Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guest Voz - Economist Robert Reich: The Secret Big-Money Takeover of America

As I've long time reported, the Koch brothers funded the creation of the Tea Parties and Glenn Beck's 912 rallies and now, the campaigns of several Republican candidates. They hate President Obama and the Democrats because they are spoiling their plans to DESTROY THE MIDDLE CLASS!!! The Teabaggers may have been fooled by them, but these FAT CAT BIG BUSINESS BULLIES are finally being outed!
Guest Voz - Economist Robert Reich:
Not only is income and wealth in America more concentrated in fewer hands than it's been in 80 years, but those hands are buying our democracy as never before -- and they're doing it behind closed doors. Hundreds of millions of secret dollars are pouring into congressional and state races in this election cycle. The Koch brothers (whose personal fortunes grew by $5 billion last year) appear to be behind some of it, Karl Rove has rounded up other multimillionaires to fund right-wing candidates, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is funneling corporate dollars from around the world into congressional races, and Rupert Murdoch is evidently spending heavily.

No one knows for sure where this flood of money is coming from because it's all secret. But you can safely assume its purpose is not to help America's stranded middle class, working class, and poor. It's to pad the nests of the rich, stop all reform, and deregulate big corporations and Wall Street -- already more powerful than since the late 19th century when the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of cash on the desks of friendly legislators. Credit the Supreme Court's grotesque decision in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates. (Even though 8 of 9 members of the Court also held disclosure laws constitutional, the decision invited the creation of shadowy "nonprofits" that don't have to reveal anything.) According to FEC data, only 32 percent of groups paying for election ads are disclosing the names of their donors. By comparison, in the 2006 midterm, 97 percent disclosed; in 2008, almost half disclosed.

Last week, when the Senate considered a bill to force such disclosure, every single Republican voted against it -- thereby revealing the GOP's true colors, and presumed benefactors. (To understand how far the GOP has come, nearly ten years ago campaign disclosure was supported by 48 of 54 Republican senators.)
Maybe the Disclose Bill can get passed in lame-duck session. Maybe the IRS will make sure Karl Rove's and other supposed nonprofits aren't sham political units. Maybe pigs will learn to fly. In the meantime we face an election that marks an even sharper turn toward plutocratic capitalism than before -- a government by and for the rich and big corporations -- and away from democratic capitalism.

As income and wealth has moved to the top, so has political power. That's why, for example, it's been impossible to close the absurd tax loophole that allows hedge-fund and private-equity managers to treat much of their income as capital gains, subject to a 15 percent tax (even though they're earning tens or hundreds of millions a year, and the top 15 hedge-fund managers earned an average of $1 billion last year). Why it proved impossible to fund expanded health care by limiting the tax deductions of the very rich. Why it's so difficult even to extend George Bush's tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of Americans without also extending them for the top 2 percent - even though the top won't spend the money and create jobs, but will blow a $36 billion hole in the federal budget next year. The good news is average Americans are beginning to understand that when the rich secretly flood our democracy with money, the rest of us drown. Wall Street executives and top CEOs get bailed out while under-water homeowners and jobless workers sink.

A Quinnipiac poll earlier this year found overwhelming support for a millionaire tax. But what the public wants means nothing if our democracy is secretly corrupted by big money. Right now we're headed for a perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top, a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy, and a public in the aftershock of the Great Recession becoming increasingly angry and cynical about government. The three are obviously related.

We must act. We need a movement to take back our democracy. (If tea partiers were true to their principles, they'd join it.) As Martin Luther King once said, the greatest tragedy is "not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

What can you do?
1. Read Justice Steven's dissent in the Citizens United case, so you're fully informed about the majority's pernicious illogic.
2. Use every opportunity to speak out against this decision, and embarrass and condemn the right-wing Justices who supported it.
3. In this and subsequent elections, back candidates for congress and president who vow to put Justices on the Court who will reverse it.
4. Demand that the IRS enforce the law and pull the plug on Karl Rove and other sham nonprofits.
5. If you have a Republican senator, insist that he or she support the Disclose Act. If they won't, campaign against them.
6. Support public financing of elections.
7. Join an organization like Common Cause, that's committed to doing all this and getting big money out of politics. (Personal note: I'm so outraged at what's happening that I just became chairman of Common Cause.)
8. Send this post to your friends (including any tea partiers you may know).

Robert Reich is the author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future, now in bookstores. This post originally appeared at


ultima said...

I note that Reich didn't mention the billionaires on the left like George Soros and Hollywood who are doing the same thing in support of the leftist agenda. That hardly argues for an unabiased view of the issue. Murdoch should not have been mentioned because he is in favor of amnesty and more immigration. I guess he sees more people as more readers for his media empire.

Dee said...

