RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Moyers and Winship writes: "Since Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, the top one percent of Americans have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent. After accounting for inflation, the typical hourly wage for a worker has increased just $1.23."

Bill Moyers is interviewed by Val Zavala, 01/06/12. (photo: SOCAL Connection)
Bill Moyers is interviewed by Val Zavala, 01/06/12. (photo: SOCAL Connection)

Corporate Gold on the Fiscal Cliff

By Bill Moyers, Michael Winship, Moyers and Company

13 January 13


n economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's book, End This Depression Now!, there’s a chapter titled "The Second Gilded Age" in which 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. After accounting for inflation, the typical hourly wage for a worker has increased just $1.23.

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

But they’re not satisfied with having only most of it -- they want it all. If Krugman were writing his book today, he 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 conservative 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."

And so it was -- and more. It was payback time for all those campaign donations. CEOs and lobbyists were tripping over themselves as they traipsed up and down Pennsylvania Avenue between Congress and the White House. You’ve no doubt heard about Fix the Debt, that group of business execs and retired politicians taking out TV ads and campaigning to slash the deficit. In The New York Times, Nick Confessore reported, "...close to half of the members of Fix the Debt’s board and steering committee have ties to companies that have engaged in lobbying on taxes and spending, often to preserve tax breaks and other special treatment."

Get it? They’re privately protecting their interests as they publicly urge austerity on everyone else.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and chair of the global investment giant Goldman Sachs, is on Fix the Debt’s Fiscal Leadership Council. Here’s what he said when asked by CBS News’ Scott Pelley about how he would reduce the federal deficit: "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… Social Security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career… in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained."

Yes, but Blankfein and Goldman Sachs make 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 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 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, according to The Wall Street Journal, just 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 ten lucrative years.

It won’t surprise you 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. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+51 # KrazyFromPolitics 2013-01-13 13:15
Thanks, for continuing to expose these bastards for what they are. Hopefully, in time, people will become empowered enough to demand, and take action to bring these practices to some level of fairness. I wish I had more faith in what I have just written. Chronic frustration with our system has made me entirely too cynical about our ability to do the right thing, in light of all the suffering that our greed oriented form of capitalism and finance has caused.
+34 # FIRSTNORN1 2013-01-13 17:33
[quote name="KrazyFrom Politics"] [Chronic frustration with our system has made me entirely too cynical about our ability to do the right thing, in light of all the suffering that our greed oriented form of capitalism and finance has caused.]Obama, Romney - it makes no difference until we can regulate capitalism to the point where it contains many elements of socialism such as "single-payer" health insurance for all and breaking up the banks to a size similar to Canada.
+9 # KrazyFromPolitics 2013-01-14 00:08
[quote name="KrazyFromPolitics"] [Chronic frustration with our system has made me entirely too cynical about our ability to do the right thing, in light of all the suffering that our greed oriented form of capitalism and finance has caused.]Obama, Romney - it makes no difference until we can regulate capitalism to the point where it contains many elements of socialism such as "single-payer" health insurance for all and breaking up the banks to a size similar to Canada.

I agree.
0 # shawnsargent2000 2013-01-16 14:00
Your Comments are spot on, and I will address KrazyFromPoliti cs's comments as well.
The Wall Street Bankers need to be prosecuted, but Obama won't.
The People need to rise up and demand changes NOW!
We also shouls have 'single-payer' health insurance now too.
The only way that I think that we can evolve capitalism, is for every American to refuse to pay our taxes, this year, I think it is the only way that our Government will finally listen to us!
+12 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-01-13 18:11
" and for the powerful rich." Says it all, does it not, in today's U.S. of (greed and power) A.(ddiction).

Rule of law, liberty and justice for all gone bye bye? No duh! Lots and lots to do to...

+11 # cwbystache 2013-01-13 18:34
I can hear Madonna singing in "Dick Tracy":

I got rhythm, music too, just as much as before
Got my guy and my sky of blue
Now, however, I own the view
More is better than nothing, true
But nothing's better than more, more, more
Nothing's better than more

One is fun, why not two?
And if you like two, you might as well have four
And if you like four, why not a few
Why not a slew
More! More!

If you've got a little, why not a lot?
Add a bit and it'll get to be an oodle
Every jot and tittle adds to the pot
Soon you've got the kit as well as the caboodle
More! More!

