Bankers take it all
If you ever happen to come across a Republican on television these days, chances are that you will hear the name Ronald Reagan. Recent Republican debates are the perfect example of the love fest that the current Republican party has for Reagan as each candidate name drops the former president at every turn. If you only listened to conservatives you would think that Jesus Christ was the only person above Reagan on the totem pole of conservative love. They talk about his love of low taxes, less government and conservative family values. The problem is that when you step out of the conservative dream and come back to reality, you find that not only was Ronald Reagan a bad president, but he was one of the worst presidents we’ve seen in modern times. Reagan’s policies have destroyed the United States for three decades, and for the eight years he was in office, here are eight reasons why Ronald Reagan was the worst president of our lifetime.
1. Reagan cut taxes for the Rich, increased taxes on the Middle Class -
Ronald Reagan is loved by conservatives and was loved by big business throughout his presidency and there’s a reason for it. When Reagan came into office in January of 1981, the top tax rate was 70%, but when he left office in 1989 the top tax rate was down to only 28%. As Reagan gave the breaks to all his rich friends, there was a lack of revenue coming into the federal government. In order to bring money back into the government, Reagan was forced to raise taxes eleven times throughout his time in office. One example was when he signed into law the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. Reagan raised taxes seven of the eight years he was in office and the tax increases were felt hardest by the lower and middle class.
2. Tripling the National Debt -
As Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, the government was left with less money to spend. When Reagan came into office the national debt was $900 billion, by the time he left the national debt had tripled to $2.8 trillion.
3. Iran/Contra -
In 1986, a group of Americans were being held hostage by a terrorist group with ties to Iran. In an attempt to free the hostages, Ronald Reagan secretly sold arms and money to Iran. Much of the money that was received from the trade went to fund the Nicaragua Contra rebels who were in a war with the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. When the scandal broke in the Untied States it became the biggest story in the country, Reagan tried to down play what happened, but never fully recovered.
4. Reagan funded Terrorists -
The attacks on 9/11 by al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden brought new attention to international terrorism. All of a sudden, Americans coast to coast wore their American flag pins, ate their freedom fries and couldn’t wait to go to war with anyone who looked like a Muslim. What Americans didn’t realize was that the same group that attacked the United States on 9/11 was funded by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Prepping for a possible war with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan spent billions of dollars funding the Islamist mujahidin Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan. With billions of American dollars, weapons and training coming their way, the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden took everything they were given and gave it back to the United States over a decade later in the worst possible way imaginable.
5. Unemployment issues -
When Ronald Reagan came into office 1981, unemployment was at 7.5%. After Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, he began raising taxes on the middle and lower class. Corporations started to ship more jobs out of the United States while hiring cheap foreign labor in order to make a bigger profit. While corporations made billions, Americans across the country lost their jobs. As 1982 came to a close, unemployment was nearly 11%. Unemployment began to drop as the years went on, but the jobs that were created were low paying and barely helped people make ends meet. The middle and lower class had their wages nearly frozen as the top earners saw dramatic increases in salary.
6. Ignoring AIDS-
By the time the 1980s came around, AIDS had become one of the most frightening things to happen to the country in recent memory. No one understood what AIDS and HIV really was and when people don’t understand something, they become scared of it. The fear of the unknown was sweeping across the country and Americans needed a leader to speak out about this horrible virus, that leader never came. Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and taking charge, Reagan kept quiet. Reagan couldn’t say the words AIDS or HIV until seven years into his presidency, a leader not so much.
7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million Undocumented Immigrants -
In today’s GOP, the idea of any immigrant staying in the United States whether they are legal or illegal isn’t something that conservatives embrace. What might shock them is that in 1982 Ronald Reagan gave nearly 3 million undocumented workers amnesty. The biggest reason for undocumented workers coming to the United States is because corporations hire them at a cheaper rate than they would an American citizen. All the laws that would have cracked down on companies who hire undocumented workers were, of course, removed from the bill.
8. His attack on Unions and the Middle Class - The Republican war on unions and the middle class has been heating up in states like Wisconsin and Ohio, but it has been going on for a long time. Unions are formed to give a united voice to the workers in an attempt to create fairness between the corporations and their employees. On August 3rd, 1981, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) went on strike in an effort to get better pay and safer working conditions. Two days later, taking the side of business, Ronald Reagan fired 11,345 workers for not returning to work.
