Financial Crisis

The Selling of American Democracy: The Perfect Storm

As usual, Professor Robert Reich gets it right…

The Huffington Post

Who’s buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

And they’re doing much of it in secret.

It’s a perfect storm:

The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century — courtesy “trickle-down” economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the demise of organized labor.

Combined with…

Unlimited political contributions — courtesy of Republican-appointed Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, along with lower-court rulings that have expanded it.

Combined with…

Complete secrecy about who’s contributing how much to whom — courtesy of a loophole in the tax laws that allows so-called non-profit “social welfare” organizations to accept the unlimited contributions for hard-hitting political ads.

Put them all together and our democracy is being sold down the drain.

With a more equitable and traditional distribution of wealth, far more Americans would have a fair chance of influencing politics. As the great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, “we can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a comparative few, but we cannot have both.”

Alternatively, inequality wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we had strict laws limiting political spending or, at the very least, disclosing who was contributing what.

But we have an almost unprecedented concentration of wealth and unlimited political spending and secrecy.

I’m not letting Democrats off the hook. Democratic candidates are still too dependent on Wall Street casino moguls and real casino magnates (Steve Wynn has been a major contributor to Harry Reid, for example). George Soros and a few others have poured big bucks into Democratic coffers. So have a handful of trade unions.

But don’t be fooled. Compared to what the GOP is doing this year Democrats are conducting high-school bake sales. The mega-selling of American democracy is a Republican invention, and Romney and the GOP are its major beneficiaries.

And the losers aren’t just Democrats. They’re the American people.

You need to make a ruckus. Don’t fall into the seductive trap of cynicism. That’s what the sellers of American democracy are counting on. If you give up on our system of government, they win everything.

This coming Monday, for example, the Senate has scheduled a cloture vote on the DISCLOSE ACT, which would at least require that outfits like the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s “Crossroads GPS” disclose who’s contributing what. Contact your senators, and have your friends and relatives in other states — especially those with Republican senators (who have been united in their opposition to disclosure) — to contact theirs. If the DISCLOSE ACT is voted down, hold accountable those senators (and, when and if it gets to the House, those House members) who are selling out our democracy for the sake of their own personal ambitions.

In California: 10,000 LINE UP TO SAVE THEIR HOMES!

 

Sacramento Bee

They came by the thousands, transforming normally festive Cal Expo into a venue emblematic of California’s nightmarish housing meltdown.

An estimated 10,000 people were in line Friday morning when the Cal Expo Pavilion’s doors opened on a five-day event aimed at helping distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The line for the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America’s “Save the Dream” event stretched from the Pavilion, through Cal Expo’s east parking lot, onto Exposition Boulevard and nearly to Ethan Way – a distance of half a mile.

Sacramento-area homeowners stood shoulder to shoulder with those from all parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona and far beyond, hoping to have their mortgage payments lowered in order to keep their homes.

Their stories ran the gamut: underwater mortgages, unemployment, financial crises, long-missed loan payments and frustration trying to talk with lenders.

NACA officials this week wrapped up a six-day event at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where an estimated 40,000 came through the doors.

NACA CEO Bruce Marks said Friday that he expects that many at Cal Expo by closing time Tuesday.

“You’d think that the crowds would diminish by now, but they’re not. They keep coming,” Marks said. “This (Sacramento event) is probably going to have about as many as we had in Los Angeles.”

NACA, headquartered in the Boston suburb of Jamaica Plain, will be working with homeowners around the clock through 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Its services are free, and it serves both the employed and unemployed. Options include renegotiated loans, interest rate reductions, loan principal reductions and mortgage restructuring. NACA said it has legally binding contracts with major lenders, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/09/3091190/10000-wait-in-line-at-cal-expo.html#ixzz11uTuhBNd

Robert Reich on the Super Rich Getting Richer While Everyone Else Gets Poorer

Robert Reich

Image via Wikipedia

Robert Reich is the man whom I hope President Obama chooses to replace Larry Summers who is head of the White House’s National Economic Council, a position created by former President Bill Clinton during his presidency.

Robert Reich was then President Clinton’s Secretary of Labor.  Reich would be the ideal person to replace Summers.  Robert Reich is a progressive and knows his economics.  Obama decided to surround himself with a Wall Street alumni economic team.  I honestly hope that Reich and/or Paul Krugman will be called in to turn our economy around, to benefit “the people” and not Wall Street.

America Blog

At least we have a White House that understands the problem since he’s a Democrat and not just another run of the mill corporatist who is part of the problem. More from Robert Reich.

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).