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Will the Mitt/Newt Slugfest Boost the Occupy Movement?

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By Lynn Parramore. Cross posted from Alternet.

Representing the twin evils of ruthless capitalism and government corruption, the GOP candidates are bringing core Occupy issues to the fore.

The Occupy Movement brought key issues like economic inequality, Wall Street greed, and political corruption to the table. And we may have the GOP front runners to thank for keeping them there. Here’s a look at how the Battle of Newt and Mitt can help keep the OWS flame alive…

The Populist Platform

Newt Gingrich’s populist messages in South Carolina dealt Mitt Romney a body blow. Newt hit the multi-millionaire on his low tax rate and his role in the oft-reviled private equity industry to leave him stumbling through debate questions and looking generally ill at ease. Getting branded as a corporate raider who pays less in taxes than your housecleaner is not a great image, to say the least.

Newt leveled three sets of charges at his rival on economic issues, all of which resonate with core Occupy Wall Street concerns. The first two were key in the South Carolina primary, and the third may be important in the next phase as Newt attempts to draw Ron Paul supporters into his camp. They are:

1) Taxes (OWS concern = economic inequality)
2) Private equity (OWS concern = Wall Street predation, ruthless capitalism, senseless job destruction)
3) Federal Reserve (OWS concern = power of big banks over government)

Each of these issues, of course, is viewed through somewhat different lenses by left and right-leaning populists. For Occupiers, questions about the Federal Reserve, for example, tend to call up issues of the banking industry’s influence on government at the expense of the ordinary Americans. For many Tea Partiers, a greater concern is 1) the relationship between the Fed’s activity and the government deficit and 2) the desire of some to abandon fiat money in favor of a return to the gold standard. Newt signaled his stance in Saturday night’s victory speech:

“Dr. Ron Paul, who on the issue of money and the Federal Reserve, has been right for 25 years. While I disagree with him on many other things, there’s no doubt that a lot of his critique of inflation, of flat money into the federal reserve is absolutely right, in the right direction, and its something I can support strongly.”

However Newt spins them, all three issues are likely to produce robust discussions that highlight and educate the public on matters that OWS would like to have at the center of national economic debate. OWS and Tea Partiers often agree that the Fed should be more transparent and that it’s structure is problematic, so even if Newt comes at the issue from the perspective of right-wing populism, there are enough intersections that OWS can celebrate the discussion.

The tax and private equity issues have brought a flood of commentary throughout the media, such as a recent New York Times piece by Floyd Norris questioning the fact that investment income is now taxed at a lower rate than earned income—a debate driven by Mitt’s admission that he pays a mere 15 percent in taxes. Norris demonstrated that this discrepancy has not historically been the case and also why it is unfair . Thanks to the attacks on Mitt, Americans have been talking about “vulture capitalism” (Newt’s term for private equity) and the ruthless policies and game-rigging financial engineering it is known for. Of course, this produced an entirely predictable chorus of “Shame on Newt” from financiers and their apologists, succinctly captured by Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, who whined on Fox News: “This is what our capitalist system is about!”

Truly, Occupiers could not have hoped for better media coverage of their grievances.

Newt, Incorporated

Having won in S.C. on a wave of populist discontent, Newt must now must do some fancy footwork in the ring. He has to figure out how to continue tapping into widespread resentment against elites while simultaneously bringing many of those same elites – particularly the financiers — on his side in the fall presidential battle. If Newt decides to go full force on populist economic issues, he will certainly garner enthusiasm from some elements on the right. But he’s got a problem: If you keep hitting the Money Men, they tend to hit back. And they might just leave the show altogether and throw their weight behind Obama, who has served their interests well on many fronts.

Another small problem: Just as Mitt became the face of the brutal and unfair aspects of our capitalist system in recent debates, Newt may find himself the poster boy for the corrupt influence of money in politics. In the final days of the S.C. showdown, Mitt began to signal that he was willing to hit on his opponent’s big Achilles’ heel in his demand that records of Newt’s 1997 ethics violation be released.

Here’s a little history on why Newt’s populist-champion narrative has more holes that a slice of Swiss cheese.

As Speaker of the House, the number of ethics violations Newt racked up through unsavory money transactions is breathtaking, and resulted, as Mitt reminds us, in a $300,000 fine. But there’s more. Oh, so much more.

The worst thing about Newt is what political economist Thomas Ferguson pointed out in a paper for the Institute for New Economic Thinking – namely that Newt was the key architect of the current pay-to-play system in Congress. More than anyone else, he is responsible for building the system in which members of Congress who bring in the most cash get the plum and powerful committee appointments. It was not always thus. Before Newt and his buddy Tom Delay saw the potential for pay-to-play, committee appointments came through seniority. But after Newt & Co. came to power, influence in Congress was nakedly up for sale. Today, both parties actually post prices for key positions, as Ferguson noted in the Financial Times.

This crass turn in American politics has undermined democracy and has done more to separate the will of the voters from the actions of the politicians they elect than perhaps anything else in the last fifty years. It’s the shameless mentality that once prompted Newt’s former buddy and fellow Georgia politician Ralph Reed to talk giddily about his aspiration to start “humping corporate accounts” following his turn in electoral politics.

When Newt left Congress, he then went on to become a consultant for, oh, Everybody in the Universe. He cozied up to Big Oil and changed his stance on climate change. He hopped into bed with health care executives, selling access to lawmakers and collecting millions from the industry for his think tank. And he famously took $1.6 million from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for his services as a “historian.” Know any real historians who rake in that kind of cash?

Americans’ deep anger about the degree to which Big Business buys the political system has been channeled through the Occupy Movement, and Newt’s role not only as a key conduit in this system, but one of its engineers, may open up public discussion of this issue, much as Mitt’s low tax rate and corporate raiding have helped keep the torch burning on income inequality and predatory capitalism.

