Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein said today that President Obama's recent populist rhetoric cannot mask the reality that his White House is continuing policies that benefit big corporations and the very rich at the expense of working people.
“President Obama is touting the robo-signing deal with the big six banks, the tax deal sold as job creation, and his budget proposal as populist measures. But in fact these policies impose austerity on the 99% to pay for the luxuries of the 1%,” Stein said.
Stein criticized the bank settlement announced by the Obama administration in early February as “another bailout for the big banks. It shows once again why Obamanomics is a phony populism, and how his rhetoric masks the same old trickle-down policies.” Of the $25 billion in relief for underwater homeowners, only $5 billion split among six giant banks, will be in the form of hard cash payments to foreclosed homeowners, Stein said. The $25b claimed by the Obama Admnistration is “deceptive” according to Stein since it misleadingly gives banks credit for making a sacrifice when they give up on uncollectable loans.
“Furthermore, the claimed $25 billion pales in comparison to the $144 billion in bonuses that top management paid itself in these six banks in 2011,” Stein said.
Stein noted that $25 billion is insignificant compared to the scale of the problem. “We have a $700 billion problem - in which 14 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages. Now with this deal, millions more homes will be fast-tracked for foreclosure this year, which will further depress the housing market as these homes flood the market,” Stein said.
“In essence, the Obama Administration is allowing the big banks to pay a small fee to buy protection from prosecution,” Stein said. She said that the maximum $2000 per loan compensation for illegally foreclosed homes is only about 1% of the average $180,000 mortgage. “Families are on the streets and none of the robo-signing bank servicers are going to jail for forgery and fraud. The penalty is so trivial that the banks have every incentive to continue similar profitable criminal activities.”
Stein said that “a real solution to the housing crisis and the larger failure of the big banks to invest in the real economy of production is to break up the too-big-to-fail banks and reorganize them as nonprofit public utilities whose purpose is to safely take in savings as interest-bearing deposits and prudently lend them to consumers and productive enterprises on reasonable terms.”
Resolving the housing crisis, Stein said, requires a public bank like the New Deal's Home Owners Loan Corporation. Established in 1933, this bank made direct loans to one homeowner in five to refinance home mortgages then in default to prevent foreclosure. This approach would reduce the principal to current market value and refinance the mortgage on long-term, fixed-rate terms. For people who could not afford such mortgages, the bank would take ownership and rent the property at market rates to keep people in their homes.
Stein also criticized so-called tax cut deal inked last week and hailed by Obama and the Democrats, with Republican acceptance, as a job creator. She said the reduction of the maximum duration of extended jobless benefits from the current 99 weeks to 73 weeks in the 14 highest unemployment states and to 63 weeks in the other 36 states imposed hardship on the long-term unemployed and worked at cross purposes to the Social Security tax cut that was supposed to raise consumer demand to stimulate the economy.
Stein observed that the Social Security tax cut would encourage the ongoing attempts to undermine the Social Security system. “Not one penny of Social Security benefits have contributed to the national debt. In fact, the federal government has used Social Security surpluses to cover its deficits for decades. But now, with the shortfall in Social Security revenues caused by this tax cut, Wall Street interests that want to privatize Social Security can more credibly argue that Social Security is contributing to the federal fiscal crisis and requires benefit cuts and privatization,” Stein said.
The Obama budget proposal in mid-February was another example of Obama's trickle-down policies wrapped in populist rhetoric, according to Stein.
“This misguided budget began to take shape last August when Obama and the Democrats agreed with the Republicans to a $1.2 trillion spending cut over 10 years. Now the President is proposing an austerity budget just when the economy needs a boost in public spending to raise demand and stimulate the economy. Since the big banks and corporations are not investing in America - despite their taxpayer bailouts and record profits - it is time for government to spend and invest in a Green New Deal to tackle the twin crises of unemployment and climate,” Stein said.
