REMEMBER WHO CREATED THIS MESS!
AMERICA DESPERATELY NEEDS A NEW DEAL FROM THE WHITE HOUSE, BUT DON’T ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET FOR ANOTHER REPUBLICAN.
by Robert Scheer for HUSTLER Magazine
The “lost decade” is the way Harvard economics professor Lawrence Katz refers to the ten-year downslide of the U.S. economy since the election of Republican George W. Bush in November 2000. The road to ruin was paved by Bush, who impoverished the nation by waging two unnecessary trillion dollar wars while cutting taxes for the superrich. Yet, despite the fact that the Republicans created the mess, an all-too-easily-fooled public seems destined to put another one back in the White House.
The worst that can be said about President Barack Obama is that his response to the deep financial crisis he inherited from Bush was to continue the GOP strategy of throwing money at the banks instead of letting them go bankrupt. The banks were saved, but it was their victims—the suckers swindled into phony mortgages—who went bankrupt.
When Obama attempted to help ordinary folks with a relatively small stimulus check and save jobs in the automobile industry, before the last one of them went abroad, the Republicans and their allies among the Wall Street lobbyists branded him a socialist. Instead, we got socialism for the superrich when the Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives and prevented any further help for the foreclosed and unemployed.
The result of Republican power from the time of Bush has allowed 1% percent of the population to control 40% of this country’s wealth. In the past decade of greed run wild, the income of that 1% rose 18%, while that of the middle class declined. The total worth of the average American has been cut in half thanks to the banking/housing meltdown; an all-time-record 46.2 million people—including 22% of America’s children—are living below the government’s official poverty level ($22,350 for a family of four); and good jobs are going, going, gone.
“This is truly a lost decade,” Professor Katz told the New York Times. “We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we’re looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.”
Nor will it get better in the foreseeable future. The Federal Reserve estimates that the housing crisis that is at the root of the meltdown will go unabated for years to come. With 50 million Americans losing their homes, you can’t expect consumer confidence—now at record lows—to be restored; and since those consumers account for 70% of economic activity, forget the job situation improving anytime soon.
Yet dumb and dumber American voters look set to restore full power to the Republicans, who favor welfare for the superrich and Big Business. What voters can’t seem to grasp is that the days are over when the average Joe could legitimately hook his future to the prosperity of large corporations.
Those companies are called multinational for a reason: The bulk of their profits are sheltered abroad. Take GE, that old American-as-apple-pie company that had Ronald Reagan as a shill before Big Business needed him to run for President in 1980. Now two-thirds of GE’s workforce is abroad, along with 82% of the company’s profits. In addition, GE has paid no U.S. taxes for the past three years.
The multinational corporations are awash in cash, sitting on at least $2 trillion in funds they refuse to invest in creating jobs. Meanwhile, the big banks that were bailed out by the Federal Reserve—which took trillions of dollars of toxic mortgages off their books—refuse to make loans to deserving small businesses and creditable would-be home buyers.
The investments the multinational corporations do make are abroad, where they send the good-paying jobs that once were the basis of America’s economic leadership of the world. In September, Citigroup—the bankrupted banking giant bailed out by the American taxpayers—held its board of directors meeting, not in Chicago or Los Angeles, but in Singapore. Apparently, Citigroup chose that location because 30% of its profits are now derived from the Asian market, where the bank expanded using U.S. taxpayer dollars.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Citi’s business in Asia will likely help it as the West slows down.” But the West that they are ignoring, in case you didn’t happen to notice, is where the U.S. taxpayers who bailed out the bank happen to live and try to find work. Citigroup and other financial institutions were made whole by Republican-inspired bailouts, but fully 25 million Americans who are looking can’t find full-time work.
The only Republican candidate who can make any kind of claim to a record of job creation is Texas Governor Rick Perry. But when you realize that Texas leads the nation in the number of workers earning the minimum wage or less, you learn all you need to know about the GOP’s view of job creation. Republican politicians always make it a point to pin a little American flag on their jacket lapel, but they are false patriots conspiring to ship the American Dream abroad.
Before serving almost 30 years as a Los Angeles Times columnist and editor, Robert Scheer spent the late 1960s as Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. Now editor of TruthDig.com, Scheer has written such hard-hitting books as The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America and his latest, The Great American Stick-Up: Greedy Bankers and the Politicians Who Love Them.