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"Bill Moyers explains how last week's fiscal cliff deal gave tens of billions in tax breaks to Wall Street and corporations - what even the Wall Street Journal calls a 'crony capitalist blowout.'"

Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Portrait, Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)

The 'Crony Capitalist Blowout'

By Bill Moyers, Bill Moyers and Company

12 January 13



BILL MOYERS: There's a chapter called "The Second Gilded Age" in Paul Krugman's book where he describes the extraordinary rise in wealth and power of the very rich during this era of unregulated greed. Since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the top one percent of Americans have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent. But after accounting for inflation, the typical hourly wage for a worker has increased just $1.23 cents.

Big money, as Krugman writes in this book, buys big influence. And that's why the financiers of Wall Street never truly experience regime change - because their cash brings both parties to heel. So, the policies that got us where we are today - in this big ditch of chronic depression - have done little for most, but have been very good to a few at the top.

But those at the top are not satisfied with having only most of it - they want it all. And if he were writing his book today, Krugman could find plenty of evidence in the deal that supposedly kept us from going over the fiscal cliff. Behind closed doors, Congress larded it with corporate tax breaks worth tens of billions of dollars - everything from tax credits for NASCAR racing and the railroads to subsidies for Hollywood. Rebates for the rum industry and loopholes for off-shore financing that could help giant multinationals like General Electric avoid billions of dollars in corporate income taxes.

Writing in "The Washington Examiner," columnist Tim Carney says many of these expensive giveaways were "spawned by a web of lobbyists, donors and staffers surrounding Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana" - chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. As we know from the Obamacare fight, Baucus is a connoisseur of revolving door corruption. "Pick any one of the special-interest tax breaks extended by the cliff deal," Carney wrote, "and you're likely to find a former Baucus aide who lobbied for it on behalf of a large corporation or industry organization." Even the pro-business "Wall Street Journal" was appalled. They called it a "Crony Capitalist Blowout."

CEO's and lobbyists were tripping over themselves as they traipsed up and down Pennsylvania Avenue between Congress and the White House, privately protecting their interests as they publicly urge austerity on everyone else. Here's Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and chair of the global investment giant Goldman Sachs, when asked by CBS News' Scott Pelley about how he would reduce the federal deficit:

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: You're going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people's expectations the entitlements and what people think that they're going to get, because it's not going to they're not going to get it.

SCOTT PELLEY: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Some things. And you know, you can go back and you can look at history of these things, and Social Security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. Entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.

SCOTT PELLEY: Because we can't afford them going forward?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN: Because we can't afford them.

BILL MOYERS: Ah, yes, but Goldman makes sure their entitlements aren't touched. Here's the story. After 9/11 Congress created tax-exempt Liberty Zone bonds to help small businesses rebuild near Ground Zero. Turns out Goldman's friends in high places consider it a small business, too, although it made $5.6 billion dollars in profits last year. As the fiscal cliff fiasco was playing out over New Year's Eve, faster than the ball dropped in Times Square, a deal was struck in Washington that will extend the subsidies for Goldman's fancy new headquarters in lower Manhattan. In their 43 stories of glass and steel, and a footprint two city blocks long, Goldman Sachs reigns supreme, thanks to a system rigged by and for the powerful rich.

And then this. Just hours before the fiscal cliff deal's higher individual tax rates kicked in, Goldman handed Lloyd Blankfein and his top lieutenants "a total of $65 million in restricted stock," bonuses awarded a month earlier than usual so they could all beat the coming tax hike from which they have been spared for more than 10 lucrative years. It will not surprise you, I am sure, to learn that "corporations announced more special dividends last month than in any other December since at least 1955." Doing everything they can to avoid helping pay off the debt their CEOs have been urging Congress to cut.

As for working people, tough luck. Because the fiscal cliff deal ends the cut in payroll taxes, the average worker this year will take home about a thousand dollars less.

