Monday, September 15, 2008
GOP: The party that wrecked America
The news from Wall Street today is that two financial giants, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, collapsed under the weight of 12 years of Republican negligence in overseeing the financial industry. Lehman Brothers is dead, filing for bankruptcy. And Merrill Lynch (apparently, no longer "bullish" on America) sold itself to Bank of America Corporation for $50 billion.
If you've got the intestinal fortitude to face really bad news, I recommend that you read today's post on Custerf**k Nation by Jim Kunstler. Be forewarned: his assessment of the current US financial crisis is bleak and alarming.
The crisis has been brewing for years, of course, and anyone paying any kind of attention at all has heard the increasingly loud rumblings of catastrophic collapse rolling out of the dark tunnel into which we are about to descend. Dark times ahead, my dear people. Dark times, indeed.
Remember the deal that the US government made during the weekend of September 6th? The deal that involved the federal government "taking over" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and thereby assuming responsibility for trillions of dollars in mortgages? That was one stark sign of disaster. (The Bear Stearns bailout was another.) The alarming spate of foreclosures over the past several years are the result of deregulation of lending practices, allowing unscrupulous lenders to write sketchy loans to naive borrowers who only wanted to take part in the myth of the "American Dream." Then, the loan writers would bundle up these sketchy loans and sell them to Fannie and Freddie as "securities," with absolutely no concern whether or not they would ever be paid back. And, now, as the bill comes due for this irresponsible behavior, the US taxpayer is left to pony up the lettuce.
The deregulation came about because of a Republican administration and congress doing the bidding of their banking and insurance industry overlords. Under the guise of "getting government out of the way," the Republicans, in their feverish lust for power and money, rubber-stamped deregulation legislation that, in many cases, was actually written by finance industry lobbyists.
There have been other signs along the way as well: the Enron Ponzi scheme, the questionable mortgage practices of Countrywide Home Loans. As Mr. Kuntsler puts it, these schemes were designed to create the illusion of wealth without anything real to back it up.
In the context of the current national election, the choice is clear. Obama has not addressed the crisis as directly as one would hope, but he certainly shows a sensitivity to the problem. Contrast that with Mad Johnny McCain's remarks, on September 13th, that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong." McCain's plan for recovery (corporate tax cuts and more deregulation) is so ridiculous that even Alan Greenspan calls it irresponsible. It is, in fact, a continuation of the policies that have brought us to this point. Don't forget that McCain's recent financial advisor, former Senator and all-around rat, Phil Gramm, was instrumental in engineering much of the deregulation that led us into this crisis. You remember Phil? The guy that called us "a nation of whiners?"