Green Party Congressional Candidate Scott Summers Comments on Financial Bailout

Below are two commentaries by 16th district congressional Green Party candidate Scott Summers. The first was written last Wednesday; the second (at the bottom) yesterday.

The MegaMeltdown:
Changing the rules,
changing the game, and
changing our way of life
(September 24, 2008)

In meetups and speeches and one-on-ones during my current campaign for Congress, I’ve been asking a rhetorical question:

“Whatever happened to capitalism in this country?”

When all of the financial dominoes fell, that became far more prescient — and salient — then I would have thought mere weeks ago.

We don’t do capitalism anymore, friends. We’ve devolved to a perverse sort of semi-socialism.

We have welfare for the wealthy. And peanuts for the poor.

Privatize reward. Socialize risk.

Think about that. Wealth with no risk for elites. Debt with no chance of reward for everyday Americans.

What kind of deal is that?

Whenever times are good, the fat cats make out. Big time.

Whenever the fat cats become too arrogant and stupid and greedy, they dump their problems on the rest of us.

Today, the treasury secretary is saying cavalierly — and impatiently — that Congress needs to get a move on. The mountains of overly ripe kitty litter are starting to reek. Hurry up and send in the taxpayers to start a-cleanin’.

“Clean it up,” the secretary seems to say. “Or else the fat cats won’t come back!”

Like — we, the cleaning crew, WANT them back? Oh, please!

Okay. Enough of a rant. Deep breath.

People are asking:

“Scott, what do you think? Scott, what should we do?”

It’s a bunch of lousy choices, friends. For now, all we can do is make the least lousy choices.

Not a happy thought. Not a happy prospect.

On balance — I think we have to go through with it. Bail ’em out.

If we don’t, everything else is at increased risk. Our jobs. Our homes. Our retirements.

I’ll not rehash all of the common-sense conditions that must attach, other than to mention a few in passing. More regulation. More oversight. More transparency.

Instead, I’ll dwell on a few items that no one else is talking about.

Have you noticed that all the so-called regulation and reform is directed toward the big markets? And to the aforementioned fat cats?

As part of the overall package — how about correcting some of the onerous and oppressive financial abuses under which so many of us labor?

How about workouts and writedowns for individual homeowners in mortgage trouble?

How about credit card reform? Payday loan protections?

Remember the “stick-it-to-’em” changes to bankruptcy laws a couple of years ago? Rescind them.

Another thing. We need to raise some revenue to service the monster debt.

In the best tradition of the old Ronald Reagan sleight-of-hand — borrow and spend (which George W. has happily, and recklessly, amplified in the extreme) — all this bailout does is pile on new debt.

No federal spending cuts. No new revenues. Just new debt.

That’s irresponsible.

Here’s a condition for the bailout that NO ONE is proposing. But politically, I have the freedom — and courage — to suggest it.

I propose a temporary income tax surcharge on the wealthiest Americans.

(The well-to-do have the most at risk in this mess, do they not?)

If you’re in the top five percent of earners, pay an extra twenty percent for the next five years.

In other words, if your tax bill for year 2008 ends up at $50,000, well, it’ll bump to $60,000.

Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

This is not the end of the mess. I regret to forecast that there will be more bailouts.

But let’s not stoically absorb them and endure them. Let’s seize on them as ways to force changes in public policy.

I was at a candidate forum in Rockford last night, and I was asked what I thought about the prospect of bailouts for the carmakers.

I told the crowd that I’d support them — if, and only if, the manufacturers agreed to stop their decades of whining and procrastination and delay, and IMMEDIATELY cease making gas guzzlers.

Yes. Make them manufacture all high mileage cars, and move expeditiously to hybrids and electrics.

If they want our help, then they finally, finally, have to do the right thing. On our terms.

And now — to the extent I can peer through murk — the future.

Our lives are changing. Our country is changing. Fundamentally. Precipitously. Forever.

Let’s start with government.

Our role as a dominant economic power is about to end. No one is going to buy up all our debt anymore — except at high rates of interest.

You see, it’s not just the debt that Washington is piling on. There’s way too much debt now. Investors from across the globe are becoming skeptical. So the interest we taxpayers have to pay will go up, too.

The federal spending priorities are being force-fed to us. Defense. And interest on the debt. Figurative pennies for health and education and welfare. No discretion at all. The end.

Increase taxes across the board? There’s not a whole lot that average taxpayers can kick in anymore. (Especially in our Congressional district, where unemployment in the Rockford area now is running at a spectacularly-awful nine percent.)

So we have to turn to the spending side. Time for another brave (foolish?) Scott Summers pronouncement.

Cut defense spending. Lots.

You know, our defense colossus isn’t fighting a war on terrorism. It’s still fighting the Cold War (much to the benefit of a subspecies of fat cats, the defense contractors.)

We don’t need all the aircraft carrier battle groups. We don’t need all the nuclear submarines prowling the oceans of the world. We don’t need all the thousands upon thousands of nuclear-armed missiles.

We don’t need idiotic missile defense shields that don’t work. We don’t need outrageous cost overruns on weapons systems of marginal usefulness (and dubious workability).

But you see, in our new economic order, my tirade on this doesn’t matter.

The time has finally come. We simply cannot afford it.

What’s about to happen to military expenditures in this country happened to the Roman and Chinese Empires. And to the British Empire. And even to the Soviets twenty years ago.

They all had to mothball their militaries. They ran out of money to support them.

So now will we.

I don’t mean to leave you on a down note. Those of you who are coming to know me know that I’m outspoken. But you also know that I’m also optimistic. And hopeful.

In short — events now are moving so rapidly that the fundamentals HAVE to change.

It’s up to us channel that change positively.

This has become a bit long. I’ll have to leave it for now.


POSTSCRIPT, September 29:

Today, the House of Representatives voted down the “financial rescue package”, a/k/a “buy-in”, a/k/a “bailout”.

And markets worldwide are down precipitously.

Fasten your seatbelts, friends. And make sure that the figurative airbags are working. This is — and will continue to be — nasty. Very nasty.

President Bush, and Treasury Secretary Paulson, and Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke — inadvertently or otherwise — have us all in panic mode.


You know, I think Congress did the right thing today.

Whether or not the members really thought about it, Congress stood up for itself.

The founders intended for Congress to be a deliberative body. Not a sheep ranch.

America simply will not write a gigantic check unless there are meaningful reforms.

I still think that Congress needs to enact a comprehensive solution.

And Congress needs to move expeditiously.

But this is an opportunity. An opportunity to create smart new public policy.

We, through our Congress, can — and must — resolutely work through the wreckage, and seize the opportunity to rework national fiscal policy for the better.

Tonight, I say: let’s stay positive, friends.

In the coming few days, Congress will — indeed, must — set the stage for thoughtful and far-ranging solutions.

“We the people” have every right to expect that this debacle will not be visited upon us again.

= = = = =
The mustached Scott Summers photo was taken in late April. He’s probably shaved by now, but the looks deserves to be memorialized, don’t you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.