by Stephen Lendman
(Editor’s note: You’ll see that author Mr. Lendman doesn’t like millionaires as you read. But if you ever doubted that DC is a one-party town, watch what happens over this “Bush tax cuts” issue. Rather than an up-down vote on this one issue, both parties in Congress will load up this bill with porky earmarks as extortion for votes. The sellout of America continues. The more spending bills DC enacts, the faster the economy will collapse, and the quicker Secession can proceed to once again regain liberty in North America.)
The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. On core issues, Democrats are no different from Republicans. Expect more bluster before caving like Obama, enacting his deal with the devil worth up to $1 trillion dollars. The lion’s share goes to corporations and America’s wealthy, middle and low income workers getting crumbs. The fix is in. It’ll happen, promoted as stimulus to create jobs and revive economic growth. Not so. More on that below.
Given the makeup of both Houses, their voting records aren’t surprising. Getting reelected counts most. Under a corrupted electoral system, generous funding is needed, but wealthy and corporate donors expect lavish favors in return. They get them and much more.
As a result, Congress capitulates on virtually everything big money wants. Expect it again. Besides more handouts, preserving their tax breaks are key. Most congressional members, in fact, want their own kept. Otherwise, they’ll face big increases they don’t want and can avoid by benefiting from what they give millionaires, their own class. Read on.
Both the House and Senate are infested with millionaires. For some, their net worth exceeds $100 million. House examples include:
— Rep. Darrell Issa (R. CA), his maximum net worth estimated at $451 million;
— Rep. Jane Harman (D. CA), hers is $435 million;
— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D. CA) up to $124 million; and
— Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D. CT), the House’s 25th richest member with nearly $27 million.
Senate ones include:
— John Kerry (D. MA) – heir through his wife to the HJ Heinz fortune; among their possessions, they own five homes with values well over $1 million each, the most expensive worth more than $9 million; he can afford them with a maximum net worth of $295 million;
— Mark Warner (D. VA), his at $283 million;
— Herb Kohl (D. WI), up to $231 million;
— Jay Rockefeller (D. WVA) at $136 million;
— Diane Feinstein (D. CA) $108 million;
— Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R. KY) a meager $33 million; and
— the Senate’s 25th richest member – Ron Wyden (D-OR) a paltry $7 million.
No wonder the body is called a millionaires club. In fact, a multimillionaire’s one, hardly anyone not rich gets in.
On November 25, 2009, The New York Times Economix section headlined, “Your Senator Is (Probably) a Millionaire,” saying:
In 2008, about “two-thirds of United States senators were millionaires,” according to a Center for Responsive Politics (Open Secrets.org) analysis. In 2009, over half of House and Senate members reported net worth wealth at more than $1 million, 55 $10 million or more, and eight over $100 million.
In 2009, the median net worth of House members was $765,010, up from $645,503 in 2008. In the Senate, it was $2.38 million, compared to $2.27 million the previous year.
Most have considerable wealth. They want it preserved and increased, including by paying no more taxes than necessary, and in some cases, less if they can get away with it. One of Rep. Charles Rangel’s transgressions was not reporting rental income from a Dominican Republic vacation property as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income and assets on his financial disclosure statements. Perhaps also to the IRS, thinking he was too important to audit.
Open Secrets estimates Obama’s 2009 net worth at up to $7.7 million. Expect that figure to grow substantially, especially after leaving office. Estimates put Bill Clinton’s wealth at $200 million, his wife Hillary another $35 million. Who said public service doesn’t pay well?
Obama’s Full Court Press for Passage
Calling Obama an embattled president, Washington Post writer Dan Balz headlined, “Bill Clinton takes the White House stage, again,” saying:
To sell his tax deal, he got center stage, first together, “then solo in the White House briefing room, as Obama slipped away to a holiday party.” On a Friday afternoon, it “was certainly a head-turner,” Clinton “look(ing) like he might never leave, as he fielded questions” from an eager press corp.
“The agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs and to minimize the chance that it will slip back.”
Prodding Democrats, he urging setting aside disagreements for the sake of the country and economy. Save your fights for later, he said, when Republicans try repealing other legislation they oppose.
On December 10, it was all Clinton, “still the center of attention and doing what he likes to do best,” trying to get Obama’s deal passed.
The Wall Street Journal was nonplussed, an editorial headlined, “Clinton and Obama for Bush,” saying:
“We thought we’d seen everything in politics, but yesterday was truly miraculous: There in the White House press room was none other than former Democratic President Bill Clinton (with Obama) endors(ing) the Bush era tax cuts, trying to mobilize reluctant Democrats and the party’s base for support.
