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Green Party call Obama’s Wall St. rescue scheme wrong wrong wrong for economic recovery

America needs a Green economic recovery plan, not Obama’s Wall Street rescue operation, says Green Party

Green Party leaders today offered a set of urgent economic steps for the White House and Congress, saying that President Obama’s Wall Street rescue scheme was merely “throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into the Wall Street money hole.”

“The justifiable outrage over AIG’s use of taxpayers’ money for executive bonuses has distracted Americans from the far greater scandal — that the Obama Administration is bailing out the giant financial corporations whose unchecked power created this mess.  President Obama will fail if his goal is to rescue companies like AIG and return to the days of monster corporations controlling nearly every aspect of the US economy,” said Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for California State Controller in 2002 and 2006

“Anger over the unprecedented transfer of public money to private corporations must be channeled into political pressure on Mr. Obama and Congress members, and into electing candidates who stand for people instead of powerful lobbies.  We must not allow enthusiasm for the new adminstration to translate into a rubber stamp for more damaging policies,” said Ms. Wells.

Green Party leaders said that President Obama and Congress could bring real “change we can believe in” by introducing the following measures:

• Make assistance for Americans in dire financial need the top priority, especially aid for those facing loss of jobs and homes because of the mortgage crisis, with moratorium on home foreclosures, utility shut-offs, evictions, and rent hikes.   Instead of throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars into the Wall Street money hole, use the federal government’s power to stimulate the economy by creating jobs with a major public works program. 

• Restore the Glass-Steagall Act (passed during the Depression, separating banking from insurance and securities trading), usury laws (prohibiting credit card companies and other financial firms from charging exorbitant interest), and other regulations of the financial industry that were stripped during the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush era.  These rules were designed to prevent catastrophes like the one the US is undergoing now.

• Nationalize insolvent banks and keep them as public banks; nationalize the mortgage industry, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; break up the giant financial conglomerates; strengthen provisions to recapitalize pension funds.  ‘Too big to fail’ means too risky for a healthy economy and too powerful for a healthy democracy.  Introduce measures to decentralize the economy, with aid for small and local banks and credit unions.  Rescue Main Street instead of Wall Street.  (Nationalization talk from liberal politicians and pundits often means lemon socialism: writing down bad assets at public expense to clean up banks’ balance sheets and then reselling them to private investors.  Bad assets should cost investors, not the public.)

• End trading in toxic financial instruments, including risky derivatives, hedge funds, junk bonds, collateral debt obligations (CDOs), and credit default swaps (CDSs) that create phantom wealth for financiers based on expensive gambles for the rest of America.

• Make the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Securities Exchange Commission, and other regulators transparent and accountable to taxpayers.  Unfortunately, President Obama appointed experts like Treasury Secrety Timothy Geithner and economic advisor Larry Summers who promoted and oversaw the deregulatory policies that led to the current crisis.  Mr. Geithner declared his real loyalties shortly after he took office when he said, “We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we’d like to do our best to preserve that system.”

• Enact election reforms to restrict the power corporations have over Democratic and Republican politicians and open the political field to noncorporate parties and candidates.  (Greens accept no corporate contributions.)  From 1998 to 2000, the financial industry spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and $3.4 billion on lobbyists.  The result is that too many members of Congress — including influential Democrats like Charles Schumer (NY) and Barney Frank (Mass.), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee — have legislated on behalf of top financial firms instead of taxpayers and working people.

• Make corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes; aggressively investigate and prosecute Wall Street and mortgage industry fraud and tax evasion.  A retroactive tax on windfall revenue on the oil-energy industry, with a return to 1981 level capital income taxation and repatriation of the $2 trillion from offshore tax havens, will finance a recovery plan for working Americans.

Green leaders listed further steps that Congress and the White House can take to end the recession and give the US a sound economic plan for the 21st century:

• Reorient industries in light of current human and ecological needs, especially to curb the advance of global warming.  By nationalizing broke car companies, we can run them democratically as public enterprises to produce light rail equipment for expanded public transportation, electric cars, hybrids, etc.  Cities and towns can be redesigned, with new construction to encourage density instead of congestion, as well as retrofitting and greening of housing, businesses, and government buildings for energy conservation.  New jobs in watershed rehabilitation, alternative clean and safe energy, and other green programs will put millions of Americans to work.

Enact Single-payer national health care (Medicare For All) to prevent Americans from going broke because of health emergencies.  Single-payer will relieve the financial burden on companies that provide benefits for employees, and eliminate the participation of insurance companies, which add high cost but no value to the health care system.  According to the National Nurses Organizing Committee (http://calnurses.org), Single-payer would generate 2.6 million new jobs, $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and $100 billion in wages.

• Withdraw all US troops and military contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan, ending the wars and occupations that have drained trillions of dollars from the US economy and inflicted death and ruin on these countries and on the lives of US servicemembers.

MORE INFORMATION

Interview with William Greider
Bill Moyer’s Journal, PBS, March 27, 2009
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03272009/profile.html
Transcript: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/03272009/transcript2.html)

“The Big Takeover: The global economic crisis isn’t about money – it’s about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution.”
By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, Issue 1075, April 2, 2009
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/26793903/the_big_takeover

“How to Fail to Recover”
By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate, March 24, 2009
http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/stiglitz110
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/03/24-8

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