Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Myth of Ronald Reagan

            As the Republican party rises from the ashes of its destruction in 2008 to a renewed prominence in the 112th Congress, soapbox lectures can be expected touting Ronald Reagan as a President to be revered, devoted to small town, traditional American family values and a smaller, more efficient government - but nothing could be further from the truth.    

            By the time of Reagan’s 1980 election, the country had experienced three assassinations, one impeachment/resignation and five Presidents within a twenty year span.  With little enduring leadership since Eisenhower, Americans were ripe for a President who would bring stability and optimism to the country.  

            Son of an alcoholic father whose family were recipients of FDR’s welfare program in the 1930’s, Reagan’s need for admiration took him to Hollywood.  Originally a liberal New Deal Democrat, Reagan received two WWII draft deferments and as President of the Screen Actors Guild, became an FBI informant in 1947.  

            With a national television presence as host of GE Theater, Reagan traveled the country honing the image of an affable neighborhood basketball coach railing against taxation and ‘big government.’  An early supporter of privatizing Social Security, Reagan’s candidacy for California Governor in 1966 was promoted by a new class of self made millionaires, fueled by a loathing for government regulations.  What became known as the ‘kitchen cabinet’ remained influential during his entire political career including their hand-picked selection of cabinet appointees. Tapping into a need from childhood deprivations to be an American superhero, the pursuit of self interest and a lavish lifestyle had found a willing participant in Reagan.

            As children of alcoholics frequently compensate, Reagan re-invented himself as an ‘organization man’ whose illusory identity relied on popular media images, loyal syncophants and a public relations persona he himself could believe in.   Not unlike today’s Congressional Republicans who flaunt working class backgrounds, Reagan walked away from an early life of poverty and never looked back.    

            Auditioning for his next role, Reagan offered glib, simplistic slogans as he led a moral crusade attacking the Federal government becoming the country’s first anti-government President.   Neither a reader nor interested in public policy, Reagan’s lack of intellect and one-dimensional quality displayed no understanding that decades of an activist government had raised millions of Americans out of poverty or its role ‘of, by and for the people.”    Preaching a mantra belittling the American public’s confidence in their government to solve public problems, Reagan embodied elements of the Tea Party before there was a tea party.

            In 1980, Reagan received 50.7% of the vote with the lowest voter turn out in 30 years.  Advocating budget austerity, Reagan’s $16 million ostentatious inauguration with more limousines, private jets, sable and mink coats than had ever before been seen in one place and a  $45 million renovation of the White House residence ushered in the pursuit of greed and materialist consumption as new American values to be emulated.    

            The product of a Presidential selection process that too frequently results in mediocrity, Reagan proved to be a better actor as President than on the Hollywood screen.   Reagan institutionalized a corporate-government liaison that flooded the Federal government with political hacks as a corporate influence on the Presidency, the Congress and much of the Federal bureaucracy is still evident 30 years later.  For example, Reagan’s former employer, General Electric, paid no taxes between 1981 and 1983 even as they laid off 50,000 workers and received a $283 Million tax rebate with a pre tax profit of $6.5 billion in 1981.

            Ever the B actor projecting an innocent boyish charm and a voice tinged with sarcasm, Reagan’s sanctity struck a discordant note as he shrewdly avoided mention of billion dollar cuts that sought to dismantle every Federal Department while repealing regulations that protected the public’s health and safety as his political appointees labored to eviscerate every agency’s mission.  Rarely ever benefiting consumers,
corporate deregulation including airline, bank and telecommunications as well as corporate mergers profited under Reagan as consolidations grew from 1,565 in 1980 with a value of $33 billion to 4,323 with an increased value of $204 billion by 1986. 

            Inheriting an $85 billion deficit from Jimmy Carter in 1980, Reagan promised to reduce the Federal debt and balance the budget but instead increased the military budget by $300 billion in 1985 wasting billions on a speculative Star Wars project.  His increased military budget was a calculated strategy to force Congress to choose and decimate the New Deal People Programs.   After 8 years in office, Reagan brought the Federal deficit of $255 billion to historic levels.    

