Saturday, February 13 , 2016, 11:27 am | Fog/Mist 55º

Robert Scheer: The Tea Party and Goldman Sachs — A Love Story

Everyday Americans are the victims of an alliance that preserves corporate greed

By Robert Scheer |

Face it. We live in two nations, sharply divided by an enormous economic chasm between the super-rich and everyone else.

This should be an obvious fact of life for most Americans. Just read the story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined “Profits Thrive in Weak Recovery.” Or the recent New York Times story pointing out “that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million,” a 23 percent gain over the year before.

In the midst of a jobless recovery, those same corporations are sitting on more than $2 trillion in reserves, refusing to invest in this country, as increasing percentages of their profits are garnered in tax-sheltered operations abroad. And the bankers who caused the economic meltdown have turned against President Barack Obama, who saved them. Instead, they favor a Tea Party-dominated Republican Party that seeks to limit any restraint on corporate greed while destroying the ability of state and federal governments to bring some measure of relief to ordinary folk.

The whole point of the Tea Party is to focus concern over our stagnant economy on something called “big government” while ignoring the big corporations that have bought the government as an accessory to their marketing strategies. Big government is big precisely because it now exists primarily to make the world safe for multinational capitalism, whether through a bloated defense budget, trade pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement or monetary policies that serve the interests of the largest companies.

It was their lobbyists who got Congress to end sensible regulations of financial shenanigans, and now, with the new Tea Party members of Congress as their most stalwart allies, they are yanking the teeth from the very mild regulations that Obama got through the last Congress. As The Associated Press reported: “Congressional Republicans are greeting the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s financial overhaul law by trying to weaken it, nibble by nibble.”

It is nothing short of demagogic for the Republicans to be complaining about the debt when it was the radical deregulatory policies that they pursued that caused all that governmental red ink in the first place. What a hoax to pretend that teachers’ pensions or environmental protections are responsible for a debt that increased 50 percent as a direct consequence of the banking collapse. Yet they want to gut even the tepid regulations that became law under the Obama administration, foaming at the mouth about sensible regulation as job killing when it is the uncontrolled greed of Wall Street that is at the root of our high unemployment.

Congressional Republicans are cutting funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as if those already underfunded agencies are centers of anti-business radicalism.

The CFTC is run by former Goldman Sachs partner Gary Gensler, who back when he was in the Bill Clinton Treasury Department serving under another one-time Goldman leader, Robert Rubin, teamed up with Republicans in Congress to gut financial regulation. He is one of the Obama regulators who has managed to delay even the minor controls that the Dodd-Frank law requires for the still wildly out-of-control $600 trillion derivatives market.

What a joke that the Tea Party assertion that radicals have taken over the Obama government is embraced even by lobbyists for Goldman Sachs, whose former executives have populated the Obama administration as widely as they did the two previous administrations. All they are missing this time around is that they didn’t get to have one of their own named as Treasury secretary, as was the case in both the Clinton and George W. Bush Cabinets.

This week, the Los Angeles Times reported on Goldman’s renewed lobbying efforts in Washington aimed at watering down what remains of the promise of Dodd-Frank. True to Washington tradition, Goldman has hired Michael Paese, a former top staffer for the “liberal” Rep. Barney Frank to head its Washington operation, which last year spent $4.6 million lobbying Congress to soften the bill, a task now made far easier with Goldman’s Tea Party allies in the new Republican-dominated House.

As the Times noted, “Goldman has spent much of its money on hired guns from major Washington lobbying firms, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.”

Between the faux populism of the Tea Party and the army of sellout ex-congressional staffers and politicians from both parties, the Washington fix is in. Short of hitting it big on a lottery ticket, the vast majority of Americans are sentenced to a future of lowered expectations, insurmountable personal debt and dismal job prospects.

They may not know it, however, thanks to the constant propaganda from a corporate culture dominated by images of a classless nation in which all consume the delights of the American dream, from the perfect smartphone to the perfect pill for bladder control, while merrily hacking away on the perfectly manicured golf course of one’s fantasies. editor in chief Robert Scheer‘s new book is The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. Click here for more information. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

» on 07.07.11 @ 12:03 PM

True words.

» on 07.07.11 @ 12:05 PM

The carnivorous sheep of the Tea Party are an easily led mob.