Mitt will certainly try to overwhelm Newt with money. But he can also call out Newt’s particular affinity for channeling cash through the political system and expressing more enthusiasm for lobbying than anyone in recent memory. Calling him Mr. Anti-Free Market Capitalism is one tactic, branding him as Mr. Corruption is yet another. And the branding has begun. On Sunday, Mitt headed to Florida and challenged the former Speaker on his influence-peddling, criticizing him for “what’s he been doing for fifteen years…working as a lobbyist and selling influence around Washington.”

Mitt asked Newt to release his records concerning his years working for Freddie Mac, emphasizing the GOP view that the government-backed lender played a key role in the housing bubble and subsequent collapse, which has been a major source of economic distress to Florida residents.

Newt and Mitt will continue to duke it out, each trying to position himself as a Man of the People. As for the Occupiers, we’ll be sending “thank you for your support” letters to both candidates.

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104 comments

  1. F. Beard

    of flat money into the federal reserve is absolutely right, i Newt Gingrich

    Hey Newt,

    Inexpensive fiat is the ONLY ethical money form for government debts – taxes and fees.

    RP is correct about many things but you have to agree with a thing RP is wrong about?!

    Shame!

      1. James

        Fair to say, the feeling would be mutual. Although, depriving the world of the comedic train wreck that is the Newt perpetual campaign for self-aggrandizement would indeed be a tragedy for both pot smokers and non alike.

        1. F. Beard

          Newt was relatively handsome when younger but I can’t stand to look at him now. There is some justice in this world, it seems.

  2. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Not only do the Working Stiffs pay a higher rate on *income tax* (and why is capital gains not *income*?), they pay the Payroll tax, and they cannot deduct Medical expenses. The DISPARITY is *APPALLING* (one of Newt’s favorite words).

    The burden of all government services, and of the M-I/Security/Police/Pharma Complex that enriches the .01% at our expense, the airports and shipping lanes paid for by We the People to facilitate the profits of the /01-1%, is squarely on the crushed BACKS of We the People.

    ENOUGH! Who will say: “I am Spartacus”?

    1. James

      And yet,”We the Sheeple” continue to vote/ask for ever more of the same. Political “scientists,” take note!

      Oh yeah, self-congratulatory back-slap “State of the Union” address in progress as we speak. More unadulterated SHIT of any stripe I have yet not heard! But of course, that’s the POINT,/i>, isn’t it? Every year, we pile it deeper. America the deluded.

      1. Nathanael

        Woodrow Wilson understood the behavior of sheeple very well, and manipulated the masses consummately. Of all the professors of political science throughout history, he’s the one whose lectures I’d pay close attention to….

  3. Jean

    “Romney’s Tax Returns Shed Light On Benefits Available To Some Investors”

    So what did we learn from Mitt Romney’s tax returns released formally Tuesday morning?

    It’s no surprise that the highly successful venture capitalist earned $42.5 million over 2010 and 2011.

    And once this year’s returns are finished, the Romneys expect to pay about $6.2 million in taxes for the two years– just less than the 7 million they’ve given to church, and charity, which in 2010, meant taxes slightly less than 14 percent.

    Distinguished Professor of tax law at Syracuse University David Cay Johnston told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that everything in Romney’s returns was legal.

    Breaking Down Romney’s Taxes

    Romney’s $20 or so million in income from this year fits into a couple of categories: Romney made $14 or so million off of money that he invested- capital gains, returns on stocks, interest on his savings.

    He also made money from the investments of others–people who invested in his former company Bain Capital. He and others at Bain in effect were paid by those investors for making deals.

    “A successful manager like Romney gets a share of the profits he produces and Congress allows the manager to be taxed the same way people who had capital at risk is– at this very low 15 percent rate,” Johnston said.

    “It’s called a profits interest. Romney doesn’t have an ownership interest, he doesn’t have any stock, but he has a right to receive income and that produces big benefits for him especially in terms of passing income down to his sons.”

    The idea of carried interest is legal, but Romney also takes this income years after leaving Bain because it is part of his retirement deal.

    Passing Money Down To His Family

    Romney’s sons have a trust fund worth $100 million.

    Johnston says currently the maximum amount a married couple can pass to their children without paying gift taxes is $10 million. But the Romney’s confirmed through their lawyers that they did not pay any gift tax on the $100 million account. How is this possible?

    “They apparently gave the sons some of their carried interest. And because the carried interest is not an ownership, it is a right to receive profits, Congress lets you value that gift at zero,” Johnston said.

    “When you get the income you have to pay it at the 15 percent rate. It means that the parents have effectively pushed forward not just the 100 million the sons have, they avoided the 31 million in gift tax, so they’ve really in effect given their sons the equivalent of $130 million without paying any tax and nobody can do that except people who run private equity funds like Bain Capital Management,” Johnston said.

    The Tax Debate– What happens now? Will The Tax System Be Changed?

    “At the heart of this is a split going on in the Republican party between main street, that’s the Newt Gingrich kind of folks, and Wall Street, that’s the Romney sort of folks,” Johnston said.

    “And to get real tax reform in this country we have to stop treating certain classes of people as special and privileged and different from the rest of us.”

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2012/01/24/romney-releases-taxes

    1. Damian

      people like Romney “paid” politicians to effect tax rates for unearned income LOWER than earned income – 15% versus 35% –

      the fact is – a brain and a back – of a person (human) give out after a while while the capital keeps on giving – ad infinitum – its called compound interest – humans dont have that utility –

      earned income should be taxed lower than unearned income (capital gains) for that sole reason

      so vulture capitalism and crony capitalism got romney where he is and those like him – he didnt invent anything – this was gotten on the basis of rape and pillage – and then – he / they – call the politician / judge / regulator to protect the capital NOT labor

      labor has no voice on the right or the left

      this is a turning point in american history – will the sheeple go to the slaughter house willingly?

