Archive for wall street meltdown

Bernie Sanders: You can't fix the economy simply by shredding the safety net

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GOP it's not about you

What oh what would we Progressives do without Bernie Sanders? In today's Los Angeles Times, he wrote an op-ed laying out in very clear detail how to make wise choices about how to fix the economy.

Sanders, thankfully, is a member of a budget panel composed of Democratic, Republican and independent Senate and House members doing what they can, supposedly, to avoid another GOP government shutdown.

Senator Sanders explains how to move forward (as opposed to the same old backward, destructive GOP ideas), and how we managed to go from healthy surpluses to (unnecessary) deficits.

He reminds us that by the end of President Clinton's presidency, we had a a $236-billion surplus, and that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted a 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion, meaning we could have erased the national debt by 2011.

Too bad Republicans screwed that up.

And of course, they're blaming President Obama for the horrible outcomes of their horrible policies and horrible obstruction. Here's how it really went down:

  • GW Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq wars were not paid for.
  • Those wars cost us up to $6 trillion.
  • Those wars were put on our national credit card.
  • Bush signed Congress's costly prescription drug bill.
  • That costly prescription drug program was not paid for either.
  • Bush and Congress gave big fat tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations.
  • As a result, revenue went down.
  • The 2008 recession, caused by the deregulation of Wall Street, also caused revenue to drop.
  • Big fat surpluses turned into big fat deficits.

tadaa3Now gather 'round kiddies, because it's Hypocrisy Time!

Yay

Interestingly, today's "deficit hawks" in Congress — Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and other conservative Republicans — voted for those measures that drove up deficits. Now that they're worried about deficits again, they want to dismantle virtually every social program designed to protect working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor.

In other words, it's OK to spend trillions on a war we should never have waged in Iraq and to provide huge tax breaks for billionaires and multinational corporations.

booo

Sanders goes on to say that austerity doesn't work, because it clearly hurts those who are already suffering.

Instead of talking about cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must end the absurdity of corporations not paying a nickel in federal income taxes. [...]

At a time when we now spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we can make judicious cuts in our armed forces without compromising our military capability.

He also thinks it would be a swell idea if Congress members started, you know, listening to the American people, especially because so many polls show that we don't want cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, according to a recent National Journal poll, 81% do not want to cut Medicare at all, 76% do not want to cut Social Security at all, and 60% do not want to cut Medicaid at all. Other polls make it clear that Americans believe that the wealthiest among us and large corporations must pay their fair share in taxes.

So, Republicans (and even some Dems), how about paying more attention to us, the voters, instead of trying to grab it all for yourselves? It's not about you. It's about all of us. It's about We the People.

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Financing the Destruction of Planet Earth Are the Same Banks That Cratered Our Economy

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climate change if were bank would have been saved

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

[T]he same banks that nearly turned America into an economic dust bowl in 2008 are the ones financing the earth-destroying companies that promote toxic climate change like heroin to junkies. [...]

[Rev. Billy] Talen is hopeful that awareness is spreading that the banks too big to fail are failing our planet:

Everyone in the precinct house wanted an explanation of our action. When we said that Chase was financing climate disruption  --  the cops agreed! The thing is... we believe that employees inside the big banks also know this. Most Americans know that the biosphere is dying by human violence, whether it is chemicals, bulldozer blades, or outright population growth. We are all behind this great structure that we cannot surmount; this corporate wall. But we know that the Earth crisis is a kind of cry. The Earth cries out to us -- or through us....We are The Earth's cry as we shout in the banks that finance all that death.

The good reverend of the "church of stop shopping" has a distinct point: "shouting inside a bank about its climate-killing investments is a good thing."

Please read the entire post here.

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VIDEO: David Gregory changes subject to save guest from Barney Frank's question on wealthy bankers' huge salaries

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Happy fifth anniversary of the Wall Street Meltdown! Weeee! Could a financial crisis happen again? You bet.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Meet the Press host David Gregory came to the rescue of his own personal NBC damsel in distress, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo, who thinks Americans need to come down with collective amnesia and get past all the silly little antics of Wall Street.

