Saturday, November 5, 2011

List of Specifics

Here is the list. The list is for people, organizations, or policies that have significantly altered the well-being of the people in this nation either through action or distinct inaction. This list is incomplete. What was a minor inequality between the top 1% and the rest of the nation has now become ballooned into a problem begging for a solution. The road to change is long and hard. This list is not a road-map but a guide to the hotspots where real change can occur.

Senator Phil Gramm: famously said in 2008 that the downturn was just a “mental recession.” Was the architect of much of the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Cowed the SEC into not pursuing strict oversight for Enron before it collapsed—specifically on rules that would have prevented Enron from its malfeasance—through the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Top five recipient of funds from commercial banks and Wall Street overall.

Commodity Futures Modernization Act: prohibited regulation of derivatives, the speculative market that led to the crash on Wall Street in 2008.

Tom Delay: notoriously corrupt. “Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” That's right, not war, not the lives of the soldiers, not the international impacts, not anything else. Just taxes.

The Evangelical Right: a coalition of tens of millions of middle and working class Christians who have unwittingly sold out their economic futures for the social issues that their Republican leaders have espoused. The birth of the Tea Party was an off-shoot of this; a group of Evangelicals that realized their social issues weren't being addressed and their economic fortunes had been sold to Wall Street.

Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform: already wrote about this guy. Created the no new taxes pledge that has paralyzed the GOP into a position where economic reality no longer plays a role in how they vote. No new taxes—it's illogical and degrades democracy and scholarship in this country. This country is filled with rational and logical people who don't need a motto to bypass the best judgments.

Stephen Moore and Club for Growth: wants to make the government smaller than it was before World War II. Backs radical Republicans that have made debate and civil discourse in Congress a monumental task.

The Bush tax cuts: the average American (the bottom 80%) received $300 immediately after its passage. The top 1% averaged $38,500 in take home. Ten years later, the top 1% are receiving event greater cuts while the rest of the cuts to the average American have ceased and we are paying what we did before.

The Alternative Minimum Tax: Bush made it worse, doubling the number of Americans expected to pay it, while reducing the rate for the highest income taxpayers. Basically adding the burden of taxes to the more middle-class taxpayers while cutting the taxes of the wealthiest. Oh, and it also resulted in an $800 billion dollar hole in the tax code.

Senator Charles Grassley: supported the AMT while being fully aware of the consequences for this nation.

Tax revision of 2003: estimated loss of revenue--$1 trillion over ten years. That's bigger than the TARP. Of the measure Dick Cheney famously said “Reagan proved that deficits don't matter. We won the midterms. This is our due.” Dick Cheney doesn't care about spending when it's his initiative and not his income class that takes shoulders the burden.

Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, and Chris Dodd: biggest beneficiaries of the securities and investments largesse.

Hedgefund Managers: they pay a lower rate than their secretaries. 15%. Even Rick Perry's 20% flat tax would raise their rates. And they pull in about $900 million a year on average.

Senator Mark Baucus: as chair of the Senate Finance Committee he has taken in more money from interest-groups than any other senator other than Bill Frist.

The Senate filibuster: there is no mention of it in the constitution but it has become so commonly used that few bills pass in the Senate now with less than 60 votes. It has effectively paralyzed legislation and needs major reform in order to get this country back on track.

Senators Miller, Feinstein, Breaux, Landrieu, and Lincoln: approved of tax cut legislation without looking at the nuance of it and effectively screwing over anyone making less than $200,000 a year. All to maintain an image of moderation.

Expensing of stock options: in the tech boom of the 90s companies often paid out bonuses in stock options. A move by the SEC to have companies report the like costs of this form of compensation. This never happened, and so now stocks can be given away by companies as a form of compensation without ever reporting it. It is effectively an under-the-table form of pay that keeps CEOs from claiming them on taxes. Same goes for the company. This wasn't a big increase in government; this was adjusting to the 21st century and asking for honest accounting.

Sandy Weill: Clinton advisee who pushed for the repeal of Glass-Steagall which paved the way for the merger between Citicorp and Travelers. They were later bailed out to the tune of $45 billion dollars because they had become 'too big to fail' but obviously not smart enough to succeed.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley: legislation that repealed Glass-Steagall and opened the door for bank failures.

Robert Rubin: Secretary to the Treasury under Clinton. Advocated the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Resigned and became a senior advisee at the newly formed Citigroup. Ran the company into the ground, producing $65 billion in losses for the company. Received over $126 million in cash and stock as compensation.

Alan Greenspan: Fed Chairman that pumped up the housing bubble to soften the Dot Com Bomb and 9/11 but didn't consider that it would burst. Wrote a paper defending his actions but was explicitly warned of the consequences by the likes of Warren Buffet and Nobel Prize winner for Economics Paul Krugman years before.

Senator Mitch McConnell: has alienated the moderate GOP to the point that it is either non-existent or forced to vote the party line. Is an abuser of the filibuster and has effectively ground to a halt any legislation he finds distasteful.

Senator Jim DeMint: believes the 16th Amendment (the federal income tax) should be repealed. Tried to double down on the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and make them permanent. This would have resulted in a $3.1 trillion deficit over the next decade. Can't do math.

The party of no: the nickname of the modern GOP. Their refusal to even consider certain policy maneuvers has paralyzed the country and stunted its development. They openly use their stonewalling as a political tactic while stifling real democratic discourse. Even the famous Reagan conservative Bruce Bartlett called the GOP fiscal policy “distorted into something that is, frankly, nuts—the ideas that there is no economic problem that cannot be cured with more and bigger tax cuts, that all tax cuts are equally beneficial, and that all tax cuts raise revenue.”

Senator Olympia Snowe: by playing the middle and failing to take a strong stance on anything, she has held up progress on almost every bill. She rarely crosses the aisle but demands that everyone pander to her demands.

Thomas Donahue and Chamber of Commerce: has created political channels where interest groups can funnel money quietly through to push an agenda without having to take credit. This ruins accountability and creates distortion in the media.

David and Charles Koch, Americans for Limited Government, Tom Coburn, 912 Project, Glenn Beck, and Americans for Prosperity: Tea-Party tagalongs that have pushed their own selfish agendas while exploiting working Americans.

Political Illiteracy: perhaps the biggest issue. Political illiteracy has demonstrated that voters do not know the importance of what they are voting for or who best represents their interests. This has led to confusion and the weakening of our political system.

Senator Louie Gohmett: elitist that uses populism as a cover for his oligarchic views. Wants to repeal the 17th amendment which provides for direct election of senators.

John Boehner: “hell no, you can't.” Refuses to even negotiate on half-way reasonable terms and is the reason the legislation coming out is so watered down.

This list is far from complete. This list is not meant to be a 'hit' list; instead it is meant to show people points where pressure can be applied to start affecting real change. These all require different tactics, and a lot of time and effort. But this list is meant to help