Sunday, October 5, 2008
Independent U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader had harsh words for the Democrats who engineered yesterday’s passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, a bailout of the U.S. financial system. At a campaign stop in Waterbury, Connecticut on Saturday, Nader said that Democrats passed up a chance to enact re-regulation of the financial system and instead gave Wall Street everything it wanted.
According to Nader, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), and other Democrats considered but rejected measures such as a tax on transactions of derivatives (a “speculation tax”) because of their financial ties to Wall Street and its lobbyists. He said that Representative Chris Murphy (D-CT), who represents Waterbury, had “become a toady” of Nancy Pelosi. He drew enthusiastic applause by calling Murphy “a dynamic fraud”, and referred to Senator Joe Lieberman as “the Hermaphrodite of American Politics”. For Murphy and Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), Nader said, supporting the bailout despite the opposition of constituents was a “profile in betrayal”. Because there were no public hearings where taxpayers and experts could weigh in on the bailout, Nader characterized it as a return to “taxation without representation“—under “King George IV” 225 years after the 13 colonies were taxed under King George III.
Asked about causes of the financial crisis, Nader pointed to the deregulation of the financial sector with the 1999 Glass-Steagall Act and further deregulation in 2000, as well as the rise of overly complex financial derivatives. He outlined a four-part reform plan:
- Re-regulation of financial markets
- Increasing shareholder control of corporations
- Taxpayer equity as part of any bailout, as in the 1979 bailout of Chrysler Corporation
- Making speculators pay by enacting a 0.1% tax on derivatives transactions (which Nader said will amount to over $500 trillion this year)
Regarding the equity warrants included in the passed bailout, Nader relayed word from an unnamed source that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had told Wall Street executives “don’t worry, it’s not enforceable”.
Nader told reporters that he had abandoned the Green Party because “Greens are not disciplined, and they’re not mature”, and also lack the fund-raising capabilities to break into mainstream political discussions. “They bicker and bicker,” he said, pushing out their best people. However, he endorsed several local Green Party candidates, including Chris Murphy’s opponent Harold Burbank.
The virtual media blackout for third party campaigns by national newspapers and networks has been a source of continual frustration for the Nader campaign, as well as the campaigns of Libertarian Bob Barr and Green Cynthia McKinney and the post-campaign activities of Republican Ron Paul. According to Nader, reporters tell him that editors of national media are “very bigoted against third party and independent candidacies”. Even journalists for taxpayer-supported media, such as National Public Radio‘s Terry Gross and the Public Broadcasting Service‘s Jim Lehrer, have shut him out during this campaign. Debates, he lamented, are controlled by corporate interests through the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Nader spoke to a supportive crowd of about 60 people and his campaign raised over $2000 at the event, their third visit to Waterbury. The event took place in the former building of a closed-down bank.