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Reich writes: "More Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington."

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)


The Six Principles of the New Populism

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

07 May 14

 

ore Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington. We’re five years into a so-called recovery that’s been a bonanza for the rich but a bust for the middle class. “The game is rigged and the American people know that. They get it right down to their toes,” says Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Which is fueling a new populism on both the left and the right. While still far apart, neo-populists on both sides are bending toward one another and against the establishment.

Who made the following comments? (Hint: Not Warren, and not Bernie Sanders.)

A. We “cannot be the party of fat cats, rich people, and Wall Street.”

B. “The rich and powerful, those who walk the corridors of power, are getting fat and happy…”

C. “If you come to Washington and serve in Congress, there should be a lifetime ban on lobbying.”

D. “Washington promoted moral hazard by protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized profits and socialized losses.”

E. “When you had the chance to stand up for Americans’ privacy, did you?”

F. “The people who wake up at night thinking of which new country they want to bomb, which new country they want to be involved in, they don’t like restraint. They don’t like reluctance to go to war.”

(Answers: A. Rand Paul, B. Ted Cruz, C. Ted Cruz, D. House Republican Joe Hensarling, E. House Republican Justin Amash, F. Rand Paul )

You might doubt the sincerity behind some of these statements, but they wouldn’t have been uttered if the crowds didn’t respond enthusiastically – and that’s the point. Republican populism is growing, as is the Democratic version, because the public wants it.

And it’s not only the rhetoric that’s converging. Populists on the right and left are also coming together around six principles:

1. Cut the biggest Wall Street banks down to a size where they’re no longer too big to fail. Left populists have been advocating this since the Street’s bailout now they’re being joined by populists on the right. David Camp, House Ways and Means Committee chair, recently proposed an extra 3.5 percent quarterly tax on the assets of the biggest Wall Street banks (giving them an incentive to trim down). Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter wants to break up the big banks, as does conservative pundit George Will. “There is nothing conservative about bailing out Wall Street,” says Rand Paul.

2. Resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking and thereby preventing companies from gambling with their depositors’ money. Elizabeth Warren has introduced such legislation, and John McCain co-sponsored it. Tea Partiers are strongly supportive, and critical of establishment Republicans for not getting behind it. “It is disappointing that progressive collectivists are leading the effort for a return to a law that served well for decades,” writes the Tea Party Tribune. “Of course, the establishment political class would never admit that their financial donors and patrons must hinder their unbridled trading strategies.”

3. End corporate welfare – including subsidies to big oil, big agribusiness, big pharma, Wall Street, and the Ex-Im Bank. Populists on the left have long been urging this; right-wing populists are joining in. Republican David Camp’s proposed tax reforms would kill dozens of targeted tax breaks. Says Ted Cruz: “We need to eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism.”

4. Stop the National Security Agency from spying on Americans. Bernie Sanders and other populists on the left have led this charge but right-wing populists are close behind. House Republican Justin Amash’s amendment, that would have defunded NSA programs engaging in bulk-data collection, garnered 111 Democrats and 94 Republicans last year, highlighting the new populist divide in both parties. Rand Paul could be channeling Sanders when he warns: “Your rights, especially your right to privacy, is under assault… if you own a cellphone, you’re under surveillance.”

5. Scale back American interventions overseas. Populists on the left have long been uncomfortable with American forays overseas. Rand Paul is leaning in the same direction. Paul also tends toward conspiratorial views about American interventionism. Shortly before he took office he was caught on video claiming that former vice president Dick Cheney pushed the Iraq War because of his ties to Halliburton.

6. Oppose trade agreements crafted by big corporations. Two decades ago Democrats and Republicans enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since then populists in both parties have mounted increasing opposition to such agreements. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, drafted in secret by a handful of major corporations, is facing so strong a backlash from both Democrats and tea party Republicans that it’s nearly dead. “The Tea Party movement does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” says Judson Philips, president of Tea Party Nation. “Special interest and big corporations are being given a seat at the table” while average Americans are excluded.

