The Democrats’ Faux Fight Against the Banks

How pathetic. President Obama sat at a table surrounded by super rich bankers, pleading with them to lend money to small businesses and workers. The media mislabeled Obama’s groveling as “encouraging,” “imploring,” and “pressing,” but a man who refuses to take action is powerless; and powerless people can only beg.

This disgraceful meeting happened shortly after Obama got “radical” on national TV, calling the bankers “fat cats” and other tough words. But words are only that.

In reality, Obama’s sudden attitude with the banking aristocracy is a shallow attempt to re-brand himself, since the American public now sees him for what he is: a willing tool of the banks, military, and the super-rich in general.

Congress, too, tried to re-cast its image with the banks recently. Like the White House, most American workers now understand the two-party system to be an extension of corporate America. Congress was thus pushed to act. What little pushing was done was quickly pushed back by the banking lobby.

The House of Representatives passed a tough-sounding but toothless banking regulation bill, which was watered down with $300 million plus in lobbying [bribing] from the big banks.

The passage of the bill in the House barely startled Wall Street, but there is still more bribing to be done in the Senate. The Chief Executive of a powerful banking lobby, Timothy Ryan, told the Wall Street Journal that “we believe there can be additional improvements in the Senate.” (December 12, 2009).

In reaction to Wall Street’s blatant purchasing of Congress, Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence Summers, play-acted the best he could: “For $300 million to be spent on lobbyists trying to gut serious efforts at financial reform is not how this country should be operating.” Well, of course. But nothing is going to be done to stop this legalized buying of legislation. Nothing is going to be done to change anything.

A number of U.S. academics have sharply denounced the incredible corruption operating inside of the White House and Congress. They correctly view the banking industry as having an iron grip on American politics — a grip that needs to be smashed. A professor of economics, William Black, was recently quoted in the New York Times railing against the banks:

“To end the plunder we must break the systemically dangerous institutions’ [banks] power and the culture of fraud and impunity that supports it. This is sound economics, criminology, law, political science and ethics — and Americans support this policy.”

Well said. But how?

It should first be noted that the Obama administration is supporting an incredible myth that is boosting the banks’ image with the public. The media claims that, because some banks are re-paying the TARP bailout money, they should now be able to do whatever they want — including paying executives millions of dollars, buying Congressmen, hoarding, speculating, not lending to the public, etc.

The TARP bailout program is only a small portion of the entire bailout funds, which continues to be administered by the FDIC and Federal Reserve through taxpayer money. This larger bailout program — which could amount to trillions of dollars — is being done in complete secrecy. Recent legislation to audit the Federal Reserve has stalled (lobbyists again). The banks continue to wallow in public money that they use to further enrich themselves. Meanwhile, public officials do nothing but chat.

But action is needed. American workers would easily support a heavy tax not only on bank bonuses, but bank CEO’s, and especially the bank shareholders (owners). Taxing this group at 90% would give billions for a national jobs program, while helping to reduce the national deficit. It would also show the bankers who’s boss.

However, if they still refuse to lend money, additional measures could be taken. The government could take over the banks and run them as public utilities. The only losers here would be the billionaire shareholders.

The winners would be the hundreds of millions of people who would benefit by having their home and credit card loans re-negotiated; the small businesses who could be given cheap loans; and the unemployed, who could have a real jobs program — which includes not only investments in earth-friendly energy investments, but a rebuilding of America’s infrastructure.

Finally, another big lie must be addressed. It is false when Obama claims that, “ultimately in this country we rise and fall together; banks and small businesses, consumers and large corporations.”

American workers have seen shareholders make billions of dollars as wages have steadily lowered. Banks have also made billions of dollars off student loans, credit card bills, and shady mortgages, only to be bailed out by taxpayer money. We are not “in this together.”

A tiny portion of the American population has gotten incredibly rich off the backs of America’s workers and poor. This fact must be the basis for any solution to the present crisis. Those who’ve made billions before the recession, and continue to profit off the broken economy that they helped destroy, must be forced to relinquish their power so that the majority of working people can democratically decide to fix it.

If this isn’t done, then American workers and the unemployed will continue to pay for the crisis. Social services — Medicare, social security, unemployment benefits, public education, etc. — will be gutted. Wages will continue their downward spiral. This is the solution promoted by the super-rich and their loyal representatives, the Democrats and Republicans.

It’s us vs. them. So it’s time to shift into high gear, organize ourselves, and demand that the government start operating in our interests.

SHAMUS COOKE is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

More articles by:

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Do We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Ali Mohsin
A Disheartening Week for American Death Penalty Opponents
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring