There are a number things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.
Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:
1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.
Are the Main Street Tea Party members getting “played” by Wall Street and big-corporate billionaires? There is a big, big, big difference between what the regular members and the big-money funders expect. If Tea Party candidates get elected will they do what their supporters want, or what their Wall Street and big-corporation funders demand?
What Tea Party Members Want
I just finished a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia attending and writing about the “Keep It Made In America” Town Hall meetings. At these meetings and on the road I had occasion to talk to self-identified members of “Tea Party” groups. My conversations tell me,and polling confirms, that the regular day-to-day Tea Party supporters want government to stop job outsourcing and help American manufacturers. And even more than that they really don’t like trade agreements like NAFTA. In fact some go so far as to say that NAFTA and the WTO violate our country’s sovereignty. And even more than that they hate Bush’s bailout of Wall Street (but have been told Obama did it).
What Tea Party Funders Want
At the same time I saw and heard ad after ad after ad after ad that backed Tea Party-type candidates, that were paid for by the Chamber of Commerce and other front groups for Wall Street and the big multinational monopolist corporations that live off of “free trade” and have been closing factories and outsourcing jobs. And the Tea Party was originally set up by and is largely funded and maintained by front groups for this same crowd.
Here is just one example of how much the Tea Party is funded by these front groups: In Oregon one Wall Street hedge fund manager is spending up to $1 million (pocket change) on a front group to elect a Tea Party candidate and unseat a Congressman who didn’t do his bidding and sponsored a couple of Wall Street reform bills. Do you think the Main Street Tea Party members in Oregon expect their Tea Party candidate to support or oppose measures that further enrich Wall Street hedge fund managers? I’ll give you three guesses and the answers are Main Street, Main Street and Not Wall Street. Do you think the Tea Party candidate will dare? I’ll give you one guess.
Will Tea Party Members Or Funders Win Out?
So the regular Tea Party people hate NAFTA and “free trade” agreement, Wall Street bailouts, want a stop to job outsourcing and want help for American manufacturing — but the people behind them and funding their ads do not. What will happen if these candidates get into office? Will they stick with their Tea Party supporters from Main Street, or will the be beholden to the big-money behind their campaigns? As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
This is a very, very serious problem. The “crowd” instincts of regular people are usually pretty good and even in the Tea Parties they understand the damage that “free trade,” Wall Street, big-corporate interests and the rest of the “free enterprise” crowd have done to the country. But the big money is steering them away from the solutions that their collective gut tells them are right.
The financial crisis that Obama inherited has not really gone away. The unsustainable trade deficit that has been growing since Reagan is draining our economy. The huge budget deficit that Bush left behind — caused by tax cuts and military spending increases — has not gone away. Global warming has certainly not gone away. All of these problems are still there. We may be headed into a trade war, we need to rebalance the global economy, the rest of the world is jumping on the Green Insustrial Revolution and we are not — but we can’t even begin to have a reasonable conversation about it because the entrenched wealthy interests are able to purchase the megaphone, microphone and amplification system that let’s people hear the arguments.
I say yes, the Main Street supporters of the Tea Party are getting played. What I want to know is, what will they do if the Tea Party candidates get elected, and then support “free trade’ and Wall Street and all of that? Will go even further to the right, or will they start to figure it out?
Political spending has been completely transformed by the Supreme Court’s decision to open the floodgates of corporate spending in elections. So far this year more than $200 million has flooded in, with much of the spending yet to come. The Sunlight Foundation, in Court rulings change elections, independent spending dwarfs party spending in midterm, writes,
According to data obtained from the Federal Election Commission, fifty-nine percent of all outside spending on independent expenditures has come from non-party aligned groups while only forty-one percent comes from the party committees. This is a dramatic change from the 2006 midterms (as of October 19, 2006) when party committees accounted for eighty-two percent of all outside spending on independent expenditures and non-party aligned committees accounted for eighteen percent.
Koch Industries, a Wichita-based energy and manufacturing conglomerate run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, operates a foundation that finances political advocacy groups, but tax law protects those groups from having to disclose much about what they do and who contributes.[. . .] The participants included some of the nation’s wealthiest families and biggest names in finance: private equity and hedge fund executives like John Childs, Cliff Asness, Steve Schwarzman and Ken Griffin; Phil Anschutz, the entertainment and media mogul ranked by Forbes as the 34th-richest person in the country; Rich DeVos, the co-founder of Amway; Steve Bechtel of the giant construction firm; and Kenneth Langone of Home Depot.