Left and right-wing populists remain deeply divided over the role of government. Even so, the major fault line in American politics seems to be shifting, from Democrat versus Republican, to populist versus establishment — those who think the game is rigged versus those who do the rigging.

In this month’s Republican primaries, tea partiers continue their battle against establishment Republicans. But the major test will be 2016 when both parties pick their presidential candidates.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are already vying to take on Republican establishment favorites Jeb Bush or Chris Christie. Elizabeth Warren says she won’t run in the Democratic primaries, presumably against Hillary Clinton, but rumors abound. Bernie Sanders hints he might.

Wall Street and big business Republicans are already signaling they’d prefer a Democratic establishment candidate over a Republican populist.

Dozens of major GOP donors, Wall Street Republicans, and corporate lobbyists have told Politico that if Jeb Bush decides against running and Chris Christie doesn’t recover politically, they’ll support Hillary Clinton. “The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas or Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would be Clinton,” concludes Politico.

Says a top Republican-leaning Wall Street lawyer, “it’s Rand Paul or Ted Cruz versus someone like Elizabeth Warren that would be everybody’s worst nightmare.”

Everybody on Wall Street and in corporate suites, that is. And the “nightmare” may not occur in 2016. But if current trends continue, some similar “nightmare” is likely within the decade. If the American establishment wants to remain the establishment it will need to respond to the anxiety that’s fueling the new populism rather than fight it.

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+46 # Yakpsyche 2014-05-07 09:04
Don't forget, "Amend the constitution to define what a person is".
 
 
+5 # Capn Canard 2014-05-08 08:07
Check out Wolf-pac.com movement to Amend the constitution to remove money from politics and eliminate corporate personhood.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2014-05-08 10:55
Quoting Capn Canard:
Check out Wolf-pac.com movement to Amend the constitution to remove money from politics and eliminate corporate personhood.


Thanks. Good site.
Warning! This link is case-sensitive so type it exactly as spelt here. I typed in "wolpac.com" and was sent to a porn-music site!
 
 
+15 # fredboy 2014-05-07 09:08
Robert, your guy, Clinton, killed Glass-Steagall.

Signed its death warrant.

Screwed us all.

And his guy, the vulture Greenspan, followed up with economic death blows in 2000, and 2001-2008.

Thanks for the advice.

A little late, but appreciated.
 
 
+35 # Buddha 2014-05-07 10:32
Well, the GOP who controlled Congress at the time, and wrote that bill they passed and placed on his desk did have a little something to do with it too. You know we do have a legislative branch of government whose responsibility is writing laws, in this case a law to repeal G-S, that we aren't led by an all-powerful King, right?
 
 
+15 # Ray Kondrasuk 2014-05-07 12:38
Right, Buddha.

Texas Senator Phil Gramm's bill had not only enough votes to repeal Glass-Steagall, but to override any potential Clinton veto.
 
 
+12 # Staceyjo 2014-05-07 11:16
Robert was against Clinton doing this but he went ahead with it any way.
 
 
-9 # brux 2014-05-07 11:52
Reich did not have the guts, or integrity to call Clinton out for the creep he was, and he still will not. Reich's a very smart and great man in my view, but his political realities are not working, and he will waste the rest of his life trying to scream through his politeness - and it will not work. Why can he not see this?
 
 
-14 # brux 2014-05-07 11:54
> Why can he not see this?


The answer is that he makes a very comfortable living within the system ... and these are the only people we really ever see - by design. Put him and Obama together and you have about 98% of the false hope on the planet.
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-07 11:59
IT'S NOT ENOUGH TO BE RIGHT, ( CORRECT ) YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO THINK UP A PLAN, A DEFENSE, A COURSE OF ACTION THAT LEADS TO A GOAL, AND THEN YOU HAVE TO CONVINCE ENOUGH PEOPLE TO WORK FOR THAT IDEA.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life cheering the losing team, and then when I point that out I get turned on by a bunch of frustrated rabid jackals who are too chickens hit to do anything by give me negative votes online from behind their keyboards.

