In November of 2008, while Barack Obama was winning an election, George W. Bush was already planning his exit. In addition to the two wars he was leaving us, the Bush Administration was preparing a surprise, a giant drop in the economy. Republicans in Wall Street had engineered speculative financial instruments based on derivatives tied to worthless mortgages.
The Great Recession, planned for collapse in the first months of the Obama Administration, came a little early when Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, came to Congress in the Fall of 2008 and literally begged Congress to save the financial community from financial collapse and the country from a gigantic depression.
The huge spenders in the Bush Administration were handing the Democratic Congress a $700 billion bailout bill for Wall Street. Paulson wanted it to be a bailout with no strings attached. The Democrats said: no way. They would provide enough funds, about half of what Paulson wanted, to coagulate the bleeding but no more until and unless reviewed and approved by Congress. Otherwise Paulson could go down with Bush and Cheney as part of the next-most-hated Administration after the Hoover Administration. Do as we want, Paulson said or let the bread lines begin. Congress gave in. After two years of trying to pass legislation against 97 straight Republican Senatorial filibusters, slowing reform from November of 2006 to November 2008, the Democratic Congress said to Wall Street…wait until after the election, then see how much money you’ll get. And Wall Street got no more in 2009 without restrictions on salaries and bonuses.
The severity of the economic shock was a surprise to many but to others it had been foreseen. While prices of homes and stocks were soaring beyond any reasonable or recognizable value, personal bankruptcies were at an all time high. Personal savings were negative. And the Bush Administration was no different, with a $455 billion deficit in 2008, and the first addition of $1 trillion annual deficit added to the national debt. Of course this included the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. But this was after Bush-Cheney budget deficits of more than $500 billion in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007! Tax cuts for the rich of over $1.2 trillion and two wars costing another trillion caused a total fiscal breakdown of the government. Republicans spent like drunken sailors, taking the national debt from $5 trillion to $11 trillion in seven years! The numbers became so large as to be almost meaningless.
At the same time, in November 2008, thanks to the lax regulation of the SEC and the Federal Reserve, Wall Street greed finally caused the cave in and the economy lost 584,000 jobs. This came after combined losses in September and October of over 700,000 jobs. By December 2008, job losses were beginning to cascade, with another loss of 524,000 to close out 2008. Then, before the new President could even take office, in January there was a terrifying loss of 741,000 jobs, then 651,000 in February and 663,000 in March. The economy handed to Barack Obama and his Cabinet was in a free fall and the Democrats were frantically organizing a program to stabilize the economy and create jobs to replace those falling through the floor.
Total job loss in 2008 was 2.6 million jobs, the greatest job loss since 1945. But the trend of job losses was accelerating. Even though the banks had been given money to keep them afloat until credit confidence returned, the job losses in the economy did not abate. The first quarter losses of 2009 went over 2 million, almost as many as all of 2008, and showed no signs of abating. It was not slowing down but gaining momentum. We were still on track for a full-blown Depression. It looked, walked, and quacked like a duck.
The jobs problem was not new to anyone in labor or personnel, although they would have described it differently. Major corporations had made several key decisions on personnel coming out of the 1980s. First, they decided to set up a two-tiered system that would allow them to work with more flexible staffs while working acceptably within labor laws. They created the contract worker system. As a contract worker, you have no security, less pay, and no benefits. You are a person on a temporary employment basis, even though you may be with a company for years.
Increasing production efficiency, contract jobs, overseas outsourcing of jobs and processes by 2008 had reduced the manufacturing workforce of about 20 million people in the late 1970s down to something like 12 million, a huge decrease. Most of the people displaced by contract work or losing jobs to overseas contractors experienced a severe cut in pay. Some never worked again, creating a further lowering of living standards.
With permanent jobs being described as having advantages, such as the “luxury” of security, more skilled and semi-professional jobs began to be sent overseas. Jobs in fields such as data technology were being sent overseas. Corporations had already cut domestic IT personnel by half a million very skilled, highly productive workers as early as 2004. It was encouraged by the Republicans and the Bush Administration as being “highly productive.” Of course, no one mentioned that it was highly detrimental to someone trying to raise a family here in the United States.
So if it was not productive for American workers, for whom was it highly productive? For major global corporations headquartered in the United States. Paraphrasing another’s comment: it makes no sense to try to sell a cheaper pair of shoes to a man who has no job.
We know for certain…and it is very difficult to get these figures because they kept quite close to the vest by corporations, that at least 3 million jobs have been sent overseas. That is not the number of people who have lost their jobs because their industries have gone overseas. That is the number whose specific job was given to a specific person in India, China or somewhere else outside the United States. It is still going on, under the guise of “too many complicated government regulations” to hire people in this country.