            As if great wealth would prove the moral virtues of capitalism, Reagan’s commitment to voodoo economics, laissez faire, the free market, supply side, trickle down or Reaganomics proved a false promise as tax cuts for the rich never created the economic prosperity promised.  An untested hypothetical, the concept that tax cuts to the top 1%’ers will spend and invest resulting in increased economic activity and the good times would roll for all was always a myth and Reagan’s economic team knew it.   For details on Reagan’s deregulation of the financial industry, see  

            Even as Reagan fanned the flames against minority criminals and drugs, 138 Reagan Administration personnel were convicted, indicted or investigated for assorted criminal activity becoming the nation’s most corrupt Presidential administration in more than 50 years.  While providing no Federal funds for drug treatment, federal funding that increased inner city police presence resulted in the massive arrest of young black and Hispanic men increasing incarcerations from 600,000 in 1980 to 2.2 million by 2002.    
             Never a churchgoer, Reagan legitimized the Moral Majority and its televangelist with tax exemptions as the constitutional separation of church and state blurred with participation in elections as the religious right moved to assume control of the Republican party.  With corporate campaign contributions banned after the Watergate scandal, a loophole in the law allowed Reagan backers to concoct the ‘soft’ money concept and form ‘independent’ committees that opened the floodgates to corporate domination of campaign financing.   

            Thirty years later as President Obama has spoken of Reagan with admiration, the full damage of the Reagan revolution on the quality of American life and the integrity of a functioning Federal government cannot be overstated.  The America of 1980 no longer exists leaving in its place an American people with a broken economy and the collapse of a two-party political system.   

            Mindful of the pain and suffering this one man caused millions of Americans, Reagan’s term as President confirmed that all conservatives share a lack of compassion and in retirement, Ronald Reagan never expressed any regrets or gave any indication he had grown into a man of mercy with a loving heart.

Recommended Reading:

Sleepwalking through History: America in the Reagan Years by Haynes Johnson
The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America by William Kleinnecht

Monday, January 24, 2011

Will Congressional Pensions "Share the Sacrifice"

            If public employee pensions are responsible for exploding State deficits, are Congressional pensions also responsible for the increased Federal deficit?  If Congress increases the eligibility age for Social Security to 70 years, will Congress  increase its own pension eligibility age to 70 years?

            On November 29th, President Obama added his voice to the offensive against public employees when he froze Federal worker salaries citing that "the hard truth is getting this budget under control is going to require some broad sacrifice and that sacrifice must be shared by employees of the Federal government."  Immediately embraced by Republicans, the truth is that the freeze will produce insignificant savings. Obama's message failed to suggest that members of Congress as Federal employees share the sacrifice.   

            With no Fed Bank bailout or Federal assistance on the horizon, States continue to grapple with recession-era deficits of $150 billion as Congressional budget hawks turn their sights to legislative remedies that would allow those States to go bankrupt.  Certain to exploit the crisis by taking shots at public unions, retirement pensions and health care benefits for millions of public employees, members of Congress, past and present, will be trapped by their own hypocrisy.     

            Those public pension funds, often a substitute for increased wages, were once invested in safe securities and bonds held in trust for retirees, suffered historic losses with the collapse in 2000 and the 2008 meltdown.   Never mind that those greedy teachers, librarians, police officers and firefighters and other purveyors of essential public services, some of whom risk their lives daily on our behalf have paid into those pension funds all of their working lives and look forward to retirement without any guarantee of Federal government benefits.     
            States have suffered draconian cuts to Federal aid as a reflection of unsustainable Congressional priorities that do not include State infrastructure or averting a widespread dismantling of public services.   Congress spares no expense when it comes to spending $1.1 trillion on two wars (Iraq $767 billion and Afghanistan $366 billion) since 2001. Appropriating $664 billion for the 2010 military budget, Congress provided $16 billion more than President Obama requested.  Hasn't anyone inside the Beltway connected the dots between a total 2010 Defense budget of $1.3 trillion and recent Congressional Budget Office projection of a 2011 deficit at $1.5 trillion?
            Public employees and their unions are easy scapegoats for those who would deflect attention away from the deregulation enacted by subversive politicians and avaricious high rollers on Wall Street who drained the Federal treasury and brought the country to the edge of bankruptcy.  Never mind that those grasping swindlers betrayed the trust of the American people have contributed nothing worthwhile to society and served no useful purpose. 

