Dylan Ratigan: Today, some new protests in defense of unions and collective bargaining spreading across the Midwest. Workers and labor leaders gathering in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin to protest bills that would void union contracts or slash bargaining rights. Keep in mind, this is all about public workers continuing to be asked to pay for Wall Street's crime against their pensions. Filmmaker Michael Moore hit the nail on the head at a rally in Madison:
Interjected video clip of Michael Moore speaking at a rally: There has been a massive transfer of wealth to the rich from the rest of us. It has been the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers, to the banks and the portfolios of the uber rich. Those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know. They know that they have committed crimes to make this happen.
Dylan: This has been the greatest robbery and cover-up in American history and it's been ongoing for years now. The question is, why is no one paying for this crime? And who should pay for it? The people who did it? The rich in general? Or maybe we should just take it out on the teachers and cops, and make them pay for it as the Republicans suggest? Which seems fair to you? Joining us now is Roger Hickey, co-director of the campaign for America's future, a group dedicated to finding long-term solutions to America's jobs crisis. Thursday, they're holding a summit in Washington on this very subject. So, Roger, what do you think is the best way to go about this?
Roger Hickey: Well, Michael Moore had it right; the conservatives are telling us that America is broke. But we're not broke: We just gave a massive tax cut to the richest people in America. So we need a jobs movement that will take back some of that money from the very wealthy and invest it in job creation. Washington, D.C. just hasn't got it yet: The number one priority of the American people, as you found on your tour around the country, is jobs. It's not cutting the deficit. It's not cutting education programs, which the Republicans are trying to do now. It's investing in short-term and long-term efforts to get our country fully employed.
Dylan: There are financially elite groups representing very special interests (whether it's in the banking industry, certain multinational corporations that invest heavily in China, the oil industry, or the military-industrial complex with its profits from our two wars), that are all making obscene sums of money, as trillions of dollars fly out of this country, to the Mideast, to China, etc. But you and I both know that you cannot have jobs in your country if you do not have sufficient investment in your country.
Roger: That's right. And of course you've talked a lot about the financial rip-offs and the huge Wall Street gambling casino that has turned Wall Street not into a way to finance jobs and productive investment, but rather into an opportunity for a small minority to get massively rich while screwing the rest of us. So, we've got to find a way to get compensatory revenue from those few who have benefitted so much from these rip-offs. But we've also got to develop ideas about turning this economy around, once we have access to that revenue. Right now, the Republicans (who are funded by those who have benefitted so much from the rip-offs) are cutting programs that are essential to our competitiveness and to job creation. I refer, of course, to educational programs and investments in infrastructure. Instead of funding such programs, the Republicans are, by way of massive tax breaks to corporations and the rich, channeling that money to their campaign-donor companies like Goldman Sachs. Problem is, this robbery from education and infrastructure is going to cut America's growth rate in half. So, one of the things we've got to do right now is stop the self-serving Republican policies that are only making our economy worse.
Dylan: I couldn't agree with you more. So where do you see us getting the most leverage to accomplish this? Do you see a next step for organization and maximum impact?
Roger: Well, this kind of effort always comes from the bottom up. I think what's happening in Wisconsin has really inspired people. It's inspiring to know that you can say no to people like the billionaire Koch brothers, that you can say no to people like the governor up there who wants to cut education to help pay for the massive tax cut he just gave away to the corporations in Wisconsin. We've got to build a bottom-up movement around things like investing in infrastructure and taxing the wealthy. Every poll that you see says that we made a bad mistake in letting those Bush tax cuts continue. People don't like the idea that we are having to tighten our belts while the wealthy are getting to take their ill-gotten gains to safe, tax-free investment on offshore islands. It's time for us to invest in the country, and reversing the Bush tax cuts would be one of the best ways to immediately be able to finance the beginning of that investment. Long term, we've got to do the kinds of things that you always talk about, like revising the financial system so that it's once again maximally productive. We've got to invest in technologies that are now being developed only in China. We've got to get green jobs going and develop a new driving force for long-term job creation.
Dylan: And first thing we have to do, it seems to me, is break the stranglehold that the trillion-dollar special interests have on both political parties.
Roger: That's absolutely right. This next election has got to be a referendum about which party has the better plan, not only for breaking the backs of the special interests and their hold on politics, but which party also has the best plan for creating jobs in America. In the last election, Obama said "Have faith, believe in me, and the economy is getting better." The Republicans said, "Send me to Washington and I'll slash the government and that will create jobs." But neither of those plans worked, and now, before the next election, we've got to decide which political party really has a convincing plan to create jobs.