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A Case of Wild Justice
What Can We Do Next? The
My Angels Are Come
The Declaration of White Independence: The Founding Documents of Transudationism
The Naked Earth
Awaken and Arise!
One Time in Paris
The Prosecution of George W.
The Eye of Icarus
Prodigal of the Pecos
Dolphins Under My Bed
What the Hell Is a Liberal?
By Natalia Prentice
The Shadow Factory
A Cross Estate
The Woman Who Wrote
Hot Issues, Cool Topics
The Art of Conscious Creation
Will Barack Obama Be More
By John F. Miglio
The latest neocon propaganda reported in the mainstream news media as if it were fact goes like this: Whoever becomes the next president is going to be left with such a huge national debt and budget deficit, he won’t be able to enact any significant social legislation, like universal health care or tax cuts for the middle class or a national renewable energy program, because he won’t have the money to pay for it.
In essence, this is a continuation of the old “starve the beast” idea of right-wing lobbyist Grover Norquist, an idea so stupid and selfish it was raised to apotheosis by the Bush administration and used as its guiding principle for the past eight years, i.e., bankrupt the country by spending an astronomical amount of money on the military/industrial complex while at the same time cutting taxes on the rich. As a result, there would be no money left for social programs because the government would inevitably build up a huge deficit.
“Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” Cheney was famous for saying when he and Bush first took office. In other words, they had intended from the outset of their administration to drive the country into deficit, just as they had intended all along to invade Iraq. But blowing all the money in the treasury and creating an unending financial sinkhole in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t enough for them; they had to run up the national debt to over $10 trillion, squander another $700 billion on Wall Street, and stick the next administration with a half-trillion dollar budget deficit.
Talk about starving the beast! They not only starved it, they gutted it and ground up the bones, creating a very difficult situation for the next president to deal with. So how would he handle it?
In the first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, milquetoast moderator, Jim Lehrer, dutifully asked the two candidates that very question: What programs would each of them be prepared to cut from his agenda if he becomes president because, you know, like� we don’t have any money now.
Both candidates ducked the question, of course. It was expected of McCain. But here’s what liberals were hoping Obama would say. “Well, Jim, here’s the deal: If we ended the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we’d save a couple of hundred billion dollars a year. And if we not only let the Bush tax cuts expire, but also taxed the upper one percent of the population at a rate that we did prior to the Reagan administration, we would bring in hundreds of billions more.”
At this point, McCain would grow red in the face and start screaming, “You see, he wants to redistribute the wealth! He’s a socialist!” but Obama would wave him off in his professorial manner and continue: “In addition, if we closed all the loopholes in the tax code and forced corporations to pay their fair share of taxes again, like they did in the 1950s and 1960s, we could count on hundreds of billions more. And one more thing– if we cut our bloated military budget in half, we would also save hundreds of billions. All told, Jim, these measures would add trillions of dollars to the U.S. treasury in the next several years, and we not only would have enough money to pay for all kinds of social programs, but we could balance the budget as well.”
But Obama didn’t say that. In fact, if you look at his past record in the Senate, he is not the flaming liberal that the McCain campaign has made him out to be, much less a socialist. For example, Obama deferred to the insurance industry and did not vote for HR 676, the single payer national health care bill that would have given medical coverage to every single American (and saved the country billions of dollars in the process).
In addition, he disappointed his liberal base by supporting the Telecom Amnesty Bill, which not only let large telecom companies off the hook for spying on Americans, but also let George W. Bush off the hook for criminal prosecution. In the same vein, he has supported the Patriot Act and FISA and has come out against impeaching George W. Bush.
Worst of all, it appears as if he is going to take his sweet time to get us out of Iraq (16 months is his current estimate), and not only prolong the war in Afghanistan, another unending, unwinnable guerrilla war like Vietnam, but step it up. He is asking for more troops and has vowed to go into Pakistan if necessary to get bin Laden.
Some insiders say that Obama is just putting on a more hawkish front right now to appeal to a wider range of mainstream voters, but once he gets in office– especially with a Democratically controlled Congress– he will get back to his liberal roots and initiate great social change, just like FDR.
As I recall, this is what a lot of people said about Bill Clinton when he first got elected. As it turned out, Clinton was less like FDR and more like George Bush Senior, giving in to Republicans on NAFTA, welfare reform, and several other issues. He also helped his friends on Wall Street when he signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 (effectively dissolving the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933), which many economists believe was the primary cause of the current economic meltdown in the banking and real estate industries.