           The Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) of 1920 served as the Federal civilian pension system until replaced by the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) in 1987 at which time Congress had the option to stay with the more generous CSRS.  While most Americans cannot retire until their mid-60’s and deficit hawks are pushing to bump the retirement age up, a 62 year old member of Congress qualifies for retirement with 5 years of service or a 50 year old with 20 years of service.  

            By 2009, with 455 “retired” Members of Congress which includes those defeated for reelection, 275 former members were receiving an average CSRS pension of $69,000 annually while 180, mostly elected after 1987, were receiving an average FERS pension of $41,140.  Those figures do not include the Golden Goose of Congressional Pensions known as an annual guaranteed Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) adopted  in 1989 as the Ethics Reform Act.  The Act which included a 25% increase of Congressional salaries from $89,500 to $133,600 further rigged the system by adopting an automatic cost-of-living-adjustment that would kick in every year unless Congress voted to deny the increase.       

            Between 2001 and 2009, Congressional salaries increased from $145,100 to $174,000 thanks to an automatic Cola increase.   As Social Security recipients have not received a cost of living adjustment since 2008, Congressional Cola increases cost taxpayers $2.2 million and $2.5 million in  2008 and 09 respectively.  In 2010,  Congress voted to not accept a 2011 COLA increase.  On January 7, 2011, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Az) introduced a bill to cut Congressional salaries by 5%.  

            Would it come as a shock to hear that former Speaker Newt Gingrich who resigned under an ethics cloud with 20 years in the House and former Senator Alan Simpson with 18 years in the Senate who serves on the President’s Deficit Commission, both hard line advocates of cutting People Program entitlements, are on the public dole.  Both collect full CSRS pensions including Cola increases, full medical care and other Congressional privileges.  As an example, consider that Sen. Bill Bradley (NJ) who retired in 2000 after 23 years of service is expected to receive a total of $7.9 million in pension payments (assuming an average lifespan).

            More recent examples of Congressional pension largesse are Senators Chris Dodd and Byron Doran who will collect $125,000 and $116,000 annually after 30 years of service, Judd Gregg will collect $63,000 for 16 years, Kit Bond and Jim Bunning will each receive $58,900 for 14 years of service.   These pensions do not include annual COLA 'adjustments.'    

            Even if Congress protects Social Security and Medicare as well as it protects its own pension and health care coverage, public employees who are not eligible for Social Security, are falling through the social safety net and waking up in an America with all the earmarks of a third world banana republic. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Who will investigate Darrell Issa?

            As Republicans take control of the House, the Chairmanships for all House Committees have also shifted into Republican hands.  One of the most visible and vocal who promises to be a constant on the national scene is Rep. Darrell Issa, new Chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  With expanded subpoena power to harass regulatory agencies and authority to investigate any federal program or any matter with Federal policy implications, the possibilities for Issa mischief are infinite. 

            Politically ambitious and a bit of a blustery bumbler who loves the camera, Issa’s warning of a ‘constant battle’ against the ‘most corrupt Administration in modern times’ sounds like the unveiling of the Grand Inquisitor about to take his Chair.   Walking those statements back, Issa is attempting to espouse less controversial investigations as he seeks diplomatic cover to soften his antagonistic stance.  It remains to be seen how long the Congressman can resist the incendiary bomb thrower side of his character.    

            The reality is that once Issa takes off the gloves, he can be expected to ‘investigate’ the new Black Panther movement, Acorn’s housing program, the validity of climate science, the BP spill response, Administration czars and other hot-button cultural topics that will satisfy the right wing irrational hatred of government. 

            As the Oversight Committee’s job is to ferret out information not previously known or to bring illegal or inappropriate conduct to light either the result of deliberate actions or merely the inefficient and incompetent, an appropriate question might be how well Rep. Issa might fare if he were subject to a similar rigorous inspection of his conduct.
            A six term member of the House from San Diego, Issa is a self-made multi millionaire from auto security systems named Viper and acknowledged as the richest member of the House with a worth in excess of $350 million.  Tall, dark and intense with an intimidating presence, Issa’s first campaign was for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer in 1998 contributing $10 million of his own funds.  He lost the primary but went on two years later to win the Republican primary for a vacant House seat in a heavily Republican district. 