There has to be some "process" that will go somewhere besides getting everyone hunted down and renditioned or water boarded by a bunch of people who are determined to ruin your lives anyway. Wonder why the vampire theme is so prevalent in the media these days ... that is exactly what is happening, and important evil body politic is sucking the blood and taking the life from the people of this country, and keeping them hypnotized while they do it.
 
 
+11 # Rain 2014-05-07 15:23
Reich is a smart man and would not disseminate empty sound bytes that dismiss a successful president as "creepy". During the Clinton administration the President converted the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus, the unemployment rate was at its lowest in 30 years, he had the lowest government spending in 3 decades, sent US armed forces to successfully end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, signed the Brady bill, enacted welfare reform, had the lowest welfare rolls in decades, lead to the dismantling of 1,700 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet union, signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, had the lowest poverty rate in 20 years and protected millions of acres for new national parks. The list goes on. What could possibly be creepy about that? I would suggest that you take a deep breath and get educated. There's no shame in that. Good luck.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2014-05-08 09:13
1) Who cares if there is a deficit or surplus? Why is this important? The federal gov't is not like a state or mucipality that must balance its budget (because they are mandaged too and don't have the ability to print new money)or like a household that must balance it's budget. Isn't it a question of what the gov't does with these dollars? The Dems (and Clinton was one of the first to really push this line) have completely bought into the neoliberal budget deficit fixation and totally abandoned their believe in and commitment to Keynsian style economics (i.e., deficits are ok and in fact necessary to stimulate growth during economic downturns).

2) the vast majority of the jobs created during the clinton years were low-wage dead end jobs not "living wage" jobs

3) Lowest gov't spending? Again, who cares. If we don't spend money on education or health care is that a good thing? Did he cut the defense budget? No.

4) The US (along with the rest of the NATO countries) were in large part responsible for the Yugolsav Wars in the first place by recognizing all of the breakaway "republics." A little disingenuous to say we ended the ethnic cleansing that we were in large part responsible for causing in the first place.

5) Welfare "reform" was a good thing...it through millions off the welfare rolls (great way to "balance the budget" and get that "surplus").

(continued)
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2014-05-08 09:21
6) Clinton ended Welfare but not poverty...what about all of those whose welfare benefits ran out due to Clinton's "Welfare Reform."

http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0830-22.htm

Yes, the Brady Bill was good as was the limited dismantling of (older) nukes but Clinton did not cut the military budget and called for modenizing (not eliminating) our nuclear arsenal (so the dismantling of older nukes needs to be seen in that context). Not to mention Clinton's militarism in places like Haiti where, under his watch, the US was involved in the violent and illegal overthrow of the democratically elected president of Haiti (Aristide). And what about the Sanctions against Iraq which according to the UN was responsible for the death of at least 500,000 children about which Clinton's Secretary of State infamously proclaimed that "we think the price is worth it."

So, to label or dismiss Clinton as "creepy" does not say why or how. However, when you look at his real record and including policies and actions, he was the most Republican Democratic President we had ever had up to that point and laid much of the ideological groundwork for the Bush years that followed.
 
 
-2 # Capn Canard 2014-05-08 08:12
Yeah, it is all about economic motivation/tria ngulation re Bill Clinton. He gave up any credibility and integrity during his troubles regarding the Lewinsky affair. He's a prick.
 
 
+4 # ericlipps 2014-05-07 17:42
Quoting Staceyjo:
Robert was against Clinton doing this but he went ahead with it any way.

I think Clinton should have vetoed the bill (no pun intended) and forced the GOP to override that veto, but he still hoped to re-create a bipartisan spirit in the federal government by way of compromise.

Unfortunately, it was too late for that. You don't compromise with people who WON'T compromise; trying to do so, as Chamberlain found out at Munich, only leaves you compromised.
 