This baloney was spouted as recently as last Sunday’s MEET THE PRESS by the disgraced investment advisor, (why is he on MEET THE PRESS anyway?) Jim Cramer, who was justifiably humiliated on live television by the comedian Jon Stewart over the hawking of worthless stocks that led to huge losses by viewers to Cramer’s television program MAD MONEY. Cramer spouted the corporate line, yesterday, saying that corporations would hire and that he knows for certain that they are hiring…in other countries…like Brazil, but cannot do so here because of the “regulations.”
Regulations? What regulations? There are no regulations that prohibit companies from hiring contract workers. We just went over that. There are no obligations except that you pay them, usually less than other workers, but pay them what you promise. That is the idea of contract workers. Cramer, as usual, is a toady, a lackey and a shill for the big corporations he pushes on his program.
The concept of contract workers was instituted in the Reagan era to reduce costs but also to gain leverage over American workers and unions. When the alternative is to lose jobs to China permanently, the negotiating process with workers and unions is much easier for management. After several years of reduced wages and benefits, the jobs could still be shipped off shore. And that is what happened. Fewer than 7% of U.S. jobs are unionized. They are the best jobs, but they are fewer because of the weakening of Labor’s ability to organize. By the way, it is no coincidence that during this same period, corporate taxes also went down from about 20% of U.S. revenues to about 7%.
For many years, the international corporations had been moving jobs abroad and cutting hours in the United States. Unions were being hammered on hours and benefits, constantly being told that more American jobs would be lost if workers did not cut hours. By 2004 over 2.6 million jobs were lost to U.S. workers when U.S. corporations sent their jobs overseas. In addition, by 2008, companies had built up a cadre of more than 8 million part-time workers, people working fewer hours than they would like, fewer than required to gain benefits, pensions and security. Wal-Mart is one of the most notorious companies for this.
So what have the Republicans done about all this? Where are the beloved of those tea baggers? Where are the Republicans who are the “populists?” Where are the Neocons for health care, good union jobs with benefits and pensions, for retirement security and for reining in government spending? Why would the tea baggers not attack the Right Wing Republicans? These are the people who have caused the problems that they (at least the few who are not racists) would like to see addressed.
The Neoconservative Republicans, Wolfowitz, Perle, Bennett, Limbaugh, Gingrich…were the ones who voted for or promoted the Iraq War. They were the ones that voted for the two tax breaks that gave millionaires an annual $43,000 per million tax cut every year. They were the ones who voted for the incentives, yes incentives, for corporations to send jobs overseas. They are the ones who promote free trade. They are the ones who have shifted 90%of the country’s wealth to the top 1%.
The Neocons are the ones voting against affordable health care. They were the ones against tobacco regulations when Democrats voted to stop the tobacco companies from killing over 300,000 people a year from lung cancer and heart disease attributable directly to heavy smoking. They are the ones who voted against regulating the Wall Street financial institutions. They are the ones who voted against the Stimulus and yet complain that it is not working. Their solution…if you recall …was more tax cuts. How has that worked out for you?
Do you have that roughly $600 that the average citizen received, or did you spend it when we had $4.20 per gallon gasoline from your oilman President and your oilfield Vice President? Pretty quick to forget that aren’t you. And Katrina, Remember how Bush and Cheney treated them, your fellow citizens? Or are you better than they are…until it becomes a tornado in Kansas City or an earthquake in Anchorage? Or are you a Californian? Oh, sorry. We forgot. ENRON, Bush’s pals, stole $400 billion in excess energy bills while Bush laughed and said that it was ridiculous. The courts disagreed based on taped and documented evidence. It sent a lot of ENRON executives to prison and drove others to possible suicide rather than go to prison.
The avowed goal of the Republican Party is to bring down the administration of Barack Obama. A majority of people in 28 of the 50 states voted for him and 54% of the people voted for him. He is the President and he is doing what he said he would do. He is working with Congress to get them to pass a health care bill that will end the nightmare of risk that bankrupts over 500,000 Americans each year! The obstructionist Republican Party has voted in a bloc against everything that you elected the President to do for YOU.
Long before the Bush Administration was installed, the avowed effort of the Conservatives was to reduce the income of the government to make it so small that they could “drown it in a bathtub.” It has been a continuous effort by major corporations who support Republican administrations. It connects with the Republican Right Wing effort to bankrupt the government so that there will be no revenues available for social programs or anything but, of course, the military and their contractors. They want the money in their hands, not in the hands
The Right Wing commentators are paid to deliver a drumbeat of anti-administration rhetoric. It is what they are paid to do…tens of millions of dollars a year apiece for many of these radio and television Neocons, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and Beck. Savage is not even allowed to visit Great Britain. Beck has lost over 48 sponsors or more. He stays on the air because the ownership of radio stations and Fox News on television is Right Wing. The wackier he gets, the more outrageous and ridiculous his claims, the better they like it.
So the Neocon Republicans and their “Liberal Media” will continue to strike at the heart of all the goals and ambitions of the average American citizen. One day perhaps the American Public will wake up, get mad and take no more propaganda from these hate-filled, Neoconservative, Right Wing, Obstructionist Republicans.