Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wall Street Should Reconsider Its Allies

By now it should be clear that Wall Street money was behind the rise of the Tea Party, a loose ragtag collection that felt empowered enough to attend rallies and hold misspelled signs as they vented and raged. Call them Wall Street's shock troops. It was a deft move; convince the middle class, at least enough of it- the white, disaffected, conservative, Republican-voting, mostly Southern portion, to howl against President Obama and how his radical Marxism was going to destroy the economy. But by all means ignore what Wall Street banks had been doing to the economy and how relentlessly wealth trickled upwards--out of the middle class communities, including those in reliably Republican Red states, and into the hands of banks and the investor class. That the investor class has been able to shield huge amounts of money from taxation, often sending it abroad where it did no good for the middle class communities that once held it, and how this is the primary driver of government debt; its all several dots that teabaggers refuse to connect.

Wall Street appears to be reassessing its strategy. It was never the investor class's intention that a right-wing, pseudo-populist Tea Party would actually win more than a token few seats in Congress. The intention was to deflect government from doing anything to rein in Wall Street's gravy train and to make sure rank and file Republican voters didn't start caring that Wall Street is corrupt and reckless. A couple more dots not connected.

Instead, we are now witnessing, once again, what happens when right-wing extremists, the perpetually-aggrieved sons of the South, actively undermine that which they cannot control. The South with its deeply undemocratic instincts on full display, has proven to us once again that this country has never truly been a united states.

Wall Street may have seriously misjudged Southern animosity towards government, the one that feeds and protects the investor class, but it also misjudged Barack Obama. The instinctive reaction to Democratic presidents, one that is seriously at odds with reality, and one that even the moneyed class makes, is that they are bad for business: They raise taxes and impose regulations. And everyone knows that doing that slows growth and kills jobs. "You can't tax your way to prosperity." "Government just gets in the way." The bromides are endless.

Sorting out whether such boiler-plate corporate talking points are actually true will have to wait for another post (Actually, the data is compelling: Wall Street is a blight on the US and Democrats have a better record on growth, job creation, and the budget). The point here is that corporate America, and especially Wall Street, have much for which to be thankful. In a more just and equitable world, one that believes that equal application of the law is not a mere slogan, many bankers and traders would be doing hard time and not printing their own "get-out-of-for-free" cards.

But prison terms and inadequate legal representation are for the poor and working class. White shoe lawyers, fines, and no admission of guilt are the quite acceptable cost of doing business for the wealthy. This is an arrangement that Obama need not have tolerated, but he did. And the re-imposition of regulations proven to be highly effective in the past, the ones that brought us decades of banking stability? Obama didn't go there either, to the utter dismay of many banking experts.

I don't expect teabaggers to figure it out, but Wall Street should know that energy production in the US has increased dramatically since Obama took office. Remember how Republicans told America that Obama would cave to environmentalists and implement job-killing energy legislation, all because of that hoax called global warming? How we would have $10/gal gasoline, and how it was all part of his socialist plan? The reality is this: "US oil output hit its highest level in 20 years in July in a power shift with big geopolitical consequences." And this: "U.S. To Become World's Largest Oil Producer, Overtaking Russia."

Wall Street knows this and benefits from it. Instead, it feared that Obama would raise their taxes to a level that still would have been lower than that under Reagan, implement sensible regulations that had been in place under Reagan, and, I don't know, uphold the law.

So right wing operatives, financed by Wall Street and others, told a gullible and poorly-informed America that Barack Obama was radically anti-business and therefore anti-American. Two easy marks: Teabaggers, who are predictable prey to fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And President Obama himself, who should have done more to put an end to Wall Street's plunder. If Wall Street were more honest, and if teabaggers were more educated, they would realize Barack Obama has governed like a moderate Republican. 

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