Stein said that the federal deficit is driven by misplaced priorities on military spending, tax cuts for the rich, and corporate welfare boondoggles for agribusiness, bank, fossil fuel, health insurance, and nuclear interests. “A Green New Deal could be financed by reversing these priorities and enacting a Medicare for All program, which is the only health care reform that can control the rising costs that jeopardize Medicare and the affordability of health care,” said Stein, a medical doctor who has long advocated a major overhaul of the health insurance industry.
“There is plenty of work to do building a new infrastructure of clean energy and mass transportation, providing first-rate public schools and health care, putting regulators, investigators, and prosecutors on the beat to stem the corporate crime wave, and addressing our many other pressing social needs. The old trickle-down policies have failed. By investing in public works and public services, we can stimulate a bottom-up recovery for the working and middle classes,” Stein said.
“Today's New Democrats bear no relation to the New Deal Democrats who once enacted policies to regulate the banks, bust up monopolies, prosecute corporate criminals, employ the unemployed in public jobs, enable workers to organize unions, and secure a safety net for the poor and elderly. The Democrats in the White House today practice the same kind of trickle down economics that has long been advocated by the Republican Party; the difference is one of degree.”
“They both enact policies to shore up the financial elite - especially the big banks - on the theory that this will lead to new investments, more jobs and economic recovery. But it's not working. The big banks and corporations are hoarding record levels of cash and speculating with it to further concentrate the ownership of productive assets rather than investing in new productive enterprises. Unemployment remains high and the recovery anemic at best. It is time for progressive voters to realize that the Obama White House is imposing austerity in partnership with the more extreme Republicans, not offering an alternative to them,” Stein added.
“I am campaigning for a Green New Deal that will restore the old New Deal vision of an economy designed to work for ordinary people, not just for the economic elite. This involves policies of full employment, labor laws that enable union organization, an economic safety net, public-interest regulation, and letting voters hold politicians accountable. It involves simultaneously resolving the climate crisis and oil supply crisis through massive investments in the conversion to renewable energy and clean production systems. This builds a solid foundation for a sustainable prosperity and the restoration of trust in our future.”
if there was ever an issue to rally around…
If there was ever an issue that would bring conservatives and progressives together…
I don’t know about that one, buddy.
You prosecute, you get rid of impunity, you transform society. That’s what we need. Obama has unions behind him, he’ll always get the upper hand on anyone when it comes to Obamacare, jobs and education. You can, though, beat him on principles. Ron Paul has gotten millions of democrats to crossover to vote for him by having integrity. People want someone transformational. Not more of the same wedge issues. People in this society are misanthropes cause white collar crimes isn’t prosecuted. We’ve heard the more jobs, better education song before. Give us something powerful. We all know Stein believes in jobs and healthcare and education. That’s a given, man. Let’s bring something new to do the table.
As for staying on message – if folks had a choice between getting a job/feeding & educating their families/healthcare and prosecuting crooks, I suspect most would focus on the former – just a guess …
All the issues are important – which is why I hope there will be detailed positions on them, including the Israel/Palestinian issue, another biggie for many, will be posted SOON.
Anderson, a rival for prog attention, is posting positions on this stuff and Jill needs to be able to plant her own.
Folks’ support and monies is being competed for and the sooner Jill gets them the better, IMO …
Great article. Just wish you’d stay on message, I remember when I read that you promised to prosecute the “Wall Street crooks,” I feel as if your whole campaign premise ought to be Prosecute Wall Street, the sole purpose of the campaign. After that, the Green Party, Occupiers and erstwhile Ronverts now turned Jill Stein voters can agree to disagree on everything else campaign related. But that operational principle to prosecute Wall Street could be used to put pressure on the other candidates to adopt it onto their own platforms. Jill Stein’s one point of action would be: prosecute systemic fraud in the financial services industry.
Sometimes I feel as if you focus on countless issues, all of which I agree on, and still I haven’t heard you talk enough about pardoning non-violent drug offenders and prosecuting financial fraud, something Dr. Paul mentions in every speech, debate, essay and interview, no matter what.
Either way, you’ve secured my vote in November. Best of luck.