      1. Crazy Horse

        I really object to the use of the term vulture capitalism to characterize the activities of firms like Bain Capital. Vultures are birds with magnificent eyesight and flying skills who provide a service to the environment by feeding upon the carcasses of the dead. Corporate raiders like Bain on the other hand feed upon the living, and specialize in scattering the remains far and wide.

        The correct term for Mitt and his like is VAMPIRE CAPITALIST.

        Vampire Capitalism takes several forms including Finance Capitalist (AKA Bankster), Political Whore and Lobbyist, but all are characterized by their voracious appetite and absolute lack of any contribution to the health of the planet and the vast majority of people who live on it. It is they rather than the vultures that deserve to be fed poisoned meat.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Crazy, “Vampire Capitalist” = Master of *Extraction Capitalism*, which Karl Marx called Late Stage Capitalism. We the People are the *turnip* intended to yield blood unto the very last turn of the screw.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          Vampire capitalists. I like it!

          Thanks for encouraging me to rethink vulture capitalist.

          I recently discovered I shouldn’t be using the phrase “Drinking the Kool Aid”, and I’m sure there are a lot of these sayings that are probably not appropriate.

          p.s.: the Jonestown victims did not willingly “drink the Kool Aid” to kill themselves–they were murdered.

          p.p.s. Speaking of funny sayings, here’s a German having a hard time with the phrase “shooting fish in a barrel.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63Y5XjlO4vk

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            Walter, who’s the stand-up comic? It’s good, but of course he doesn’t have the accent and intonation down pat. Needs a dialogue coach.

        3. James

          Reminds me of the T-Shirt/poster back in the day, where one vulture says to another, “Patience my ass! I’m gonna KILL something!”

          1. Smellslikechapter11

            The other night Bill Maher framed this show correctly: Alien vs Predator
            It always so refreshing when life imitates art … Well movies, maybe art actually

        4. Damian

          you’re right vulture does not make as much sense as vampire /crony

          today we all deal in images and words that are very powerful to get the point across – republican propaganda has twisted so much

          think about offshore income that someone like romney pays taxes – and he is called a “job creator” but the bulk of funds he has is offshore – it can go anywhere in the world for a job creation – we need to have incentives and penalties for domestic investment solely to create USA jobs – that should be the principal objective of national policy – NOT free enterpise – not free anything

          other wise the race to the bottom will destroy everything as incomes are reduced to subsistence without any discretionary income allowable to run the services or public economy

        5. Maximilien

          @Crazy Horse:

          Mitt Romney quote from the Florida debate last night (I paraphrase):

          “We [Bain Capital] created Staples. And those are ENTRY-LEVEL JOBS!”

          See? Mitt’s not lying. He IS a job-creator. He uses government subsidies, tax breaks, and borrowed money to create $7 an hour jobs.

      2. Aquifer

        You make an excellent point that I have been discussin with others for a long time …

        In a country that supposedly values the concept that a (wo)man should “earn” a living and not have anything “handed” to him/her, how do we tolerate taxing “earned” income at a higher rate than “unearned” income? This absurdity has been evident to me for so long that i do not understand why it has not been a rallying cry of the 99% for some time. The very fact that we label capital gains, etc. as “unearned” income indicates we are very clear on the difference.

        Another thing i think we need to do to bring this into focus is to make a distinction between what folks “make” and what they “earn”. There are a lot of folks out there who, IMO, “earn” a great deal more than they “make” and conversely a good deal many who “make” a good deal more than they “earn” ….. I think we should be more precise in our conversation when we talk about these things – so that folks will start thinking out loud about the difference ….

    2. James

      Good stuff, although Gingrich posing as “mainstreet” is only possible in the alternative universe in which the far right lunatic fringe spits and drools.

      I wanna here Romney’s spin on all this in the coming days and weeks. If he’s got any character at all he’ll stand by it all unapologetically. After all, it’s the kind of chicanery that he lives by, supports, and will actively promote should the American sheeple somehow lower themselves to elect him (I know, we’ve gotta sink pretty damn low to undercut the current Criminal in Chief) in Nov. Just once, I wanna hear these Wall St blowhard types stand loud and proud in public like they do behind their walls of privilege and power. Come on Mitt (And another thing, Mitt and Newt in one election cycle? Who writes these scripts anyway?), let’s all hear about how you’ve earned it all and how we should just be glad for the opportunity to eat from your gold encrusted crumb trail.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        James: alas, Willard Mitt is *owned heart, mind, and soul–in toto–by *The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints*, whatever that means in ChurchState (only top insiders know for sure). Willard Mitt Romney is a shell about a core global bureaucratic theocratic instituion based in Salt Lake City that fully INTENDS to rule the entire world.

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Jean, that’s why in *radical politics* the transfer of wealth through inheritance is forbidden: each generation must begin anew, no inherited .01% advantage.

      Only with the elimination of inheritance could we begin to claim as “self evident” that “all men are created equal.” This is bed rock for radical change. The elimination of inheritance–before or after *the fact* of the bequeather’s death–would begin to create a Just Capitalist System.

      Even the guillotine could not accomplish this radical change, so determined are the .01% to save “People of their kind”–the People of No Mercy.

  4. Middle Seaman

    The connection between the current GOP race and OWS seems more forced than real. Headlines differ from the content. The GOP, with whatever dressing, is for inequality, for corporating raiding and no taxes. That’s not close to OWS. The Federal Reserve is nothing but empty talk. We live in a Baking oligarchy that the GOP loves and many others don’t.

