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Op-ed: Time for a Taxpayer’s Revolt

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Mon, Sep 29, 2008

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From the Indypendent, Sept. 28:

Time for a Taxpayers Revolt

By Medea Benjamin and Arun Gupta
September 28, 2008 | Posted in IndyBlog , National | Email this article

Congress will be voting this week on the biggest give-away of our tax dollars to the financial sector in our nation’s history. Despite attempts by legislators to portray this as a compromise bill that helps both Wall St. and Main St., in reality it represents an appalling transfer of wealth upward.

While there’s a distinct possibility the plan will pass this week, we should oppose it both before and after it passes. Jobs with Justice is calling for a national day of action against the bailout this Wednesday, Oct. 1. In conjunction with this, we are calling for actions against Congress on the same day. Building on the wave of protests against the Wall Street bailout last week, we must put Congress on notice that they pass this bill at their own risk. With just weeks left until the election, it’s the perfect chance to tell them they’ll be facing a taxpayer revolt if they vote for the bailout.

Look for the closest office of your Congressperson or Senator. Organize your family, friends, group, whomever to do a picket, hand out literature, flood the office with phone calls – whatever. The imperative is to act now. (For more information on alternative economic plans, organizing strategy and protests near you or how to announce your own, go to bailoutmainstreet.com.)

Despite talk of a crisis being averted, many are skeptical as to whether the bailout will even restore confidence – and credit – to the banking system. As one report notes, “Doubts remain as to how it could immediately thaw the frozen money and credit market.”

Even if the bailout somehow unclogs the banking sector, few economists think it will jumpstart the consumer credit machine. For one, over-leveraged, money-strapped banks will eagerly dump near-worthless securities on taxpayers for cash to bulk up their reserves. Plus, with working hours and wages declining, unemployment, home foreclosures and inflation surging, banks are in no mood to give consumers more credit, so consumption – and hence the economy – will continue to contract.

This is why the bill is a scam. For all the talk of transparency in the bailout, there has been zero transparency in the political process. We weren’t allowed to see any details of the bailout other than the government will go on a shopping binge of buying toxic mortgage-backed securities.
Our elected officials – who work for us – are trying to hide the fact that the fix is in. They are planning a shotgun wedding by slathering makeup on a rotting corpse, dumping it at the altar and hoping taxpayers don’t catch on before we’re trapped in a 30-year marriage to pay for this financial debacle.

The plan will be sold as fair to everyone and “the best deal” possible. Bullshit.

First, the cost is being minimized. The Wall Street Journal cheerily reports that in the worst-case scenario, the annual cost would be a measly $42 billion in interest and principal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122245659564179649.html

A new study of banking crises around the world, however, puts the average cost at 16 percent of a country’s gross domestic product, which would amount to more than $2 trillion here. That’s more than $10,000 of future income for every single adult in the United States. http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12305746

Everything else in the proposed bill is window dressing. Language in the draft states “The government can use its power … to help reduce the 2 million projected foreclosures in the next year.” That’s can, not will. Other measures for housing relief amount to tax breaks – so the banks get socialism, while the rest of us get to eat conservative orthodoxy.

Similarly, there are waffling words like “Meaningful judicial review of the Treasury Secretary’s action.” Does anyone believe that a Republican administration of the present or future would subject itself to “meaningful” review?

In terms of equity stakes, it’s limited to “opportunities” for ownership stakes and profit making in companies seeking a bailout. In all likelihood, this will amount to pennies of equity for each bailout dollar in a few companies.

And the provision to disburse the $700 billion in two installments is meaningless. Congress has just a 15-day window to vote to block the second payout, making it highly unlikely, and the next president can just veto the measure. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122260585791683335.html?mod=article-outset-box

The bill’s slogan is “Reinvest, Reimburse and Reform,” which echoes the New Deal’s rallying cry of “Relief, Reform and Reconstruction.” But deliberately eliminated is any relief and any rebuilding.

Is it any surprise that the Democratic leadership caved in on every proposal for direct aid to homeowners on the brink? And there was no attempt to push for the type of government intervention that could actually revive the economy: public works, national healthcare and alternative energy investments.

