Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Pervasive, Sickening Impact Of Wall Street On Politics


Over the past few days the Republicans have pushed two bills from the Wall Street agenda, Randy Hutgren's H.R.1675, meant to weaken disclosure requirements for companies that offer stock options to employees, and curb oversight and liability on promotional materials that companies use to market certain products that investors rely on, and Blaine Luetkemeyer's H.R.766, meant to handcuff federal prosecutors from filing civil actions against financial institutions that prey on consumers or investors. Although Luetkemeyer has been one of the biggest recipients of Finance Sector legalistic bribes--$397,552 this cycle and $1,702,485 since being elected to the House in 2008-- as has Hultgren-- $219,750 in bribes this cycle and $1,239,227 since he was first elected in in 2010-- that's not the direction I want to go in today.

We mentioned the other day that Wall Street-financed Patrick Murphy had voted for H.R.1675 but hid in the toilet when the vote was taken on H.R.766, although he was a co-sponsor of that Republican anti-consumer legislation. In all, 10 Democrats crossed the aisle to vote with the GOP on the bill Thursday and 24 Dems did the same thing on Wednesday with H.R.1675. Almost all of the Democrats who voted with the banksters and GOP just happen to be on Hillary Clinton's leadership team. What a coincidence! And what a coincidence that these same Wall Street Dems have been busy smearing Bernie since he crushed her in both debates this week. Ultra-corrupt New Dems Scott Peters (CA) and Gerry Connolly (VA), each of whom regularly sells his votes to the banksters, attacked Bernie yesterday as "unelectable. And, on the Senate side, this session's most right-wing Senate Democrat, the odious Claire McCaskill, is a non-stop Bernie attack machine on behalf of Clinton.

The of my favorite lines from Thursday's debate were about Wall Street. Bernie mentioned that "the business model of Wall Street is fraud"-- which drives Establishment pundits into a frenzy of insanity-- and Hillary said I will look into it (in response to a question about releasing the transcripts of the speeches banksters paid her to give) and mentioned (not as a standup comedy line) that "The Wall Street guys are trying to stop me." They're trying to stop her. The only two people ever elected to Congress who have gotten more in terms of legalistic bribes from the Finance Sector than Hillary are Obama and John "Savings and Loan scandal" McCain-- and she's about to overtake McCain. Not counting the personal cash they put into her pockets for "speaking," the banksters have given her $39,278,192. Oops-- this morning she overtook McCain's $38,101,487; congratulations? So maybe when she says "The Wall Street guys are trying to stop me," she doesn't count Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley as Wall Street guys?

Americans do and as they find out more and more about her grotesque and all-pervasive corruption-- personal and professional-- they are turning away from her in droves. The latest national Quinnipiac poll of Democrats show exactly that:
Hillary 44% (down 17 points since December 22)
Bernie 42% (up 12 points)
And the head-to-head matches with Republicans are even worse news for Hillary and her establishment supports. Although Hillary manages to beat Herr Trumpf 46-41%, Bernie pulverizes him 49-39%, a result that would wind up with powerful enough results in Senate races to not just win the Senate back in 2016 but to have a decent chance it hold it in 2018. In the other match-ups, Hillary looks like a total loser compared to Bernie. She ties Cruz 45-45% and gets slaughtered by Rubio 48-41%. Meanwhile Bernie beats Cruz 46-42% and ties Rubio 43-43%.

On top of that, Bernie has a 44-35% favorability rating among American voters, while Hillary has a negative rating (39-56%) as do Herr Trumpf (34-59%), andCruz (36-42%). Rubio isn't well-known enough by most people to get an accurate read on his favorability standing. According to the brand new WMUR poll of New Hampshire Democrats, Bernie has an 82% favorable rating against a 12% unfavorable rating and Hillary has a 68% favorable against a 24% unfavorable. New Hampshire voters say they'll pick Bernie 54% (up 20 points since October) to 39% for Hillary (up 1% since October).

After the debate Thursday Amy Chozick, writing a highly biased pro-Hillary piece of political propaganda for the Clinton campaign in the NY Times was still forced to acknowledge that Hillary is still perceived as a Wall Street shill, which is precisely what she is and has always been. She's just a few years older than I am but I was smart enough to recognize what Barry Goldwater was when he ran for president. She, on the other hand, was a "Goldwater Gal."
Throughout the debate, Mrs. Clinton found herself cornered by Senator Bernie Sanders and the moderators about her ties to Wall Street, the political contributions that have bolstered her campaign account, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in paid speaking fees she received from Goldman Sachs and other financial firms in the months after she left the State Department.

...In an election year fueled by the anger over the growing gap between rich and poor, Mrs. Clinton, who is widely viewed as too close to the financial sector, seems an imperfect messenger for change. She has developed sophisticated policy proposals that many economists agree would aggressively regulate the financial sector, but they have collided with the image that Sanders supporters and other political rivals have painted of her: Wall Street’s friend and defender.