Now Is the Time
By Senator Bernie Sanders
These are frightening and unusual times. The world of finance and the overall economy are both in perilous condition. Almost every day a new crisis erupts. The stock market has plunged dramatically, and is more volatile, than at any time in memory. Loans between banks have dried up. Major financial houses have either failed or merged. Government bailout follows government bailout.
Just how deep the financial crisis is can be seen from this paradox: the Bush administration, the most wild and irresponsible defender of right-wing economic ideology and free markets in our nation’s history, now has to muster one initiative after another to intervene in the financial markets. It is even in the process of nationalizing banks.
The economic crisis has received less attention in the media than the financial crisis, but it is no less real or threatening. Unemployment, which is conservatively estimated in our country, last month hit a five-year high of 6.1 percent, and it is rising. In July, home prices – the main source of most Americans’ wealth – fell 16 percent in 20 U.S. cities from a year earlier. The bottom is nowhere in sight. Foreclosures are at the highest rate in almost three decades. Health care, food and educational costs are rising, and more and more Americans are lining up at emergency shelters and food shelves.
Meanwhile, during President Bush’s tenure in office, the gap between the very wealthy and everyone else has dramatically increased. While 6 million Americans have slipped into poverty, while median income for working families has declined by more than $2,000, while 7 million people have lost their health insurance and 4 million workers lost their pensions, the highest income Americans have made out like bandits – which many of them are.
In Bush’s first seven years, the top 400 individuals in America saw an increase in their wealth of $670 billion, so that by 2007 the top 1 percent earned more income than the bottom 50 percent. Tax cuts for the wealthy, unfettered free trade, no-bid contracts, deregulation of every conceivable market and a belief that markets are the best determinant of social policy have together brought about a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy. The backbone of the American economy for the past 50 years, a strong and prosperous middle class, has been severely weakened by the extremist policies of this administration. The economic future for the next generation looks bleak.
At this pivotal moment in our history, the American people are demanding fundamental changes in our nation’s economic policies. Congress will be reconvening for a lame-duck session on November 17. What should we do? The proposals that have been coming out of Washington, in my view, are not sufficient.
If you could read the e-mails that pour into my office from Vermont and across the country, you would realize how furious the American people are at the greed, incompetence and irresponsibility of the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street who made billions while they drove our financial system to the brink of the abyss. Middle-class citizens of this country do not believe that they, who had nothing to do with causing this financial meltdown and who already have suffered as a result of Bush’s reckless policies, should have to pay for Wall Street bailouts. They are absolutely right. Congress must demand that the cost of any bailout should be paid by those who benefited financially from Bush’s policies and those who can best afford it. I proposed an income surtax of 10 percent on families earning more than $1 million a year. I will continue to fight so that any bailout is progressively funded.
In terms of any federal intervention, we need to insist that if the government buys mortgages and mortgage-backed paper – the so-called ‘toxic assets’ – it should be at current market prices, not at the price the lender set at the time of the loan. We should require equity stakes for taxpayers – something a British initiative seems to have forced Secretary Paulson into imitating. We also need to follow the British model of demanding that banks taking taxpayer money put taxpayer interests ahead of corporate profits, executive payouts, and risky investment strategies. Congress, as soon as possible, needs to reverse years of deregulation, and require accountability and transparency in the financial industry. It is beyond insane that tens of trillions of dollars of credit default swaps are circulating with no one knowing who owns these complicated instruments or what role they play in the financial markets. We also must pass new anti-trust legislation to make sure that in the future no entities are “too big to fail.” If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
When Congress reconvenes, it is clear to me that it must pass a massive “Rebuild America” program in order to address the looming economic crisis. If we can put up $700 billion to rescue bankers from their irresponsible decisions, we must make a major investment putting millions of Americans to work rebuilding our country.
I agree with a number of economists who have told us that, in order to get our country back on sound economic footing, we should make a major investment in repairing our crumbling transportation systems and electric grid. After decades of delay, we must end our dependence on fossil fuel and foreign oil and move boldly to energy efficiency and new sources of sustainable energy.
We also need to address the social crises we face in terms of education, health care, nutrition, and poverty. In the midst of the current economic crisis, we must minimize the suffering of the most vulnerable among us, and we must ensure the future of our country by developing the best-educated workforce in the world.
A bone-chilling political
John F. Miglio is available for all types of speaking engagements. For information, click here