            He came to national prominence in 2001 as architect and contributor of over $1 million to recall California Governor Gray Davis who was later vindicated by evidence of deregulated companies like Enron and other Texas energy companies who withheld capacity to drive up prices.  Speculation centered around Issa’s goal to replace Davis until Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy.  Just before the filing deadline, Issa announced, in tears, that he would not run.

            Further scrutiny reveals certain shortcomings in Issa’s bio, the kind of recurring events that, as a public official and key political player on the national stage, deserve further explanation.                  .    

            At 18 years old, Issa dropped out of high school to join the Army in 1970 and claimed to have served in an elite Army bomb unit, traveling as a security team with President Richard Nixon.  Military records, however, indicate that Issa did not travel with Nixon and that his six month bomb disposal squad duty earned him a ‘bad conduct’ grade, (he was alleged to have stolen his Sgt.'s car) a demotion and an early ‘family hardship’ discharge.  

            In 1972, a grand jury indicted Issa in Ohio for carrying a concealed weapon and felony theft of a red Maserati sports car from a car dealership.  Soon after, Issa was arrested again on an illegal weapons charge and convicted of a misdemeanor for which he received three months probation and a $204 fine.

            In 1979, Issa allegedly faked the theft of his Mercedes Benz and was charged with grand theft. In a show of familial bonding, Issa blamed his brother for all his criminal enterprises and credited the two car thefts for taking him into the car alarm business

            In 1982, when Issa was almost 30 years old, he was awarded legal control of an Ohio company which experienced a “suspicious” fire according to an Ohio fire marshal.  According to witnesses, three weeks before, Issa had more than quadrupled insurance coverage on the building and stored various valuables in a fireproof box before the fire.  Public records quote a former partner that he believed Issa started the fire, saying the business needed cash.        

            Redemption for youthful indiscretions including recurring violations of law, is, of course, essential to assist those misguided adolescents to find their way and grow into generous and compassionate human beings with a reverence for an ethical and principled life.   Whether Issa has successfully made that transition in his adult life as an exemplar of American values will be tested as he vigorously pursues waste, fraud and abuse – and if no smoking guns are discovered, that will be a waste of taxpayer money.  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

No Primary for Obama

Now that the lame duck session of the 111th Congress has adjourned, the embedded mainstream media tell us that the President is on a roll as the new Comeback Kid.  And from this position of strength, certain media pundits have declared that there will be no primary challenge to Obama for the 2012 nomination - and those pundits may be right.   After all, who would be foolish enough to try to unseat a sitting President, say like Sen Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and who would want to be the cause of  Obama’s ultimate defeat in 2012, say like Hubert Humphrey.

