Tuesday, February 02, 2016

On To New Hampshire-- And Another Reason Hillary Should Drop Out And Endorse Bernie


A few years ago I read Elizabeth Warren's book, A Fighting Chance and I remember being very impressed with a story about how then First Lady Hillary Clinton had single-handedly turned around the Administration on a toxic brankuptcy bill and persuaded her husband to veto it at the very end of 2000. It actually made me feel good about Hillary. But, it turns out, I didn't actually have the full story.
The banking industry bought everything; they even bought their own facts. The industry commissioned three different studies, each of which was touted as "independent." Each explained the urgent need to change the law-- exactly the way the banking industry wanted it changed. One particularly damaging result of these bogus studies was a claim that bankruptcy cost every hardworking, bill-paying American family a $550 "hidden tax." The number was entirely made up, fabricated out of thin air, but the press reported it as "fact" for years.

This one hit me hard. I'd spent nearly twenty years sweating over every detail in a string of serious academic studies, agonizing over sample sizes and statistical significance to make certain that whatever I reported was exactly right. Now the banks just wrote a check, commissioned a friendly study, and purchased their own facts. They had their own press people distribute the facts and lobbyists hand the facts to congressional staffers. From the halls of Congress to the front pages of newspapers all over the country, these new "facts" became reality.

This strategy-- and the cynicism behind it-- made me furious. It also scared me. If the facts about bankruptcy could be purchased, then who knew what they could claim next?

...[T]he president [Bill Clinton] was under enormous pressure from the banks to sign the bill, but in the last days of his presidency, urged on by his wife, President Clinton stood strong with struggling families. With no public fanfare, he vetoed the industry's bill.

...The banks lost in 2000, but they didn't quit-- they just spent more money on lobbying and campaign contributions. Soon the banking industry was outspending everybody else-- tobacco, pharmaceuticals, even Big Oil. Credit card companies lined up to boost George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

In 2001, the bill looked sure to pass Congress again, and now George W. Bush was in the White House, promising to sign it into law. The recent election kept the House in Republican control, and every single Republican was ready to support the bill. The Senate was evenly split between the two parties, but one of the bill's lead sponsors was Democratic powerhouse Joe Biden, and right behind him were plenty of Democrats offering to help... The baking industry had lost for a second time, but it came back once again, bringing even more money and more lobbyists. It was like fighting some kind of mythical creature-- cut off one head and two grow back.
Now, take a look at that video up top of Elizabeth Warren speaking with Bill Moyers in 2004. Turns out there was more to that story than Warren put in her book. In the interview, she acknowledges that Hillary-- who had a far keener understanding of the disastrous consequences of the bill-- got President Clinton to veto it. However... "One of the first bills that came up after she was Senator Clinton was the bankruptcy bill. This is a bill that's like a vampire; it will not die. There's a lot of money behind it. Her husband had vetoed it very much at her urging. She voted in favor of it. As Senator Clinton, the pressures are very different. It's a well-financed industry... A lot of people don't realize the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry, was not pharmaceuticals, it was consumer credit products-- the credit card companies-- and they have influence. She has taken money from the groups..."

Oh, yes, she has. Hillary, in fact has taken far more from the Financial Sector than anyone who has served in Congress other than Obama and McCain-- $36,846,987 and rapidly growing, sure to overtake McCain momentarily.

Maybe this helps explain why Warren hasn't endorsed Clinton so far and why she's the only Democratic woman in the Senate who hasn't. And maybe it helps explain her statement the other day on the Senate floor: "A new presidential election is upon us. Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club." It came right after the Clintons claimed that single-payer is just too hard to achieve. If conservatives like the Clintons (and the Republicans) had had their way, we would still be a British colony; there would still be slavery; only wealthy old white men would be voting; there would be no public education; there would be no Social Security or Medicare...

A few days later Warren released an 11-page report, Rigged Justice 2016, showing how wealthy and powerful corporate parasites go unpunished. The Warren-Sanders wing of the Democratic Party "contends that aggressive prosecutions would not only signal to executives that they’ll be held to the same standard as everybody else, they could also spare working people who’d otherwise get gouged. In other words, Warren is arguing that by simply wielding the laws already on the books, rather than struggling to pass new ones, a president could strike a blow against the inequality now agitating the left. And all it would take is somebody in the White House committed to stocking the administration with likeminded enforcers." These are the people who have financed the Clintons' careers.

But, just in case Hillary doesn't drop out of the race now, you can help make sure Bernie wins the nomination by contributing what you can here.

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