Never mind the pain and suffering, the poverty, the GOP cutting programs that would keep people alive who can barely make ends meet and who were cut off at the wallet by those poor, put-upon Big Banks.

Instead, Gregory's priority was to swoop in and end the awkward silence and nervous giggling that followed Barney Frank's question, "Why are bankers paying themselves so much money?" The panelists who are oh so into Wall Street were suddenly oh so silent:

Maria Bartiromo: We need to get beyond the conversation of, Is Wall Street evil?" Are the bankers evil and causing pain? And toward the conversation of, how do you create sustainable economic growth? That will answer the issue of inequality. Because with growth comes jobs. [...]

Barney Frank: I do want to add one thing, though, to your question about those poor beleaguered bankers who have been forced to do so much to keep from not being able to pay their debts they can’t lend money. If they really are running businesses that are so stressed that they can’t do their basic work, why are they paying themselves so much money? Where did these enormous salaries come from if they were in fact in such serious trouble?

pregnant pause

Maria Bartiromo: (laughing) Thank you for giving me that one. Okay.

David Gregory: But your point is to get beyond — to get beyond some of the resentment of the bankers and get to a place where we actually have more hiring going on, more investment going on and Washington plays a more constructive role beyond whether it was the bailout of the banks which changed our politics.

Think Progress:

(Nevermind that the deregulation of the financial sector is a primary driver of inequality in the U.S.) [...]

It would have been interesting to hear Bartiromo’s response had Gregory not intervened to prevent anyone answering Frank’s question. Wall Street executive pay seems difficult to defend five years on from the crisis. It isn’t just that banker bonuses and bank profits have returned to or even surpassed pre-crisis highs. It’s that a third of the highest-paid executives of the past 20 years have been failures or frauds. It’s that companies routinely manipulate performance-based compensation schemes to effectively guarantee executive payouts. It’s that taxpayers subsidize payments in the form of stock, which also give executives incentive to the sorts of fraud and risk-taking that created the financial crisis.

Here is the entire segment:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Could a financial crisis happen again? You bet.

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banghead gif

Michael Hiltzik has yet another splendid column in today's Los Angeles Times. This one asks the question, "Could a financial crisis happen again?" His answer: "You bet."

Hiltzik, as he is wont to do, goes into some detail to support his case, so it's well worth reading the entire piece, but a few key points stood out. One is his reminder that no high-level executive of any major bank has faced trial, and most of them are still filthy rich. To rub salt into that wound, "no top executive of Bank of America, Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros., Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo or JPMorgan has even been sued personally by the Securities and Exchange Commission."

Depressed yet? Angry yet? Banging your head against that nearby wall yet? Allow me to exacerbate your pain. Hiltzik recaps the Barclays tale of how that British-based bank paid a $450,000,000 price for manipulating interest rates for borrowers and is looking at a similar fine for rigging California's electricity market. However:

[Barclays] seems to have no trouble getting in the door of the Fed. How would you feel if your local D.A. took meetings with convicted felons to get their thoughts on how our tough criminal laws should be eased up? That's not far from what the Fed and Barclays are up to.

Feeling more secure? Me neither. Think things have changed? Me neither. Think Big Banks have watered down what should have been strict rules and are taking advantage of loopholes that benefit their bottom line at our expense? Hey, me too!

The banks today still fight regulation by claiming that tying their hands will hobble economic growth. This is one of those balancing tests where all the weights seem to have been piled on one side. What's left off is the cost of inaction.

[Per economists], the Great Recession cost the U.S. as much as $14 trillion in economic output, or up to $120,000 for every household in the country. That comes to a lot more than the cost of keeping a few bankers from collecting their bonuses through risky, manipulative financial deals.

The targets of regulation always squeal that trampling on their freedom of action will have economic costs. But the reality is that the cost of lax regulation is always higher than the cost of making a system safe. The U.S. understood that reality in the Thirties. What keeps us from understanding it now?

That wall you head is looking for is to your left. Bang away.

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