The Statement from the White House, President Obama, in Jan. 2010 Came TRUE:

With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. This ruling gives the special interests and their lobbyists even more power in Washington--while undermining the influence of average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates. That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision. The public interest requires nothing less.

Dee said...

Justice Steven's dissent:

Justice Stevens noted in his dissent that in its prior motion for summary judgment Citizens United had abandoned its facial challenge to Section 203, with the parties agreeing to the dismissal of the claim. Stevens argued that the Court chose to hear argument on issues the parties had agreed were not to be presented to the Court and that it reached a decision on constitutionality when it could have found for the plaintiffs on narrower grounds.


ultima said...

Having abused the Koch brothers for their political activities on behalf of the right, don't you think it would be fair to expose George Soros for the arch villain he is?

ultima said...

I see you are afraid to expose the fat cat Soros on your blog. Why?

Dee said...

Geesh Ultima,
I go out of town a day and don't moderate your comments and you get all paranoid on me.

You never provided YOUR view of the corrupt Koch brothers (the TOPIC of this blog), why is that? You try to change the subject and talk about the funding provided by George Soros. If Soros is behind Universal Healthcare, New Jobs that STAY in America and improving the Economy as the President is, then I am all for him!

Let me pose a question to you? Why are you NOT commenting on the evil corrupt Global Big Business Koch brothers who are funding the Tea Parties and Beck's rallies in order to replace existing congresspeople with nutcases like Angle and O'Donnell that support the Koch's corrupt agenda?

Why aren't you commenting about the TOPIC???

I Travel for JOOLS said...

I did read up on the Koch brothers and found that they are major philanthropists to the performing arts as well as other charities. No doubt they are against Obama's policies. Now, as for George Soros, he is also a major philanthropist and spent a fortune with against Bush's policies.

So, in the end, both rich supported what they believed in.

Dee believes conservatives are evil and anybody that supports them are evil. Just because Soros once broke the Bank of England and caused much suffering for English people in order to make a billion bucks doesn't bother her a bit as long as he supports what she likes.

This dog don't hunt.

Dee said...

more on the Koch brothers:

If you haven't already read Jane Mayer's devastating New Yorker profile of the billionaire Koch brothers who, among other things, have been bankrolling the Tea Party and funding climate change skepticism on a massive scale, well, what are you waiting for? I can't think of a better way to ruin a great three-day weekend!

But if you have read the piece, and might somehow still be wondering whether these guys are as bad as they sound, here's another data point, fresh from the keyboard of Todd Woody, in Grist. Through one of their many subsidiaries, Flint Hills Resources, a Kansas petrochemical company, the Kochs just donated $1 million to Proposition 23, the California ballot initiative designed to sabotage the state's global warming law, AB 32.

Dee said...


The Koch donation came a day after Tesoro, a Texas oil company that has been bankrolling the pro-Prop 23 campaign, put $1 million into the campaign coffers.

According to the [No on 23] campaign, 97 percent of the $8.2 million raised by the Yes forces has been given by oil-related interests and 89 percent of that money has come from out of state. Three companies, Koch Industries, Tesoro, and Valero -- another Texas-based oil company -- have provided 80 percent of those funds.

Dee said...


It's hard to be any clearer than those numbers suggest. If you think out-of-state oil companies have California's best interests at heart, go ahead, vote for Proposition 23. Because it is their baby, all the way.

Meanwhile, California Republican senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina has apparently realized that her refusal to take a stand on Proposition 23 during Wednesday's debate with Sen. Barbara Boxer managed to achieve the double whammy of infuriating her own supporters while simultaneously providing her opponents with a handy opening for attack. Boxer's best line in the debate was "If you can't take a stand on Prop. 23, I don't know what you will take a stand on."

On Friday afternoon, perhaps hoping no one would notice before the long weekend, Fiorina tried to clear up the confusion with a marvelous example of political weaseling.

Dee said...


American politics in 2010 is nasty business, thanks to the noisy right-wing extremists, who receive generous support by the infamous Koch brothers.

The Koch brothers - they hate socialists. Really, they do. They are currently "waging a war against Obama", using their seemingly endless funds, recently also massively donating to one of Karl Rove groups, providing 91% of its funding.

They are supporting the "libertarian" Tea Party parrots like Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell and Joe Miller, who are all running on the Republican ticket and would like to dismantle social security, and while we are at it, who needs healthcare anyway? Real Americans don't get sick. And if they do, it's their own fault if they are not stinking rich and can pay for it themselves. Who needs all these ugly poor people who would like to have healthcare anyway? Certainly not the Koch brothers.

Despite that fact that they apparently hate nothing more than evil socialism, the Koch brothers seems to have quite a cozy relationship with the benefits of "socialism" - as the New York Observer reports, giving seven well researched examples.

From socialist shipbuilding, investments in Venezuela, subsidies for ranching and ethanol production - Koch Industries loves state aid and state subsidies. This is contrary to the libertarian dogmas of their own Cato Institute "brain trust", but who cares - it's all about making money in the end, isn't end?

