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Live Chat: Robert Scheer on the Election
Posted on Nov 4, 2010
Anderson: OK. On that note, we’ll shift to a question from Andre, who says: Hey, Bob. Big fan. I would love to know if you think Obama’s actions and moderate Republican policies are part of a strategy to facilitate re-election in 2012.
Scheer: Well, obviously, it’s a strategy. It’s an opportunistic strategy. It won’t work. First of all, he is not a moderate Republican. We are insulting moderate Republicans when we say that. I mean, moderate Republicans believe in doing something to help the economy long-term. Even Nelson Rockefeller was a moderate Republican, and a rich guy, and he would have understood you’ve got to do something to help people stay in their homes. You’ve got to bring some relief to the people suffering out there, because if you don’t solve the housing problem, you don’t get consumption back and you don’t get jobs back. And this administration has been totally indifferent to the needs of people being forced out of their homes.
The Washington Post poll on the Monday before the election—the Washington Post poll said 53 percent of Americans are worried about being able to make their mortgage payment next month or their rent payment. Fifty-three percent of Americans wonder about whether they’re going to be able to make next month’s mortgage payment or rent payment, and you don’t understand we have a crisis? And over 50 percent of the people polled by the Washington Post said they want a moratorium on foreclosures, and this president says no, he can’t do it, because geniuses like Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers who created this mess when they were working for Clinton now tell us it would spook Wall Street? And we’re supposed to be grateful that these idiots that almost got us into the Great Depression now tell us they’ve saved us from the Great Depression, so all is forgiven? Is this like somebody who keeps pounding you over the head and then he only pounds you every few minutes and you’re grateful? I mean, this is nuts!
And, you know, I have no sympathy at all for this view that … first of all, I don’t think it’s going to help him get re-elected. I think it’s a shovel in this election, but it’s an absolutely disastrous course. You can’t fool the American people. They know when they’re hurting, they know when there aren’t jobs there. They know when the economy stinks, and it does—it’s in the toilet. And this guy acts as if everything’s hunky dory. And let me tell you, there’s a real problem in this country, because the people who comment—the pundits, the politicians, the people in power—they’re all doing well. Even tenured professors, you know, people who have worked for the big government bureaucracy—they can call themselves liberals and Democrats—they’re not feeling this pain. There may be members of their family feeling this pain, you know, but they’re not feeling it. They can pay their bills. But for a very large number of Americans, I would argue a majority of Americans, they are hurting. Their unemployment checks are going to run out, they don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills, the jobs are not coming back. And the ones who have jobs, many of them, are working way below their skill set.
You know, we’ve had this terrific series by Howie Stier—great writer—on the lost generation, people losing their jobs and not being able to get them back. And we’re talking about people who work in high-skilled jobs, in the movie industry and everything else, not being able to get it. So we’ve got a lot of pain out there. And the problem is that most of the people commenting on it are not feeling the pain. And I would recommend reading those stories that Howie did. I mean, they really are compelling—the kind of people showing up at food banks and … that are suffering. And you know, we always want to think it’s the “other,” it’s the losers, it’s the people who signed the wrong mortgages, it’s the people who didn’t really want to work—that’s garbage. Everyone who owns a house is hurting. Everyone. Because it doesn’t matter whether you have your house totally paid for. It doesn’t matter whether you made every single payment. The fact is, the value of your home, which is probably your nest egg, probably the basis of your retirement, has gone down drastically.
You know, you can tell, just driving here in a very prosperous area of Los Angeles, you see one “for sale” sign after another. You go to Riverside, Calif., go to the south of Florida, places that I’ve been, you go to the whole state of Arizona, and Nevada, and you’ll see this disaster. And those people, when they feel poor, they don’t buy. And when they don’t buy, jobs aren’t created, and that’s the problem we have. And the Fed keeps going deeper and deeper into debt. I mean, my goodness. And one day you say OK, we’re going to buy $600 billion more of treasuries, and then you wonder why the debt goes up? And, you know, there’s no attention to the heart of the problem, which is the people who got swindled by the banks into loan contracts they couldn’t understand, couldn’t afford, should never have made in the first place. And it was because of the securitization of mortgage debt allowed by Clinton, and this guy is still bouncing around merrily like he’s a wonderful character and has no responsibility and is even popular? Why, ’cause he has a good smile? Well, a good smile, as Barack Obama has learned, has not cut it in the long run.
Anderson: We are full of energy on this Thursday morning.
Scheer: We are. I’m really upset. This election really bothers me, because first of all, most of my progressive friends are angry with the tea party. I’m not angry with the tea party. The tea party tapped into a very legitimate rage. As I said in my column, what, are you going to blame these people? Yeah, sure, some of them are exploiting it; some of them are not well intentioned, some of the funding is suspect. But the fact is they’ve tapped into this rage out there, a justifiable rage, in a way that the so-called progressives have not. And so I’m angry with my own fellow progressives and liberals. I think we’ve missed the boat on this. And I do think what the tea party represents ultimately is quite dangerous. You end up blaming the immigrants, you end up blaming poor people trying to stay in their homes, you end up blaming foreigners. And we see the prescription when a society fails. And if we go into another recession or a deeper recession double dip, if we have 10 years of stagnation, as many people are expecting … I think the expectations in this country are very high, and if people are hurting for that period of time, they’ll turn to extreme right-wing solutions which can be very, very dangerous to our society.
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