It is a tragedy how fast most Americans forget the root causes of the current financial challenges in America.
Three lawmakers, all Republicans, introduced the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to the U.S. Senate. During the debate in the House or Representatives, a democrat from Michigan argued that the bill would result in banks becoming “too big to fail” (sound familiar). At first, most democrats were against the bill but eventually, due to compromises, the effort of corporate lobbyists and deal making, many democrats were won over to vote for it.
Keep in mind that the Republicans won a majority position in both houses of Congress in the elections of 1994, and controlled both houses until 2006—except the Senate for most of 2001 and 2002, when the Democrats held the majority in that one House of Congress.
Therefore, in 1999, Republicans were the majority in both houses of congress. When the final Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed in the Senate, the vote was 90 to 8 (92%) and in the House 362 to 57 (86.3%)
Even if President Clinton had wanted to veto it, which he didn’t, he wouldn’t have succeeded since a two-thirds majority vote (66%) in both Houses of Congress is required to override a presidential veto. Since the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act arrived at the White House for President Clinton to sign with more than a two-thirds majority vote in favor, there wasn’t much he could have done if he had wanted to.
Then, during the Bush years (2001 – 2009), the United States launched three expensive wars: The Iraq War—based on false claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction—the war in Afghanistan, which was mostly neglected under Bush, and the global war on terrorism.
Due to these wars and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the national debt exploded.
I’m sort of going off topic with this paragraph, but I saw “Act of Valor,” which is about the Navy Seals and the CIA fighting the global war on terror. I recommend “Act of Valor”. The acting may be a bit stiff but that is not the point. The realism makes this movie worth watching. This is no Rambo or Mission Impossible. “Act of Valor” is closer to the reality and what America’s Navy Seals face as they fight to protect America. Politicians and corporate lobbyists might be corrupt and greedy for power and money, but America’s men and women mostly from the working class serve in the military out of patriotism.
Back on topic—President G. W. Bush, with help from the GOP majority in both Houses of Congress, lowered taxes for the wealthiest Americans (the lowest rate in almost 80 years—the last time the rate was this low was before the Great Depression and experts say this contributed to that economic collapse).
On February 9, 2012, the official debt of the US government had reached $15.4 trillion—an increase of $5.9 trillion since President Obama moved into the White House. While the GOP blames Obama for that debt during an election year, we must not lose focus on how much Obama inherited when he was elected president.
According to the Huffington Post, lowering taxes for the wealthy costs the U.S. Treasure $11.6 million every hour.
Total, the cost of the Bush tax cut for the top 5% of income earners since 2001 is more than one trillion dollars, which is about $100 billion annually. Source: Cost of Tax Cuts.com
Interest from the national debt, which President Obama inherited from Presidents Reagan, H. W. Bush and G. W. Bush is about $400 billion annually. Source: US Debt Clock.org
On top of that $500 billion annually, the wars G. W. Bush started has cost more than $1.3 trillion since 2001—that’s another $130 billion. Source: Cost of War.com
However, the cost was more than just money. According to the Congressional Budget Office, since combat is being financed with borrowed money, the price tag for these wars is not over, and if Bush had not gone to war over false claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, 4,482 Americans would not have been killed; more than 32,000 would not have been wounded (medical care for these wounded combat veterans will costs hundreds of millions in the decades to come); about 114,000 Iraqi civilians would still be alive and Iraq has cost more than $800 billion so far.
In addition, CalSTRS probably would still be funded close to 100%, as it was in 2001, for future obligations to its 856,360 members, while the 429,600 active members paid about $3 billion dollars into the retirement fund in 2011—money taken from monthly paychecks of working educators.
Continued on March 1, 2012 in What the Numbers say about Creating Jobs in America – Part 3 or return to Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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