We The People: A lie repeated is still a lie

The oldest propaganda trick is to tell a lie and keep repeating it. Conservatives, upset with their increasing irrelevance in national elections, use disinformation in attacks on President Obama on all issues. They do not have the ability to compromise so they are happy to substitute angry rhetoric for action.

The National Highway Trust Fund neared depletion this month, and the Heritage Foundation and the Club for Growth exhorted lawmakers to allow it to go broke even though 700,000 workers would be unemployed. The conservative lobby groups issued alerts to Republican lawmakers that if they voted to fund it, the annual ratings for those lawmakers would be lowered.

Congress, with Republican votes, passed a stop gap funding measure for the Fund because even conservative voters like paved roads. The massive program funds highway and road infrastructure projects throughout the nation.

President Obama traveled the nation to meet voters, workers and industry groups to explain how he wants to raise funds through gasoline taxes and corporate tax break elimination for the Fund. A president must pay attention to domestic issues but that is fodder for conservative attacks which claim Mr. Obama is distracted from international issues.

Whatever President Obama does, the GOP and the Tea Party will obstruct and obfuscate in order to further partisan interests.

During the Roaring Twenties, banks and financial institutions grew tremendously. A little remembered banker, Albert H. Wiggin, was president of the Chase Bank (JPMorgan Chase) which he nurtured until it had assets of $3 billion.

Chase Bank and National City Bank (Citigroup) and other banks opened offices to sell stocks and financial services side by side with banking business. In 1929, the stock market crash burst the stock speculation bubble that fueled the economy. Mr. Wiggin made the cover of Time magazine because he led a group of bankers who tried to support stock prices that led to a short-lived financial recovery before the Depression.

It was discovered that while Wiggin was buying stocks, including Chase Bank stock, he was short selling stocks through shell corporations so he would pay no income tax on a $4 million profit he gained. A true banking hero. The Harvard Business School still lists him as a noted business leader without information about his criminal and callous cupidity.

A federal government investigation uncovered evidence of a wide range of abusive practices and fraud in banking. This led to the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act which separated banking into separate commercial and saving groups as well as to the formation of the SEC.

In the 1980s and afterward Republican administrations led the fight to repeal Glass-Steagall and to liberalize stock market rules. America was rewarded with the Savings & Loan debacle, the housing bubble and crisis, and a new depression.

Banks are paying record fines and large awards to settle claims of fraud and abuse which led to the last financial crisis. The nation’s five largest mortgage servicers agreed to pay $25 billion to settle mortgage fraud litigation. UBS Bank paid a $1.5 billion fine for interest rate manipulation. HSBC paid $1.9 billion to settle money laundering charges. JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $13 billion and Citigroup agreed to pay $7 billion to settle claims of mortgage backed securities fraud. The French bank BNP Paribas agreed to pay $8.9 billion to settle money laundering charges.

The more things change the more they remain the same.

We need leadership that will protect citizens before corporations and protect consumers before industrialists. The Heritage Club and the Koch Brothers are concerned with profits, while the people still need leaders concerned with making sure Americans are employed, housed, clothed and fed, and have access to medical care. That is something to think about when you are assaulted by conservative propaganda.

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