    How do we know that Newt won in S.C. on a wave of populist discontent? I think he won because the ultra fanatics hate and suspect Romney. That’s not populism.

    1. F. Beard

      I think he won because the ultra fanatics hate and suspect Romney. Middle Seaman

      Probably true. Mormonism is viewed by orthodox Christianity as a non-Christian cult.

      From 30,000 feet, Mormons may look like Christians to some but in the South few are fooled.

      The Republicans must want to lose…

      1. James

        Beard,

        Just asking, how do YOU feel about Mormonism? I know you’re a somewhat “mainstream” Christian of some sort. What’s your feeling on the Mitt in particular and Mormonism in general? No bone to pick, just asking.

        1. F. Beard

          how do YOU feel about Mormonism? James

          I think it is stupid (for one thing, there is NO archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon) so Romney is either dumb, ignorant, or cynical wrt his religion.

          It will be interesting though to see if white Southern ministers are Christians first or Republicans first.

    2. scraping_by

      Gingrich also had the Civil War bitter-enders he can stoke up to “git the Yankee librul!”

      The sense of being a people apart with a separate history and different experience can easily be stoked into attack politics. Most of the people raised south of Philadelphia can have that used against them.

      Been happening for 150 years, doesn’t seem to go away.

      1. Lambert Strether

        Tribalism, alas, is not limited to the South. As we saw in 2008, and are seeing again this year. I tend to think of any analysis that treats only one party or a few candidates from that candidate as “tribe bait” — and that goes for the whole spectrum from RP to Warren (2016) — and by definition not including the systemic analysis we so desperately need.

        If I had to pick one litmus test for a serious candidate it would be this: Prosecuting TBTF CEOs for fraud. Silence across the spectrum: RP, Romney, Gingrich, Obama, Warren, whatever.

        Ergo, there is no candidate that wishes to end elite impunity, ergo there is no rule of law, ergo the entire primariez process is a clown show.

        1. Walter Wit Man

          Excellent point and you’ve identified the question that will determine Ron Paul’s seriousness. Here’s one clue, where RP is opining on the Madoff fraud and SEC regulations:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHan1GpdqEg

          Assuming the best about this speech: Ron Paul does seem to be saying he wants to prosecute fraud (but the states should prosecute fraud and not the feds). But he doesn’t think regulation is the solution–he’s opining about the Maddoff crimes and notes that he SEC was regulating Maddoff didn’t prevent the crimes.*

          Most libertarians agree with a bare bones criminal code and would prosecute financial fraud, as far as I know. Paul correctly points out the laws are already on the books. Along the same lines I believe most of them would also let TBTF firms go bankrupt.

          But would Paul use federal laws to prosecute bank crimes, even if he thinks they should primarily be prosecuted by the states? I bet he would say yes, he would prosecute, but you’re right to be suspicious b/c I am assuming this and have never heard him make the promise explicitly. Fraud is the primary weapon of any reformer and a self motivated reformer would have mentioned it explicitly by now (especially since its popular).

          Same thing with Warren. I bet Warren and Paul can be shamed into saying they support fraud prosecutions, and to promise they will do their part, but their actions and rhetoric do not indicate they see it as the strongest arrow in their quiver. Why don’t they lead on this issue?

          *Although he seems to be having it both ways b/c he seems to be making promises to regulate the banks in some manner.

          1. Lambert Strether

            I don’t care about Bernie Madoff; he’s a trivial distraction. Ponzi schemes are for pikers. [I'm hearing a rework of "Coffee is for closers" for the foreclosure fraud industry: "Coffee is for fraudsters...." "These are the Goldman Sachs leads...."] I care about the largest upward transfer of wealth in world history, orchestrated by the TBTF banks. I care about seeing Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein doing the perp walk in orange jumpsuit, not poor pathetic Bernie Madoff.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            I agree that Madoff fraud prosecution was a diversion. He was served up as a sacrifice.

            I too care about bigger fish and broader issues.

            Like I said, it was just a clue because he was opining about the broader view of regulating financial fraud. Like the rest of his colleagues, this is the venue they chose to discuss these greater societal issues so this is about all we’re going to get as far as politicians speaking directly to your point.

            But it is an example of financial fraud and Ron Paul is saying the fraud laws are already on the books and so implies that they should be enforced (preferably through the states). He doesn’t take it to the next logical step, as you correctly point out, and urge them to prosecute or go into many details [as a quick google search confirms]. . .

            Which is why you have a good point. They should be demanding Bill Black or AG, for instance. They should be demanding prosecution. Warren and Paul come the closest to promising this but come up short.

        2. Walter Wit Man

          And we should be asking our state AGs the same question.

          Whether or not the federal government should take the lead on fraud prosecution (as I think it should), there is no reason the states can’t prosecute these crimes.

          Jeez, they aren’t even investigating. That tells you something.

          1. Smellslikechapter11

            The only state with a fraud law that would really work is NY with the Martin Act. So we need to Martinize all of the states to make effective and fund the AGs. Neither will happen.

          2. Walter Wit Man

            The Martin Act may be the best arrow a prosecutor has, but other states have arrows as well.

            Every state has a common law criminal fraud statute (and embezzlement). A scheme to defraud government of recording fees may come under a common law fraud. Same thing with a conspiracy to originate false documents (liar loans). There may be some other theories were one could prosecute under common law fraud or embezzlement (MF Global sure seems like embezzlement to me).

            Plus, other states have laws like the Martin Act that go beyond the common law financial crimes–they may not permit the extreme measures of the Martin Act, but still . . .

          3. Walter Wit Man

            I often get the sense the elite hide behind the excuse that these crimes are too complicated to prosecute.

