Friday, November 2, 2012

Romney, Rove And The Robber Barons' Return

I haven't seen a high school history textbook in years, but I'll bet you $10,000 they still mention the robber barons - - powerful captains of industry in the 19th century who ran Wall Street, controlled politicians and accumulated vast fortunes while everyday people got a shrinking piece of the pie.

Things are coming full circle.

The Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court allows corporations and their officials to flood campaigns with unprecedented, unrestricted levels of contributions; SuperPacs like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS can drop into a race and tilt the playing field with influence on behalf of the wealthy and a Tea Party, laissez-faire agenda unavailable, unimaginable just a few years ago.

Campaign records show that three Republican donors have donated a total of $100 million in this campaign cycle: casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, after giving tens of millions of dollars to Newt Gingrich, has said he might spend $100 million in the presidential race to defeat President Obama before he was done with Romney donations, too.

The unregulated economic-and-political system that enabled the emergence of the original robber barons was somewhat reined in through trust-busting and limitations on banking (undone prior to the Wall Street meltdown of 2008), but essential privileges for wealthy Americans were maintained in the tax code by politicians who had much in common with those whom we now call the 1%, or aspired to join them (see,Thompson, Tommy) through the government/corporate revolving door.

The embedded tax advantages for corporate elites explains the emerging story about how Mitt and Ann Romney were able to parlay an investment of at least $1 million in Delphi Automotive, a massive auto parts firm saved and enriched by the GM bailout, into a capital gain in the 3,000% range?

Presto: One million dollars becomes more than $30 million thanks to the tax code and the taxpayer rescue of GM - - which Romney had bashed to satisfy the Ayn Randers in his Grand Old Party.

Sweet contradiction.

But not sweet enough to disclose on tax returns when running for President because it illustrates how even in a deep recession, the system lets the rich get richer.

And, thanks to Citizens United, lets the new class of robber barons, fresh off wrecking the economy during the Bush years re-create their wealth and edge closer to the White House, better access to power for the already powerful, and, of course, making redundant riches.

Cross-posted at Purple Wisconsin.


enoughalready said...

I find it very interesting that our so-called liberal media has failed to do real due diligence on Bain Capital. But fortunately The Washington Spectator has been following Romney's corporate money trail. Turns out, when he raised some of his start up money for Bain ($6.5 million of $37 million) Romney turned to "unscrupulous" expatriate oligarchs from El Salvador, the very sort of people who funded the extremist ARENA Party which, wrote the Spectator (Sept. 15, 2012), "was directly linked to paramilitary groups and death squads that savaged the country until the war burned itself out in 1992."

enoughalready said...

According to [investigative reporter Greg] Palast, “Romney picked Ryan at the request of one of their most important donors, Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager literally known in the industry as ‘The Vulture.’”

Singer has acquired this nickname from such capers as a lawsuit, detailed in Palast’s new book, aimed at seizing $400 million intended for cholera treatment in the Congo, a maneuver that the UK, Germany and Holland all declared illegal. “Singer is seen overseas as an international outlaw, but here in the U.S. he’s a ‘job creator,’” declared Palast.

Then Palast zeroed in on Ryan, who has been a major recipient of campaign contributions from Singer (and from other Wall Street interests such as Goldman Sachs.) Palast noted how Ryan loudly denounced the bank TARP bailout and the auto industry bailouts, to the delight of his Tea Party base, but then wound up voting for them, to the glee of Wall Street contributors like Singer and Goldman. Singer benefited hugely from the auto bailout, where he managed to buy out the only steering-column factory in North America and make a 3,000 percent profit. “The auto bailout team initially resisted the outrageous amount Singer wanted, but he had the industry by the ball bearings,” quipped Palast.

[By Roger Bybee from In These Times, September 29, 2012]