The Quiet Coup d’Etat

JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, BP, Chevron, WalMart, billionaires Charles and David Koch are launching a multi-million dollar TV ad buy Tuesday blasting President Obama over the national debt. Actually, I don’t know who’s behind the ad, because there’s no way to know. And that’s a big problem. The front group for the ad is Crossroads GPS, the sister organization to the super PAC American Crossroads, run by Republican political operative Karl Rove. Because Crossroads GPS is a tax-exempt nonprofit group, it can spend unlimited money on politics and it doesn’t have to reveal where it gets the dough. By law, all it has to do is spend most of the money on policy “issues,” which is a fig leaf for partisan politics. (Robert Reich – Roubini Global – 05/06/2012)

Here’s what counts as an issue ad, as opposed to a partisan one: The narrator in the ad Crossroads GPS is launching solemnly intones: “In 2008, Barack Obama said, ‘We can’t mortgage our children’s future on a mountain of debt.’ Now he’s adding $4 billion in debt every day, borrowing from China for his spending. Every second, growing our debt faster than our economy,” he continues. “Tell Obama, stop the spending.” This is a lie, by the way. Obama isn’t adding to the debt every day. The debt is growing because of obligations entered into long ago, many under George W. Bush, including two giant tax cuts that went mostly to the very wealthy that were supposed to be temporary and which are still going, courtesy of Republican blackmail over raising the debt limit. In realty, government spending as a portion of GDP keeps dropping. As I said, I don’t know who’s financing this lie but there’s good reason to think it’s some combination of Wall Street, big corporations, and the billionaire Koch brothers. According to the inside-Washington “Politico,” Koch brothers’ network alone is planning to spend $400 million over the next six months trying to defeat Obama, which is more than Senator John McCain spent on his entire 2008 campaign. Big corporations and Wall Street are also secretly funneling big bucks into front groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that will use the money to air anti-Obama ads but keep their identities secret. Looking at all the anti-Obama super PACs and the political fronts like Crossroads GPS, Politico estimates the anti-Obama forces (including the Romney campaign) will outspend Obama and pro-Obama groups by 2 to 1 over the next six months.

How can it be that big corporations and billionaires will be spending unlimited amounts shoving out lies like this one, without any accountability because no one will know where the money is coming from? Blame a majority of the Supreme Court in its grotesque 2010 Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission decision, as well as the IRS for lax enforcement that lets political front groups like Crossroads GPS or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pretend they’re not political. But you might also blame something deeper, more sinister. I’m not a conspiracy theorist (you can’t have served in Washington and seriously believe more than two people can hold on to a big story without it leaking), but I fear that at least since 2010 we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat, financed by a handful of billionaires, along with some big companies and Wall Street banks, all intent on repealing every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal by telling Americans a few big lies, over and over. I desperately hope I’m wrong, but there’s growing evidence I may be right.



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

7 Responses to The Quiet Coup d’Etat

  1. (…..) Además de las ideas y valores, interesa la sociología de cada partido. Los seguidores del partido republicano son en un 87% blancos no hispanos, grupo que solo alcanza el 55% de seguidores del partido demócrata, donde crecen los afroamericanos y los hispanos. Esta es una cuestión capital para el futuro electoral en un país que está cambiando muy rápidamente de composición étnica. Según el último censo de población, publicado el pasado mayo, el número de nacimientos entre las minorías, que conforman el 36% de la población estadounidense, es ya mayor que entre los blancos americanos. Entre los republicanos, además de escasa población no blanca, hay menos mujeres y jóvenes, lo que da un partido muy anclado en la identidad americana tradicional. El partido demócrata, en cambio, evoluciona más rápidamente al compás del cambio demográfico y étnico. Esta es la sociología del voto que le espera a Obama en noviembre en su enfrentamiento con Romney. Las tendencias favorecen a largo plazo a los demócratas, pero no está claro todavía que puedan sacar provecho de los cambios demográficos ni que esté asegurada la reelección del actual presidente, puesto que el grupo de población masculina blanca de más edad es la que tiene más dinero y poder para influir en las campañas electorales.