On December 11, Wall Street Journal writer Jonathan Weisman called it “back to the future in the West Wing,” the “original practictioner of ‘triangulation.’ ” He called it compromise, saying “People do not see principled compromise as weakness. (It’s) an ethical thing to do.”
In fact, it’s a sellout. He won’t say it, nor Obama or supportive Democrats, even Bernie Sanders for eight hours on the Senate floor, performing rhetorically at best. Real filibusters don’t quit without succeeding. According to Senate historian Donald Ritchie, they occur “to prevent the majority from casting a vote.” Sanders spoke on Friday. A Monday vote is scheduled. Doing it then is what counts with others holding the floor nonstop.
Instead, after what he called “a long speech,” he concluded saying:
If “the American people are prepared to stand – and we’re prepared to follow them – I think we can defeat this proposal. I think we can come up with a better (one) which better reflects the needs of the middle class and working families of our country and, to me, most importantly, the children of our country. And with that, Madam President, I would yield the floor.”
No assertion he’ll be back on Monday, staying there with others uncompromisingly to kill the deal for a better one American families deserve. Instead, rhetorical bluster substitutes for resolute action, assuring wealth again defeats popular need. Democrats are as culpable as Republicans, showing not a dime’s worth of difference between them at voting time when it counts.
Another Big Gun for the Deal – David Broder
An earlier article exposed him as a symbol of major media depravity, accessed through the following link:
Called the “dean” of political journalists, he’s distinguished more for supporting power and privilege than delivering real journalism, his December 8 column the most recent example headlined, “Obama takes his case to the independent center,” saying:
“In opting to accommodate reality by acceding to the Republican demand for maintaining all the Bush tax cuts (ones benefitting Broder greatly) and obtaining a better price than many expected for his concessions, Obama (did) almost all that is possible to create a favorable economic environment for the 2012 campaign. (That’s) a winning posture for a president seeking a second term, (placing himself) in the center of the American political spectrum.”
In fact, he’s far to the right of center, even further by his latest deal, proposing more wealth to those already with too much. He’s offering most to fat cats and corporate favorites, chump change by comparison to working Americans.
Broder, however, wants more – “tough love budgetary changes outlined by the presidential commission on deficits,” hitting ordinary American hard while lavishing more benefits on the rich and corporate America. He called it comparable to Clinton signing welfare reform in 1996, stiff-arming the nation’s poor, including many single mothers with children sacrificed to win votes for a second term. “This was (Obama’s) best showing….in many months,” selling out to power and privilege for the same thing.
Broder, so-called pundits, other corporate media writers, and some progressive ones won’t explain it, including Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel. She’s an establishment figure, a regular on corporate TV, a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member, and unabashed Obama supporter, even when criticizing as she did in her December 7 Washington Post op-ed headlined, “Obama’s disastrous path,” reciting a checklist of objectionable policies, including, saying he’s:
“on the verge of kowtowing to Republican bluster and cutting a deal to extend (Bush era) tax cuts for the rich in exchange (one hopes) for extending unemployment insurance,” implying giving up lots for a little is OK.
Then despite criticizing his current course, while stopping short of condemning and exposing it as hard right, she inflated him unjustly, saying he “has a historic mandate” like Lincoln to end slavery or Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Otherwise, he “risks a failed presidency.” She’s, in fact, clueless how corrupted, lawless, and failed he’s been for nearly two years, a record of shame, assuring his status as one of America’s worst ever leaders, serving power, not loyal constituents who elected him, the same ones again being betrayed.
Vanden Heuvel, other Nation writers, and more from the progressive left think Obama is one of them. Their level of intellectual dishonesty is shocking. Calling it blindness is too kind, including Christopher Hayes in the Nation’s December 27 issue headlined, “Tax Cuts Forever,” criticizing the deal, but saying:
“They know the economy needs more stimulus, and that Republicans are loath to allow them to deliver it. Through this deal they were able to secure some stimulative tax cuts….At this point, the White House will take what it can get,” or in other words bad deals are OK to get something.
“Obama didn’t create this system, but he is making it stronger before our eyes,” for capital, not working Americans, suckered into a bad deal Hayes won’t admit or maybe understand. Economist David Rosenberg does, calling it “a neutral for the economy,” not stimulus to create jobs and revive growth.
Progressive writers, not Obama, have “a historic mandate” to expose a failed president, a servant of wealth and power, an elitist, a corporatist betraying his base. He’s beyond rehabilitation. He and the entire Congress needs replacing for of, by and for the people governance. Try reading that in the Nation or most other left of center publications.
Democrats like Republicans are shameless. Their record belies their rhetoric. They’ll display it again next week, capitulating like always to wealth and power, calling it the best deal for Americans they could get. For themselves, other rich folks, and their corporate allies for sure.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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