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III: Hey, when Paul gets really bummed out, that's when I get scared. But when Paul says there's a glint of home, I feel we've all been spared. your social media marketing partner


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+113 # KrazyFromPolitics 2013-01-12 14:12
One has to wonder when enough people are going to become sufficiently pissed-off and demonstrate that this corruption will no longer be tolerated. That probably won't happen until we all have lost everything. Corporations, as they are allowed to exist in today's world, need to be dismantled.
+8 # HowardMH 2013-01-12 14:44

You jut nailed it.
Just look at the three stooges. Obama the Wimp, Holder the puppet of the Wimp, and Justice Thomas the mute who hasn’t said anything intelligent on the supreme court in many, many years.
What about the hearings on how bad Wall Street is screwing everyone???? Clinton put over 1000 Wall Street Crooks in jail, Bush put 1300 and Obama the Wimp has put Zero, “0”, nada, none, no one in jail! Hello – wake up people!!!
Wall Street, Wall Street, Wall Street. It is all just smoke and mirrors. Until there are two hundred thousand really, really pissed off people on Capital Hill (all at the same time – with base ball bats, or 2 x 2s) raising some serious hell against the Lunatics, absolutely nothing is ever, ever going to happen to these totally bought and paid for by the richest 50 people in the world that are becoming more and more powerful with each passing rigged election thanks to the stupid people.
How much success have you had with the TOTALLY NON VIOLENT protests over the last few years?
I’m no fan of Sarah’s but this comment is just so appropriate. So how is that Hopei, Changie working out for you now?
-4 # joedeane 2013-01-13 10:38
Wait and see what Capo Obama steals from Social Security and Medicare. He ought to be locked on a penal colony with the other Banksters. Don't look for help from this crook. Krugman should know better
-9 # Doubter 2013-01-13 13:44
You might receive more pluses if you'd written "..the Wimp, puppet of Holder."

At the very least, I would have given you one.
+2 # cokacoa2 2013-01-14 11:57
The entire situation is so impossible. But I do believe there is hope. It will have to be a war fought is cyber-space. Our government has made it impossible to win by public protest but there are those among us that can bring government and coorporations to their knees. I only wish I had the skills to be of service but there are many of us out there that have the skills needed.
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:36
Yes we've been "Hopei, Changie" and peaceful but we lack the catalyst: NUMBERS. Join Idle No More and become active in the thousands of ways that you can be. Educate people (because the 1%-owned media isn't) so that millions all over the country will get out and support each other against those who are against 99% of Americans. To lose patience and to break out the "bats and 2x2s" is to 1. impel many to stay at home, 2. to justify arming drones, etc. Check out Kent State. They are not American-loving enough to not kill their own and those troops that we all "support" are not above killing their own for their master. We've spent millions of dollars to brainwash these "patriots" and a good bunch of Americans. Don't kid yourself. They only allow TeaBaggers to assemble unmolested AND with assault rifles. You go out there with a 2x2 and you're dead meat.
+46 # MainStreetMentor 2013-01-12 17:12