            Well, let’s see. Let’s take it to a jury. Why wont’ they do it? They would stretch on cases involving poor black people.

        3. Aquifer

          “If I had to pick one litmus test for a serious candidate it would be this: Prosecuting TBTF CEOs for fraud. Silence across the spectrum: RP, Romney, Gingrich, Obama, Warren, whatever.

          Ergo, there is no candidate that wishes to end elite impunity, ergo there is no rule of law, ergo the entire primariez process is a clown show.”

          Sometimes I think i am being baited …. LOL

          I think you know what i will say here – so as soon as folks get over their strange fascination with a contest (GOP primary) that all agree will produce nothing of substance,
          i again urge consideration of – Jill Stein -

          1. Walter Wit Man

            Discussing the bankruptcy of both dominant parties is a useful exercise. If nothing else it is a way to learn from experience.

            Also, what an odd argument you’re making–that attacking both dominant parties somehow props them up at the expense of third parties. These are not mutually exclusive. In fact, most third party proponents I know feel just fine attacking both the Democrats and Republicans.

          2. Aquifer

            Walter,

            Not an odd argument at all – when time and again one hears that there is “no one” making a certain argument, or that the “only one” making a certain argument is a member of the duopoly – restricting the conversation to the two main parties, as if they are the only choices, is a real problem for honest discourse to begin with, and if those two statements are demonstrably false, such restriction is disingenuous, to say the least.

            You are clearly a RP fan – and are, “humbly and with reservations, of course” promoting him here – to suggest that my promoting of a different choice and doing so by pointing out that the insistence of restricting the conversation to parties my choice does not belong to is perhaps counterproductive to the aims many of us purportedly espouse is hardly an “odd” argument.

            The arbitrariness and artificiality of the “terms of engagement” are what i am objecting to if the real aim is to get us out of this mess ….

          3. Walter Wit Man

            Aquifer,

            What’s the logical follow-up from “no one is looking out for us, both the Ds and Rs are corrupt”? It’s “let’s get someone in there who does, let’s start another party or coalition*, etc.”

            That’s great you followed the logical conclusions from step 1 and got to step 2 (the only electoral hope is a 3rd party). But different people are at different stages and the two are NOT mutually exclusive (indeed, they go together quite nicely–beating up on the two parties usually helps 3rd parties).

            In fact, I bet more people reading this blog vote for Democrats than vote for 3rd parties. Maybe those people need to be reached rather than hectoring people that agree with you but want to talk about Stage 1 as well.

            Also, discussing Ron Paul is not promoting him. I’m not promoting anyone in this thread about financial fraud. I’m asking questions and exploring.

            I have told you before I won’t vote for Ron Paul**–just like I won’t vote for any Democrat or Republican. I even punished my local “progressive” Democrats by not voting for them unless they leave the party. I also happen to be registered Green. I also don’t think of every comment here as promoting or not promoting candidates–sometimes I’m more interested in information and discussion rather than advocacy.

            *If you want advocacy, here’s some advice: let’s focus on a coalition rather than a specific third party.

            **unless there was left/libertarian alliance and RP made some explicit promises that I could trust

          4. JTFaraday

            “I also don’t think of every comment here as promoting or not promoting candidates–sometimes I’m more interested in information and discussion rather than advocacy.”

            Well there’s your problem. After so many years of horse race politics, along with the promotion of the culture war tied to the 2 parties, a lot of people can’t approach any public issue through any other lens, even though it seems pretty clear that sending individual Third Party candidates into a corrupted and probably structurally problematic government is not going to effect much change, in and of itself.

            Not that I don’t support that effort, I’m just not sure it’s going to amount to anything. Thus, if we couldn’t think and talk and outside the narrow box of elections and candidates and X person’s ideological purity–and some people do seem to be suggesting that we can’t!– I would go out of my mind.

          5. JTFaraday

            And actually, the reason I support the Third Party and protest vote effort right now is more to throw off the shackles of the old ways than because I think it’s going to amount to much anytime in the near future.

            So, frog marching the rebellious into any particular Third Party is just not what I would do, at least not for 2012.

  5. sleeper

    It looks as if Newt, Mitt, and Obama are all sort of dancing around the issue of big money / access to congress / government capture / and so on. Have any real proposals been made ? For example will the tax structure really be changed ? Will campaign finance be changed ? Public financing anyone ? A tax to pay for elections ?

    If change really does happen then the system could change and the present players will be on the outs – at least for a while.

    So the question is will our boys in Washington cut off their supply of cash ? And does this mean they will cut their own throats ?

    Real changes in taxes might mean that congress critters could no longer sell tax breaks for campaign cash. And yes there is a quid pro quo.

    These changes could shake the nation. Newt and his buddies should be careful.

    1. Ms G

      And let’s not forget that people with “earned income” have the privilege of paying the higher “earned income” tax rate on any capital gains/profits they accrue in 401K accounts. If that is not yet another illustration of a tax system meticulously geared to bleed workers and reward rentiers I don’t know what is!

      Also, the spectacle of revolving-door crony-capitalist Newt Gingrich (e.g. 1.x Million to be Fmae’s historian) playing “populist” to Mitt R’s vulture capitalist is truly comical.

  6. rdoug

    With a trust fund of $100 million you would think his sons could take a small pay cut and serve a few years in the Army in Afghanistan. It is not as if they would be broke when they got back. Plus since Mitt LOVES the military they would get his automatic approval.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      rdoug, his sons would certainly get the *missionary exemption* from military service, just like he did, even if the Draft were restored. The Elder Missionaries of the LDS don’t do “conscientious objector” status.

      Privilege is as privilege does.