Never say when, never stop at plenty
If it's gonna rain, let it pour
Happy with ten, happier with twenty
If you like a penny, wouldn't you like many much more?

Or does that sound too greedy?
That's not greed, no, indeedy
That's just stocking the store
Gotta fill your cupboard, remember Mother Hubbard
More! More!

Each possession you possess
Helps your spirits to soar
That's what's soothing about excess
Never settle for something less
Something's better than nothing, yes!
But nothing's better than more, more, more
(Except all, all, all)
Except all, all, all
Except once you have it all (have it all)
You may find all else above
(find all else above)
That though things are bliss
There's one thing you miss, and that's
More! More!
More! More! More! More!
+39 # doneasley 2013-01-13 18:34
What's happening is shameful. We're watching evil at work. We sit and watch helplessly as Congress continues to pass legislation that is counterproducti ve to our economy. The president has had an infrastructure bill that's been passed by the Senate but can't even get to the floor of the House. And why? Republicans hate President Obama so much that they'll scuttle the nation's economy and the world economy if necessary. How much has Social Security added to the National Debt? Not one penny! But they're working a scheme where they can steal more money from Soc Sec to give to the rich while they cut necessary programs for the poor and middle class. If they're allowed to have their way, we won't know America in the next 10 years.

The money's here in America but unfortunately it's concentrated in the pockets of the rich, and Congress is working to put even more there while everyone else suffers.

+13 # jky1291 2013-01-13 23:51
To rein in corporate power only requires that personal immunity of the executives and board of directors is eliminated. Requiring those making the decisions and taking the actions that are destroying our nation to have themselves and their estates held personally responsible and financially liable for the results of their actions on their employees and their communities would end nearly all our problems immediately, as a vast majority of those problems result from corporate irresponsibilit y.
+33 # James Marcus 2013-01-13 18:41
Get The Money Out!
Publicly Funded Presidential/Co ngressional Elections.
No campaign, or Political Office Holder contributions/r emunerations, at all.
No Inflated Salaries.
No Special, Inflated Retirement Benefits for Office Holders
+16 # Art947 2013-01-13 18:42
It seems to be approaching a time when the American population should rise up and promote a "french Revolution" of sorts. If the guillotine were resurrected for all these traitors from Wall Street, the Big Banks, and their comrades in arms in Washington, D.C., then we might return to an America that we can really believe in.
+7 # cwbystache 2013-01-13 19:13
And how many who took part in the Reign of Terror in the end got their own heads taken off by it?
+16 # ladypyrates 2013-01-13 18:50
One has to recognize their enemy before they can mount an effective defence and it's painfully evident that most Americans are completely in the dark about who the enemy is (and always has been) and how long they have been around. The American economic system ("the people's capitalism" as Jefferson described it) is so robust by nature that the old world oligarchy couldn't hope to destroy it without first tapping into it through devices like the Federal Reserve and then using our own prosperity to dismantle the country piece by piece. It's taken over 100 years of treachery to bring us down to this point and the ignorance and arrogance demonstrated by so many citizens about their own government would suggest that the end game is near.
+11 # walt 2013-01-13 19:08
The Republican party stands now for the same thing they have always stood for--big money.

The worst part is that they would sacrifice the rest of America in the process of their actions to line the pockets of the rich
+5 # MidwestTom 2013-01-13 20:18
As we inflate the dollar with WE's the value of assets rises, which is how the wealthy make most of their income. If we want to bail out the banks by printing a ton of new money ( $85 Billion per month right now) we must raise the capital gains tax to very high levels.
-7 # MidwestTom 2013-01-13 20:30
The other unaddressed point in the rich/poor discussion is the respective reproduction rate of the classes. Middle class and upper income people tend to have as many children as they think that they can afford, while the poor tend to reproduce at a younger age, and at a faster rate, since taxpayers pick up the tab. no thought as to how they will be paid for.We have a family in the town where I work that has 17 children, the father is a bar tender at a dumpy bar. We have employed at least five if the older kids, and they have al been almost untrainable and undependable; and the older girls are now having kids of their own. Their cost to society os quite high.
+1 # tbcrawford 2013-01-14 13:56
Homophobic. Do these folks have a decent education, do the kids get enough to eat, and are the local religious beliefs preventing access to family planning, contraception, and yes, abortion. Does your town offer social services, preschool, food? If you can cast the first stone, fine. But I suspect you can't so get off your holier-than-tho u horse and try to do something positive to change this tragedy.
+7 # giraffee2012 2013-01-13 20:44
Yes we need a revolution but the government has such a military and police force - it may not be a "like the old times - with guns"

We need leaders with some money to pull off a coup - which allows us to communicate via phone/internet (something untraditional) -- and fast.

