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Petit Julien welcomes you back to the Populist Pub.  

Earlier this week, we passed a milestone of sorts. The Obama administration marked its first 100 days in office. In 1933, FDR, facing a full blown depression, made numerous and transformative changes in his first 100 days. Since then, the accomplishments of the first 100 days of every new administration have been symbolically compared. That is, until this year.

On Thursday, Day #101 of the Obama administration, Steve Lendman, author, blogger, radio co-host and activist, who lives in Chicago, wrote an excellent article contrasting the first 100 days of FDR to BHO. This was effectively a follow up to a scathing article he wrote two weeks earlier. In that article, published on April 18th, Steve Lendman was highly critical of the Obama economic team especially. It was provocatively titled Barack Obama: Crime Boss.

The essay begins,

Since taking office, Obama, wittingly or otherwise, has headed the largest criminal enterprise in history - the mass looting of national wealth to enrich his Wall Street benefactors. He assembled a rogue economic team of Clinton/Robert Rubin retreads - to fix the current crisis they engineered.

Thereafter, he gives a pretty thorough rundown of the main criticisms and accusations leveled by the likes of Kevin Phillips, William Black, Nouriel Roubini, Joseph Stiglitz, Willem Buiter and Martin Weiss.

Lendman gives an unrelenting assessment of the Obama administration plans, actions and glaring inactions to date. He recalls the Pecora commission of the 1930s and contrasts its mission to the COP headed by Elizabeth Warren. In conclusion, he writes:

We're clearly in early stage unchartered waters of what Michel Chossudovsky calls "The Great Depression of the 21st Century" heading America for "fiscal collapse" because of policies amounting to "the most drastic curtailment in public spending in American history" - directing most of it for militarism and foreign wars, Wall Street bailouts, and half a trillion for public debt service.

In an April 12 commentary, longtime, well-respected Chicago financial journalist Terry Savage headlined "Social Security Myth" in reporting on some of the fallout. Someone has to pay for "fixes" and militarism, that someone is us, and target one is Social Security. According to Savage:

"Most likely, Social Security will become a "needs-based" payout to low income, elderly recipients - not a return of the 'investments' you made with all those FICA deductions from your pay check every month over your working career." In other words, Washington intends to renege on the 74-year old promise FDR announced to the nation on August 14, 1935:

"Today a hope of many years' standing is in large part fulfilled....This social security measure gives at least some protection to thirty millions of our citizens (now over 56 million, including Supplement Security Income recipients) who will reap direct benefits....This law represents a cornerstone in a structure....by no means complete. (It) will take care of human needs and at the same time provide the United States an economic structure of vastly greater soundness. (The passage of this bill marks) a historic (achievement) for all time."

It's now in jeopardy, so here's what Savage advises. Prepare. "Save more money, (and) start from an honest assessment" of what's coming. What FDR gave will be taken away. "And that's The Savage Truth." A disturbing and outrageous one as well as all the other ways we've been betrayed.

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Which brings me to Steve's latest essay, FDR's New Deal v. Obamanomics. It is interesting to note that Lendman first acknowledges the failure's and shortcomings of the New Deal.

The problem is what he did, how, what he didn't do; what he could have done better; and if he had, maybe the Great Depression might not have been as Great or, in fact, Great at all.

He failed to do what Jackson and Lincoln did - return money-creation power to the people, as the Constitution mandates, instead leaving it in private hands - the very "moneychangers" he denounced with the Federal Reserve atop its pyramid.

Rather than finance New Deal programs with interest-free money, he chose debt obligations to private bankers, left the Fed's power unchanged, and turned deep recessionary years into the Great Depression.

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, Lendman notes that progressive economists rightly have a postive view of FDR's New Deal programs. Additionally, while the Obama team embraces the money trust, FDR rhetorically challenged them. The list of accomplishments is breathtaking:

  • The Emergency Banking Act
  • The Bank Act of 1933 - Glass-Steagall
  • The Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC)
  • The Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 - Following the Securities Act of 1933
  • Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC)
  • The Economy Act
  • The Beer-Wine Revenue Act
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
  • Civilian Works Administration (CWA)
  • The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)
  • Public Works Administration (PWA)
  • Works Progress Administration (WPA)
  • The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
  • The Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA)>/li>
  • The Farm Credit Act of 1933
  • The May 1933 Emergency Farm Mortgage Act, established during the time of the Dust Bowl, provided refinancing help for farmers facing foreclosure.