Provisions like limiting executive pay and cancelling golden parachutes are tossing out bones. Does it make any difference if some Wall Street billionaire can’t buy a new Gulf Stream jet or a new manor in Tuscany? What would make a difference is cancelling the Bush tax cuts, closing corporate tax loopholes, resurrecting the estate tax and ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The super-rich can pick up the tab for once.

The Democrats said a bill that addressed the needs of ordinary Americans instead of Wall St. investors was simply “not feasible.” Funny that the Republicans never think that way. A small minority of Republicans in the House nearly killed the bill because they maintained iron-willed ideological unity. Of course it’s too much to expect a spineless Democratic leadership to do the same.

That’s where we come in. The free markets are completely discredited, and it’s almost certain that other economic crises are lurking down the road. Paradoxically, this means there is significant political space to build a broad consensus for a 21st-Century New Deal that would stop spending our tax dollars on war and Wall Street, and instead help struggling homeowners and build affordable housing; fund job creating projects for clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure; and fund a universal health-care system that would help American families, while cutting the nation’s long-term healthcare costs.

It’s time to for a taxpayers revolt against this mind-boggling Wall St. bailout. It’s time to build a broad coalition to demand a 21st Century New Deal. This is our best, last hope.

Popularity: 55% [?]

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  • andy

    Bullshit that this is a transfer of wealth upwards. Your article is an appalling example of gimmie politics in the guise of populism, and is terrifyingly ignorant of just what is at stake. Given the uncertainty of the situation, it is both easy and glib to find examples of experts that have doubts about this. everyone has doubts about this, including Paulson. But you know, as much as I feel like Paulson is a wolf guarding the henhouse, I don’t believe he is an evil man and is certainly not an insane one. I am not one to trust or mistrust something that is vastly out of my realm of understanding. But I am willing to let experts and well-meaning people do SOMETHING.
    What is particularly galling is all this outrage about Wall Street practises while the fire is raging. The so called upward transfer of wealth has been going on for years. Where was your outrage then. Now is not the time for outrage. It is insanely counterproductive and grossly too late.

    All you do is serve to bring attention to your personal selves. At least members of Congress are valiantly trying to be selfless bout all this. Even after the vote Paulson has gone on record that there is “more work to be done”. Frankly, given his health I wouldn’t be surprised to see him die for this.

  • amejo amyot

    I want money to go from the bottom up.

  • http://www.libertysentinel.org Alex

    The problem isn’t free-markets, it’s the private Federal Reserve and its artificial manipulation of money and credit!

  • brisa

    We are witnessing the deflation of a bubble, caused by easy credit, relaxed lending standards and fraudulent international investment schemes gone bad. This bubble has given the illusion of economic growth while the real wages of most of consumers have remained stagnant.

    The analyses I have seen are missing the big picture. Growth in world oil production has remained static for the past three years. New sources being brought on line are barely keeping up with depletion of the world’s “elephant fields” which provide a large percentage of world production. Net world oil exports have actually decreased over the same period. It matters not how much “technically recoverable oil” is in the ground, but how fast it can be brought to market and at what cost both in dollars and energy required for recovery.

    An economic system, financial industry and fiat currency that are based on unlimited and perpetual economic growth will collapse without a concomitant perpetual growth in energy supplies. Keynsian economic theory becomes unworkable in the face of energy depletion. The world is approaching that brick wall and Wall Street is waking up to some of the consequences this new reality will bring.

  • Bob

    END THE FED!!
    (Educate yourselves about this disgrace.)

    VOTE RON PAUL OR NOT AT ALL!!
    (write-in or absentee ballot)
    Thanks for your help, saving the Nation…………………

  • nobodysaysBOO

    andy andy are you paulsons mother or lover?PLEEEEEEEEZE!stop these CROOKS from STEALING again,!