If Obama has any conscience he will not allow any "entitlements" to be cut! That is a mild first step but at the same time President Obama must expose the back door deals that have occurred - especially the recent ones.

Scalia must be taken out and laws must be passed to allow us 99ers to have equal clout

Ideas? present them and maybe we can get a leader to put them into action
+3 # economicminor 2013-01-14 11:58
I can see no way to stop this from continuing. Revolution will come with the collapse of our monetary system which I believe is enevitable. That which can not continue will eventually stop. The entire system is supported upon the payments from the working class. The costs go up and the income doesn't.. It is just a matter of time.
+4 # tbcrawford 2013-01-14 13:59
There are endless ideas, but never mentioned: financial transaction tax, preschool for all, elimination of big ag and energy subsidies, and END THE WARS are just a few! Lots of blogs on this and other progressive sites...Tragedy is that most folks in ignorant stupor of what's going on while they shop.
+9 # giraffee2012 2013-01-13 20:51
The social welfare programs have help. "First off, 90% of entitlement programs benefits the elderly, disabled and working households and middle income households receive a proportionate share of entitlement benefits (60% of the population and 58% of the benefits). The bottom 20% make up 20% of the population and get 32% of entitlement benefits. As an example, child poverty rates have fallen over time but “deep poverty” has increased (owing to reductions in cash public assistance and more stringent requirements for TANF). So, if the goal is to move people out of poverty, entitlement programs do help somewhat. It certainly isn’t the total solution but its one arrow in the quiver we can use to increase opportunity.

Mr. President: Do NOT touch any of the "entitlement" programs.
+10 # jky1291 2013-01-13 23:52
Equitable and Logical Program Reform

The majority of working taxpayers in this nation pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on 100% of their income their entire lives to earn the modest benefits of these programs that sustain them when they are no longer able to work. The 2% vigorously resisting paying less than 7 cents per dollar above $250,000.00 pay these taxes on less than 45% of their income, while those receiving $1,000,000.00 pay on barely more than 11%, and those collecting 10,000,000.00 are taxed on only 1.1% of their income for Social Security and Medicare. To address entitlement reform, eliminating the 99%+ tax break received by the wealthiest 1%er's would essentially eliminate the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and reduce the federal deficit and national debt substantially by equitably funding Medicare. (Social Security and Medicare taxes applied to approximately 1/2 of 1% of Mitt Romney's income.)

The petition below might suggest the solution to many of these problems by providing the greatest detriment to the Republican obstructionists talking points: TRUTH!!!

Add your support to the petition if you agree this is the appropriate means to frame the debate and redirect the discussion.
+7 # jky1291 2013-01-14 01:59
Equitable and Logical Program Reform

To President Barack Obama, House Representatives , and Senators,

Whereas there is great concern for the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare due to unfunded liabilities, and in consideration of demands for reform to strengthen those programs for future generations, and in consideration of the burden on our budget deficit and national debt due to persistent high unemployment:

Be it proposed that all exemptions of income subject to Social Security and Medicare taxation be immediately eliminated and the $110,100.00 cap on income subject to such taxes be permanently removed, thus equalizing the percentage of income upon which all income brackets are fairly paying to support these programs that benefit all the citizens of our nation.