“Five years ago my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity,” Koch says, “and its beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organization of hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that have made our nation the most prosperous society in history.”
It’s a perfect storm. And I’m not talking about the impending dangers facing Democrats. I’m talking about the dangers facing our democracy.[. . .] We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy.
Another anonymous corporate-funded front group, this one called Latinos For Reform, is running ads in Spanish telling people not to vote! This is one more example of voter suppression.
Published reports indicate that the ads are the work of Robert Desposada, a Republican political consultant, former Republican National Committee director of Hispanic affairs and pundit on the Spanish language TV network Univision.
You may be hearing story after story about the flood of corporate money showing up in elections this year. I recently posted a preliminary look at where the corporate money is going supporting or opposing to our upcoming ballot initiatives. That was preliminary, before the real flood of last-minute corporate cash showed up. I’ll be updating those numbers.
Committees for and against the ballot measures have raised more than $84.25 million in contributions of $100,000 or more since the beginning of the year, according to an analysis released today by the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson is co-chair of President Obama’s Fiscal Commission. This is what he said the other day about the relationship between the American people and our government:
“We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!”
This country that was once run by We, the People with government “of the people, by the people and for the people” has become instead a country where the ruling elites can talk about the public as babies, the unemployed as parasites who are jobless because they are “lazy.” The prevailing attitude about the public, from the new Versailles that has grown up around Washington, DC — what bloggers call “the village” seems to be if you feed them they will breed.
Look at the weird situation we are in today. The wealthy are wealthier than ever. The gap between the rich and the rest of us is bigger than ever. Big corporate profits are soaring and the too-big-to-fail multinational corporations have more power than ever. At the same time wages that were stagnant for decades are now dropping, people with jobs are working longer and harder, more of our people are unemployed and unemployed for longer, more without health insurance, more are depending on food stamps for basic nutrition, more are losing their homes than ever with bankruptcies soaring, and small businesses are barely hanging on or are going under at an alarming rate.
But what are our political leaders up to? On the one hand, the deficit commission is focused on cutting Social Security (which does not contribute to the deficit or debt) at a time when more people need it and need it more than ever. On the other hand many in the Congress are looking for ways to extend the deficit-causing Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%.
And few are talking about our government hiring or helping the unemployed, stimulating the economy, or holding the bad actors who caused this mess accountable. In fact, far from talking about helping our fellow citizens, our ruling DC elites have a different view of things entirely. We, the People are just in the way. It is our own tit-sucking fault, they say, and we need to step up and sacrifice because we are not doing enough to help the people who really deserve it: the producers, the “job creators.”
Did you catch the rhetorical trick I used above? I said “our” people, and “our” government. How quaint. You don’t hear that kind of talk much anymore. Instead you hear about “personal responsibility,” which makes everything that is done to someone by the wealthy and powerful their own fault.
This Is About Democracy vs. Corporatist Plutocracy
These battles over cutting Social Security and extending tax cuts for the wealthy expose the competing worldviews of We, the People democracy vs corporatist plutocracy. Is our country a community of the people, by the people and for the people? Or are we “the help,” only here for the benefit of the wealthy few.
In the democracy worldview we are a community that takes care of and watches out for each other. We are each citizens with equal rights and equal value, to be respected equally. Our government and economy are supposed to be for us. In the democracy worldview we should be increasing Social Security’s benefits because people really need it.
In the plutocratic worldview held by conservatives and corporatist moderates we are “the help,” 310 million loafers (“parasites” is the Randian word) sucking their ” unearned sustenance” (more Rand) from the tits of the milk cow when we all ought to be working harder because the portfolios of the “achievers” (and more) are down a bit. Your value to society is only what you “produce.” Your role otherwise is to “consume.” In that worldview the wealthy deserve tax cuts and the parasites shouldn’t be getting Social Security checks at all.
So what is it going to be? Will we see and understand ourselves as citizens, who share this country on an equal basis with the rich and the poor, with rights and entitlements, deserving dignity, respect, protection and empowerment from a government that is of, be and for We, the People? Will we demand those things and fight for them? Or will we quietly yield those hard-won rights to our “betters” and allow ourselves to be told what to do, fleeced by giant corporations, hoping to get a flat-screen TV out of the deal if we behave?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Conservatives like to say that taxes are theft. In fact it is tax cuts that are theft because they break a long-standing contract.
