All Hail the Corporatist in Chief

Any one who thinks the Democratic Party or the Democratic President represent the interests of the little guy in this oh you asscountry can’t be reading any newspapers. I’ve always thought that the Republican Party overly favored big business and was out to set up monopolies for all its cronies. It’s hard to believe anyone aligning themselves with liberal interests  or even a real conservative could support the continuing infusion of cash, tax cuts, and legal breaks to industries that are squeezing the profits out of both workers and businesses that actually make something or do something. The middlemen are now running the country and snatching its wealth.

First, there’s this Politico Story where even the headline offends my sensibilities of justice and fairplay: Dem officials set stage for corporate-backed health care campaign. The President’s undisclosed meetings are reminding me more and more of the Dubya/Cheney years.

At a meeting last April with corporate lobbyists, aides to President Barack Obama and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) helped set in motion a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, primarily financed by industry groups, that has played a key role in bolstering public support for health care reform.

The role Baucus’s chief of staff, Jon Selib, and deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina played in launching the groups was part of a successful effort by Democrats to enlist traditional enemies of health care reform to their side. No quid pro quo was involved, they insist, as do the lobbyists themselves.

The result has been a somewhat unlikely alliance between an administration that came into power criticizing George W. Bush for his closeness to Big Business and groups such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the American Medical Association.

The previously undisclosed meeting April 15 at the offices of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee led to the creation of two groups — Americans for Stable Quality Care and a now-defunct predecessor group called Healthy Economy Now — that have spent tens of millions of dollars on TV advertising supporting health reform efforts.

No sooner had I read that then I went to WaPo and found this one: Bailed-Out Banks Raking In Big Profits.

The nation’s largest banks, preserved from failure by federal aid and romping in markets revived by federal aid, are racking up vast profits even as the broader economy struggles to emerge from recession.

While loan losses continue to mount, the banks are making it up on Wall Street, trading in stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, and collecting fees for services such as helping companies raise money.

Goldman Sachs and Citigroup reported third-quarter profits Thursday, joining J.P. Morgan Chase in outstripping the expectations of financial analysts and solidifying their places as among the banks that have benefited most from the government’s massive rescue of the financial industry.

Of course, I’ve been advocating for better control of the shadow banking system for as long as I can remember. These guys are now  out in the day light and acting like the financial crisis never even happened. They’re in better market position than they have ever been and are now using it to sell portfolios back and forth to run up paper profits. Not only that, the so-called defenders of the little guy are not only doing nothing, they’re doing worse than nothing. HelenK brought my attention to this one from the NY Times: Bill Shields Most Banks From Review. Just when you thought their loanshark-like lending practices which contributed so heavily to the bad economy and so many job losses would be exposed, Barney the Congressman (not the Dinosaur) shows where his bread is buttered.

Bowing to political pressure from community bankers, the House Financial Services Committee approved an exemption on Thursday for more than 98 percent of the nation’s banks from oversight by a new agency created to protect consumers from abusive or deceptive credit cards, mortgages and other loans, The New York Times’s Stephen Labaton reported.

The carve-out in legislation overhauling the regulatory system would prevent the new consumer financial protection agency from conducting annual examinations of the lending practices at more than 8,000 of the nation’s 8,200 banks, leaving only the largest banks and other lenders subject to the agency’s examiners.

Earlier in the day, the committee completed its work on a different contentious provision of the legislation when, on a nearly straight party-line vote of 43 to 26, it approved tougher regulations over the derivatives market. That provision, too, contained exemptions for many businesses.

The exemption for the banks was endorsed by the chairman, Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, who saw it as necessary to win support for the overall bill from the committee’s moderate and conservative Democrats. Their support is particularly important because the Republicans are unified against the legislation.

How much longer can our national wealth and legislative process support people that basically do nothing for a living but act as cost inducing middle men in markets? Insurance companies and Investment bankers have very little value added. They just run up costs between the real customers and the real producers of the goods and services. Why are they being protected and why is their profit grabbing ability being enhanced by the democrats in Washington?

Just so you know where the real damage lies, take a look at the USA today headline: Wages tumble toward 18-year low.

Average weekly wages have fallen 1.4% this year for private-sector workers through September, after adjusting for inflation, to $616.11, a USA TODAY analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found. If that trend holds, it will mark the biggest annual decline in real wages since 1991.

The bureau’s data cover 82% of private-sector workers but exclude managers and some higher-paid professionals.

“Wages are usually the last thing to deteriorate in a recession,” says economist Heidi Shierholz of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “But it’s happening now, and wages are probably going to be held down for a long time.”

Insurance companies and financial middle men do nothing but stand between the consumer and the producer. They add tremendous levels of cost and confusion to those markets and have no gone from helping businesses manage risk to creating more of it. They are anomalies or so-called frictions in a market economy. We does our President and our Congress keep feeding the Sharks and the Vampire Squids?

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Obama and the Enhanced Status Quo

monopoly smoke ringsWe were promised changed. What we are getting is perpetuation of the status quo. Let’s try this headline at the Guardian on for size “Goldman Sachs to make record bonus payout”.

Staff at Goldman Sachs staff can look forward to the biggest bonus payouts in the firm’s 140-year history after a spectacular first half of the year, sparking concern that the big investment banks which survived the credit crunch will derail financial regulation reforms.

A lack of competition and a surge in revenues from trading foreign currency, bonds and fixed-income products has sent profits at Goldman Sachs soaring, according to insiders at the firm.

Staff in London were briefed last week on the banking and securities company’s prospects and told they could look forward to bumper bonuses if, as predicted, it completed its most profitable year ever. Figures next month detailing the firm’s second-quarter earnings are expected to show a further jump in profits. Warren Buffett, who bought $5bn of the company’s shares in January, has already made a $1bn gain on his investment.

The bold part says it all. There continues to be a systematic elimination of competition from merger mania in the financial sector which has created two classes of too-big-to-fail institutions. We now have those that function completely with government funding and those that function by funding candidates for government. Goldman Sachs is benefiting immensely from both.

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