* THE VEIL OF SECRECY AT THE FED HAS BEEN LIFTED, NOW IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE
By Bernie Sanders
… Over two years ago, I asked Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, a few simple questions that I thought the American people had a right to know: Who got money through the Fed bailout? How much did they receive? What were the terms of this assistance?
Incredibly, the chairman of the Fed refused to answer these fundamental questions about how trillions of taxpayer dollars were being spent.
The American people are finally getting answers to these questions thanks to an amendment I included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill which required the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit and investigate conflicts of interest at the Fed. Those answers raise grave questions about the Federal Reserve and how it operates — and whose interests it serves.
As a result of these GAO reports, we learned that the Federal Reserve provided a jaw-dropping $16 trillion in total financial assistance to every major financial institution in the country as well as a number of corporations, wealthy individuals and central banks throughout the world.
The GAO also revealed that many of the people who serve as directors of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks come from the exact same financial institutions that the Fed is in charge of regulating. Further, the GAO found that at least 18 current and former Fed board members were affiliated with banks and companies that received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis. In other words, the people “regulating” the banks were the exact same people who were being “regulated.” Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse!
The emergency response from the Fed appears to have created two systems of government in America: one for Wall Street, and another for everyone else. While the rich and powerful were “too big to fail” and were given an endless supply of cheap credit, ordinary Americans, by the tens of millions, were allowed to fail. They lost their homes. They lost their jobs. They lost their life savings. And, they lost their hope for the future. This is not what American democracy is supposed to look like. It is time for change at the Fed — real change.
Among the GAO’s key findings is that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse. In fact, according to the GAO, the Fed actually provided conflict of interest waivers to employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.
The GAO has detailed instance after instance of top executives of corporations and financial institutions using their influence as Federal Reserve directors to financially benefit their firms, and, in at least one instance, themselves.
For example, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover, JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency lending programs. …
* RECOMMENDED #OWS DEMAND: LET ALL CITIZENS 18 AND OLDER VOTE, ON PAPER BALLOTS, COUNT THEM IN PUBLIC
By Brad Friedman
The great patriots comprising Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the nation hardly need my input on the “demands” they continue to try and narrow down and achieve consensus on. I’m quite sure they’ve got more than enough folks out there making their case for all manner of “demands” given the past 30 years (or more) of utter neglect, corruption and abuse the good citizens of this nation have otherwise been forced — up until now — to accept as “politics as usual.”
Nonetheless, I’ve been meaning to ring in on this (and did so recently in a brief comment), so perhaps I should do so quickly here, where it’s likely to catch a few more Occupied eyeballs.
I offer the following simple “demand” for consideration by OWS, as this one likely underscores almost every other. Or, at least, without it, all other demands may ultimately be rendered moot.
Here it is. One demand that seems simple enough — and is as non-partisan as can — for your consideration:
Every U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older who wishes to vote, gets to vote. Period. Those votes, on hand-marked paper ballots, will be counted publicly, by hand, on Election Night, at the precinct, in front of all observers and video cameras.
Please help spread this to the Occupiers if you agree its important. For example, Tweet it (or a link to this article) like mad (with #ows in the text), and/or spread it via Facebook and/or print it out and take it to a General Assembly at an Occupation near you!
* AMERICA’S CORPORATE TAX OBSCENITY
By Andrew Leonard, Salon.com
… The list of companies that paid zero taxes is only the beginning of the travesties documented by the report. The authors looked at the tax filings from 2008-2010 of 280 of the nation’s biggest, most successful corporations. These companies reported $1.4 trillion worth of profit during a period when most Americans were struggling to stay afloat. The authors discovered that the average effective tax rate — what the companies really paid after government subsidies, tax breaks and various tax dodges were taken into account — was only 18.5 percent, less than half the statutory rate. Fully a quarter of the 280 companies paid under 10 percent.
Remember that fact, the next time someone tries to tell you that American corporations pay the highest income taxes in the free world. The only number that counts is the “effective tax rate.” One of the interesting tidbits provided by the authors is that in many cases, the tax rate on foreign income for many of these companies is actually higher than the effective U.S. rate.
The most distressing part of the tale is the big picture: The overall trend line is pointed in exactly the wrong direction. If you break out just the years 2009-2010, the effective tax rate was 17.3 percent. “In 2008, 22 companies paid no federal income tax, and got $3.3 billion in tax rebates. In 2010, 37 companies paid no income tax, and got $7.8 billion in rebates.” When measured as a percentage of total GDP, over the last three fiscal years, “total corporate income tax payments fell to only 1.16 percent of the GDP … a new sustained record low since World War II.
