Republican blackmail schemes endanger American prosperity

September 14, 2011 | By | Reply More

It has been said that the whole debacle surrounding the recent debt ceiling legislation was a “manufactured crisis.

Republicans have taken control of the US House of Representatives and effectively use their threat of filibuster to stymie any progressive legislation from passing the US Senate. Republicans picked the “debt ceiling crisis” as their latest and greatest fight to wrest blackmail from the country in the furtherance of The Republican War on Christmas. And see here.

Republicans have posited a series of ever more extremist and radical plans to restructure government under the guise of “fighting the deficit.”

But, Republicans have offered more of the same failed and fatally flawed economic polices of the Bush era with more and better tax breaks for corporations, millionaires and billionaires with the added twist of abolishing Medicare and gutting Social Security.  And see here, here and here.

Recent revelations by a high ranking Republican Budget Committee staffer confirms the Republicans’ blackmail as their chief strategy to preserve the privileges and incomes of the corporations, millionaires and billionaires to the economic damage of the rest of us Americans.

Anyone who has objectively looked at the political gridlock in Washington knows that the Republicans are more interested in winning in 2012 than solving the nation’s economic problems.

It wasn’t a Democratic leader who said; “Our number one job is to make sure Barack Obama is a one term president!” Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Senate Minority Leader, said that even before the session started last year.  And see here.

But, don’t take my word for it; someone has actually looked at the problem and found that Republicans are seven times more likely to dump on any Democratic proposals made by President Obama than any Democrat did to any Republican proposals made by President George W. Bush.

Across the board Republicans are holding Americans hostage to their sop the rich and screw the Middle Class and the poor policies. We saw it in Republicans’ fight to make sure the corporations, millionaires and billionaire hedge fund operators kept their Bush era tax breaks at the end of the session last year. Democrats were only able to get an extension of unemployment benefits, a payroll tax cut (which replaced a nearly $200 billion Middle Class tax cut contained in the Stimulus Bill and was allowed to expire!) and various small change for average Americans under the extended Bush tax cuts which were not directed to the Middle Class, as were the expiring cuts in the Stimulus Bill.

At the end of last session, Republicans also wanted to stop the ratification of the START Treaty which was set to expire at the end of 2010 and which the Russians has passed through their legislature and needed Senate approval to remain law and to protect Americans from nuclear dangers. Republicans first tried to claim the treaty was “fatally flawed” and needed more hearings than the more than 20 that had already occurred, then Senate Republicans said they didn’t want to consider the treaty because the US Senate “would disrespect Christmas” if the Senate session were held over part of the scheduled Senate Christmas recess for a START Treaty vote.

Five former Republican Secretaries of State urged passage of the new START Treaty in an op-ed sent to the Washington Post. The START Treaty was approved by a vote of 71-26. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Minority Leader, did not attend the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden. Apparently, making sure Mr. Obama was a “one term president” was more important that protecting all Americans from nuclear holocaust.

But, before its ratification, many of Republican hopefuls thought to be in the run to be president instead of Mr. Obama took their opportunities to oppose the ratification of the new START Treaty. Most prominent in opposing START was former Massachusetts Governor, Mitt Romney.

I guess amidst all GOP presidential candidates’ grasping for the mantle of the legacy of Ronald Reagan, they forgot it was President Reagan who actually began the whole idea of the Strategic Arms Reductions Talks which eventually led to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

After the financial crisis of 2008 which rocked the national and the world’s economies for the fun and profits of the bank and non-bank lending industries, Congress acted. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010. A centerpiece of Dodd-Frank was the creation of a Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) governed by an independent chair.

Now, we have another round of Republican blackmail in progress. 44 Republican Senators have written a letter to President Obama telling him;

“…we will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reformed.”

And see here. Basically, Republicans want to gut the CFPB by placing it at the mercy of the merry Banksters and their lobbyists by putting a Board over the Director of the CFPB, putting its budget at the mercy of the US House, and gutting the regulatory authority of the Director and the CFPB by placing its authority along side other regulators which have traditionally been more amenable to the influence of the banking and financial interests (of which the GOP is a wholly owned subsidiary!) and which failed to prevent the national and worldwide economic collapse in 2008.