This is why history is important… IT’S REPEATING ITSELF! The Tea Party and the nutcase right is nothing new. Back when FDR was President, it was known as the American Liberty League, in the case of this pic, it’s the John Birch Society. The father of the Koch brothers was a founding member of JBS….dun dun dun…CONSPIRACY!!! There are always those on the right who smear anyone who opposes them as “communist, socialist, radical, etc”. Lucky for us, progress keeps moving forward (socially at least) and the nutcases lose. Also, as an avowed anti-capitalist/socialist/radical, I take offense to putting centrist statist liberals in my camp. They cave to their corporate masters, we fight back.
If you think FDR, JFK, or Obama is a socialist, I have a tip for you: read a book/get smarter, because you’re probably a moron.
Got this off of facebook:
Rhetoric sound familiar? It’s just Koch reruns from the 1960s.
“This bulletin was distributed by the hateful John Birch Society which is the predecessor of today’s Tea Party … IN FACT … one of the founding members of The John Birch Society was Fred Koch - FATHER of David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers started and funded the Tea Party. It is all one in the same.”
Quick learn: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Liberty_League
Also, check out the Businessman’s plot. A plan set up by the 1% of the day and the American Liberty League to overthrow FDR and install a fascist state in the USA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_Plot
Luckily Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler blew the cover of the plot by going public with the info. He said that he “wouldn’t be a gangster for capitalism any longer” (he had overthrown several governments in Central America, etc). He wrote a book called “War is a Racket” which he told all about how war benefited corporate interests. Also, he’s a two time medal of honor winner, which should make him a credible person to the far-right crypto fascists.
This week, David Segal at the New York Times broke the news to America that not only was Apple — the computer and gadget manufacturer formerly seen as a symbol of good old American ingenuity — making its profits on the backs of abused factory workers in China, but also on poorly paid store employees here in the US.
Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute notes that’s just a dollar above the federal poverty level. This for a company that paid nine of its top executives a total of $441 million in 2011.
“The discrepancy between Apple’s profits/executive pay and its compensation to its workers is a particularly glaring example of what is occurring in the wider economy,” Mishel writes.
And he’s right. Also this week, Henry Blodget at Business Insider posted three charts that show just how out of whack our economic system really is. Corporate profits are now at an all-time high, while wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low, and fewer Americans are currently employed than at any time in the previous three decades.
Companies like Apple are squeezing their workers, leaving them to live on less, while lavishing pay and benefits on their executives. The death of lionized Apple chief Steve Jobs seems to have opened a floodgate of reporting and criticism of the company’s labor practices, but all this really proves is that Jobs and his empire are no better than, and no different from, the rest of the US business elite. Just like everyone else, they’re taking their profits directly out of workers’ pockets.
“One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those ‘wages’ are other companies’ revenue,” Blodget points out. And high unemployment makes workers willing to accept those poverty wages. When you’re desperate for a job, any job is better than nothing.
Right-wingers from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul have used high unemployment as an opportunity to call for eliminating the minimum wage entirely, letting companies decide just how little they think their workers are worth. Companies love to claim that if they’re forced to pay more, they’ll have to eliminate jobs, but these numbers show that actually, they’re able to keep wages low and refuse to hire; available cheap labor supposedly leads to more job creation, but it’s the hollow, gnawing fear created by ongoing high unemployment that keeps wages low and workers passive. And the rich are getting ever richer.
The “recession” is over — officially it ended in 2009, but for most people the pain was just beginning. Real incomes have continued to fall, and governments continue to slash budgets while corporate profits just keep going up. This is the new normal.
And it’s only going to get worse.
The rhetoric of austerity, sounded loudest from Republicans but often echoed by far too many Democrats, is a language of belt-tightening, of shared sacrifice, of somber speeches by pompous politicians who proclaim that they feel your pain while announcing budget cuts that freeze salaries, lay off workers and force more work onto those who remain. And CEOs use that same language when sorrowfully explaining why they simply can’t create jobs. Morgan Stanley’s CEO, James Gorman, beset by New Yorkers at his bank’s shareholder meeting, blamed the lousy economy when asked why he hadn’t created the jobs his company had promised the city in exchange for massive tax breaks.