While I confess that I agree with you on what is needed - I am also convinced that the corporations who “own” and control the legislative bodies of our national Congress will never allow corrective legislation to be passed. We can scream and yell all we want about how wrong it is (and I’m among the “screamers”) – the absolutely only way any of this will be changed is via the ballot box – supporting candidates which do not accept one penny from any corporation in donations. Impossible? I think so, too. Until we can find a way to change the campaign funding laws complete with “caps”, and work to rescind the “corporations are people” judgment of the Supreme Court – it will be near impossible. I believe it is in these arenas where we must place our concentrated legal efforts.
+12 # Hirspray 2013-01-13 00:22
Yes to campaign finding laws. But a more important reform is redistricting so that congress is not assured their seat by a gerrymandered district when the candidate must appeal to the middle of both Republican and Democratic voters things will also improve.another reform measure that gives third party power is ranked choice voting.
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:42
Yeah, forget about the option or possibility that lazy Americans will self-inform and not be FOOLED at the ballot box by emotionally-cha rged issues that tweeks the interests and motivations of the bias. It is so ridiculous that with all the issues facing the survival of our way of life that the major issues presented to us is gay marriage, women's rights to be their own human. People just need to give their own head a shake!
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:26
Google "idle no more" and join those of us who have been fighting for equality and for a future for all.
+20 # hd70642 2013-01-12 14:14
Of cource the poor do not matter there a dime a dozen disposable and economic cannon fodder and the ones who actually do the work and buy the products !!
-38 # HowardMH 2013-01-12 14:51
The danger to America is not (solely) Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting an inexperienced man like him with the Presidency... Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of Idiots such as those who made him their president
+25 # maddave 2013-01-12 23:29
In our defense, Howard, we "idiots" were not so stupid as to help you cretins elect Rokmney.
+5 # RLF 2013-01-13 08:58
Do you really think there is any difference? Obama has modeled his programs on those of show me the difference. Obama has made no changes I can believe in. Time to go socialist...cut the army 70%. Pull all of our troops out of every country in the world except maybe South Korea, Get rid of all deductions for corporations, re-enact import duties, and put a VAT on all goods and services except food to stop the creation of disposable garbage, etc. Problem is this takes creative thinking and with no arts ed in the one knows how to think anything but conventional wisdom. We are the dumbest developed country I've ever been in!
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:50
...or Reagan, or George H.W. Bush, or Bush, Jr. Granted there is a subtle difference on many fronts; when you get down to it, they're ALL corporate "acceptables". Its not so much a matter of brains, what's been lacking is an absence in the "BALLS" category. Perhaps we need Presidents without children because as is painfully obvious in this sorry country, if you're doing for the people, your life is in danger from these corporate internationalis ts, and who wants to leave their children without a parent? They have no country, they only own the governments of countries.
+63 # DaveM 2013-01-12 14:32
I am disabled. My sole income comes from SSI as I became ill before I could work long enough to pay into the "trust fund" long enough to qualify for full benefits.