      1. rdoug

        must be why no eventually famous people showed up near my foxhole in vietnam. Sometimes I feel I got suckered.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      food, we cannot be surprised that there are shills in Occupy*, for the movement is a threat to the status quo. Isn’t that a good sign?

  7. LeonovaBalletRusse

    YVES, make them talk about where the Big Money is going as PORK to whom:

    http://my.firedoglake.com/tomengelhardt: “William Astore: Confessions of a Recovering Weapons Addict” Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:37 am by Tom Englehardt, FRAMING: William Astore: “Confessions of a Recovering Weapons Addict” in which Astore claims that “Weapons R Us.” HORRIFYING! link:

    http://my.firedoglake.com/tomengelhardt/2012/01/24/william-astore-confessions-of-a-recovering-weapons-addict/

    YVES, it’s time to expose Private Equity holdings in the Tools of War by Organized Crime RACKETS. Bring RICO!

    The system is rigged in favor of *ultraconservative* profiteers at the top and at the bottom (“jobs” in every State). The life-blood of the .01% is Endless Wars and the Endless stream of weapons and bodies that wage them. The Anglo-American Empire funds every side of every conflict at the People’s expense, the People’s slavery, the People’s death.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    Occupy was created by the demand for an alternative to the corporate oligarchy which had become public during the Bush Administration when the newly empowered Democrats failed to fight back.

    The President didn’t command 100,000 person crowds because he was a orator of the ages. People were hungry for change and Democratic enthusiasm in 2006 and 2008 was largely driven by that demand, but OWS is the result of the Democrats failing to live up those desires.

    The Republicans are a sideshow in many ways.. If 0bama and the Dems were prosecuting fraud and raising taxes on the wealthy, there would be no Occupy/OWS no matter how crazy stuff the GOP and Wall Street went. If the Democrats had even tried, the Occupy energies would be directed towards electing Democrats.

    1. JamesD

      The Bush Administration worked with a DEMOCRAT congress to pass the first bail out. And it is not a corporate oligarchy we should be concerned about. May God Bless American Businesses. The oligarchy we should be concerned about is the BANKING oligarchy which gets TRILLIONS of free money from the Federal Reserve.

  9. Hugh

    I cannot help but see this Republican mudslinging as meaningless atmospherics and distraction. Romney or Gingrich or whoever else, the Republicans will nominate a corporatist to run against the corporatist Obama. The real issue here is that the 99% have no candidate in this race, at least not one from the two main parties.

    We should never lose sight of the fact that Obama has shown himself to be as bad and as anti-99% as anyone he is likely to run against.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Mitt and Newt are Obama’s insurance policies. Newt has unfavorability ratings in the general electorate (56-60% in 3 polls) likely too high to overcome, and Mitt has the “vampire capitalist” collar and his Mormon faith that turns off Evagelical conservatives. Neither one could accomplish a fraction of Obama’s record of achievements for Wall Street and the MIC. And notice that Ron Paul, the only candidate challenging the military and financial system, has been marginalized and practically shut out of MSM coverage.

    2. Aquifer

      So, if the 99% have no candidate in the race from one of the 2 main parties, isn’t it a good idea to start looking outside them? And if so, isn’t it a good idea to have a discussion about those “outsiders” who, in fact, may well represent the 99% better than the “insider” parties?

      It always, by turns, fascinates and frustrates me to see the amount of time, words, and energy wasted on discussions of folks who just about everyone agrees are useless, or worse, for making any kind of progress while ignoring those who just might have answers/solutions that would work ….

  10. Sam

    Republicans, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street, cannot say tax cuts create US jobs for the first t ime in 40 years. And to have any credibility, Ron Paul is going to have to channel Ronnie Raygun: disband the Federal Reserve and the private bank cartel families on my Inauguration day, and release the American prisoners from the Federal Reserve, or send in bombs. I’m not going to hold my breath that Ron Paul will put a date on ending the Federal Reserve or resign from office.

    Mitt Romney as candidate? again, Republicans can’t say tax cuts create US jobs. Obama had a woman on stage with him who, because of her health care problems, switched from the Republican Party to the Democrat Party. Let’s hope George Soros finds plenty of people who’ve lost jobs to offshoring, to Bain and Co antics, and has them show up to embarrass the heck out of Republicans.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Well, I actually have a call out to the person I think you have in mind, but they have yet to get back…. This is a test…

          That said, I’d be a heck of a lot more impressed if you gave on-point quotes or links to on-point quotes, rather than the “check the website” approach. I had quite enough of that in 2008….

  11. Innocent VII

    Listen, you folks here (including the author) are smart enough, you should be able to see “the man” behind the curtain; but since know one seems to be saying…
    The elections are utterly fixed, the show is for show; the PTB are going to elect the stooge who’s going to carry out their program with the least amount of public outrage, all the while they advance “the program” towards total dictatorship and also co-opt the genuine resistance as much as possible.
    Romney will get the nomination but will be beaten by Obama, (the so-called hopey-changey guy vs. the vulture capitalist); but along the way, Romney will restore some prestige for his trade.
    Gingrich is never going to get the nomination; he’s simply there to advance “the narrative” towards dictatorship, for which he has a particularly asinine smirk. The GOP wishes Ron Paul wasn’t there ’cause he challenges too many sacred cows; but since he (and his many followers) won’t go away, the Elite are starting to sound conciliatory towards him, to thereby bring some credibility back to the GOP and elections in general.
    The election is a distraction, unworthy of comment, save to see how “the narrative” is being constructed.
    The MOVEMENT in support of Ron paul is significant; because it represents a large segment of the conservative/libertarian/patriot population; and its good to see that the author (above) is willing to see some parallels between these folks and OWS; for those are bridges that need to be strengthened through a better conversation.
    When it becomes clear that Ron paul will not be allowed to win, that active grassroots community will be looking for other solutions; and supporters of OWS need to find a way to reach out to them and broaden our common ground. Check out Glenn Greenwald’s article about Ron Paul and Obama.