If you do real research, if you report real facts, you will find surprising answers.

If you just want propaganda, then you don't need those pesky facts which are just standing in the way of "American purity."

The hypocritical Koch Brothers are by far not the only industrialists who finance extremist right-wing movements for their own gain.

Dee said...

New Yorker:

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry--especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the TOP TEN AIR POLLUTERS in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a "kingpin of climate science denial." The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies--from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program--that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

Dee said...

LOL Jool,

You, like Ultima continue to try to change the subject and refuse to ADMIT ALL OF THE WRONG committed by the far right extremists and Globally elitists the Koch Brothers.

Admit it. They are Bad Guys!! AND THEY FUNDED THE TEA BAGGERS!!

Dee said...

If the Koch Brothers and their extremist tea party candidates get their way:

1. They will END Healthcare
2. They will END Social Security
3. They will END Unemployment Compensation
4. The will END Regulations and allow Oil Companies to Drill baby Drill, on shore, Pollute the environment until our atmosphere is deteriorated.

...AND YOU, Jools and Ultima SUPPORT THEM!!


Dee said...

They will also
1. Do away with the Federal income tax and incorporate some sort of Flat Tax
2. They will END Public Education and instead force some sort of privatization; to hell with the poor.
3. The support Massive Corporate Outsourcing - No Regulation, No Tax penalties for Outsourcing Offshore.

They support the END to the Middle Class.. If they get their way, we will have only two classes:
1. The Elite Super Rich
2. The Poor and YOU -- Majority America -- will fall in this class IF THEY GET THEIR WAY!

ultima said...

Okay, Dee. I erred. My apologies. I will be more patient in the future. Thank you for posting the link to Soros' background. The Koch brothers may be just as bad; however, it is important to understand those on both sides and the millions they invest to push their points of view by proxy. If the Republicans win big in November, I hope they use that opportunity better than they did the last one they had. I think Obama and GOP should work behind the scenes to effect some modifications of Obamacare without destroying the whole plan. And I hope, whatever they do, that they are up front about its costs.

It was not so much a matter of changing the subject as it was an argument for balance in the Reich article. We need to recognize that people with money are pulling the strings on both sides. I know locally here in Colorado there were two millionaires who managed to buy enough TV time to basically overcome the will of the people. I don't like it when one person's vote is worth more than another's simply because they have the money to buy TV ads to effectively give more weight to their opinion. To bad it isn't possible to outlaw all such privately funded ads and rely only on public funding or budgets of equal size so it is not money that decides elections. Of course, the unions have another resource that would have to be controlled also -- manpower to canvas and distribute literature.

ultima said...

Dee wrote, "Admit it. They are Bad Guys!! AND THEY FUNDED THE TEA BAGGERS!!"

I don't recall Dee admitting that Soros funded the notorious PAC, "Move" that referred to our most distinguished general as General Betray Us.

I see an exact parallel between the Koch funding of the TEA Party with Soros' funding of Move On. And the membership in both organizations is similar in that many are just ordinary citizens who have or had a beef with the way the country was or is being run. I wonder how many TEA Party members Dee has actually met to have a amaible conversation with? I have met a few and they are just ordinary, bright, patriotic Americans who don't deserve the crfiticism heaped on them for belonging to the TEA Party. Those are the people we need in the party to make sure it is not taken over by extremists or false extremists from the left.

Do you have some URL's for the articles you cited? I would like to read them.

ultima said...

They will never be able to end Social Security or Public Education, unless the latter becomes so ineffective that it is a waste of time and money. In which case, there would have to be a private substitute funded by the govenment.

The idea of privatizing social security for younger folks, perhaps on a voluntary basis, is worth considering. I don't think it will fly unless there are some other changes to deal with the unfunded obligations of the system, such as removing the cap on taxable income so that the affluent pay the same rate as others-- while keeping the maximum benefit at the present level as adjusted annually for inflation.

I think there are two books everyone should read befored commenting about climate change and drilling for oil. They are:
"Climategate" by Brian Sussman and "The Coming Economic Collapse" byLeeb and Strathy. I'm not suggesting that they have the inside dope on this problem but I am suggesting that their books can inform the arguments.

ultima said...

When are you going to make a trip to Denver so we can have lunch?

ultima said...

I think that most people realize that the middle class was destroyed before the Koch Brothers came on the scene. And to a large extent, that was our own doing as we continued to demand cheap imports and patronize Walmart. But many Congresses and Administrations had a heavy hand in that as well as they allowed the rust belt to expand and our manufacturing capability to decline with obsolete plants and equipment. Japan and Germany were able to come out of WW II better than we did, in some sense, because they were able to replace destroyed plants and equipment with more modern and efficient replacements.

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