    The free markets are completely discredited, and it’s almost certain that other economic crises are lurking down the road. Paradoxically, this means there is significant political space to build a broad consensus for a 21st-Century New Deal that would stop spending our tax dollars on war and Wall Street, and instead help struggling homeowners and build affordable housing; fund job creating projects for clean energy and rebuilding our infrastructure; and fund a universal health-care system that would help American families, while cutting the nation’s long-term healthcare costs.

    It’s time to for a taxpayers revolt against this mind-boggling Wall St. bailout. It’s time to build a broad coalition to demand a 21st Century New Deal. This is our best, last hope.

    read this again andy and learn !Now go to your room!

  • Tommie Miller

    There is a strong conflict of interest everywhere, but especially with the entities that drew up this ‘plan of salvation’. I would welcome a non-partisan committee randomly selected from a large group of economists and experts, both liberal and conservatives, who are less likely to have a major conflict of interest than those currently involved. We keep hearing about different view points from expert economists. Let them have their say.
    There is a lot of math behind this. What leaders often fail to understand is that there are some laws that cannot be changed and must be offered proper respect. The laws of physics do not care how well one lies, or how powerfully one bullies, nor how big one’s weapon system might be. It simply does its thing.

  • andy the political shill

    Andy at least you could pretend not to be working for the shelfish slobs that have destroyed this country……Any go ahead and expland Credit Default Swaps and tell us how good they are for all of us. This is an example of blackmail pure and simple. The banks have liquidity….What have they done with the 310 billion dollars they just borrowed from the Fed these past two weeks? This is hording and I for one would rather see the whole corrupt system fail then for these slobs to get their money.

  • dougie T

    Yes, we should also be focusing long-term on bringing attention to the need to abolish the Federal Reserve. There’s a great movie called “Zeitgeist” which neatly addresses this and other issues which will need to be changed before we can live in a more equitable, egalitarian society.

    We should also be communicating this message (from placards of the French unemployed who took to the streets in their millions in the 19902) to those wishing to maintain the status-quo: THOSE WHO SOW MISERY REAP RAGE.

  • admin

    Dear Tommie,
    Here is an endorsement of a “trickle-up” progressive bail out plan (since you asked…)

    http://www.alternet.org/workplace/100491/trickle-up:_what_a_progressive_bailout_would_look_like/?page=1

  • http://codepink4peace.org/blog/2008/09/give-paulson-a-pinkslip/ Give Paulson a Pinkslip | PINKtank

    [...] not just his fat-cat friends on Wall Street. Enough already! And in case you missed it- check out Medea’s post on a ‘taxpayer’s revolt’ from Sunday (originally posted on the [...]

  • Angela

    At 6:18 am Andy said: “What is particularly galling is all this outrage about Wall Street practises while the fire is raging. The so called upward transfer of wealth has been going on for years. Where was your outrage then. Now is not the time for outrage. It is insanely counterproductive and grossly too late.”
    I’M SORRY ANDY, BUT YOU ARE JUST NOT IN TUNE WITH REALITY. Working people have been discontented forever about the inequities, corruption and downright unfairness of our economic system. This most recent affront is THE LAST STRAW, that’s why you didn’t hear “outrage” expressed before. Have you ever seen the movie “Network”? The main character, a broadcast journalist, finally fed up with the so-called “news” they want him to read, goes on national TV saying “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!!!.” That’s how the American public now feels. We had to bail out the Savings and Loan, lose pensions with the Enron scandal, and sacrifice our sons and daughters, as well as billion of taxpayer dollars per month on a war in Iraq that was based on lies. People grumble and are discontented each time these atrocities happen, but at some point people’s anger reaches a point where they finally call their congress-person, or participate in a public protest, or write scathing letters to the editor. The public’s anger is long-overdue and justifiable. Paulson allegedly made over $500mil in his high finance job (before becoming Secretary). Why can’t he and the scores of others like him all kick in between $1mil and $1billion to this bailout. Then the problem would be solved by those who have benefited most from the profit system, understood its problems and shortcomings, and still did absolutely nothing to drastically change the system and avert this crisis

  • http://www.americanignorance.com Tatiana

    great article…i’ll comeback next Wednesday to read some more…chao ;)

  • Tara Murphy

    If frozen credit is the problem, why not make it mandatory for banks and financial institutions who are bailed out by the Taxpayer to ease credit and help keep the economy moving?

