Hardly a day goes by that we don't read an infuriating account of the bad behavior of rich people. This week, it was revealed that union-busting billionaire Chicage heiress and Obama bundler Penny Pritzker also makes a career out of systematically getting the property taxes on her many estates drastically reduced. There is a body of proof as high as a penthouse that the uber-rich as a whole are insatiably greedy, inhumane and really not as smart as they fancy themselves to be. If they had as much brains as they do money, they'd have the sense to shut up and hide. But narcissists can never shut up and hide. They flaunt, they preen, they throw their contempt in our faces.
Nevertheless, I was shocked, shocked at the latest extreme demands that the heavy-hitting lobbying group known as The Business Roundtable are making of the government they so obviously control. It used to be that the oligarchs worked behind the scenes and behind closed doors as they peddled their influence to presidents and congress members and treasury secretaries. No more. The BRT has come out with a public manifesto called Taking Action for America. It's just about as cravenly ugly as it gets. It's for the benefit of a very select few and to the detriment of the many. It's a veritable counter-attack against the Occupy Movement. It even parodies the Declaration of Independence and begins with: "We, the CEOs of America...."
In a nutshell, the kleptocrats of the BRT want what little taxes they do pay reduced, environmental regulations scrapped, laws governing humane working conditions for their employees relaxed, their contributions to workers' health care and pensions slashed, the already watered-down and delayed measures in Dodd-Frank financial reform to just go away, and Medicare and Social Security "reformed".
And here's the really scary part. They released their report after meeting with President Obama and receiving some encouragement. They were also slated to meet privately with Treasury Secretary Geithner to discuss the details and logistics.They're openly bragging about how they are working closely with Congressional conservative Democrats (and yes, they really do call them Blue Dogs) to get their legislation passed. They're crowing about how the Beltway corporate media just love, love, love their ideas! As far as they are concerned, they have themselves a done deal. And they may be right.
Of course, the proposals are couched in the tried and true doublespeak linguistics of "job creation" and "economy healing." The BRT aims to hook us with a long intro about how terrible the unemployment crisis is for all those poor workers out there, and how they can help. But it's really nothing more than a repetition of the mantra of voodoo Reaganomics. If the government will only release the millionaires and billionaires from their shackles, they will be free to trickle down their golden drops of beneficence on the rest of us! Ummm -- haven't we already seen how well that theory has worked out?
True to form, these transglobal corporate heads just love to refer to themselves as "small businessmen" who are being inordinately hurt by such cumbersome anti-pollution regulations as the Clean Air Act. They provide a laundry list of regulations they want tweaked. For example, they reckon that it will cost them too much money to comply with proposed EPA guidelines for solid waste removal. And they are vehemently against a requirement making them divulge the toxic chemicals used in hydrofracking, their excuse being that forcing them to list the ways they poison our water will put a damper on "innovation" (translation: limitless profits).
And make no mistake: the one percenters want to destroy Social Security by privatizing it. Of course, they don't say so in so many words. Their sanitized version goes like this: "Complex and burdensome regulations" such as forced FICA contributions "are slowing the recovery and hampering job creation."
The BRT would much rather help workers start individual retirement savings plans, and "educate" the doofuses on how to scrimp and save and plan ahead:
Ensure that requirements do not discourage retirees from continued work.... Enact reforms that bring Social Security into long term financial balance as soon as possible to minmize disruption and give Americans the lead time to plan appropriately.Translation: People are lazily retiring too early! Kill Social Security and either make people work until they die or force them to purchase junk pension plans created by the private sector, all the while humanely forewarning them they will have to make do with much, much less.
Democratic Lame Duck Rep. Heath Shuler, who is leading yet another secretive "Gang" effort in Congress to achieve a draconian Grand Bargain of safety net cuts, is quoted on the BRT webpage as simply loving these plutocratic ideas: "Taking Action for America is the right plan at the right time," he gushes. "America’s business leaders have detailed a jobs and growth strategy that will benefit American workers. I call on my colleagues to work with me, the Business Roundtable and all stakeholders to act this year."
And Barack Obama also seems to be totally on board with his corporate cronies:
These are relatively modest adjustments that can stabilize our economy, give you the kind of business confidence you need to invest.That means working together to reform our tax system so that we are rewarding companies that are investing here in the United States, making sure that we are able to cut our tax rate here but also broaden the base," he said.
The president said more should be done on energy and providing educational and job-training opportunities for workers, in line with what the BRT outlined on Wednesday.
"I'm prepared to be a partner in that process," Obama said.
"But we're going to have to have everybody pulling together," he said. "The business community is going to have an important voice in how that moves forward."Tell me again why some people still believe that this President's new-found campaign populism should be taken seriously.
|Co-Presidents Obama and BRT's Jim McNerney (of Boeing) Share a Tender Moment|