    1. KnotRP

      The point of the circus is to keep everyone biting their nails and in their seats, so they won’t realize they should
      get up, walk out of the tent, and get to work on a real
      answer.

    2. Aquifer

      The irony is that the Green platform is ready made for Occupy and has been around since before there WAS an Occupy ….

      As soon as Occupy figures out it really is in its best interests to have a political arm – hopefully they will discover they don’t have to reinvent the wheel – it is there, has been for sometime, and is available for the voyage …

      1. Howard Switzer

        I agree aquifer, Occupy is demostrating what Greens have been talking about, an evolutionary shift that we all knew would be organic and from the bottom up. The growth economy has hit the ecological limit, its over, but the dorks in charge and those who vote for them don’t know it yet. The longer they ignore this truth the worse things will be.

        1. Susan the other

          I agree. The whole thing is so surreal. The SOTU was bizarre. Obama covered his entire kit of political talking points and never once said he was concerned about the planet. He just said he wouldn’t let BP off the hook. Except that he already has. But nevermind. It was such a hollow performance I kept expecting him to break down weeping. And Mitch McConnel was a spectre, wasn’t he? I’m sure he’ll gladly feed us all a Gulf shrimp banquet.

    1. KnotRP

      Why not get to work on getting someone (W. Black or other) signed up as a valid write in candidate in all 50 states?

      1. Aquifer

        Why not work for Jill Stein as Greens will, so I understand, already have a ballot line in 45 states?

      2. Blurtman

        Why cannot citizens just write in their candidate of choice, in this case, William K. Black? The idea of a “valid write in candidate” sounds a bit undemocratic.

  12. paul

    With Newt’s 15% flat tax and 0% capital gains proposal,
    if I were Romney, I’d drop out of the race, throw all my support to Newt and save $3,000,000.00 per year

  13. Eureka Springs

    Part of the reason I like NC and Corrente is because these types of posts/questions are rarely if ever raised. I for one am thankful I have no idea what Newt or Romney, or Obama for that matter are saying at all. And it is a huge reason I like OWS, because you wont get very far into a partisan conversation before someone says something along the lines of… we don’t do that.

    That said I am a few minutes into the State of The Union, first bit of political TV in months aside from Democracy Now… and now I will turn it off. Gah!

    1. Ms G

      Didn’t someone on NC joke about something like this happening last night? Someone please confirm this is a hoax. Because if it isn’t, I guess we can expect Kamala to join Schneiderman as co-Chief of this Potemkin horror show. and to wake up realizing that truly our voices mean nothing.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Hah! I’ll believe Obama will have Justice go after Big Fraud after he fires Eric Holder and hires William K. Black in his stead.

        1. Ms G

          And how is this TF different than the one headed by Lanny Breuer, announced in 2009? EH and LB are both Covington alums.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      He’s running scared. I’ll believe it’s not a Potemkin Village solution to pressure when Obama fires Eric Holder and Timothy Geithner, and gets Bernanke’s definitive, immediate resignation.

      Then, when we see William K. Black as head of Justice, and Michael Hudson as Secretary of the Treasury, and Paul Krugman as head of the Federal Reserve, and Susan Webber as Obama’s Chief of Staff, THEN I will believe that Obama will see through the prosecution of Big Fraud agents. Then I may believe that Obama is actually the President of the U.S.A., honoring his Oath of Office, and not the Principal Agent of a Foreign Power.

  14. JamesD

    I hate reading articles spreading the lie that we have capitalism. Really? So the GOVERNMENT spending TRILLIONS on two bailouts is capitalism? So the GOVERNMENT passing the CRA to force quota loans is capitalism? Fanne Mae and Freddie capitalism?

    But the Hippo in the Bathtub is the FEDERAL RESERVE. Without it, there are no bailouts, there are no low interest loans to big banks. It is the end to corporatism.

    If we want to change things, then unite the Tea Party with OWS to END THE FED. And another thing, the most critical things you can do is to elect Tea Party candidates to the House. Then it doesn’t matter if Mitt or Newt get elected (there’s always hope it will be Paul, but unlikely), the House will pass a responsible budget, and whoever is the Republican president will sign it. And the Tea Party has been successful so far. Since the Tea Party took over the House, there have been no more bailouts.

  15. Paul Tioxon

    http://www.housingwire.com/2012/01/24/appeals-court-upholds-mers-right-to-assign-foreclose-on-a-mortgage

    There may be nothing to investigate if there is continued state by state victory on the part of MERS, in state Supreme Courts and Federal Courts of Appeal, to transfer rights of notes and servicing and the like:

    Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, 10:14 am

    Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. has the right to assign a security deed and foreclose on a property that becomes part of the securitization process, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Judicial Circuit held in a new opinion.

    In Smith v. Saxon Mortgage Services, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta agreed with U.S. Magistrate Judge Janet F. King in her finding that the language included in a Georgia security deed gives MERS the authority to act on behalf of current and future owners of the mortgage.

    That distinction is significant since Reston, Va.-based company is the main recording system used to document the transfer of mortgages throughout the securitization process.

    Friday, August 12th, 2011, 7:34 am

    Virginia is the latest state to uphold the authority of the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems to act as deed of trust beneficiary and initiate foreclosure.

    Dozens of states have now ruled in favor of MERS in lawsuits claiming the Reston, Va.-based company overstepped its authority at numerous times in various stages of the foreclosure process.

    The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed lower court rulings in three cases brought against MERS, according to the company.