            It is true that the lame duck session was one of the most productive in recent memory showing that after the drubbing in November, Senate Democrats are capable of accomplishment.   With a strident new Republican House and Senate Democrats about to lose their majority edge, it remains to be seen whether the fruits of the lame duck were sufficient for Obama to experience an epiphany of leadership.     
            Obama’s future may depend on whether discriminating citizens who expect a high standard of achievement from elected officials,  those who take the time to scrutinize the details and who may be less impressed with quantity rather than quality and less accepting of the ‘all we could get’ philosophy will be sufficiently satisfied.    The on-going reality is that Obama has not lived up to expectations he himself raised, failing to deliver on campaign promises as he gave away the store compromising with the R’s that in turn rendered his efforts less than effective.
            The President was, after all, able to achieve ‘major’ health care reform legislation largely due to the appeal of protecting the President’s image.  The first substantive movement on health care in 50 years since LBJ began Medicare and Medicaid did include some positive benefits such as a ban on pre-existing conditions.  However, some may suggest that passage was more like a previous Republican idea requiring 30 million Americans to buy their own coverage sure to be a windfall for health insurance companies.  Even as the United States spends more on health care than any other country,  the President failed to lead a discussion on the economic benefits of universal health care. Although the House did include a public option in their bill, legislation was adopted with no cost containment; a fact that has become lost in the current deficit discussion. 
            And then there is the most ‘sweeping‘ financial reform since the 1930’s which will ‘never again’ allow a financial meltdown like 2008 – even though there are no regs on derivatives and  no restoration of the brick wall separating the more conventional commercial banking industry from its more risky investment counterpart as Glass Steagall did.  Most importantly, there was no break up of the Too Big to Fail banks – which, as any Wharton School grad can tell us that with the confidence of future government bailouts, the TBTF banks will continue their reckless behavior.
            With the human and capital costs of perpetual wars on the backburner, the long term implications of Obama’s tax cut ‘compromise’ with Republicans is of considerable concern.   Was the President unaware of the R’s clear intent to savage the country’s social safety net, the sacrosanct entitlements that have been in place for 75 years?    Now that took real eyeball to eyeball “know when to fold ‘em” negotiating skills.  
            A year ago, the Senate rejected (53-46 with 22 Dems, 23 R’s and Sen. Sanders voting no) Sen. Conrad’s (ND) effort to establish a Deficit Commission.  Two months later, in a stunning display of audacity, the President created his own Commission stacking it with critics of the country’s most popular People Programs.  
            As the deficit debate has only just begun, most Americans are unaware of the impending international significance.   At considerable US urging, the International Monetary Fund has a long history of forcing onerous belt tightening measures on ‘emerging’ global countries as a result of their own irresponsible behavior.  It is not without some irony that the international community recognizes the proverbial shoe is now on the other foot.      
            Presented with uncomfortable options, will the President recognize the need to separate political strategy from policy decisions or will the public interest continue to be sacrificed to assure re-election.   As the President and his family enjoy their warm, sunny Hawaii vacation far from the trials and tribulations, is it too late in America for a dark-horse candidate to emerge, as Abraham Lincoln was, who better understands the suffering of millions of Americans.

A Short History of Financial Deregulation

            Without a formal Congressional effort to understand, the complete details of who, how, when, where and why the American economy tanked, creating an unemployment recession to rival the 1929 crash may be lost to history.  What we do know is that sufficient regulatory brakes were repealed by Congress in the decades prior thereby preventing what became a gargantuan locomotive steaming wildly down the tracks with no engineer in the cab. 

            A national economy of  booms and busts, panics, recessions and depressions occurred with increasing frequency until the Panic of 1907 brought the recognition that the country’s financial structure no longer served a growing industrial base and its complex monetary requirements.

            Adoption of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson established one central bank with the power to issue currency, control interest rates and establish regional branches to be controlled by a publicly accountable Board of Directors.  Sold to the American public as sure to bring stability and certainty to the country’s financial sector, the stock market crashed 16 years later creating the longest, most widespread and serious global financial depression.

            Upon election in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt hit the ground running with a series of New Deal legislative initiatives including the Banking Act of 1933 (aka Glass-Steagall Act) which separated riskier investment banking from infecting the more mundane commercial banking industry.  G-S also established the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) as government’s guarantee to protect small depositors and the Securities Exchange Commission to regulate and provide oversight on investment banks.

            After passage of G-S, the country experienced its longest period of stability ending wild speculation, market fluctuations and sudden fiscal losses until the 1980’s when President Ronald Reagan, a believer in a weak central government and laissez faire policies which had been discredited after the 1929 market crash, combined tax cuts for the rich with a ‘trickle down’ economy that embraced deregulation.  Reagan's financial deregulation mania included appointment of Alan Greenspan as Chair of the Federal Reserve in 1987.  Hostile to all regulation, Greenspan continued the dismantling of Glass Steagall that had already begun with the

Depository Institution Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 phased out interest rate ceiling on S&L's, allowed S&L's to serve beyond state limits and accept deposits from large institutional investors and increased Federal government liability on deposits from $40,000 to $100,000.  

Depository Institutions Act of 1982  eased regulations on Savings & Loan’s to expand loans beyond mortgages and allowed S&L's to gamble on high risk investments while allowing one large institutional investor to ownership.  The Act also allowed adjustable mortgages rates for the first time.  

Tax Reform Act of 1986 created a new market for investment banks with tax advantages on mortgage backed securities. 