The director of the CFPB may serve only one five-year term, no more. The director serves much as the Comptroller of the Currency serves for period of years and then is out. The five year term of the director is to keep political influence out of the director’s decision making. The independence of the director is also much like the Comptroller of the Currency, the job is too important to be left to the vagaries of politics.

The budget of the CFPB should be no less free to protect consumers than the “black ops” budget of the CIA is undisclosed so as to protect the agency from political influence, disclosure of sources and methods and the direction of investigations before reporting or taking other action. Given the terror reaked upon the US economy and the tacit capitulation of regulators to that terror in the financial crisis of 2008, the CFPB needs greater protection from and independence of politics to effectively do its job.

All of the Republicans protests about Dodd-Frank are lies.  The Republicans have absolutely, positively and completely without reservation no intention of allowing any independent regulation of the financial and banking industries in America. Heck, one Republican US House leader even admitted it.  US Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), now Chairman of the US House Financial Services Committee, said:

In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.

And see here. The Republicans’ hurtful political shenanigans are going on while the gap between the richest and poorest in America is at its largest ever and 46.3 million Americans are living in poverty-the largest number ever.

As long as there is no one to run the CFPB, no direct agency actions such as lawsuits or investigations may be taken to rein in the excesses which led to the financial collapse of 2008.  As long as there is no one to run the CFPB, no regulations to curtail abuses of the bank and non-bank lending communities which led the country and the world into the financial crisis of 2008 can be promulgated to protect consumers or the country from the same excesses which nearly destroyed the world economy.

Predatory, unfair and deceptive loan practices continue unpunished and unregulated as this piece is written. Maybe they’ll securitize the new round of loans, too?

Even businesses are being hurt as they cannot take action after the legislation was passed but, no regulations exist to guide them to avoid penalty.

The Senate needs to act immediately to confirm the appointment of a Chair for the CFPB, now! Average Americans are hurting as the Republicans delay regulatory reforms and consumer protections by needlessly and criminally delaying the confirmation of a CFPB Chair.  And see here.

President Obama has now proposed a Jobs Act to immediately put people back to work in states as first responders like firefighters, police officers and emergency responders. The bill is to be paid for in part by getting rid of subsidies to Big Oil which previously they gave sworn testimony to Congress that they did not need.  And see here.

President Obama has proposed a Jobs Act to immediately put people to work restoring our nation’s transportation and educational infrastructure. The bill is to be paid for in part by raising the top marginal rate for hedge fund operators’ incomes from the 15% long term capital gains rate to the 35% top marginal rate. The billionaire operators of hedge funds pay a substantially lower marginal tax rates than a burger flipper, waitress, police officer, secretary, teacher, firefighter or other average working person in America.

President Obama has proposed a Jobs Act to immediately put people back to work that would allow states and local governmental entities to hire teachers to reduce class sizes, improve education and our economic competitiveness in the 21st Century and beyond. The bill is to be paid for in part by getting rid of some tax breaks for corporations, millionaires and billionaires to operate multi-million dollar jets.  And see here.

The Jobs Act has a list of items to spur immediate employment and to benefit those suffering long term unemployment. The Jobs Act also continues and expands a payroll tax break for working people who was first passed at the end of the last session of Congress, tax credits for businesses which hire veterans and for small businesses which hire the long term unemployed and a summer jobs program.

There are no new budget cuts in the Jobs Act to pay for its provisions, only the elimination or reduction of corporate, millionaire and billionaire tax breaks.

I wonder if the Republicans will support working people and immediate jobs for Americans or just pull out their blackmail card on the Jobs Act like they have on every other legislation or policy that would benefit average Americans and make it “solely and exclusively about its rich contributors.”


Category: Corporatocracy, Politics

About the Author ()

imothy E. Hogan is a trial attorney, a husband, a father of two awesome children and a practicing Roman Catholic in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Hogan has done legal and political work in Jefferson City, Missouri for partisan and non-partisan social change, environmental and consumer protection groups. Mr. Hogan has also worked for consumer advocate Ralph Nader in Washington, DC and the members of the trial bar in the State of New York. Mr. Hogan’s current interests involve remaining a full time solo practitioner pioneer on the frontiers of justice in America, a good husband and a good father to his awesome children.

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