    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, 6:37 pm

    An Arizona federal judge dismissed 72 lawsuits against Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., which tracks ownership and servicing rights of U.S. mortgages.

    U.S. District Judge James Teilborg, relying on a September appellate court decision, rejected the argument by plaintiffs in the consolidated litigation that naming MERS as a beneficiary on deeds of trust means they’re unsecured and the properties can’t be foreclosed.

    “This court does not find legal support for the proposition that the MERS system of securitization is so inherently defective so as to render every MERS deed of trust completely unenforceable and unassignable,” Teilborg wrote in his order dismissing the claims.

    …………………………………..

    I could on, there are many more courts in many more states rejecting outright and additionally rejecting upon appeal. If this heads to the Supreme Court, I don’t think there will be anything regarding the robo signing scandal for much of anyone to sink their teeth into other than famous small potatoes. So, in hunting down the bad guys, who can we expect to be on the proscription list? Well, usually your enemies. But that would require having a finely tuned political discussion about who is at war with who in the USofA.

    It is not only the class warfare that the ruling elite are engaged. It is the everyday battle for market share and profits from your competition who wants to put you out of business. And right now the battle for survival from the commanding heights of capitalism includes networks of power at odds with one another to the point of fear and loathing and that peculiar sickness unto death. Not you and me dear friends in NCville, in and around villages Potemkin or not, but people like Buffet and Gates who want to pay more taxes and those that would rather be dead than red. There are a lot of people whose fortune is tied to the auto industry, and by that I DO mean FORTUNE. In the economic collapse there were those that told Detroit to eat shit and die. But then, there were those who did not. Having survived the almost certain fall into the abyss from which there is no return, your loyalties are to those that pulled you out and your animosity to those who did all they could to grease the pathway over the edge. Here is a hint of the cleavage, the auto industry no longer needs the oil industry. It will need the electrical infrastructure to be upgraded. Why waste money on a continental pipeline when you have 22 models of electrical vehicles coming out in a year. With a stroke of the pen, the commander in chief will produce a huge market for renewable energy by diverting the line items in the military budget away from the people on the proscription list of enemies, those whose fortunes are tied to the sunset industries of mineral extraction and environmental disaster.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      MERS has been ditching cases they are likely to lose and pursuing ones they think they can win. This decision may be germane only to Georgia.

      1. Susan the other

        One of the things that judges take into consideration are the actual beneficiaries to the note. If the note and mortgage is a MOM (Mers on Mortgage) the judge will usually acknowledge Mers as being legally entitled to prosecute a foreclosure – even if the chain of title has been totally destroyed. So these judges are avoiding resolving the entire question.

  16. notAwhiteHorse

    Did I miss something or has the Bain Investments and ‘El Salvador crimes against humanity’ connection been swept under the table? Google ” bain and romney’ to see HOW he made his money. Definitely a factor: not only fair taxation but how he collected his coin.

    I hope this posts. I tried to make the same statement on bbc dot com comments today and the moderator censored me twice. All text was in moderate verbage. Nothing disrespectful.
    Is bbc dot com a subsidiary of fox news?

  17. Dan Kervick

    If the Occupy movement gets seduced by radical right wing declamations on the evils of “fiat money”, they will be handing a major victory to the 1%. A truly public monetary system in a democratic society must be a fiat system. Either going back to the gold standard or privatizing the monetary system is recipe for eliminating one of the few sources of public control remaining, and surrendering to the plutocrats who will certainly dominate under these arrangements.

    What is needed are reforms that go in exactly the opposite direction – toward greater public control. We need to eliminate the secrecy and lack of accountability of the so-called “independent” Fed, and place monetary power squarely under the control of democratic governance.

  18. JeffreyR

    Obama has been doing his thing for 4 years now and what has happened? All well for the 1%. I don’t think he will be replaced as he has been doing his job well regardless of all the promises he made and failed to keep.

    Newt may try the same plan as Obama used – Promise change and if elected rake in the money and do the corporate masters bidding. This assumes enough people would vote for this most repulsive human.

    Romney is probably too rich to win. Also few speak of his ties to the Morman Church. A good question would be what is their agenda as Mitt will be promoting it?

    But this article is about OWS and from my point of view the OWS “movement” is too diffuse to be coopted. It does not have any leaders that you can buy or seduce with power. Basically it is “we don’t like the corporate “democracy”" The Tea Party has a lot of the same feeling but they made the mistake of establishing an organization which was promptly coopted by the Republicans.

    I like a constitutional amendment taking person hood away from corporations and banning their money in elections. That might be a possibility.

  19. Susan the other

    I’m just wondering: I think Obama was telegraphing something about big finance. The only real action he has promised to take has to do with the financial debacle, everything else was filler to make us think he is sincere. It looks like the big banks know they are mortally wounded and want things set straight too. But they cannot negotiate because they are caught in their own fraudulent scheme between investors and borrowers. It’s catch 22 for them. And none of them seems willing to file for BK. BAC should, and everyone knows it. Bernanke made all the banks submit living wills. What for? He then said no big bank was going to go under on his watch.

    The law is failing us at this point. And Eric Holder is taking full advantage of this situation.

    If Obama wants to resolve this, and get it behind us, he will have to fire Holder. Did anyone else notice how uncomfortable Holder was at the SOTU when Obama discussed the new task force? If this is politics then Holder has to go. Maybe Schneiderman will replace him.

    But if Bernanke is seriously not going to let a big fail, there is no legal solution. The bigs must fail in order to right the situation. Only in BK can the mortgages be written down and sufficiently refinanced. But this also means that the funds holding the MBS will have to either agree, sue for default so they can cash in their CDS, or declare BK too. Sounds like Greece to me. Maybe Bernanke will have to step down.

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