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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/16/09

Obama's One Term Presidency

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Message Jon Faulkner
It is a truly astonishing thing. How people become so divorced from reality they can’t remember from one day to the next what or who caused them pain. Like hurt animals, they lash out at anything or anyone. Today, symbolic tea parties, in protest of taxes and the way they’re being used to bail out the financial industry erupted across the nation. A man in Salt Lake City carried a sign that depicted President Obama riding the democratic symbol, the donkey. The sign read, “Pin the tail on the donkey.” A few counter protesters held signs that said, “Where were you when Bush was spending billions a month ‘liberating’ Iraq?”The Tea Party revolts are inspired by the trillions given away to the bankers and Wall Street hustlers who have brought such economic devastation to the country. People have a legitimate cause of complaint. What they have lacked is the intelligence to see through Bush & Co, and the eight years of contrived war while the nation’s wealthiest received enormous tax cuts in capital gains and income tax while about 20% of every tax dollar mailed to Uncle Sam went to support the Bush Wars. Cheney’s Company, Kellogg Brown and Root with Halliburton Corporation, took hundreds of billions in no bid contracts. Where were the protests then? Americans had many opportunities to save themselves from their current dilemma. But they failed to recognize the economic destruction that deregulation would eventually bring. It’s not as if it hasn’t happened before. There were the S&L failures, then California’s deregulation of their electrical power industry. After the Great Depression of 1929, FDR put measures into place to stop any future depression. The Glass Steagall Act was one such measure. It was repealed in 1999 as an impediment to business. A Republican Congress, with democrats clamoring to get on board, repealed the Act which had been an effective deterrent to reckless investment since 1933. All deregulation took place under the rubric of freeing the ‘self correcting’ market so that consumers would enjoy more diverse and better services through competition. The republicans are having a heyday with the Tea Party tax protests. Phil Gramm, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and Grover Norquist were all on hand to make speeches about fiscal responsibility. Phil Gramm and John McCain were the architects who pushed through the legislation that repealed Glass Steagall. An intelligent audience would have booed them and pelted them with tomatoes. As soon as Glass Steagall was repealed the investment houses, with their bank’s and insurers backing, began selling SIV’s, or structured Investment Vehicles. Bundled derivatives were also a popular gambit that Wall Street sold to great profit and great detriment to the economic future of the U.S. The banks used the good name of the U.S. to sell their worthless investment vehicles. Overseas investors knew that even if the vehicles proved worthless, the American Government would rescue the banks and no one would lose money. But of course, that’s not the way it worked. The trillions given so far to the banks and investment houses have gone out with no strings attached. This is the most fantastic thing! The banks sent the money to offshore accounts, used it for mergers, and stuck billions into their pockets. The one thing they didn’t do was loan the money to struggling businesses across the land thereby stopping some of the hemorrhaging of red ink.  Sean Hannity, from Fox News, was in Atlanta reporting on the tax revolt there. Fox News has long been the conservative voice that so desperately argued for the repeal of Glass Steagall. Fox has led the public revolt against government and the regulations it put in place to stop Wall Street from doing exactly what it has. The tax protests are directed at Obama’s new Administration. While that may seem unfair, considering it was the Bush Administration that more than doubled the national debt it doesn’t change the fact that Obama, contrary to his campaign promises, is still sending trillions in no strings attached handouts to the banking industry.The first sign that Obama had no intentions of reigning in Wall Street and the banks came when he appointed Timothy Giethner as Treasury Secretary and Lawrence Summers as his chief economic advisor. This pair of republican stalwarts has been married to Wall Street and the investment houses for all of their working lives.   Obama took $10 million in campaign contributions from investment houses. He got another $2 million from the commercial banks. Other contributors to the Obama campaign for president included Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan/Chase Corporation. Ralph Nader has been saying for years, that on important issues, there’s no difference in the two parties. Nader has been absolutely correct.  The democrats are quick to call attention to the fact that Obama inherited a broken economy. While that is undoubtedly true, it’s also true that by continuing handing out trillions to the banker he has seriously exacerbated the economic morass the nation finds itself in. He also is escalating the war in Afghanistan and pouring more money into the lost cause of Iraq. Most of all he has lost no time in seriously disappointing his millions of supporters. He is also paving the way for the republicans to reclaim the White House in 2012. Republicans are absolutely giddy with the prospect of laying all the nation’s economic woes at Obama’s feet. Incredibly, it seems with Obama’s help, they’ll get away with it. Obama, it must be said, is trying to help the states out of their worst economic decline since the Great Depression. But even as he sends the states billions in supplemental aid he is further denounced as a tax and spend liberal. In Salt Lake City, the Republican Governor of Utah was roundly booed for accepting $1.5 billion is aid to his state. When a mob smells blood reason flies. The bankers and wealthy Americans in FDR’s time thought his election would be of great benefit to them. After all, they reasoned, the Roosevelt Family is of the same class as we. But FDR disappointed them. During his three terms in office he demonstrated that every American could enjoy government efforts to improve their health and general welfare. He introduced many social programs that the republicans have been rolling back or eliminating with single minded purpose. Republicans like to call FDR a socialist which in most American’s minds equates with communism. But if the bankers and Wall Street crew were asked if they approve of socialism they’d say yes, or they’d be lying.   The centerpiece of FDR’s efforts was the Social Security Act. Republicans have been hoping to do away with Social Security since its inception. The Bush Administration was the first to suggest that Social Security be handed over to the private sector. Imagine millions of homeless elderly people. That would have been the result if Bush had been successful in handing the trust fund over to Wall Street.Obama had a wonderful opportunity to bring a badly divided nation together again. But his debt to the fat cats prohibited him from putting Humpty Dumpty back together. The republicans will squall ceaselessly now. They will never stop pointing their fingers at Obama as the cause of the shattered economy. The Tea Parties are just the beginning. With the invasion of Iraq the republicans proved that a lie, told often enough, would eventually be accepted as truth. Obama’s will be an unremarkable presidency. He will spend the next four years spinning his wheels, unable to overcome the accusations that mainstream media will charge him with. Bush will watch and laugh with delight that he, once again, escaped accountability. Obama, like the American people, have themselves to blame. Obama should have known better, and millions of Americans are simply too stupid to put two and two together. These Americans, it must be said, have completely forgotten who got the nation into its current economic disaster.The governor of Louisiana and South Caroline, Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford were on hand at several Tea Parties. This pair is absolutely brimming with sage advice. They know exactly what the nation must do to repair its economy. It is fascinating that so many republicans are crawling out from under their rocks to criticize Obama and his economic policies. The question of where were they with their big mouths when Bush was spending the nation into economic oblivion, goes begging. Also lost on the tax protesters is the major difference between the Boston Tea Party and today’s Tea Parties. In Boston the colonists acted against unfair taxation that was levied against them by, what they considered a foreign state. Today’s protests are directed against a government that has been administered by unscrupulous men many of whom the protesters voted for. As the republicans like to say, “There’s no underestimating the stupidity of the American people.”   
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Jon Faulkner is a licensed Master Mariner. He has long considered the conservative republican mindset a form of mental illness. He lives in northern Maine.
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