  2. When Gov. Scott Walker moved to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective-bargaining rights last year, a few weeks after taking office, it was clear that he wasn’t doing it to save the state money. If that had been the case, he would have accepted the unions’ agreement to pay far more in health care and pension costs. His real goal was political: to break the unions by demonizing their “bosses,” ending their ability even to collect dues and removing them as a source of money and energy for Democrats. On Tuesday, as Mr. Walker easily fought off a recall by a 7-point margin over his challenger, it became clear just how effective that strategy has been. To start, labor failed to nominate its preferred candidate last month to run against Mr. Walker. Instead, Democrats chose Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, who then barely talked about collective-bargaining rights, sensing it would not help him. Nearly a third of union voters (presumably from private-sector unions) voted for Mr. Walker, exit polls showed, as did nearly half of voters from union households who were not union members. Some of those union voters, like many others, undoubtedly felt that recalls should be reserved for official misconduct. But, clearly, over the course of 18 months, Mr. Walker and his allies managed to convince even union households in a former labor bastion that bargaining rights for public sector employees were bad for the state. How did he do that? With the aid of more than $45.6 million, most of it from outside the state, that paid for ads praising him for his “courage” in taking on unions and attacking labor for its “selfish” intransigence. As one ad put it, “Labor union mobs led by Barack Obama’s Organizing for America are trying to intimidate and harass Governor Walker and lawmakers in Madison, simply because they’re finally doing the right thing” (…..)

  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: During my graduate years at MSU in the 70s, the UW-Madison was one of the most progressive academic centers in the country, particularly the graduate school of labor economics. The US labor movement was at its zenit. Since then, the labor movement took a dive as manufacturing jobs were lost to overseas competition, particularly Asia. The conclusion of this piece, The Message From Wisconsin, is chilling for the labor movement.

    Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s move to strip Wisconsin public employees of their collective-bargaining rights is a landmark event.

    Even more damaging from a political standpoint, is how easily Gov Walker defeated a recall sponsored by the unions. The defeat of the public unions in Madison — among the worst economic downturn since the 30s — sends a powerful message during an election year. Capital has won over labor again. Ironically, in the context of US politics and economic model, it makes sense. No jobs, no unions.

  4. Tuesday, June 5, 2012, will be remembered as the beginning of the long decline of the public-sector union. It will follow, and parallel, the shrinking of private-sector unions, now down to less than 7 percent of American workers. The abject failure of the unions to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) — the first such failure in U.S. history — marks the Icarus moment of government-union power. Wax wings melted, there’s nowhere to go but down. The ultimate significance of Walker’s union reforms has been largely misunderstood. At first, the issue was curtailing outrageous union benefits, far beyond those of the ordinary Wisconsin taxpayer. That became a nonissue when the unions quickly realized that trying to defend the indefensible would render them toxic for the real fight to come. So they made the fight about the “right” to collective bargaining, which the reforms severely restricted. In a state as historically progressive as Wisconsin — in 1959, it was the first to legalize the government-worker union — they thought they could win as a matter of ideological fealty. But as the recall campaign progressed, the Democrats stopped talking about bargaining rights. It was a losing issue. Walker was able to make the case that years of corrupt union-politician back-scratching had been bankrupting the state. And he had just enough time to demonstrate the beneficial effects of overturning that arrangement: a huge budget deficit closed without raising taxes, significant school-district savings from ending cozy insider health-insurance contracts, and a modest growth in jobs. The real threat behind all this, however, was that the new law ended automatic government collection of union dues. That was the unexpressed and politically inexpressible issue. That was the reason the unions finally decided to gamble on a high-risk recall. Without the thumb of the state tilting the scale by coerced collection, union membership became truly voluntary. Result? Newly freed members rushed for the exits. In less than one year, ­AFSCME, the second-largest public-sector union in Wisconsin, has lost more than 50 percent of its membership (…..)