Not bad for the first 100 days! And Lendman adds an even longer list of other programs enacted later in the New Deal.

Despite its flaws and failures, FDR's New Deal was remarkable in what it accomplished. It helped people, put millions back to work, reinvigorated the national spirit, built or renovated 700,000 miles of roads, 7800 bridges, 45,000 schools, 2500 hospitals, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 1000 airfields, and various other infrastructure, including much of Chicago's lakefront where this writer lives. It cut unemployment from 25% in May 1933 to 11% in 1937, then it spiked before early war production revived economic growth and headed it lower.

To be fair, when FDR took office in March 1933, the country was suffering in the 4th year of depression. Unemployment was rampant and the population was devastated. The election of 1932 gave a clear signal for a change of direction and FDR had immense populist support. Obama's inauguration came just 4 months into our current crisis. And while he won a decisive electoral victory, there is no clear cut populist motivation in evidence.

Still, it is hard to argue with Lendman's criticisms.

As stated above, Roosevelt confronted "the money changers," even though mostly through rhetoric. Obama, like Bush, embraces them openly to the tune of $12.8 trillion "spent, lent or guaranteed," according to Bloomberg on March 31 while people needs go begging at a time they're most essential. He leads:

-- an imperial enterprise presided over by a war cabinet engaged in unbridled militarism, aggressive wars and occupation with a budget well above $1 trillion annually;

-- a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus;

-- an anti-labor job destruction offensive, from 800,000 - one million a month since his inauguration, compared to FDR creating employment for most workers and reviving the national spirit; and

-- a criminal cabal in charge of the greatest ever wealth transfer in history - from the public to the top 1%, mainly powerful corrupt Wall Street institutions.

As Michel Chossudovsky explains, his budget reflects "the most drastic curtailment in public spending in American history." It's a "War Budget (affecting) all major federal (programs except): 1. Defense and the Middle East War(s and whatever new ones are planned); 2. the Wall Street bank bailout, (and) 3. Interest payments (approaching $500 billion annually) on a staggering (growing) public debt."

People needs don't matter. They get little more than lip service, and in his April 14 Georgetown University economic policy speech, Obama promised disappointment. When he should have been Rooseveltian, he defended bank bailouts, suggested more are coming, championed "free market" rubbish, and presented "five pillars (to) make the new century another American (one):"

-- no-teeth financial regulations;

-- education reform, meaning the Bush agenda to end public education;

-- renewable energy and technology investments, likely to be far less than needed and for the wrong things;

-- health care reform minus Medicare-for-all to assure profits trump human need; and

-- "restoring fiscal discipline (by) reduc(ing) discretionary spending for domestic programs" at the same time it's been recklessly abandoned for bankers and militarism....we (cannot solve this problem by trimming a few earmarks; (the) biggest (budget costs) are entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security all of which get more expensive every year....So if we want to get serious about fiscal discipline - and I do - we will have to get serious about entitlement reform" - meaning phase them out in future years, or something close to that.

Unless policies like these are reversed, this agenda is heading the nation toward insolvency, tyranny and ruin with ordinary people hurt most.

When one compares the cabinet and advisors, the real weight of Lendman's argument is felt.

He (FDR) had his "Brain Trust," notable figures like Felix Frankfurter, (a future Supreme Court justice), Justice Louis Brandeis, consumerist/labor supporter Frances Perkins, economist Rexford Tugwell, educator/author Adolph Berle, and close personal confidant Louis Howe, among others - officials and advisors dedicated to reviving the economy by putting people back to work. One other was prominent as well, his wife Eleanor.

On the other hand, here's the profile of Economic Team Obama.

Obama chose a financial coup d'etat "dream team" to address it. It includes a rogue's gallery of 1990s and earlier retreads, many of them proteges of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin who plundered world economies during his tenure, then led Citigroup close to collapse - disciples like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, former New York Fed president who partnered with Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson's Treasury-looting under Bush.

Reportedly he was also one of the architects behind the Bear Stearns bailout and various others, including Fannie, Freddie, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and Lehman Bros.' suspicious collapse that shocked financial markets globally. He now runs the Treasury and continues looting on a grander scale on the pretext of reviving the economy. Instead, he's wrecking it - by design.

