The $700,000,000,000 Power Punch
“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”
– Language from Section 8 Treasury Financial Bail-out Proposal
Breathtaking in its scope and staggering dollar amount, the Treasury Financial Bail-out Proposal to Congress is a parting power punch from the Bush Administration. Even as the American economy melts down, George W. Bush and his cronies are taking advantage of the emergency situation to turn over $700,000,000,000 of American tax payer’s money to bail out the same greedy, corrupt corporations that got us into this mess; transfer most of the scant remaining congressional power into private hands and eviscerate judicial or administrative review of the process.
“The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation,” and so begins the Proposal that is perhaps the biggest peacetime (or anytime) transfers of power from Congress through the Administration to private corporations, in history.
Democrats, the American people and patriots of every partisan position, should not drink the $700,000,000,000 Power Punch. There is no circumstance under which we should tolerate this open theft of public funds, and permanent transfer of Congressional and Judicial power through one man, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, directly to private sector corporations, without oversight, review or accountability.
The upcoming Congressional elections and the fear inspired in the heart of every incumbent politician are certainly no excuse to capitulate to this brazen, corporate power grab. Democrats, true-blooded Republicans and the American people should not be intimidated by the rushed, fear-mongering tactics of King Henry Paulson.
While our economy is in historic trouble, it’s simply impossible that more of the same power without oversight – the same unmitigated, unregulated nonsense that got us into this mess – is the cure to the precipitous plunge the American economy is taking.
And while Congress should respond quickly, they should move with great deliberation and not in a few days so that they can adjourn by Friday, go home and hit the campaign trail. If they do, it is every American’s responsibility to hold them accountable on that trail, at campaign events and when they call asking for donations, to jam their campaign phone lines and offices with angry Americans demanding solutions.
Commentators are saying that this Treasury Proposal is not going to turn the economy around. While they are fully responsible for the current situation, given their 2 decades of deregulation, even some Republicans are seeing the light on this bailout. Jim Bunning, (R) Kentucky said, “This massive bailout is not a solution, it is a financial socialism and it’s un-American.”
The Bush Administration finds socialism despicable, when it comes to an issue like health care, but not when it benefits private corporations through corporate welfare – like the $3,000,000,000 annually given to the fossil fuel industry, that takes our tax money, then gouges us at the gas pump, while making record profits. This Treasury Proposal is another attempt by the Bush Administration to socialize debt and risk, and private profits.
Barak Obama’s idea of treating the tax-payers like investors, and sharing in the upside as Wall Street recovers, is brilliant. He is suggesting that Americans make an investment, but not a handover without being made whole when the economy recovers.
Obama is suggesting, but still not demanding, that oversight is required. If King Henry doesn’t include oversight in his bill, Obama will suggest that oversight be included, but not necessarily vote against the Proposal. That’s insufficient, at best.
Historian Allan Lichtman says, “The American people are mad as hell that an administration that has spent eight years giving to the rich and taking from everyone else is now doing it again with a plan that does not include adequate safeguards and controls.”
Dr. Lichtman continues, “Already the gap between the rich and everyone else is greater than at any time since 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression. It’s outrageous and Obama should say so — this is no time for coolness or detachment. Obama has come up with a decent plan on this, but he has fallen far short of expressing people’s outrage. He should be demanding that adequate safeguards be put into the plan and insisting that the American people are owed nothing less. Outrage — it is what the American people are feeling and what is missing from Obama so far.”
By contrast, deregulator-in-chief John McCain still seems to have no answers, only questions and as he said himself, he doesn’t understand the economy. In Jacksonville, Florida on September 15, 2008 he said, "Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong."
As we careen toward economic destruction, which will reverberate across the globe, Americans want solutions, with a primary goal of protecting the tax payers. We want to see righteous anger in our leaders that matches our own, about being looted, robbed once again, by the very wealthy corporate CEO’s, employees and shareholders.
These are the same giant corporations that pollute our air and water and destroy our forests and biodiversity, leaving us to deal with the resulting degradation, illness and disease. Those wealthy corporations can now take individual’s private property for "economic" development, outsource our jobs, avoid paying Americans a living wage, benefit financially from war, and gouge us at the gas pump.
These corporations reap record-breaking profits, exclusively for the benefit of the very few. Meanwhile the little gal and guy struggle to live, breathe, work, put food and clean water on the table, pay the electric bill, get an education, and find health care.
Americans demand that this not become another example of both of the corporate-controlled parties being more concerned with re-election and maintaining power for its own sake than solving the nation’s potentially crippling economic problems.
Corporate looters should have to live in the brutal hell of a jail cell for derailing our economy, not be rewarded with additional power and more of our money as suggested by King Henry Paulson in his stunning move which we’ll call: The Robin Hood Reverse, stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
KARYN STRICKLER is a writer and grassroots, political organizer living outside Washington, DC. You can reach Karyn at firstname.lastname@example.org .