  5. Just 44 percent of Americans approve of the job the Supreme Court is doing and three-quarters say the justices’ decisions are sometimes influenced by their personal or political views, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News. Those findings are a fresh indication that the court’s standing with the public has slipped significantly in the past quarter-century, according to surveys conducted by several polling organizations. Approval was as high as 66 percent in the late 1980s, and by 2000 approached 50 percent. The decline in the court’s standing may stem in part from Americans’ growing distrust in recent years of major institutions in general and the government in particular. But it also could reflect a sense that the court is more political, after the ideologically divided 5-to-4 decisions in Bush v. Gore, which determined the 2000 presidential election, and Citizens United, the 2010 decision allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions. “The results of this and other recent polls call into question two pieces of conventional wisdom,” said Lee Epstein, who teaches law and political science at the University of Southern California. One is that the court’s approval rating has been stable over the years, the other is that it has been consistently higher than that of the other branches of government, Professor Epstein said. On the highest-profile issue now facing the court, the poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans hope that the court overturns some or all of the 2010 health care law when it rules, probably this month. There was scant difference in the court’s approval rating between supporters and opponents of the law. Either way, though, many Americans do not seem to expect the court to decide the case solely along constitutional lines. Just one in eight Americans said the justices decided cases based only on legal analysis. “As far as the Supreme Court goes, judgments can’t be impersonal,” Vicki Bartlett, 57, an independent in Bremerton, Wash., said in a follow-up interview. “When you make judgments, it’s always personal. But the best hope is that they will do their job within the legal parameters” (…..)

  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The Supreme Court’s fall from grace in public perception is a natural outcome. The only surprise is how long the American thinking elite took to realize this new reality. After all, American justice is the ONLY public institution that guarantees a sense of fairness in the great game of politics and economics.

    This raises a fundamental question about the near future: Can the American people trust its justice system in times of economic decline and social turmoil

  7. American Electric Power, one of the country’s largest utilities, gave $1 million last November to the Founding Fund, a new tax-exempt group that intends to raise most of its money from corporations and push for limited government. The giant insurer Aetna directed more than $3 million last year to the American Action Network, a Republican-leaning nonprofit organization that has spent millions of dollars attacking lawmakers who voted for President Obama’s health care bill — even as Aetna’s president publicly voiced support for the legislation. Other corporations, including Prudential Financial, Dow Chemical and the drugmaker Merck, have poured millions of dollars more into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a tax-exempt trade group that has pledged to spend at least $50 million on political advertising this election cycle. Two years after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened the door for corporate spending on elections, relatively little money has flowed from company treasuries into “super PACs,” which can accept unlimited contributions but must also disclose donors. Instead, there is growing evidence that large corporations are trying to influence campaigns by donating money to tax-exempt organizations that can spend millions of dollars without being subject to the disclosure requirements that apply to candidates, parties and PACs. The secrecy shrouding these groups makes a full accounting of corporate influence on the electoral process impossible. But glimpses of their donors emerged in a New York Times review of corporate governance reports, tax returns of nonprofit organizations and regulatory filings by insurers and labor unions. The review found that corporate donations — many of them previously unreported — went to groups large and small, dedicated to shaping public policy on the state and national levels. From a redistricting fight in Minnesota to the sprawling battleground of the 2012 presidential and Congressional elections, corporations are opening their wallets and altering the political world. Some of the biggest recipients of corporate money are organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, the federal designation for “social welfare” groups dedicated to advancing broad community interests. Because they are not technically political organizations, they do not have to register with or disclose their donors to the Federal Election Commission, potentially shielding corporate contributors from shareholders or others unhappy with their political positions. “Companies want to be able to quietly push for their political agendas without being held accountable for it by their customers,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has filed complaints against issue groups. “I think the 501(c)(4)’s are likely to outweigh super PAC spending, because so many donors want to remain anonymous.” Because social welfare groups are prohibited from devoting themselves primarily to political activity, many spend the bulk of their money on issue advertisements that purport to be educational, not political, in nature. In May, for example, Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a group co-founded by the Republican strategist Karl Rove, began a $25 million advertising campaign, carefully shaped with focus groups of undecided voters, that attacks Mr. Obama for increasing the federal deficit and urges him to cut spending (…..)


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