Others like Lawrence Summers, a former Reaganite and World Bank chief economist before becoming Clinton's Under-Treasury Secretary for International Affairs, then Treasury Secretary from 1999 - 2001. He helped deregulate financial markets and played a key role in the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed Glass-Steagall and opened the door to the kinds of rampant speculation, fraud, and abuse that created today's crisis.

He was also instrumental in the passage of the 2000 Commodity Futures Modernation Act (CFMA). It legitimized "swap agreements" and other "hybrid instruments" at the heart of today's problems by preventing regulatory oversight of derivatives and leveraging that turned Wall Street into a casino.

Now he does for Obama what he did earlier - as Director of the National Economic Council where he's part of a criminal cabal triumvirate in charge of economic policies along with Geithner and Bernanke.

Another Rubin protege, Peter Orszag, heads the Office of Management and Budget. Earlier he was on Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, then was Congressional Budget Office Director from early 2007 to late 2008. He's for destroying Social Security through a combination of payroll and "benefits adjustments" as a way of cutting retiree payouts.

Most of the rest of the cabinet, and advisors, don't impress Lendman either.

  • UC Berkeley economist Christina Romer chairs the Council of Economic Advisors where she's close to the president but with less clout than Geithner, Summers and Bernanke. Her idea of good government - the less the better, except for handouts to the rich. In praise of Ronald Reagan she once wrote: "The costly wrong turn in ideas and macropolicy of the 1960s and 1970s has been set right, and the future of stabilization looks bright," meaning, of course, to take from the many for the few.
  • Paul Volker (former Fed chairman, Trilateralist, corporatist and no friend of working people), now serving as 1st Chair of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, a position with lots of bark and little bite, but enough to pay attention to nonetheless, especially when he differs on public policy.
  • Former Washington governor Gary Locke is the new Commerce Secretary, hailed as "safe (and) strait-laced," but his record shows otherwise. He skirted campaign finance laws; handed Boeing a $3.2 billion tax break; paid Boeing's private consultant and outside auditor $715,000; and arranged favors for his brother-in-law's business above and beyond what's ethical.
  • Ken Salazar heads the Interior Department. He backed the worst of Bush administration appointments, including Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General and right-winger Gale Norton for Interior. He's an anti-environmentist and is staunchly pro-business, clearly why he was appointed in the first place.
  • Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor, chair of the right wing Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), now new Agriculture Secretary. Agribusiness loves him. He's for ethanol and other biofuel production, big subsidies for the giants, and the proliferation of harmful GMO seeds.
  • As new Education Secretary, Arne Duncan will do for the nation what he did to Chicago - preside over public education's destruction by privatizing it for profit, and in the process, destroy the futures of millions of youths in the country.
  • The 1934 Securities and Exchange Act created an SEC with teeth and, for a while, it worked. At least since the 1980s, it hasn't, and under George Bush it became a travesty of non-enforcement.

    Mary Schapiro is its new head, hand-picked by the industry she'll regulate so there's no doubt where her allegiance lies. She's a high-level insider, former FINRA and NASD head and earlier CFTC chairperson. In each job, she was a facilitator, not a regulator, credentials making her perfect for SEC where industry interests matter, not enforcing the nation's securities laws.

Lendman's essays are a hard-hitting, sobering look at the reality of this administration's approach to the nation's problems. There is much, much more in each of them and I hope you will find the time to read them in their entirety.

The only thing I would add is to highlight a couple of remarkable comments the President made during a press conference on his 100th day.

First, he candidly said he was humbled by the power of the presidency but

... I can't just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want or, you know, turn on a switch and suddenly, you know, Congress falls in line.

Then, just seconds later, he curiously said,

This metaphor has been used before, but the ship of state is an ocean liner. It's not a speedboat. And so the way we are constantly thinking about this issue, of how to bring about the changes that the American people need, is to -- is to say, if we can move this big battleship a few degrees in a different direction, you may not see all the consequences of that change a week from now or three months from now, but 10 years from now or 20 years from now, our kids will be able to look back and say, "That was when we started getting serious about clean energy. That's when health care started to become more efficient and affordable. That's when we became serious about raising our standards in education."