“Look at my record,” Mrs. Clinton said throughout the night. “I have a record of trying to go at the problems that actually exist and I will continue to do that.”
Except that's another of her lies. Her record is that of a conservative Democrat and a friend of the Wall Street banksters who have financed her career and made her and his husband into multi-millionaires. Camp counsellors didn't make her wealthy; banksters did. When she got on her high horse during the debate-- accusing Bernie of smearing her reputation--and said that she's never changed a vote in return for a payoff or bribe or whatever you want to call all the millions she's taken from Wall Street, I laughed out loud and tried to remember any politician who has ever taken a bribe who admitted to voting because of the bribe. This person is so unfit for public office that Democrats who vote for her need to consider what a Republican Supreme Court for 2 decades will be like if they cast a primary ballot for Hillary.

John Nichols made a lot of sense writing about her lack of viability and why Democrats should reject her immediately and in no uncertain terms.
In the first one-on-one debate of a campaign that will see its first primary on Tuesday, Clinton renewed her attack on Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer “Medicare for All” healthcare system. “The numbers just don’t add up, from what Senator Sanders has been proposing,” said the former secretary of state.

Sanders countered by arguing what Clinton claims is undoable has been done elsewhere-- and can be done in America.

“Every major country on earth, whether it’s the UK, whether it’s France, whether it’s Canada, has managed to provide healthcare to all people as a right and they are spending significantly less per capita on healthcare than we are,” he said. “So I do not accept the belief that the United States of America can’t do that,” said the senator from Vermont. “I do not accept the belief that the United States of America and our government can’t stand up to the rip-offs of the pharmaceutical industry which charge us by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.”

...At one point, Clinton said, “we have a vigorous disagreement here,” and she was right. But that disagreement was about more than specific issues and agendas; that difference was about the boldness of the visions advanced by two contenders and about what can practically and realistically be achieved... Clinton argued that they are limits on what can be achieved... [S]he seemed to suggest that some of the fights that grassroots Democrats want to wage are unwinnable.

“I am not going to make promises I can’t keep. I am not going to talk about big ideas like single-payer and then not level with people about how much it will cost,” she said. “A respected health economist said that these plans would cost a trillion dollars more a year. I’m not going to tell people that I will raise your incomes and not your taxes, and not mean it, because I don’t want to see the kind of struggle that the middle class is going through exemplified by these promises that would raise taxes and make it much more difficult for many, many Americans to get ahead and stay ahead. That is not my agenda.”

That led moderator Rachel Maddow to ask: “Senator Sanders, have you established a list of what it means to be a progressive that is unrealistic?”

“No, not at all,” responded Sanders, who argued that there is nothing radical about guaranteeing healthcare for all, about making public colleges and universities tuition-free, about making massive investments in infrastructure improvement and about taxing corporations and eliminating tax havens.

The primary barriers to necessary change, he explained, are political.

“The reality is that we have one of lowest voter turnouts of any major country on earth because so many people have given up on the political process,” he said. “The reality is we that have a corrupt campaign finance system which separates the American people’s needs and desires from what Congress is doing. So to my mind, what we have got to do is wage a political revolution where millions of people have given up on the political process, stand up and fight back, demand the government that represents us and not just a handful of [campaign contributors].”

What followed was an intense exchange about campaign financing in which Sanders said that “one of the things we should do is not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. I am very proud to be the only candidate up here who does not have a Super PAC, who’s not raising huge sums of money from Wall Street.”

Clinton responded by suggesting that “time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to-- you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought… I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent weeks, and let’s talk… about the issues. Let’s talk about the issues that divide us.”

Sanders accepted the invitation, delivering the most powerful statement of the night-- and one of the most powerful statements of the campaign.

“Let’s talk-- let’s talk about issues, all right?” he began. “Let’s talk about why, in the 1990s, Wall Street got deregulated. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Wall Street provided-- spent billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions? Well, some people might think, yeah, that had some influence.

The crowd was laughing.

“Let’s ask why it is that we pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and your medicine can be doubled tomorrow, and there’s nothing that the government can do to stop it. You think it has anything to do with the huge amounts of campaign contributions and lobbying from the fossil-fuel industry?”

The crowd was clapping.

“Let’s talk about climate change. Do you think there’s a reason why not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real, and that we need to transform our energy system? Do you think it has anything to do with the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil pouring huge amounts of money into the political system?”

The crowd was cheering.

“That is what goes on in America,” Sanders continued. “You know, there is a reason why these people are putting huge amounts of money into our political system. And in my view, it is undermining American democracy and it is allowing Congress to represent wealthy campaign contributors and not the working families of this country.”

That imbalance, Sanders concluded, demands not talk of what is unachievable but recognition of the need for a “political revolution.”
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