» on 07.07.11 @ 01:29 PM

The funny thing is, what does the Tea Party have to do with this story, other than a positive role?  By obfuscating the issue the OP is indirectly giving a pass to our leaders in Washington, regardless of the side of the isle they come from.  At least that’s how I read it. 

The issue facing this country is not big business, it’s both sides of the progressive coin.  It is clear to most Americans that the WH is full of individuals with ideologies that can only be described as radical, following in the footsteps of their 18th century forbears pursuing radical democracy.  They were then, and they are now, progressives. 

None of what I’m saying is new, and if they actually taught history in school these days, more people would realize that and we wouldn’t be having this particular debate right now.

» on 07.07.11 @ 02:47 PM

The funny thing is that the Tea Party wants to give more freedom to the speculators on Wall Street, not long after they wanted their heads on a plate. I’m sure they feel those people will do differently, now that they have seen how badly they hurt this nation.

» on 07.07.11 @ 04:09 PM

Let’s re write history again.  Was it the Wall Street fat cats the ones that forced banks to loan money for homes to people that never even had to prove they had a job?  To force banks to change their lending practices of 10% down and an income that could make the mortgae payment?  Let’s stick to the truth on what brought down the economy which were liberal polices backed by Fannie and Freddie.  i am not saying Wall Street characters didn’t make out with big bonuses or the banking industry didn’t have to be bailed out.  But…if it wasn’t for Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters and all the Democrats before them and the polices they set, we wouldn’t have ended up in the problem we are now in.  Every time a Republican stood up against it, the main stream media and liberals shouted them down, saying that mean Republicans just didn’t want poor people owning homes!  Liberal, please take the time to look up and let me know the unemployment rate and the revenue created during the Bush years.  All the way until Democrats took the House and Senate, just before the boom fell!  it’s unfortunate that Bush thought getting along and spending was the way forward.  I wish him and his party would have had the backbone to stand up and not worry about what the media and liberals were saying.

» on 07.07.11 @ 08:26 PM

Coastal Local, the average attention span for the species progressivis minimus is less then it takes for one of them to read this.

» on 07.08.11 @ 10:51 AM

The average math skills of either coastal local or Pope Bogus have been completely undeveloped. Mortgages to poor people form a tiny and inconsequential fraction of the overall problem.

Google “Credit Default Swap” and ponder that. Wonder, for a while, why the Fed rate dropped to 1% in 2003, though absolutely no deflationary signal could be detected. Ponder Wall Street’s need for mortgages to fill bonds - the only securities foreign investors wanted from them.

» on 07.08.11 @ 02:09 PM

The “Taxed Enough Already” party wants lower taxes and limited government authority. This philosophy has nothing to do with the amoral activities of gamblers and speculators. Now if Rambo and PJ have a problem with that like Scheer, then they can freely abdicate their wealth and financial freedom to the nanny state. Go on people suck it up for your new god and let everything you own go. Let other men run your bank account so you can punish a few greedy jerks. Topple the greatest system on earth because a few can’t play well in the sand box.
The TEA party will do its best to keep a tyrannical, elitist run government off your back, your job as a concerned citizen is to hold your fellow man accountable. The greed on Wall Street is unacceptable but you fight it one individual and company at a time case by case. You do not punish the “system” and thus wreck it for everyone. However, Rambo, you just stick a big crow bar in your own wallet and fork over all your wealth to your god. See how that goes, read history, look at how it served the brave new world of the Soviet proletariat.
Greed is a human behavior; it exists in communist economies, socialist economies and capitalist economies. You cannot legislate it out of existence any more than you can legislate compassion into existence. When you troglodytes finally learn the difference we can have a meaningful conversation. What we will not do is allow your fear and stupidity to relieve the rest of us from the burden of managing our own destinies. We gladly take the risk and accept the responsibility. Those of you who cannot are free, yes free to leave and go somewhere where a giant plastic replica of you mommy waits to envelope you in a giant freedom smothering blanket of security.

» on 07.11.11 @ 11:06 AM

I only asked that a liberal let me know what the unemployment rate and revenue were.  You didn’t answer that and said it was about my math.  I noticed that you didn’t answer because if you cared to go to the internet you could have seen the answer…and of course you want to destroy that fact, by your sacred government’s own math!

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