With all due respect, this is the kind of enigma that makes Obama so wonderfully frustrating and disappointing. FDR had long range goals and I'm pretty sure he was "humbled" by the stubbornness and intransigence of the bankers too. But he realized that the "ship of state" had been hijacked and the pirates had run the ship aground. He knew his first job was to take the helm, fix the leaks and save as many of the passengers and crew as possible, as quickly as possible. To continue the metaphor, make it seaworthy, with a healthy working crew, before sailing off for the horizon.

On Obama's ship , the pirates are left at the helm and they are confiscating all of the lifeboats. It must be the kids of the pirates and other elites he was referring to in his comment, because most of the passengers, and their kids/grandkids and future generations as well, are being sealed in below decks.

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Comments

hijacking Keynes for corporate purposes

Isn't it astounding how Democrats have hijacked some exceptional sounding rhetoric, claiming to be for the U.S. middle class and implementing Keyensian Stimulus theory, all the while letting that money go offshore, funneling it to foreign banks and Goldman Sachs and seemingly promoting more the interests of illegal immigrants, India, China and Mexico?

What is even more bizarre is just how many people out there are drinking the kool-aid. I don't think it helps that the radical right goes off about socialism, when the real outrage is corporatism and the stimulus is about as Keynesian as any corporate globalist pocket lining wet dream can muster.

I'm also fairly certain on EP, the political make up of people is probably 85% "lefties", so anyone else feel like Cassandra and being left out of the Popular kids party from high school because we do not have blinders on?

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Green jobs offshore

Do a net search and see how many "green" jobs are going offshore. Do some research and you'll find the Medicare low admin figures from the gov. are a scam. Hell they don't include Center for Medicare and Medicaid team salaries or the building costs in their expenses (there is more they don't include).  

Anyhow on the link at the end of this paragraph, go to page 3, first paragraph, last sentence. You will read "The Proposal would ensure health care coverage for all U.S. residents, including non-citizens." Why must we cover non-citizens? http://www.sharedprosperity.org/hcfa/lewin.pdf

I spent a lot of time researching the National Care plans of most all the big countries. It sure isn't what we are told.  In my paper that I wrote on other countries plans you will find things like this: "Ontario Health Insurance Plan."  A resident of Ontario must have a health card to show that he or she is entitled to health care services paid for by OHIP. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care pays for a wide range of services, however, it does not pay for services that are not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery." Notice the words resident must have a card. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/ohip/ohip_mn.html

Also you will find: "Ontario residents are eligible for provincially funded health coverage (OHIP)." To be eligible for Ontario health coverage you must : be a Canadian citizen or have immigration status as set out in Ontario's Health Insurance Act, and make your permanent and principal home in Ontario, and be physically present in Ontario 153 days in any 12-month period."  Notice the words citizen or immigration us. http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/public/program/ohip/ohip_mn.html   Immigration status means you are/have applied for some type of status and doesn't mean someone sneaking across the border.

I am not entirely sure what the page 3 non-citizen means but I might guess it means the people sneaking across the border. I will grant to you that the COST IMPACT ANALYSIS FOR THE “HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICA” PROPOSAL is not Obama's but it is what many elected officials are aiming to implement.

I need to polish up my "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about National Health Plans ….and maybe more" and put it on a diary. You will find things like this from Japan: "

1. Amenities in hospitals are far inferior to those in other developed countries.

2. A significant but uncounted number of services are not reimbursed by sickness funds

3. Uncounted services may not be included in national health expenditure calculations.

4. Families often help with nursing in hospitals.

5. There are also some under-the-table payments to physicians for favors such as special attention and treatment, and quick admission. 6. The health plan pays relatively little attention to preventive care.

Preventative care and maternity - Large employers may provide some preventive care Health insurance covers little preventive care

It provides only cash payment for normal pregnancy because pregnancy is not considered an illness in Japan.

Like a Chinese diving bird, I can no longer swallow the BS being put out by the government, I am just fed up.  The cheering masses will bow down for the lies and manipulated statistics but not me.  I am over and done with it.

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not sure what you are saying

but health care is a good topic for EP, major economic factor.

You know what they are demanding the U.S. cover "non-citizens"....it's simply for the illegal alien special interest lobby. I mean, let's just call it here.

