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Dennis Kucinich on the Democrats’ Bailout Betrayal
Posted on Oct 5, 2008
By Chris Hedges
The passing of the $850-billion bailout pulled the plug on the New Deal. The Great Society is now gasping for air, mortally wounded, coughing up blood. It will not recover. It was murdered by the Democratic Party.
We are on our own. And don’t expect any help from Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who lobbied hard for the bill and voted for it. Ignore their rhetoric. Look coldly at the ballots they cast against us. We, as citizens, have only a handful of representatives left in Washington, most of whom were left sputtering in rage and frustration on the House floor. The sad irony is that some of them were Republican.
“This was the largest single act of class warfare in the modern history of this country,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who led the fight in the House against the bailout, told me by phone from Cleveland. “It is a direct attack on the American people’s ability to be able to stabilize their homes and their neighborhoods. This single vote will define the careers of everyone. We are back to taxation without representation, to markets that are openly rigged.”
“We buried the New Deal,” he said of the vote. “Instead of Democrats going back to classic New Deal economics where we prime the pump of the economy and start money circulating among the population through saving homes, creating jobs and building a new infrastructure, our leaders chose to accelerate the wealth of the nation upwards. They did so in a way that was destructive of free-market principles. They ripped away all the familiar moorings. We are in an uncharted sea where the traditional roles of the political parties are being switched. The Democrats have unfortunately become so enamored and beholden to Wall Street that we are not functioning to defend the economic interest of the broad base of the American people. It was up to the Republicans to protect not just a so-called free market but the American taxpayer and attempt to block this. This is an outrage. This was democracy’s Black Friday.”
Obama arrived on the Senate floor Brutus-like to thrust a knife into the back of the working and middle class. He lobbied hard for the bill. He did so, according to some who met with him on Capitol Hill, because he feared that if he opposed the bailout and it triggered a market collapse it could cost him the election. Better to placate the thieves on Wall Street than stand up for the masses of enraged and swindled citizens.
Obama’s betrayal is the betrayal of the Democratic Party. The Democrats gave us the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, which ripped down the firewalls that were put in place by the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. The 1933 act, designed to prevent the kind of meltdown we are now experiencing, established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). It set in place banking reforms to stop speculators from hijacking the financial system. With Glass-Steagall demolished, and the passage of NAFTA, the Democrats, led by Bill Clinton, tumbled gleefully into bed with corporations and Wall Street speculators. They achieved fundraising parity with the Republicans. They used institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a welfare gravy train. The Democrats, including Obama, are as compromised as the Republicans.
Obama’s voting record in the Senate is in line with the corrupt Democratic mainstream, including Biden, who works on behalf of corporations and especially the credit card industry. Obama knows where power lies in the United States. It is not with the citizens, who with ratios of 100 to 1 pleaded with their representatives in Washington not to loot the national treasury to bail out Wall Street investment firms. Power lies with the corporations. These corporations, not us, pick who runs for president. You cannot be a candidate without their blessing and money. These corporations, including the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private corporation, determine who gets to speak and what issues candidates can or cannot challenge, from universal, not-for-profit, single-payer health care to Wall Street bailouts to NAFTA. If you do not follow the corporate script you become as marginal and invisible as Ralph Nader or Bob Barr or Cynthia McKinney.
Obama has always served his corporate masters. He opposed Rep. John Murtha’s call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and supported continued funding for the war. He voted in July 2005 to reauthorize the Patriot Act. He did not support an amendment that was part of a bankruptcy bill that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872, which allows mineral companies to rape federal land for profit. He did not back the single-payer health care bill HR 676, sponsored by Kucinich and John Conyers. He advocates the death penalty and nuclear power. He backed the class-action “reform” bill—the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA)—that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms, which make up Obama’s second-biggest single bloc of donors. CAFA would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits. Workers, under CAFA, would no longer have redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporations. CAFA moves these cases into corporate-friendly federal courts dominated by Republican judges.
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