And now we're watching as Congress passes yet another provision that was written by lobbyists for the biggest recipient of bailout money in the history of this country. And its attached to a bill that needs to pass or else we entire federal government will grind to a halt. Think about that kind of power. If a financial institution has become so big and so powerful that it can hold the entire country hostage. That alone is reason enough to break them up. Enough is enough.
Do you remember voting for Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase, and the Citigroup Party, back in the November election? Me neither. Remember, this was the election about nothing --- the GOP platform was "You don't like Obama and neither do we," while the Democrats thoughtfully countered with, "Derp!" This was pretty obvious at the time, but both parties were clearly terrified that a real discussion of the issues might have screwed up their real mission.
Which is doing anything that Citigroup, Jamie Dimon, and the Wall Street bigwigs who paid for their campaigns ask them to do.
This weekend's stunning action in Washington -- in which the American government was allowed to keep running, as long as representatives caved into the demands of Wall Street and the billionaire political donor class -- made two things clear. 1) Almost no one in Washington (except for the above-mentioned Elizabeth Warren and a hearty band of outgunned rebels) is even bothering to make a pretense of standing up for the common citizen anymore and 2) there is depressingly little, in the near term, that average folks can do about it. (Note: Among the sell-outs were Philadelphia Democrats Bob Brady, Chaka Fattah, and Allyson Schwartz...so much for the myth of "liberal Philly.")
The most offensive thing is the cynical way that Big Money and its bought-and-paid-for-Congress abused notions of "bipartisanship" and "compromise" -- the things that the average, fairly disengaged voter are said to desire -- to sneak through a measure that aids The One Percent at the expense of the 99 Percent. That's the only kind of "bipartisanship" that Democrats and Republicans inside the Beltway are truly down with.
The measure rolls back some of the necessary financial protections that were passed in the so-called Dodd-Frank bill, after Wall Street's risky practices crashed a big chunk of the global economy in 2008. Now -- in a measure written by Citibank lobbyists -- taxpayer money is again backing the financial industry's swaps and other dangerous derivative instruments. And the lobbyists made sure it was attached to the $1.1 trillion fund-the-government bill, the so-called "CRomnibus."
Here's Matt Taibbi, the great chronicler of 21st Century Wall Street shenanigans:
As Warren has cannily pointed out, veterans of Citigroup have dominated the Democratic Party establishment for quite a long time now, through figures like current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin.
Conservatives for welfare, and liberals for big business. It doesn't make sense unless we're not really dealing with any divided collection of conservatives or liberals, and are instead talking about one nebulous mass of influence, money and interests. I think of it as a single furiously-money-collecting/favor-churning oligarchical Beltway party, a thing that former Senate staffer and author Jeff Connaughton calls "The Blob."
So this was a compromise? Look, the golden era of Congress was never that golden, but there was a time 50 or so years ago, when a Democratic president would seek $100 million for a program, fiscally conservatives Republicans would counter with $50 million, and in the end it would get $75 million. That was "compromise" and "bipartisanship." What happened this weekend was something completely different: "Blackmail" by rich donors -- exactly what we have feared after Citizens United and other court decisions allowed unlimited money to infect the body politic.
What can be done...realistically? I'm honestly not sure. Flipping Congress from Republican to Democratic and back to the GOP has proved easy in the 21st Century, but electing a Congress that truly represents citizens, in a time of Citizens United and computer-aided gerrymandering, has proved damn near impossible. The White House in 2016? Hillary Clinton is a unrepentant tool of Wall Street, and the odds of Warren or another more liberal candidate beating her in the primaries and then surviving the Fox News onslaught in the general election are very, very long. Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and the other looming Republican retreads are even worse.
As we were just saying last week...no wonder thousands of people are in the street protesting. To be sure, the mass demonstrations are focused mostly on police violence right now, but it wouldn't surprise me if the emphasis soon gets bigger. Maybe the next march and rally can pay a visit to the Citigroup headquarters with this message for Wall Street: Hands up, don't loot...the U.S. Treasury!
Blogger's note: Speaking of fiscal policy, I'll be on unpaid furlough for the rest of the week. I'm sure nothing interesting will happen. See you again on Sunday, Dec. 20.