THE BANKERS AND OTHER WHEELER-DEALERS WHO IMPOVERISHED THE NATION CONTINUE TO ENRICH THEMSELVES.
By Robert Scheer
From HUSTLER MAGAZINE September 2011
Republicans are the party of the super rich, pure and simple, and all that Tea Party garbage about small government is nothing but a big-lie propaganda ploy by an extremely radicalized fringe of the GOP that betrays its moderate heritage.
This is coming from a journalist who still thinks Dwight D. Eisenhower was the best modern day American President after Franklin Delano Roosevelt and who got along just fine with Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon when he profiled them. Nixon even wrote me a letter expressing thanks for my “objective” reporting on his domestic policy, which included a call for a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Try finding a single Republican politician today who is proud to support either of those sensible Nixon proposals. Even the two Bushes look pretty reasonable compared to the current crowd that wants to wipe out Medicare and Social Security to save our tax dollars for even more exorbitant gifts to the bankers and other corporate hotshots who impoverished the nation while enriching themselves.
At a time when 10 million Americans will have lost their homes by year’s end, when $5.6 trillion in home equity has been wiped out, when most workers face steep unemployment rates and stagnant wages, Republican ideologues insist that extending the Bush-era tax cuts is the best way to create jobs. The Republicans are drunk on the notions of voodoo economics whereby giving more money to those who already have obscene amounts is good for the rest of us.
Even former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who supported the Bush tax cuts, has come to his senses by arguing against their extension in the midst of the global economic crisis: During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press he stated, “This crisis is so imminent and so difficult that I think we have to allow the so-called Bush tax cuts all to expire. ”With regard to how much the U.S. government could save from letting income taxes go back up to levels last seen under President Bill Clinton—an estimated $3.6 trillion—Greenspan said, “That is a very big number.”
He specifically shot down the absurd notion that those tax cuts will reduce the deficit by freeing up more money in the hands of the rich for investment. When host David Gregory asked his guest if he believed that the tax cuts pay for themselves, as Republicans argue, Greenspan replied unequivocally, “They do not.”
The GOP argument that the tax cuts will generate new economic activity because wealthy people will invest more flies in the face of a reality in which the rich are awash with cash but do not spend it in ways that create jobs in this country, as opposed to U.S. corporate investment abroad.
As the New York Times reported, “In the fourth quarter, profits at American businesses were up an astounding 29.2%, the fastest growth in more than 60 years. Collectively, American corporations logged profits at an annual rate of $1.678 trillion.”
And to add insult to injury, the top executives—who seem unable or unwilling to create increased their own compensation by a whopping 12% over the previous year, leaving the median pay at $9.6 million for those in control of the 200 leading companies. The Times report added that “CEO pay is also on the rise again at companies like Capital One and Goldman Sachs, which survived the economic storm with the help of all of those taxpayer-financed bailouts.”
What the Republicans want you to forget is that the recession brought about by their wild deregulatory policies, allowing Wall Street greed to run wild, was launched by their much-hyped “Reagan Revolution, ”which is the basis of our debt crisis. The debt now looms so large because the government had to bail out many of those same corporations, quite a few of which—most notably General Electric and AIG—pay no taxes and have no problem paying truly obscene amounts to their top executives.
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt is making as much as he did before the recession hit, a recession that his GE Capital division did much to cause with its reckless loans. AIG, saved with a government infusion of $170 billion, has lavishly rewarded its top executives but has provided no relief for the homeowners ripped off by its phony credit default swaps.
The result of the Reagan Revolution is that the top 1% of Americans own 40% of the total national wealth, mocking the idea that we are a middle-class-based democracy. That is because the after-tax income of that top 1% has more than doubled in the 30 years since Reagan assumed the Presidency. That’s after-tax income, so don’t tell me they are hurting from too high taxation.
The reality is quite the opposite: The rich are getting richer while the purchasing power of wages and other income for most Americans has been declining. How obscene then that the Republicans want to gut programs like Medicare, Social Security and workers pensions, which are the main barrier keeping most Americans from a life of retirement in poverty.
Before serving 30 years as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, 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.