Dec 8, 2013
The Power Behind a Clean Energy Future
Posted on Jul 6, 2011
Peter Scheer: We’re joined now by Truthdig’s editor-in-chief and head honcho Robert Scheer, who wrote a column this week called “The Tea Party and Goldman Sachs: A Love Story.” Dad, welcome.
Robert Scheer: Hi, I’m sorry you had to bring me on—that was a really interesting show so far.
Peter Scheer: Well, if you want to hear the rest of it, go to Truthdig.com and we talk about how batteries are essential to the future of solar and wind energy.
So tell us about your column this week.
Peter Scheer: You were accused by, I forgot, was it Newsweek, or was it Time that said you had a conspiracy theory, you were a conspiracy theorist about Goldman Sachs, that you were fixated on them. And I wonder how you respond to that because you have another column criticizing Goldman Sachs.
Robert Scheer: Well, I didn’t invent Goldman Sachs. I mean the point is the power of Goldman Sachs is very obvious; you have the treasury secretary in the Bush administration and in the Clinton administration, both were top executives at Goldman Sachs. If you look at the Obama administration, Goldman Sachs veterans are all through the government. It’s not a question of conspiracy, but simply a matter of fact. In the literature it’s referred to as “government Sachs,” and it’s ironic that in the current situation where Goldman Sachs has the biggest lobbying force of Wall Street right now, and there’s an excellent Los Angeles Times story on that the other day that I referred to, that they are hooked up with the tea party basically trying to reverse the very limited regulatory reforms that the Obama administration got through last Congress, and they’re clawing back on it. And the irony here is that the main regulatory agency, a very small underfunded agency that should be controlling derivatives—there is a $600 trillion market in derivatives … it’s what’s destroying Greece, it’s destroying the world economy—is the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The guy who’s head of it, Gary Gensler, was a partner at Goldman Sachs. So it’s not conspiratorial, and that agency has held off on implementing these new regulations that Dodd-Frank require. We still haven’t gotten any new significant regulation of the banking industry, and so I think it would be difficult to exaggerate the power of Goldman Sachs. What I tried to call attention to in the column is that they are, and not just they but all the large banks and biggest corporations are in alliance with the tea party people, which represents a faux populism. People are hurting and instead of the finger pointing at the banks and corporations that caused all of this mischief with their shenanigans, we’re blaming, what, schoolteachers and their pension funds, or environmentalists who don’t want to have drilling and so forth. So it’s a typical demagogic trick, and the lobbyists for Goldman Sachs and the other banks know it well, they know how hypocritical it is, but they’re doing it.
Peter Scheer: You know E.J. Dionne has written in his columns that appear on Truthdig that the tea party isn’t a new thing, it’s just a rebranding of the white conservatives who’ve been around forever. Isn’t this just the same old thing of moneyed conservatives, or moneyed peoples playing on the anxieties and fears of less fortunate conservatives and, you know, that the Republican Party has used to its advantage for decades?
Robert Scheer: Yeah, but I think the sad thing is that there is a legitimate strain in the tea party view—I could see fear, libertarians who at least have a consistent position, let’s take a hard look at the Fed, let’s hold back big government, let’s see if the market could really work—but that’s not what the tea party is all about. The tea party now is clearly a pawn of Wall Street and the large corporations that are funding it, and groups like the Koch brothers and so forth. It’s a faux populism; they really aren’t going after whatever the sources of big government, you know? For instance, the defense industry, which is an incredible boondoggle; we don’t have a serious, sophisticated enemy anywhere in the world, and yet we’re spending high levels per capita, we spend more than the rest of the world combined on the military. Why? Because Boeing and Lockheed and all these people have tremendous lobbying force and they keep that military budget going. The same thing happened with the banking bailout—enormous amount of increase in debt as a result of not only bailing these people out, and it wasn’t just a direct TARP money, it was all of the interest money that the Fed made available to lending windows, allowing Goldman Sachs to become a bank and open for that, the whole [unintelligible] really of the economy and paying no attention to the mortgage crisis, that people are suffering. One of your earlier guests talked about the loss of wealth for most Americans, which was in their home, it was their retirement nest bag, it was the way they were going to maintain a decent life and so forth … that’s gone. The jobs that are coming back are not good jobs. So what you have is an enormously inflated, powerful government that serves big industry, and that’s just the reality of it, that’s not conspiratorial, that’s what the facts are. We have a recovery for Wall Street, and the largest corporations now, but not for the regular economy.
Peter Scheer: You hear a lot of people on radio and television and print talking about this debt ceiling logjam like it’s a potential for the end times, and yet I feel like regular people aren’t really paying that close attention to it. Why should people be concerned about that, or should they?
Robert Scheer: Well, they should, it’s a phony. First of all the power of the special interests is such—the big banks, the big corporations—they’re not going to allow this to happen. There’s too much at stake in having a stable dollar, a stable U.S … it’s a big business.
Peter Scheer: Well, what happens if they don’t extend the debt ceiling?
Robert Scheer: Well, they’ll stretch it out for months, they’ll find new sources, there will be compromise, there will be a short-term solution, the very thing that Obama rejected this week; he said no, we have to have, at least sustain it for two or three years. But I mean it’s not like just suddenly the clock rings and you’re broke: You find money in different pots, and that’s why they’ve been able to extend it actually for a few months past the deadline and there will be some temporary solution. I mean, clearly, if the Republicans block that they will be discredited way beyond what happened to [House Speaker] Newt Gingrich when he closed down the government [in the mid-1990s]. I mean, you’re finished, the Republican Party, for at least a decade if they really play that kind of hardball and prevent some kind of at least temporary solution; I mean if the U.S. economy is embarrassed in the eyes of the world, our commitments mean nothing, and our notes don’t stand for anything … that would be disastrous, but I don’t think vested interests in this country are going to allow that to happen.
Peter Scheer: Well, thanks so much, Dad, for enlightening us, and I hope to see you in the studio soon.
Robert Scheer: OK, bye.
Peter Scheer: OK, take care. That’s it for this week’s show. Find us next Wednesday at 2 p.m. on KPFK, or any time online at Truthdig.com, where you can hear an extended interview on batteries and clean energy. Thanks to our guests Sylvia Allegretto, Marshall Fitz and Seth Fletcher.
Thanks also to our board op Jee; engineer Stan Misraje and Alan Minsky. For Robert Scheer, Reese Erlich, Josh and Peter, thanks for listening.
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