 
+22 # reiverpacific 2014-05-07 10:13
WE know all this!!!!
But it's getting it through to the profiteers and controlling Corporate/Milit ary power elite.
As for the likes of Cruz and the others -when their actions, and votes match their words -then we'll see.
How can Cruz for instance, be taken seriously when he pushes against Social Security, Medicare, Minimum Wage, Healthcare Reform and any kind of Populist legislative proposals or measures, and is loud in support of the Military.
Monkey see but monkey not do -yet, and if monkey eventually do, could it just be only to get votes and hold onto the seats, benefits and lobbyist lucre (in spite of Cruz's statement to the contrary) they enjoy whilst enriching themselves at our expense in aspiring to the millionaires club that constitutes >half of Congress and the Senate?
"Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door, as in I went".
A wise Persian.
 
 
+11 # MidwesTom 2014-05-07 10:25
Bloomberg reported yesterday that 29 of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average have donated to the Clintons in one form or another. Hillary is definitely the establishment candidate, and will haves tons of money. A populist from either party will be 100% dependent on small donors.
 
 
+8 # dsepeczi 2014-05-07 12:17
Quoting MidwesTom:
Bloomberg reported yesterday that 29 of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average have donated to the Clintons in one form or another. Hillary is definitely the establishment candidate, and will haves tons of money. A populist from either party will be 100% dependent on small donors.

Quoting MidwesTom:
Bloomberg reported yesterday that 29 of the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average have donated to the Clintons in one form or another. Hillary is definitely the establishment candidate, and will haves tons of money. A populist from either party will be 100% dependent on small donors.


Actually, it's true that Wall Street always hedges it's bets but it's also true that Hillary is a corporate shill. Very few, if any, politicians aren't and that's why we get what we get in this country. Unfortunately, instead of us ever getting a REAL choice, we're always left deciding which of the "bad" candidates is "worse".
 
 
+24 # dkonstruction 2014-05-07 10:27
I agree and support the goals that Reich is trying to achieve but i think we need to stop deluding ourselves and get over the idea that we are ever going to be able to "regulate" the banks into "behaving themselves." Much of the banking world is now in the "shadow banking system" that is completely unregulated and will remain unregulated even if we brought back Glass-Steagall or some updated version.

The real solution is to create a genuinely public banking system along the lines of the State Bank of North Dakota both on the municipal, state and federal levels. All public monies (taxes, public pension funds, etc) should be deposited into these institutions and the monies invested in safe yet profitable investments e.g., building affordable rental housing that earns income (rents) forever. These institutions can also be deposit institutions (e.g., a post-office bank that many countries have today) that would also earn money for the bank while paying us depositors a fair return (interest rate) on our deposits.

Once we have separated "our" monies from the privately owned and controlled banking system we can tell the banksters that they can do whatever the hell they want with their money but that there will never again be any public bailouts of private banks. They engage in risky casino gambling with their own money then they assume all risk.

(continued)
 
 
+16 # dkonstruction 2014-05-07 10:28
Finally, a public banking system would also mean that the gov't could actually print its own money interest free (instead of the current system where currency is created as debt through the private banking system). This is an absurd and obscene system and there is an alternative but we have to think in a new way i.e., public banks and genuinely publicly (gov't) created debt free currency that is not beholden to and a privately controlled banking system that will always be beyond our control (they are always at least 2 steps ahead of the regulators and new regulation is always based on the last problem/crisis while the banksters are always thinking ahead and not looking back.

For more on public banking see Ellen Brown's work (probably the leading person on public banking in the country).

http://ellenbrown.com/
 
 
-13 # brux 2014-05-07 11:50
Why do you always have to write these huge posts? Can't you just make your point?

The problem is not the banks, it's a class of people that have their hands on the reigns of power and are abusing it because they system and we let them.
 