  • Markov

    andy said:
    “I am not one to trust or mistrust something that is vastly out of my realm of understanding. But I am willing to let experts and well-meaning people do SOMETHING.”

    Gee.. isn’t that an example of the
    ‘Cult of action for action’s sake’, one of umberto eco’s fourteen points of fascism? (http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html)
    Imagine that.

    I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, just do something.
    Awesome. This is how we always get pushed into these ever-larger blunders.

    Andy, if you love fascism so much, you can move to Columbia. We’re sick of it here. Dead sick of it. And I personally am ready to get on with that business written on Woody Guthrie’s guitar.

  • http://millison@aol.com Craig millison

    Fire Paulson before we loose our democracy. Have someone who America trust to bail out the system but not these crooks who have caused this situation. We elected a bunch of cowards who cow tail to the dam lobyiest, and only care about keeping their jobs, and the hell with our countries future.

    Rahph Nader was correct Ron Paul was correct hang your heads in shame traitors.

  • MEAGHAN SIMPSON

    Anyone who believes a behind closed doors quick fix is better than a prudent public thorough review and evaluations by the the world’s best critics and scholars who are not contaminated WA, DC lobbyists and insiders clearly insanely addicted to this corrupt systems crimnalities of liars, theives, and mob gangster monopoly monsters mad with greed and self-serving economic wars of the super rich causing poor people to get poorer and super rich people to get filthy stinking rich with blood of the people upon their hands as they cause pain and suffering and loss of life yes from such cruel cold insane monopoly games! NO SUPERFICIAL FIX THAT LEAVES THE BUSH RUSH ORDER FOR NOW 850 BILLION INTACT IS APPROPRIATE. IT IS DEAD WRONG TO PUT GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD AND FOOLISH AND INSANE. NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD TRUST THOSE WHO HAVE PROVEN THEMSELVES TO BE 1000% UNTRUSTWORTHY AND INCOMPETANT TO MANAGE FOR THE COMMON GOOD! WHO BELIEVES BUSH OR ANY OF HIS CRONIES KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT OUR COMMON GOOD? WE NEED TO DISENGAGE WITH THE FEDERAL RESERVE THAT IS NOT A NATIONAL ORGANIZATION BUT A SECRET MEMBERS ORGANIZATION OF INTERNATIONAL SUPER WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NOT TRANSPARENT OR HONEST AND HAVE BEEN SCREWING OVER USA DOLLAR EVER SINCE THEY WERE GRANTED POWER IN 1913. OUR DOLLAR HAS GONE FROM BASED UPON A GOLD STANDARD TO BASED ON A SILVER STANDARD TO BASED ON A MONOPOLY GAME MONEY STANDARD THAT HAS TORN OUR DOLLAR TO SHREDS. THIS CANNOT CONTINUE. ALLOWING THE SAME PEOPLE TO KEEP CONTROLING OUR MONEY IS NOT GOING TO MAKE ANYTHING ANY BETTER FOR CITIZENS. OUR CHILDREN DESERVE TO GROW UP WITH A FINANCIAL SYSTEM THAT THEY CAN UNDERSTAND AND LOVE. LET US GATHER OUR WITS AND HEARTS AND PERSIST TO REFORM AND REMAKE THESE CORRUPT SYSTEMS! LET’S BE RESPONSIBLE AND TAKE THIS REFORM TO THE CORE AND NOT BE SATISFIED WITH SOME LITTLE VAGUE MEANINGLESS CONCESSIONS TAGGED ON TO CONFUSE US INTO THINKING THESE FOOLS ARE REALLY INTERESTED IN EQUALITY OR FAIRNESS. WE THE PEOPLE HAVE THE COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE AND INDIVIDUALS CAPABLE OF SORTING THIS OUT AND REDESIGNING WHAT NEEDS TO BE REMADE. CAN WE GET WA, DC TO LISTEN TO TRUTH AND TURN THIS INTO AN EDUCATIONAL EVENT FOR MAJOR DEEP AND WIDE CLEAN-UP AND REFORM? SINCE THE VAST MAJORITY OF USA CITIZENS ARE OPPOSED TO THIS THEFT AND INSANELY IRRESPONSIBLE PROPOSAL. WA, DC IS NUMB WITH ADDICTIONS TO THESE FOOLS AND ARE TRYING VAGUE MEANINGLESS TOKEN OFFERINGS TO TAG ONTO A PROPOSAL THAT THEY SHOULD PUT IN THE TRASH CAN AND START OVER WITH ALOT OF PUBLIC INPUT. THERE ARE ALOT MORE BRIGHT MINDS OUTSIDE OF WA, DC CIRCLES THAN THERE ARE IN WA, DC! LISTEN UP! YOU ARE TRYING TO COMPLETELY KILL OUR DEMOCRACY BY BEING SO COWARDLY AS TO GO ALONG WITH A FAILING CREW.

