A majority of Americans breathed a sigh of relief when the Bush/Cheney regime ended, but has it? Like the zombie banks, the era of government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich lives on, with massive transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich continuing, as beleaguered poor and middle class taxpayers bail out the banks we are told are too big to fail.
Unfortunately for those of us too small to succeed, the American dream has to be deferred as our children and grandchildren get saddled with the debt we are piling up in the hope that Main Street will be stimulated once the gamblers and bookies on Wall Street come clean and get paid off with more of our money. Unwitting taxpayers are angry they rewarded bonuses to the insiders who created a rigged casino and manufactured their own chips to bet the house then bring it down. But they have focused their outrage on only one thousandth of just one shakedown, AIG, while the real scandal is the “cash for trash” transfer of what’s left of the treasury to Wall Street’s big banks who will end stronger as Main Street gets boarded up.
This Robin Hood in reverse phenomenon is not new. It began when Ronald Reagan declared he was taking the handcuffs off the millionaires and putting them on the welfare queens. Since then wages have remained stagnant as working Americans have maintained their standard of living on credit from banks who get cheap money from the Fed they then loan back to us at usurious rates.
Meanwhile productivity has soared, with the benefits going to capital, not labor. Under George W. Bush the transfer of public money to private hands accelerated as lobbyists and revolving door Congressmen, cashing in on public service for private gain, captured Washington to the extent that most politicians today represent money, not people.
When Reagan cut taxes for the rich while rewarding the Military Industrial Complex with billions from the remaining overburdened poor and middle class taxpayers, the resulting deficits his budget director David Stockman warned him about ballooned. Reagan’s deficit also became an extra burden on those unfairly taxed, since the servicing of the resulting debt, which was largely owned by the rich, had to be paid by the poor.
About the only voice of outrage back then in the Congress came from Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who railed against this double jeopardy. Mercifully, Moynihan did not live to see what George W. Bush managed to pull off after Clinton paid down the debt and left a surplus for Bush.
With a self-proclaimed mandate from his “War on Terror”, Bush opened up the treasury to the usual suspects and then some. In a spree of corporate socialism he invited crony contractors to embed themselves at the government trough, in effect taking money from the Post Office to subsidize Fed Ex and UPS. However these “Beltway Bandits” who hung up their shingles did not have to deliver services, as long as they offered private jets to their political patrons. Meanwhile the rest of us have become POW’s in the class war Bush successfully waged against America’s poor and middle class.
So here we are, America the screwed, and we only have ourselves to blame since you get the government you deserve. Now the question is, does the populist rage out there get focused on political action with millions phoning, emailing and marching on Washington, or do we sullenly pay up and hope the stimulus works? The last time this happened, it was not solved by the top-down largesse of FDR, but rather from the bottom-up outrage of the American people that was felt in Washington, forcing politicians to act with a New Deal. We’ve had a bad deal for the last thirty years, now it’s time for a fair deal.
IAN MASTERS is the host of “Background Briefing” and “Live From The Left Coast” Sundays 11 AM to 1PM on KPFK 90.7 FM radio and at ianmasters.org