Recently I received word that my SSI was increasing from $698 per month to $710 per month. Shortly after that I was informed that my food stamps were being cut from $69 per month to $64 per month. Now my rent is going up.

My landlord is a corporation which owns 70 different apartment complexes, most of them receiving government subsidies. This corporation receives uncounted millions in "subsidy" money from the government and in exchange, provides the least possible service and maintenance to its properties (the last time any remodeling was done to this 1970s era complex, it was paid for by a government grant).

My landlord receives nearly as much in "subsidy" each month as I am granted to pay my electric bill, buy enough to eat, and keep clothes on my back and gas in my 12 year old car. Is this not a "government handout" which is not exactly going to the intended recipients?

My next option, should I lose this place due to some government whim, is a space under an overpass. My landlord faces no such dilemma. Neither do any of the other major recipients of large-scale government handouts. But guess who is facing cuts?
+21 # hd70642 2013-01-12 15:44
Another prime example is food stamps. How many companys benifit from them even when the food stamp alotment to the needy is cut?
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:53
food stamps is an 'entitlement' to the agriculture industry. They get top dollar for the dregs of their production and all of it smells of Monsanto, Where are you statisticians, show us who receives more 'welfare', citizens or international corporations.
+2 # bmolloy124 2013-01-12 18:05
I would very much like to quote you for my blog at Is it possible? I might want to post your whole comment -- since my blogs are often "letters to the Reader" in response to some news item or other "issue" of substance. Plse see my blog to get an idea of my work. Thanks!
+7 # maddave 2013-01-12 23:46
For your blog, bmalloy: This Corporate America that just raked this nearly $50 billion in tax relief/credits is currently sitting on two trillion dollars in cash or equivalents. For perspective, that is TWO-THOUSAND BILLION DOLLARS, of which they likely spent little more than $1 billion in buying that additional $50B.
+12 # MidwestTom 2013-01-12 14:57
I do not think that a change will come peacefully. Maybe they agree, and that is why they want their servants, the politicians, to find out who has a gun.
+14 # 4yourinformation 2013-01-12 15:47
If I were the 1%, I would want them all confiscated. At some point, our finite energy supply will end, the environment will punish us severely, and the rich will just take EVERY last penny the 99% (or most of it) has left. To stay safe enough to enjoy that purely feudal relationship, they would need for us to be completely disarmed. People that can't imagine that are ignoring what happens in collapses. The mighty shall rule.
+7 # swissms 2013-01-13 09:59
Our guns will not save us!
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 14:57
They know that we all have guns. That's what makes them afraid. Who wants that guy that you're kicking and robbing from and making jobless and homeless to have even a BB gun? Just like the way they train their cops and canines: attack until the attacked goes limp. America, no matter how disinterested and inane we feel that we are, we're still not limp enough for their comfort zone. They will be the judge.
+24 # James Marcus 2013-01-12 15:18
Unfortunately, 'The Rabbit Hole' goes way deeper than mere 'Advantaged Voices and Policies'. This greed goes into Price Gouging, especially on Defense Spending (read 'POLICY OF WAR'), and embezzlement.
...not only directing the Money Stream to Themselves, but 'fairly Stealing' the Lions' Share, to boot.
And Many have their hands in the Till; even unto Debt Untold.

No wonder 'The Budget 'never Balances!!
0 # noitall 2013-01-17 15:00
remember the pallets of U.S. CASH that was shipped off to Iraq to pay the war lords or whomever? Who kept the books on that. I remember seeing GIs passing a 'football' that they fashioned out of $100 bills. Now THAT is fiscal irresponsibilit y by anyone's book. If you blinked, you missed that one.
+11 # Douglas Jack 2013-01-12 15:40
Missing from the US & other world government constitutions of our era is open-transparen t participatory 'Economic' (Greek 'oikos' = 'home') Democracy. Our strengths lie in the areas of expertise which we build each in our own area of expertise both female & male, young & old.

Humanity's 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') ancestors structured life-long universal progressive ownership in multihome habitation & specialized Production Societies / Guilds. Eco-Dem is a key foundation for 'political' (Greek 'workings of the many') 'Democracy' (Greek 'power of the people'), which is meant as a subset. The solution is economic organization to rebuild Eco-Dem, not armed rebellion. The most successful human transformations have always been economic.
+20 # Smokey 2013-01-12 15:47
Hello, Occupy people...

It's back to basics time. During recent weeks, we've wandered around with various social issues and special interest groups. And, always, the discussion keeps coming back to economics and corporate power and
the ways in which the big money people walk all over the 99%. (It's the 47% - the people heavily dependent on Social Security and veterans benefits and related programs - that are being hit especially hard.)

Talking about the legalization of marijuana, and other social issues, is nice. But keep your eyes on the money.
+22 # Margarita Logan 2013-01-12 15:49
It is essential that we the citizens of this country take 3 actions to curve the power of Wall Street and other big money over our lives: 1) the repeal of Citizens United; 2) Election reform, alloting a set amount of public monies to each party equally and limiting the campaigning to 10 days before the election (as it is already in most european countries) and, 3) Full and public disclosure of campaign contributions by corporations, until # 1 and #2 can be fully achieved. It will probably take a revolution before any of these take place-- in general, the American electorate is not well informed, naive and very easily manipulated with Patriotic slogans (be it from the Right, the Left, or the NRA (the National Rampage Assoc.). Don't forget what Thomas Payne said :"Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrels".
Salutations i bona sort a tots vosaltres!
+29 # nightwolfboy 2013-01-12 16:30
Just keep following the money. Public ignorance is corporate bliss. We need far more of Bernie Sanders leading the charge to dismantle these Greedy Old Pigs. Every time we really start to pay attention to the right thing there is another shiny object held in the air for misdirection impact just a surely as Dan Halen bamboozles a bunch of squidbillies.
+22 # wrknight 2013-01-12 17:11
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the outcome to be different.

