A Plea To President Obama: Don't Bankrupt America

President Obama's massive giveaway to Wall Street
threatens to bankrupt the federal government and undermine the agenda
that got him elected. Here are some first steps needed to change course.

Get involved in the work of "A New Way Forward," a group organizing protests around the country on April 11.

Dear President Obama,

getting a sinking feeling. Watching your appointees' latest bank
bailout makes me wonder if all your administration's good work on
health care, education, and jobs will be swept away by the
extraordinary giveaway of trillions in taxpayer money to a group of
powerful Wall Street operatives, who appear willing to bankrupt our
country to continue building their wealth and power.

this be happening on the watch of someone who, like yourself, came to
Washington with the promise of personal integrity and a concern for the
common good?

From outside the Beltway it looks
pretty clear: Your financial team's identification with Wall Street
corporations is compromising their ability to advise you on what can
save our country. Please listen to some of today's most astute
independent analysts:

Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University economist:

weeks ago, I posted an article showing how the Geithner-Summers banking
plan could potentially and unnecessarily transfer hundreds of billions
of dollars of wealth from taxpayers to banks. ... In fact, the
situation is even potentially more disastrous than we wrote. Insiders can easily game the system created by Geithner and Summers to cost up to a trillion dollars or more to the taxpayers."

Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary:

you and I and other taxpayers have kept these hedge-fund honchos flush
enough to be able to reap the bonanza that Geithner now wants to bestow
on them for cleaning up the mess they and others on Wall Street
made -- a bonanza to be financed by you and me and other taxpayers, who
are taking on all the risk."

David Korten, author of Agenda for a New Economy, and board chair of YES! magazine:

Street will continue to play out its extortion racket so long as the
public is willing to put up with the bailout-first, reform-later
capitulation of the Federal Reserve and the FDIC. There must be a strong and immediate public demand to restructure first."

William Greider, writer for The Nation, formerly with The Washington Post, and author of some of today's best books on the economy:

"If Wall Street gets its way, the 'reforms' may further consolidate power and ratify a corporate state--a
grotesque hybrid that combines the worst aspects of socialism and
capitalism. The reform ideas announced by Geithner would plant the
seeds by creating a 'systemic risk' regulator, presumably the Federal
Reserve, to oversee the largest, most politically adept banks and
financial firms that qualify as 'too big to fail.' Capitalism, with its
inherent tendency toward monopoly, would have the means to monopolize

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter:

we do not immediately halt our elite's rapacious looting of the public
treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be
repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to
ameliorate. ... The stimulus and bailout plans are not about
saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means
street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or
become serfs."

And here's William Black, a regulator who takes bank regulation seriously, in an interview with Bill Moyers:

"We're hiding the losses, instead of trying to find out the real losses. ...Follow what works instead of what's failed. Start appointing people who have records of success,
instead of records of failure. ... There are lots of things we can do.
Even today, as late as it is. Even though they've had a terrible start
to the administration. They could change, and they could change within

It's not
too late, Mr. President. We can still keep these corrupt financial
institutions from bankrupting America. We need you to stand up to the
Wall Street insiders in your own administration who might understand
what boosts the profits of banks, but not what helps our economy.
Please replace them with independent advisors, who haven't spent their
careers working for investment banks, hedge funds, and the Federal

We don't need to re-inflate the
disastrous bubble casino and we don't need to pump more taxpayer
dollars into the too-big-to-fail institutions that have caused this
mess. Instead, it's time to take a long, cold look at these banks,
which George Soros says are now "basically insolvent."

them. Reorganize them. And decentralize them -- make sure none are too
big to bring down our economy. And make sure we never again find
ourselves in the bizarre circumstance of having the biggest failures --
the ones whose actions threaten to destroy the economy -- calling the
shots in Washington. Instead, reorganize these banks so that all of
them are linked into the real economies they should be serving, not
undermining -- the locally rooted enterprises that provide the
sustainable livelihoods we need.

Yes, we can! Mr President. And for the sake of our country, we must.

Sincerely, Sarah van Gelder YES! Magazine

If you share these concerns, please:

  • Forward this message to the White House and to your lists, and repost.
  • Get involved in the work of "A New Way Forward," a group organizing protests around the country on April 11.
  • Explore more ways to rebuild our economy, while making it more sustainable, at YES! Magazine's Path to a New Economy.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.