Furthermore, be it proposed that the Social Security retirement age be returned to 65 years for 2 years in order to simultaneously reduce both the deficit and unemployment through eligibility of more than 2% of the workforce to voluntarily relinquish their jobs to be filled by the unemployed, while massively increasing the economic impact of their Social Security benefits spending from the increased funding resulting from taxing all income brackets equally.
-3 # Blows 2013-01-14 11:40
Um, the wealthy are no longer eligible to collect on what they pay in, thus making SS a welfare system, not a retirement system. A better system would be to roll your SS accounts into Roth IRA accounts, thus making it self supporting and keeping the pols hands off of your money.
+4 # tbcrawford 2013-01-14 14:33
Social Security is an INSURANCE program, paid for by employees, to maintain basic subsistence after retirement! Please don't contribute to the misinforming rhetoric of those who want to impoverish seniors. Don't forget excess SS payments are taxed! And, don't allow Wall Street to control SS funds. How do most IRAs fare? How many have never been able to afford them?
-1 # Blows 2013-01-14 19:22
Don't forget SS money goes into the general fund thanks to the pols. The Pols have changed SS from a retirement to welfare as I mentioned before. You can buy just Treasury bonds if you so desire. The amount of money they take from you would more than fund a good ROTH IRA. As it is now SS is a middle class flat tax to support the poor with welfare.
-3 # tbcrawford 2013-01-14 14:26
The additional requirement that people must retire at 65 would have resulted in two kids in foster care and one senior homeless!
+1 # jky1291 2013-01-14 19:31
Why must people retire at 65?
+4 # tbcrawford 2013-01-14 14:11
Please stop calling Social Security an "entitlement" program. I, like most elderly, have worked hard and paid for Social Security for 50 years, with some time off to raise kids. SS is a paid-for insurance program. SS payments do cover some social benefits, e.g., the disabled (not their fault!) and others who can not legitimately support themselves (orphaned children).

And if we are all just left to die without access to medical care, then for starters, why not give Medicare the option to bargain for drugs. Obama's plan is a start and it is slowly kicking in. I for one love it that pre-existing conditions don't deny coverage.

And, dear people who want to cut these programs, remember the exquisitely amusing ignorance of the Tea Party sign: "Don't cut my Medicare" (it's a government program!)
0 # Blows 2013-01-15 08:43
Too late, It is the Democrats that have stolen your SS and given it to people that have not paid into it. Funny how you look to the Democrats to save your SS when the article cleary states the Democrats have sold you out for the banksters and 1%ers.
+7 # laurele 2013-01-13 21:30
Occupy, Occupy, Occupy!!!
+6 # HerbR 2013-01-13 21:55
What proportion of the increase in value of the U.S. is shared by those whose labors are responsible for creating it ? And who knows the answer, but is not telling us ?
+10 # mgreen 2013-01-13 21:57
We can mumble and grumble but there needs to be a united front with a good plan and an excellent implementation. Our senators and congressmen have betrayed us totally and this makes them crooks too. GoldmanSucks deserves the label and so do all the filthy banksters and crony representatives . But all the name calling does not even dent their armor which is layered in precious metals. The real question is how do we get rid of crooks like these member of Fix the Debt board? We can't because our representative have been bought and paid for. Common sense tells us we need to do several things but we have no representation. Where were our REPS when this was going on? Why are they sitting on their hands? They have joined the criminals at the top. Its ugly and its called representationa l government by corrupt men in power. They dip their fingers in the pot for $$$$.
+2 # Scott479 2013-01-13 22:20
Royal Lloyd Blankfein: "More than enough's just a good place to start". As to you and yours expectation of medicare and social security-"They' re not going to get it"
-1 # Blows 2013-01-13 22:20
Why the surprise? The USA has been that way from its very beginning.
-4 # Blows 2013-01-13 22:24
The Democrat party stands now for the same thing they have always stood for--big money.

The worst part is that they would sacrifice the rest of America in the process of their actions to line the pockets of the rich!
-14 # Blows 2013-01-13 22:30
Now are you ready for a FLAT TAX?
No exemptions and no deductions.
-8 # Blows 2013-01-13 22:45
And all that happened under a Democratic controlled House and Senate.
+6 # Dr Peter Sloane 2013-01-14 02:44
There will come a time when monarchy, autocracy & religious authority (and oligarchy) will be overthrown by the new enlightenment principles of Equality, Citizenship & Inalienable Rights.
That HAPPENED! France 1789 - 1799, it worked then and it still works now in France.
Repression is the only lasting philosophy in America right now.
+3 # mjc 2013-01-14 12:09
It has taken far too long for Americans to come to reality of big money interests, and all the way has been strewn with terms like class warfare, socialism, anti-capitalism to keep most of us from that understanding.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.