “left” to include those who shill for the right. Only when those labels start meaning something and liberal washing is defanged can we hope to get, in the words of Gourevitch, “something more than the economically stagnant, politically oppressive” culture we’re currently stuck with.
A little reminder-- these are the 20 current House members who took the biggest legalistic bribes from Wall Street in the last election cycle-- and all of them supported gutting Dodd-Frank this week (very "bipartisan," right?):
John Boehner (R-OH)- $1,445,575
Eric Cantor (R-VA)- $923,900
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)- $542,020
Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)- $525,928
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $315,750
Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)- $304,250
Dave Camp (R-MI)- $290,550
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)- $286,677
Joe Crowley (New Dem-NY)- $284,349
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $275,400
Nita Lowey (D-NY)- $234,250
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $230,010
Ed Royce (R-CA)- $229,100
Peter Roskam (R-IL)- $213,100
Steve Israel (Blue Dog-NY)- $211,507
Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-Mafia)- $209,982
Aaron Schock (R-IL)- $199,999
Pat Tiberi (R-OH)- $197,198
Erik Paulsen (R-MN)- $166,700
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)- $162,100

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


At 6:28 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Kyrsten Sinema badly needs a primary challenge. I will try to get in touch with Howard Shanker and if he's not interested, I have a few other ideas.


Post a Comment

<< Home