Because that’s what rich corporations are able to buy with their record profits: politicians who turn around and hand them even more money, often in the form of tax breaks that hollow out city and state budgets and force even more austerity and even more social service cuts that fall on the backs of the same underpaid workers. (Remember FreshDirect, which was handed $129 million in tax subsidies to create $8-an-hour jobs?)
Corporate taxes, too — at least the ones corporations actually pay — are at a 40-year low, with an effective tax rate paid of 12.1 percent. They’ve fallen from about 6 percent of GDP to less than 2 percent, according to ThinkProgress’s Pat Garofalo. Once again, that’s what you can buy when you’d rather pay politicians than your workers.
Chris Hayes, in his new book Twilight of the Elites, notes that the ultra-wealthy have spawned a whole “income defense” industry dedicated to preserving their wealth and power, an industry that works tirelessly to push policies that favor the rich. He writes:
Over the last decade, the political arm of the income defense industry has been wildly successful. The tax cuts passed by Bush and extended by Obama represent a total of $81.5 billion transferred from the state into the hands of the richest 1 percent. Meanwhile, hedge fund managers and their surrogates have deployed millions of dollars to lobbyists to maintain the so-called carried-interest loophole, a provision of tax law that allows fund managers to classify much of their income drawn from investing gains as “carried interest” so that it is taxed at the low capital gains rate of 15 percent, rather than the marginal income rate, which would in most cases be more than twice that. It was this wrinkle in the law that helped Mitt Romney, a man worth an estimated quarter of a billion dollars, pay an effective tax rate of just under 14 percent in 2010. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, the House of Representatives passed a bill closing the loophole, only to see it beaten back by an intense wave of lobbying in the Senate.
With Citizens United, the Supreme Court gave the ultra-rich yet another weapon in the class war, another tool by which to control our politics. MIT economist Daren Acemoglu told ThinkProgress, “We already had a very serious problem. Instead of trying to stem that tide [of money in politics], we’ve done the opposite, and we’ve now opened the sluice gate and said you can use that money with no restrictions whatsoever.”
It’s bad enough when the rich use their money to buy themselves tax breaks that help them get even richer. But millionaires and billionaires from Bill Gates to Betsy DeVos to Mark Zuckerberg are also putting money into pet political ideas — on education, for example, where their money buys them outsized influence over policy. Politics has become a playground for the ultra-rich where they get to test their pet theories on the rest of us, and we’re expected to smile and thank them for their charity.
It’s not just tax breaks and subsidies that have created massive inequality — it’s also full-on war on the only means of organized power that working people ever had: unions. Private-sector union density hovers around 7 percent right now after years of concerted attacks, and for the last couple of years public-sector unions have been in the 1 percent’s crosshairs.
From the Supreme Court, where Samuel Alito wrote a majority decision attacking unions’ ability to collect money from workers they represent for political activity, to the reelection of Scott Walker in Wisconsin, public-sector unions are under pressure. Politicians keep slashing public-sector jobs, keeping unemployment high and tax revenues low and stalling the recovery, but they’re also part of the attack on the one part of the economy that still has a strong union culture.
As unions declined, so have wages for most people. The Center for American Progress found in a study that as union membership decreases, so does the so-called middle class’s share of national income. The middle class has long served as a buffer between those at the top and those at the bottom. As long as the majority of Americans were comfortable, had decent jobs and pensions, and could send their kids to school, the wealthy could stay wealthy and the poor were pretty much just ignored. And that middle class was built through decades of union agitation, not just for higher wages and health care benefits, but for the eight-hour day, for the weekend, and for safety in the workplace and some job security.
But now the middle class has been hollowed out. Increasingly, there are the super-super-rich, and there are the rest of us.
As Hayes writes, we’re ruled by an ever-smaller group of elites who not only control all the resources, but all the power. The same people who are pushing wages downward are the ones paying for politicians’ campaigns, and they’re the same people on the boards of directors and trustees of our universities and our institutions — like JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, who serves on the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, the Harvard Business School, and Catalyst, as well as on the board of trustees of New York University School of Medicine.
Meanwhile, for the vast majority of us, the recession that supposedly ended in 2009 looks more like a depression each day, and as long as low wages and high unemployment remain the order of the day, there’s no recovery in sight.