The American Social Contract: We, the People built our democracy and the empowerment and protections it bestows. We built the infrastructure, schools and all of the public structures, laws, courts, monetary system, etc. that enable enterprise to prosper. That prosperity is the bounty of our democracy and by contract it is supposed to be shared and reinvested. That is the contract. Our system enables some people to become wealthy but all of us are supposed to benefit from this system. Why else would We, the People have set up this system, if not for the benefit of We, the People?
The American Social Contract is supposed to work like this:
A beneficial cycle: We invest in infrastructure and public structures that create the conditions for enterprise to form and prosper. We prepare the ground for business to thrive. When enterprise prospers we share the bounty, with good wages and benefits for the people who work in the businesses and taxes that provide for the general welfare and for reinvestment in the infrastructure and public structures that keep the system going.
We fought hard to develop this system and it worked for us. We, the People fought and built our government to empower and protect us providing social services for the general welfare. We, through our government built up infrastructure and public structures like courts, laws, schools, roads, bridges. That investment creates the conditions that enable commerce to prosper – the bounty of democracy. In return we ask those who benefit most from the enterprise we enabled to share the return on our investment with all of us – through good wages, benefits and taxes.
But the “Reagan Revolution” broke the contract. Since Reagan the system is working like this:
Since the Reagan Revolution with its tax cuts for the rich, its anti-government policies, and its deregulation of the big corporations ourdemocracy is increasingly defunded (and that was the plan), infrastructure is crumbling, our schools are falling behind, factories and supply chains are being dismantled, those still at work are working longer hours for fewer benefits and falling wages, our pensions are gone, wealth and income are increasing concentrating at the very top, our country is declining.
This is the Reagan Revolution home to roost: the social contract is broken. Instead of providing good wages and benefits and paying taxes to provide for the general welfare and reinvestment in infrastructure and public structures, the bounty of our democracy is being diverted to a wealthy few.
We, the People built this country’s prosperity and this built wealth. We reinvested that wealth, building the world’s most competitive economy. Now a few people are gaming the system and breaking the formula, taking for themselves vast riches, leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess.
We must recognize and understand these tax cuts for what they are. They are a broken contract. These tax cuts for the wealthy are theft. And we must recognize the Reagan Revolution for what it has cost us. Our democracy has been corrupted and our political system has been captured. A wealthy few are taking all of the benefits of our efforts for themselves. The lack of investment in infrastructure, courts, schools and other public structures is making our country less competitive in the world. The Reagan Revolution is stealing our future.
Other posts in the Reagan Revolution Home To Roost series:
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost — In Charts
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: Ameri
ca Drowning In Debt
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling
Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation
People want the President to exert leadership to turn things around.
The oil leak. Unemployment. Credit card scams. Foreclosures. Predatory corporations. Environmental destruction. Global warming. Roads and bridges crumbling. Incomes stagnant. Schools getting worse. Companies moving overseas. Problem after problem.
People want to know, “Why doesn’t the government push BP aside and take over?” The answer is, “Government doesn’t have the resources to stop it.”
People want to know why the government can’t do more to help unemployed people, help with health care, help provide good educations, help with college, maintain the infrastructure, and all the other things that government does.
The answer, these days, is always, “Government doesn’t have the resources.” And that, in a nutshell, was exactly the plan.
We, the People no longer have the resources to solve our problems. We now must depend on and defer to the corporations and the wealthy few to make the important decisions and get things done instead of being able to decide and do on our own.
This is the legacy of 30 years of conservatism. They called it “starving the beast.” Reagan called it “cutting their allowance.” President Bush, told that his policies had turned the country back to massive deficits, said this was, “Incredibly positive news” because it will create “a fiscal straitjacket for Congress.” He came into office with a $236 billion surplus. His last budget left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit. “Incredibly positive news.”
They disemboweled the regulatory agencies. They “privatized” government functions and resources, letting a well-connected few profit at the expense of the rest of us.
The Reagan deficit plan was right there for everyone to see:
And here we are. Every time you hear someone say that we have to fight the deficit instead of getting things done that We, the People need done you are witnessing The Plan in action.
And now, government doesn’t have the resources to stop it.