 
+3 # dsepeczi 2014-05-07 12:11
Quoting brux:
Why do you always have to write these huge posts? Can't you just make your point?

The problem is not the banks, it's a class of people that have their hands on the reigns of power and are abusing it because they system and we let them.


... and a large segment of the class of people you rightly revile ... are banksters.
 
 
+6 # Jackpine 2014-05-07 13:21
Why do you have trouble absorbing any thought processes that are too complex to fit on a bumper sticker?
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-09 22:02
Hah ... funny, I did not say that was the problem, the problem is too much effort for too little point, and once I read these diarrhetic posts I see they are easily able to be summed up briefly. It's like some people just like to talk to here their voice drone on and one.
 
 
+4 # Rain 2014-05-07 15:39
Didn't you previously state that what is needed is a "plan… a course of action that leads to a goal"?
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2014-05-08 07:09
Quoting brux:
Why do you always have to write these huge posts? Can't you just make your point?

The problem is not the banks, it's a class of people that have their hands on the reigns of power and are abusing it because they system and we let them.


Interesting. Your 2 initial consecutive posts in this thread are virtually the same length as my 3 the only difference of course being that your posts: 1) Call Bill Clinton a "creep" though you don't say in any way how or why and so while i agree with you on this one it may in fact be for very different reasons; 2) criticize Reich for making a "comfortable living" (shouldn't we all? Are you suggesting that Reich is in the same league as say Warren Buffet or the Koch brothers of Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan Chase of Lloyd Blankfein from Goldman Sachs?); 3) don't respond to any of Reich's substantive points and say what's needed is a "plan" though you offer none of your own or point anyone to someone who does whereas my post said i agreed with Reich's goals but thought that his proposal to reregulate the banks was not going to work and instead offered up a counter-proposa l (plan) to create a public banking system that would then also invest those monies in positive/produc tive ways.

(continued)
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-09 22:03
You should learn how to summarize, and count.
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-09 22:04
And quit putting words you know are untrue in other people's mouths.
 
 
+1 # dkonstruction 2014-05-08 07:15
Quoting brux:
Why do you always have to write these huge posts? Can't you just make your point?

The problem is not the banks, it's a class of people that have their hands on the reigns of power and are abusing it because they system and we let them.


In addition, you refer to the system as being a vampire. This is the way Marx described the system in Das Kapital 150+ years ago but i suppose is you found my 4+ paragraphs "huge" you have never tried to make it through the 2000 or so pages of those 3 brilliant volumes nor any of the other important radical economic texts written since like Rosa Luxemburg's Accumulation of Capital, Ralph Hilferding's Finance Capital, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy's Monopoly Capital, David Harvey's Limits to Capital etc., or any of the many important works on the current economic crisis (particularly those that understand and analyze it as typical crisis of profitability) such as Chris Harman's Zombie Capitalism or Andrew Kliman's Failure of Capitalist Production.

That's a shame for if you had you might revise your comment about the problem not being the banks but rather the class of people running them because this suggests that your view is not that the problem is as least in part structural i.e., the way the system functions but rather the people running it (again, suggesting that if only the right people were in charge everything would be ok; a position i whole heartedly reject)
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-09 22:06
I have other people summarize Marx, because just like when Conservatives and Libertarians start droning on about Mises or Ayn Rand or whatever ... I have no use for economists of the past ... today there is so much more monitoring, tools and information known that only the gist of ideas from that part are necessary. Same reason I would not read Newton to study physics ... even if he was the most brilliant man to ever live.
 
 
+4 # soularddave 2014-05-07 21:22
# dkonstruction; Thanks for taking the time and effort to explain your idea(s) and the details. They certainly have merit, and I would happily participate in a venture that returned 'profits' to the public sector.

I just managed to get away from B of A after a 3½ year ordeal to wrest my finances from their grubby clutches. Now, I'm a credit union member, as was suggested here several years ago. My required payments are 30% LESS, and 9 years have been sliced from my indebtedness.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2014-05-08 07:21
Quoting soularddave:
# dkonstruction; Thanks for taking the time and effort to explain your idea(s) and the details. They certainly have merit, and I would happily participate in a venture that returned 'profits' to the public sector.