  • http://www.shepherdsdream.com N.C. Crow

    I am very grateful to Medea and all the women and men working so hard in the various peace and justice groups in the world. Code Pink – keep those action alerts coming. They are so well communicated. The presentation is very professional. There is some real talent behind the organization we can all be thankful for.

    As for the conduct of our U.S. government. It’s appalling! I feel a sense of being “raped and abandoned” again and again. This bail out being the latest blatent example. I feel utter disgust and distrust of the Bush administration and a governing body that ends up going along with his bad ideas which are simply echos of the world money powers. The Power of Money is King and rules the show and Human kindness and respect and spiritual (not religious) values are stepped on every day all day by the need for this kind of power.

    But we all know this, so let’s come together in our own communities and in our virtual communities (like this blog) and get activated. Reading over these blog entries I felt a sense of power. Good ideas and passionate pleas. However, I think its important as we enter into passionate dialog that we always remember that we are ALL in this together and avoid personal attacking. It is not about nailing Andy to the cross or “sending him to his room”, it is about having a constructive dialog and I personall would like to be part of a dialog which involves diverse beliefs. What better way to progress but through understanding. One has to look at where a person’s survival is coming from. Whoever feeds us gets our allegiance, right? If we don’t like who’s feeding us begin to look for a different source of nourishment.

  • tek

    This has been going on for a veeery long time, its the old story of us versus THEM. They or ‘THEM’ KNEW that this was coming as far back as 2000, the CFR had meetings about the impending financial meltdown but only the Upper Elite have been told and they have already moved their assets out of harms way.

    http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2000/2729_cfr.html
    There is also more info on this on youtube.

    Are you Really Mad?
    Step 1. Nov 22nd End the Fed protests at 38 locations around the US. Every City that has a Mint will have a protest. Not near a mint, Find or Create a Local Protest, this is the 98th Anniversary of the Creation of the Federal Reserve System.

    Knowledge is nothing without Action.

    There is so much more going on here, everyone needs to “wake up” everyone they can, its time rise up.

    The Bankers run the world, but we can and MUST take it back.

    Really want to go down the Rabbit Hole?
    Search youtube for Zeitgeist, The Red Pill, End the Fed, Ring of Power, 911 mysteries -demolition explained, Jordan Maxwell, Ron Paul.

    I could go on forever.

    Read ‘Rules for Radicals’ and Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’.
    Why?
    Sometimes voting is not enough.
    Knowledge is nothing without Action.
    It is now time to Take from the Haves and empower the Have-Nots.

  • kayla starr

    This is the most opportune time to really change the direction of America. With 80% of the people strongly opposed to the bail out for billionaires, the majority wanting troops HOME now from Iraq, opposing military attacks on Iran, wanting more funding for health, housing, alternative energy, education. We must redirect our taxes to local projects to help our communities NOW.

  • http://sebrina.vox.com Tammie Billow

    Heya, very nice internet site. Thx for taking the time to write all these entertaining posts :-)

  • http://jarrett73arnold.bravejournal.com sammy tomkins

    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the web. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

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