That said, let's say I am in France and get ill. I will be covered and treated, I believe that's true in Canada as well. But, on the other hand, if I try to sneak across the border and get my medical care in Canada, free, I think that is where the ID card comes into play and they wouldn't allow that. I'm reasonably certain in Finland I must prove I am legally in the country and entitled to health care to receive it (free).

I think policies also demand on just how exploitable and porous the borders are, i.e. border hopping to feed off of social services, in other nations.

So, you've kind of mixed topics here. The first is the offshore outsourcing of those supposed Stimulus jobs that we're doing massive deficit spending for....which is a pure, absolute, disgusting outrage and I wish more people were aware of it (so promote the original story anyplace you can so people read those statistics!)

and the 2nd is the illegal alien lobby which demands they are put first and U.S. citizens last in pretty much all policy to the point of insanity. (Sorry, that's how I read most of their agenda, it's just friggin' insane on a variety of fronts, from national sovereignty to costs to labor economics).

In other words, at this point I'm clearly in the "amnesty is the exception" camp and not the rule. That's on top of, if and only if they fix the system itself....which looks bad due to once again the illegal alien lobby and their beyond the pale demands and bought and paid for Congress.
and lest we not forget the Bill Gates cheap labor lobby, flooding the market anyway they can with anyone who can claim professional "skills" (cough, cough).

I don't get this either, unless the illegal alien lobby voted. Voters, members seems to be a huge motivator in a lot of these beyond reason policy agendas.

(I'm a little disgusted by all of it at this point if you cannot tell, so pardon my sarcasm).

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Yeah I was ranting

and was off topic a bit. But you will owe money to foreign countries. That is why people buy insurance to cover them in foreign lands. The EU does have some reciprocation agreements (not sure if all countries participate). In France you pay first and then get reimbursed, so maybe your home country reimburses. Not sure if there is subrogation between the different countries and plans.

"Regardless on whether you are insured in France or in your home country, you are generally required to pay medical expenses as they occur, e.g. when visiting a doctor, buying prescribed medicines and for medical tests. Then you can ask to be reimbursed by your health insurer.
A general doctor may charge from €20-25 for a consultation, a specialist €25-30. Fees will be higher at night or the weekend - a home visit will also cost more.
Types of payment vary: doctors usually prefer payment by check and some organisations might not accept cash. Only in some cases - such as some hospitalisations or if you are covered by specific heath coverage - you may be exempt from advance payment.

If you are subscribed to the French social security, you need to send a completed form (feuille de soins) to your CPAM (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie). Reimbursement takes usually 2-3 weeks and you can check on-line on www.ameli.fr (you should receive access information in the documentation provided by CPAM). If you have a Carte Vital and the doctor (or a healthcare organization) is linked to the social security system, it is possible you may only pay the non-reimbursable part instead of having to claim it back afterwards. "

There is just so much going on with the "change" factor that I can rant, get off topic and it is just that I try to cover everything. The government is taking such a large position of ownership in banks, car manufacturing and their next phase will be the insurance business. I have not even begun to touch on the effects that a take over of one more industry will do to the economy of the States. Every little stink'in thing is going to Washington.

To a "T" it is the path that the old USSR followed. Everything was so centralized and the States suffered for it.

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hey, rant away

We're not called Populist for nothing!

Sounds like you know quite a bit about it, so writing up the differences between nations on health care, those nitty gritty details which make a difference would be an awesome addition. I've done a few pieces, especially those showing how the US is 8 times more expensive than any other industrialized nation.

Also, here, I have read CIS research and frankly the reports I've read are sound, so as far as I'm concerned if a research paper, the stats, the results are high quality, sound methods, accurate assumptions, etc....

it's fair game to use, regardless of "some groups"
wanting to silence certain think tanks...
(although most think tank research I find to be seriously flawed...but hell, I've read some crap coming from Harvard that is seriously flawed....anyway, I digress, I think many here do read Academic research level papers so if you cite a bogus one, I'm sure we'll read it and respond accordingly. ;))

Corporate cronyism, special interest favoritism, politics...ya know that's a very nice theme to show the parallels to the USSR....cause we assuredly know a lot of what is going on makes no common sense.

Rants with references make great blog posts! ;)

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Maybe I'll put together a diary on the subject

of health care in other countries. I'll do it on a multi part/day post. We all know the good and bad of the USA system.

I'll be posting the good/bad of the plans of other countries. Something we in the USA know little about.

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