The Pueblo Chieftan

Letter: Obamacare vs. Wall Street

Tea Party wunderkinds in Congress have taken up arms against Obamacare. They intend to make defunding Obamacare a condition of raising the debt ceiling. They claim such benevolent programs – including food stamps, unemployment benefits, even social security – are causing our economic problems, bloating our national budget deficit and our national debt.

Who’s really pushing this movement, which could, it is said, plunge the economy into another ruinous downturn if the fight persists and the government shuts down? Washington D.C. journalist Mark Leibovich says in his new book “This Town” that the money pouring into Washington D.C. lobbyists, consultants and political action committees to support big-money’s causes has increased exponentially this past decade. Fiscal responsibility, they would say, is their main cause – in addition to their tax avoidance agenda.

It should be obvious where the money is coming from to support the bloviating talkers on radio and TV who seem intent on bamboozling the public to generate support for big money’s causes. They seem to think fiscal responsibility can be achieved mainly on the backs of the so-called entitlement programs and middle-income taxpayers.

Five years ago, Dick Fuld (UC Boulder graduate), CEO of Lehman Brothers, took his Wall Street firm into bankruptcy. Lehman was considered too bloated with toxic assets (securitization gimmicks invented by the big banks) to be saved in the $700 billion TARP bailout program invented by Treasury and the Fed and funded with taxpayer money. Many of the big banks survived because of the program. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy sank into the Great Recession – an economic meltdown that cost millions of middle-class jobs and added trillions of dollars to the national debt. Many people now recipient of social programs were gainfully employed before the meltdown.

Wall Street bankers, hedge funds, private equity and venture capital, the securitization-gimmick class, received multimillion dollar bonuses that the $700 billion TARP bailouts facilitated. The same class is largely to blame for the economic meltdown. What have they done to repair the damage they created? Yes, the top marginal tax rate was increased for earnings over $250,000, from 35 to 39.6%.

The investor class, however, pays a maximum marginal rate of 15 percent on investment income, and hedge fund managers pay a top rate of 20 percent on their earnings, while ordinary working people pay marginal rates as high as 35 percent. But, then, ordinary working people are not in a position to station lobbyists at the doors of Congress to champion their interests. It’s estimated that cutting hedge fund loopholes could cut the deficit by $18 billion.

It’s reported that eleven European countries have considered assessing a 10-cent fee on every $100 transacted in the financial markets. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has proposed an even more modest 3-cent fee here in this country, which would raise $350 billion over 10 years; a 10-cent fee would raise over $1 trillion, it is said. But the big-money interests, especially those high-maintenance Wall Street bankers, are not about to agree.

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