Corporate taxes paid for more than a quarter of federal outlays in the 1950s and a fifth in the 1960s. They began to decline during the Nixon administration, yet even by the second half of the 1990s, corporate taxes still covered 11 percent of the cost of federal programs. But in fiscal 2010, corporate taxes paid for a mere 6 percent of the federal government’s expenses. …
READ more @ http://ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/
* G20 SEEKS STRONGER IMF TO BATTLE DEBT CRISIS
|Leaders of the world’s most powerful economies have agreed to increase the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to help alleviate the debt crisis that threatens to spread across Europe.Despite the consensus, leaders struggled to reach concrete plans on how to do so, as the G20 summit, which has largely been overshadowed by eurozone efforts to tackle the Greek debt crisis, concluded in the French resort of Cannes on Friday.
“It’s important that the IMF sees its resources reinforced,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters. French President Nicolas Sarkozy went further, saying the IMF “must play its role as a bulwark of financial risk”.
Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Cannes, said the summit’s final communique stressed “desirable trends and tendencies rather than measureable objective”.
“The trend the countries seem to be aspiring towards is a downward movement in terms of deficits; that the deficit-to-debt ration should improve, [but] there was an absence of clear goals, an absence of percentages or numbers to measure the goals they have sat,” Rowland said.
She continued: “There was a lot of talk about slogans such as strong, sustainable growth, but rather thin on actual detail about how this would be achieved”. …
* RIGHT-WINGERS HORRIFIED TO DISCOVER THAT CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT IS SERIOUSLY CRAZY
By Blue Texan, Firedoglake
The complete implosion of the Secessionist on the national stage and the subsequent rise of the Pizza Guy has just been too much for some wingers to take. They’re looking at those polls showing the Pizza Guy still leading Willard, and wondering how the hell they came to be totally surrounded by crazy people.
30 years ago, he [Cain] would probably have been dismissed as an inexperienced crackpot. It’s not a question of his “averageness” or even his jaw dropping ignorance of vital foreign policy issues that makes his candidacy so troubling. Rather, it is the embrace by those who call themselves “conservative” that should have alarm bells ringing across the right from those who value bedrock conservative principles.
You wouldn’t trust an amateur to spay your cat or to give you sound investment advice for your 401(K) — yet there are millions of Republians who think an avuncular amateur like Herman Cain would do a great job as president of the United States, or at least a better job than Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, or anybody else on offer who has actually worked in politics. I’m not thrilled with these choices either, but come on, what is wrong with us?
This isn’t a serious political movement right now, it’s a clown show, one with which I’m coming to resent being affiliated.
* TIME TO IDENTIFY THE OCCUPY VANDALS
By Spocko, Firedoglake
… Time for us to do the identification of this crew of vandals now.
Helpfully the media and others have provided us with lots of video footage of the vandalism. Here are some samples of video.
When you slow some of them down you might be able to spot some identifying tattoos or piercings. I noticed that one vandal’s mask slipped while he was held by some OWS protesters who did not want him to vandalize a store. Maybe you recognize him. Maybe he is bragging about his vandalism on his Facebook page like American Spectator Editor Patrick Howley did after he rushed the guards at the Air and Space museum. That article, combined with Charles Grapski’s intrepid research, confirmed he was there and what he did.
If you positively identify someone let us know. Show your work. If it’s a good identification we can contact them and ask how they think their actions helped the Occupy Wall Street protests. If they just felt the need to smash stuff under the banner of OWS then their identities should be given to the people whose property was vandalized so they can pay for damages.
I know that there are concerns about doing this like: “Will identifying them make me a traitor to the movement?”
These people might consider themselves part of the movement, but their actions are clearly not in line with OWS principles of peaceful assembly. They, by their actions, removed themselves from the movement and need to bear responsibility for their actions. After all, when some players in Wall Street caused the value of property to drop because of their irresponsible actions, the Wall Street community identified the culprits and turned them over to the authorities for punishment so that their entire communities’ reputation wouldn’t be tarnished. (HA! I slay myself. But seriously, this points out how WS acts when people in their industry break the law, they circle the wagons vs. shunning the bad actors. That explains why we have to identify these people and turn them over to the authorities because that is precisely what WS doesn’t do)
Q: “What if I identify the wrong person?”
Well that is why you need to show your work.
Same tattoo? Bragging on Facebook? Photos of him before he put on his mask or after he took it off? All the clues that lead you to connect identities need to be there. You’ve all watched enough police procedural shows to know how this works. You are making a case, get evidence. …
Good luck and drop me a line if you identify someone at spockosemail @ gmail