           The Reagan Administration worked around a Democratic House by cutting funds and staff to regulatory agencies making enforcement impossible and by appointing enfeebled regulators who stalled, equivocated and otherwise thwarted Congressional will.   By the time Reagan left office, the Federal debt had grown from $930 billion in 1980 to $2.6 trillion in 1988 and the gates of government were opened to irresponsible speculation and conspicuous corporate influence.  In 1982 with 800 Savings and Loan banks on the brink unable to meet its net capital requirements, the Reagan Administration allowed an inflation of their capital to stay in business     

          During the 1980’s and up to 1992, 2,500 banks and S&L’s failed.  Elected in 1988, President George H.W. Bush did his share to continue reckless behavior by enacting the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act 1989 which authorized $293.8.billion of public money to failed S&L’s, modernized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide home ownership opportunities to low and moderate income families and created an Office of Thrift Supervision responsible for oversight on companies like  AIG and Countrywide.   Upon adoption, President Bush promised that the Act would “safeguard and stabilize America’s financial system and bring permanent reforms so this will never happen again.”
  • Federal Deposit Insurance  Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 - Goldman Sachs influenced the language to allow the Fed to provide crisis loans without concern for collateral thereby encouraging further speculation without regard to consequences.
          By the time Bush (the father) left office in 1992, the federal deficit had risen to $4 trillion.

          Neo-Democrat Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 ushered in a booming era of prosperity for 8 years creating millions of new jobs with record low unemployment and inflation while boosting home ownership to historic levels.   As the creation of new financial institutions that began under Reagan continued to spread, Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin presided over a zealous rush of unfettered corporate greed and escalating profits that welcomed the financial services industry into the inner circles of government and the halls of Congress as if they owned the place. 

            The damaging effect of three major Clinton initiatives (the ‘end of welfare as we know it,’ fast track free trade agreements and final repeal of Glass Steagall) on the American public during the 2008 recession deserve to be explored in some depth on another occasion.

.           The Clinton Administration’s support with financial industry began with the Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1994 which eliminated restrictions on interstate banking allowing new branches and coast- to–coast conglomerate banking

            But what may be the single most egregious act by the political elites was the long-sought repeal of the Glass Steagall Act when the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 aka Gramm Bliley Leach Act was adopted.   With one swipe of a pen, Clinton struck down the 75 year single barrier preventing insurance companies, commercial and investment banks from merging stating that repeal "will strengthen the economy and help consumers, communities and businesses across America."   Not unlike the 1920's, repeal of Glass Steagall created an  extravagant atmosphere of liberation with the entire country caught up in a heightened euphoria fashioned by the wheeler-dealers who had no understanding of how thin the ice would become – and most of the political power elites went along.      
  • In 1999, the Senate voted 90 – 8 in favor of repeal with 7 Dems including Sens.Boxer (Ca), Bryan (Nv), Dorgan (SD), Feingold (Wis), Mikulski (Md), and Wellstone (Mn) and 1 R. Sen. Shelby (Ala) against and the House voted 362-57 in favor with 51 Dems and 5 R's voting No.
The removal of Brooksley Bourne as Chair of the CTCF for attempting to regulate financial derivates has been thoroughly documented on PBS’ Frontline in ‘The Warning.”  Here’s the link:  
  • Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000  allowed US to maintain leadership role in emerging international markets with language inserted by Sen. Phil Gramm (T) assuring that all derivatives should be exempt from any Federal regulation or oversight.
          By the time Clinton left office in 1999, there was a budget surplus of $300 billion – but the long term damage was yet to reveal itself. .   

           President Barak Obama’s 2009  ‘sweeping overhaul on a massive scale not seen since reforms of the Great Depression’ offered, in truth, incremental changes that did little to assure capitalist competition as over 1500 lobbyists created enough loopholes to sufficiently denigrate the legislation.

            The financial services industry, now firmly entrenched in the Washington power structure, demand the best of both worlds.  Not hesitating to grab billions of public money in 2008 to save their asses, the Wall St. crooks continue to demand no regulatory interference and at the same time, total assurance of a government safety net.

            Within the deterioration of a two party system that created a generation of professional effete politicians, a fair observation is that few elected officials have adequately performed their fiduciary responsibilities to the American taxpayer.