Bailout Indignation

How about a test of your injustice barometer?

You might think that the reckless, avaricious, giant corporations,
having shrunk the economy, cost millions of jobs and then demanded that
taxpayers be dunned for years into the future for multi-trillion dollar
bailouts, would show contrition, regret, or self-restraint of their
power over Washington.

Forget it. They're baaack! Their greed and power are revving up
big time to bring Washington and you the taxpayer, you the parent, you
the consumer, you the worker, to your knees.

Here is a sample of the appalling dynamics of corporate greed and continuing over-reach each day in your nation's capital.

1. Just when people thought the taxpayer-subsidized corporate
student loan racket was ended by the Democrats, Sallie Mae, its cohorts
and lobbyists, like Jamie S. Gorelick of FannieMae notoriety, are
descending on Congress. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office
concluded that replacing these subsidized loans with direct Department
of Education lending will save $94 billion over the next ten years.

It is long overdue to end this gouging, college payola giving,
obscenely overcompensated industry, and give students an efficient and
reasonable lending system. Still, Sallie Mae, Citigroup, Bank of
America and others are swarming over Congress to retain a big piece of
the action. "Why do we even need private lenders?" correctly asks
Congressman Timothy H. Bishop, a former provost of Southampton College.

2. ABC News reports that banks are hiking already high credit card
rates and other bank-related fees: "The Banks have been given billions
of dollars of tax money and only lend it out if customers are willing
to pay extortion rights," said Tony Cesnik, a Concord, California,
resident. Cesnik adds: "The banks need a legal spanking. They are
acting like spoiled brats!" Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor and
chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel agrees: "We're asking
taxpayers to pay twice."

3. The big oil and gas companies are saturating the airwaves with
ads warning about the Obama Administration's alleged desire to tax them
$400 billion. This will cost jobs and reduce the discovery of more oil
and gas, they say. Where is this $400 billion figure from? Obama's
ambition is not much beyond repealing the tax breaks George W. Bush
gave his oily friends for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico when oil was
selling at less than $40 per barrel. Some of the oil industry's own
spokespersons admitted last year that their argument doesn't hold water
any more with such high oil prices and profits since then.

So what are the big oil corporations like Exxon doing with their
excess profits that totaled a record $45 billion just for Exxon last
year? They're not even drilling on two-thirds of the acreage they have
rights to explore. Instead Exxon is spending $35 billion to buy back
its stock and hold in cash. When the next oil shock comes, Exxon will
demand more tax breaks and other dispensations to fund its drilling.
We've seen that game played out before at the gas pump.

4. Now comes Newsweek's Michael Hirsh to report a private meeting
recently between six senators and Obama in the White House where the
president heard complaints that his proposed regulatory reforms were
too weak and were being devised by his appointed officials who were
part of the problem in Wall Street. Well, are you surprised that a new
powerful lobby created by the likes of Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman
Sachs is gearing up to stop adequate regulation of "over the counter"
derivatives, to keep these transactions secret, and to continue to
permit what Hirsh called the "systemic risk that led to the crash."
This brazen move by the incorrigible banks is underway after they
received huge bailout money from Washington. Beware they may yet demand
and receive another big bundle.

5. With workers losing millions of jobs, the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and virtually the
entire business juggernaut are amassing tens of millions of dollars to
stop the union-facilitating "card-check" legislation and any effort to
bring the federal minimum wage up to what is was back in 1968, no less,
adjusted for inflation. It is now about three dollars short of that
modest goal for hard-pressed laborers, many without health insurance.

6. And oh, how these company bosses are fighting to keep their big
bonuses going as a reward for tanking many of their own companies. Call
it hubris, arrogance, disdain for common decencies of the American
people, it all reflects too much corporate power over our lives-a
judgment over 75 percent of Americans share.

All this lobbying of Congress and the White House year after year
pays off. A study by three Kansas University professors found that a
single tax break in 2004 earned drug, manufacturing, and other
companies $220 for every dollar they spent in their cash register
politicking. Presently, Lockheed Martin is spending millions of our
taxpayer dollars to oppose Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and
many other defense experts who want to finally shut down the
price-skyrocketing F-22 fighter extravaganza designed for combat in the
Soviet Union-era.

So, are you more upset than when you started reading this column?
Feel frustrated and powerless? With your friends, ask your Senators and
Congressperson during their frequent recesses for a three-hour public
accountability session. If you can assemble 300 or more residents,
after you rev up your community, you're likely to have your elected
representatives come to an auditorium where you live and work. If they
think 500 people will show up, it is even more likely. Especially if
you are organized and tell them this is just the beginning. Just the

Without the rumble from the people back home, a majority of the
535 members of Congress will continue to kowtow to about 1500
corporations and you'll pay the price again and again. So, rumble,
rumble, rumble!

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