I just managed to get away from B of A after a 3½ year ordeal to wrest my finances from their grubby clutches. Now, I'm a credit union member, as was suggested here several years ago. My required payments are 30% LESS, and 9 years have been sliced from my indebtedness.


Thanks soularddave for your comments.

North Dakota was the only state in the country to avoid the credit crisis/crunch and also has the lowest unemployment rate in the country in part due to the fact that they are the only state that has a public state bank. It's a real world model that the rest of the country should learn. Unfortunately Gov. Brown in California just recently vetoed a bill to create a commission to study this idea in a state with $65 billion in reserve cash!

I too support credit unions and along with pushing for a public banking system i think we need to work on changing the charter of most municipalities and states that forbid them from deposting/inves ting their funds with credit unions. If municipal reserves (including public pension fund monies) could be deposited in credit unions it would exponentially increase the ability of these institutions to lend to and support local economic development projects.
 
 
+6 # brux 2014-05-07 11:49
>> ore Americans than ever believe the economy is rigged in favor of Wall Street and big business and their enablers in Washington.

Yeah, great ... that's only taken between 30 and 200 years now ... we really have some momentum ... let's not waste another century!
 
 
+2 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-05-07 12:28
Run ELIZABETH, RUN.
 
 
+2 # tm7devils 2014-05-07 13:17
Here's the scenario: If they are up for re-election in 2014...they are lying through their teeth. Job no. 1 - GET RE-ELECTED. This means: Don't vote for any bill that will piss off the people that fill their larders.(Hint: This is not the 99%) They will filibuster any Democratic bill in the Senate and won't allow a Dem resolution to reach the floor in the House - BEFORE the elections...wel l, that is any legislation that is worth a damn.
 
 
+9 # turtleislander 2014-05-07 14:27
They continue to ignore us. Overwhelmingly we wanted all those wars stopped for years now.We want the trillions thus wasted spent better. Healthcare, infrastructure.
We support and want an even better Social Security and Medicare.
But they ignore us. What populism? where? A few tea bag loonies who get more air time than they ought? A population who now accepts police brutality and being groped at airports?
I'm old enough to remember very clearly what kind of country America was. It's gone.
 
 
+4 # dbrize 2014-05-07 15:36
Reich has outdone himself.

A set of basic principles that populists from right and left can forge acceptance.

Whether he ultimately supports it or reverts back to beltway suckup remains to be seen. Until we know, I congratulate him.

The problem with this agreeable platform is that everyone who opposes the beltway RepubliCrats will have to hold their nose and agree to support some folks on the "other" side to bring it about.

Tribalism makes it very unlikely IMO, but optimism is better than pessimism, so let the populist train roll on...
 
 
+6 # Far Left vanishing point 2014-05-07 21:31
This is better than a violent revolution. We need to show the world that we can peacefully take back our country from an enemy. And the pride capitalists used to have for doing their workers good might thrive again. And post war economic policy might thrive again. Don't settle for anything else. FDR is our hero. The same to Reich and Warren and anyone who wants economic justice and a sane country and fights absurdity.
 
 
0 # brux 2014-05-09 22:09
All the weapons and all the incentives lie with the Capitalists. Even if Americans try to peacefully take back our country, the rest of the middle class jobs will be exported and the country left in the pits. This is not going to be pretty or anything anyone is going to be proud of ... and what a waste of 50 or more years of American productivity, just to hammer the lower class. The 1% are really evil.
 
 
0 # FDRva 2014-05-10 03:42
Dr. Reich knows as well as I do that Pres Obama--who many of us mid-1980s Chicago community organizers knew as Barry Obama--probably sold his soul to Wall Street just in time to be Wall Street's un-Clinton candidate for President in 2008. Duh?
 

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