By that definition, the behavior of American voters is truly insane. Most voters focus on the President and ignore who they put in the Congress where the rules are made that the President must follow. Voters vote again and again and again for people like Max Baucus who's been in office since 1978 and who does more for Wall Streeters than he does for his own constituents. And how many others are there like him?

As long as voters continue to re-elect the politicians who are bought and paid for by corporations and big spenders, the playing field will be tilted against the middle class.

So if you want change, change the people you elect to Congress. Change them regularly, like dirty diapers. Get rid of enough of them and maybe you will find some clean ones.
+13 # Margarita Logan 2013-01-12 17:55
Ooops, I clicked on the wrong icon by mistake! I agree totally with you and you are absolutely right, a seat in Congress should not be a monopoly but rather something that you have to earn.
Unfortunately, constituents get lazy and are easily bamboozled by their own ignorance without questioning or analyzing their politician's claims. As I said earlier, there should be full disclosure of all money sources, then citizens could draw their own conclusions.
+5 # swissms 2013-01-13 10:01
I disagree. It hardly matters who we send in. Once there, the system is so rigged that everyone has to play the same game of pandering to the money. Get rid of Citizens United and take money out of elections.
+2 # JonAnthonyr 2013-01-12 18:36
"Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. "It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away."
+11 # cmp 2013-01-12 19:09
For 60 straight days our corrupt, lap dog corporate media relentlessly pounded the American people with fear.. Come to find out both Parties were holding a very well publicized auction in broad day light..

We all, (me included) desperately have to amp up BIG time our funding & support of online journalism/ists to really start watch dogging the State Legislatures & the Beltway. Time to start naming names and kicking butt in real time...

The main stream media will look pretty damn stupid when the web is "on fire" in real time and they're still snowing us with Anna Nicole Smith.
0 # fhunter 2013-01-12 19:42
I was always sure that Obama did not understand that PLUTOCRACY is taking over and therefore did not stop them, when he had the chance. Now I am not so sure anymore.
0 # sschnapp 2013-01-15 12:45
Read Ron Suskind's book "Confidence Men" to totally disabuse yourself of the notion that Obama is not firmly in the hands of the plutocracy. He is a very smart and savvy guy and knows who he must appoint to key economic posts.
+10 # hoodwinkednomore 2013-01-12 20:56
Time to OCCUPY the big white house, the federal reserve, the pentagon, the supreme court...Corpora tocracy is strangling us!
+1 # corals33 2013-01-13 12:03
Make no mistake,the term "working people" should only be applied to that small percentage of wealthy people working hard at thinking up ways to screw the "slaves" who go out every day to do their bidding.To grace the activities of these "slaves" with the description "working" is really to add insult to the injury done to their minds never mind their pocket-books.It is also the height of affront to have talking heads telling us twenty years later about what happened twenty years ago.If that is the best they can do maybe we need to have more males with the testicular requirements to turn observation and experience into good old fashioned action and agitation in a much more tangible way so that we can all express the MORALS and MORES they all seem to posit in their belated critiques.
+1 # corals33 2013-01-13 13:08
The term Boomerang Capitalism is one coined by yours truly and is described thus.
Use your wealth to sell them the semblance of acquisition only to see it do an about turn and return to source.

The Tem-plate.
Between ma(di)son avenue and Holly (tree) wood we can keep them in a state of bedeviled comfort until such time as we choose to finally convince them to do a JIM JONES in Guyana and for which we will erect the greatest monument to them.
0 # hawaiigram 2013-01-13 13:54
Something to think about
0 # goodcreek 2013-01-14 21:22
One response to all this might be to begin to educate and organize on the local and state level. Someone might be able to educate and organize the state of Montana against the cronyism and corruption of Baucus. That state had corrupt copper kings so knows how money can control. To get rid of even one corrupt congress person would help everyone.

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