The Robber Barons Return
as the Bush Gang,
Small Time Crime: Bush and Cheney,
Mega-Crime: Three Decades of Class Piracy
excerpted from the book
Robbing Us Blind
The Return of the Bush Gang
and the Mugging of America
by Steve Brouwer
Common Courage Press, 2004,
NUMBER OF AMERICANS
WITH NO HEALTH INSURANCE YEAR
NUMBER OF BILLIONAIRES
IN THE USA
A band of rich thugs has mugged the United
States of America. For the second time in twenty years, the Bush
Gang-otherwise known as The Family or The Dynasty-is pilfering
our pockets and emptying the public treasury. Under the direction
of George W, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, the members of
this criminal clique are plundering our country t: again, just
as they did in the 1980s and early l990s. What is more, as the
nation slips inexorably toward economic chaos, the Bush Gang is
drowning out criticism with the noise of war drums and blinding
the American people with a frenzy of waving flags. Rather than
fix things at home, they want to enlist our help in plundering
America's destiny is now linked to the
reckless and selfish pursuits of a corporate elite who are disregarding
the well-being of the United States. Like the "Robber Barons"
in the Late nineteenth century, the Bush Gang is devoted to the
business of fleecing the American people and buying out the last
vestiges of honest government. Through their policies, their political
alliances, and their personal behavior, the members of Bush Gang
I encouraged various kinds of criminal behavior in the 1980s-massive
financial fraud in the Savings and Loan industry, "junk bond"
scandals on Wall Street, and widespread government malfeasance.
When they left office in the early 1990s, they saddled us with
a long recession and a tremendous national debt. When Bush Gang
11 returned to the scene in 2001 and 2002, we immediately became
aware of their participation-at Harken and Halliburton, Enron
and Arthur Andersen-in a massive corporate crime wave that included
many of the nation's biggest accounting firms, insurance companies,
manufacturers, and financial institutions.
On top of this corporate criminality,
the members of the Bush Gang were the central agents in thievery
of even greater magnitude, the "mega-crime" of our era.
They began to engineer the systematic robbery of the income and
wealth of American working people during the 1980s, then pressured
a weak Democratic administration to acquiesce to most of their
demands in the 1990s, and finally resumed their project with renewed
vigor with George W. Bush's election in 2000. This mega crime
has resulted in the wholesale redistribution of money to a very
small minority of wealthy Americans, thus leading to inexcusable
levels of economic and social inequality in the United States.
Consequently, our political system now resembles, as it did a
century ago, a plutocracy-a government of the rich, by the rich,
and for the rich.
... more importantly, the Bush Gang represents
a much larger group, the ultra-conservative, corporate upper class
that has taken over our country just as they did a century ago.
The last time a tiny, self centered minority held so much power,
dominating the United States through their control of "Money
Power" and the Republican Party, they were called the "Robber
Barons." Though it might seem unfair to pick on a particular
family by recasting the Robber Barons as the Bush Gang, these
guys deserve the attention. The roots of Bush family power extend
back to the beginning of the 20th century-George W and Jeb really
are the great-grandchildren of the Robber Barons. The Bush family
has a long record-their involvement in upper-class investment
schemes, their promotion of dangerous intrigues in foreign affairs,
their long-time participation in Republican politics, and their
membership in a variety of elite institutions-that makes them
ideal examples of how the corporate upper class maintains and
wields its power in the United States.
The Bush Gang is throwback to "The Gilded Age," that
time over a hundred years ago when wealth was worshipped in all
its forms and the nation was ruled by a band of notorious financiers
and capitalists, which is why people called them Robber Barons.
The economic and social evidence is overwhelming: the Bush Gang
and the new generation of thieves have orchestrated a massive
redistribution of America's wealth. They have taken from the poor,
from the working class, and from a wide swath of the middle class,
and given to the rich-that is, to themselves. The share of national
income that goes to the bottom nine-tenths of the American people,
the large majority who reside at the base of the economic pyramid,
shrank from 67% of the total in the late 1970s to about 52% twenty
years later. Analysis of statistics kept by the Internal Revenue
Service shows that almost all of this missing income was redistributed
to the very richest Americans, the top one percent of our population-in
fact, their take of the loot, already a robust 9.3% of all American
income in 1979, had more than doubled, to 20.8%, by 2000.
When you are being dispossessed, when
your assets and income are shrinking due to the activities of
others, then you are being robbed. When the perpetrators organize
themselves purposefully to dispossess you, when they plunder your
savings, then it is fair to call them a "gang." One
dictionary definition fits them perfectly: "Gang-a group
of people working together for criminal, disreputable ends."
Our whole notion of freedom in the United
States is based upon a the willingness of citizens to speak up
and throw self-satisfied elites out of power. Those who fought
against the "Money Power" in the past, such as the Kansas
farmers who helped invent the term "Robber Barons" in
the 1880s, never apologized for calling them a criminal class.
Mary Ellen Lease, an outspoken Populist leader of the time, told
her Midwestern audiences that they could not afford to be shy.
"Raise less corn and more hell!" she said.
She also told them where to go to recover
their lost farms and stolen wages: "Wall Street owns the
country. It is no longer a government of the people, by the people,
or for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street
and for Wall Street."
Over the past few decades in the United
States, there has been little popular criticism of the "elite,"
the small class of people who dominate corporate ownership and
management. Obviously many critical voices are blocked by the
corporations themselves, since they have successfully monopolized
the major media. But there is another factor. There are no prominent
politicians castigating members of the monied elite and calling
them "malefactors of great wealth." And though some
of us have heard vague references to "The Gilded Age,"
we seldom hear it applied to the society we live in today. Was
the slogan invented by cranky losers who missed out on the American
success story? Not so. The United States' most famous and humorous
writer of the nineteenth century, Mark Twain, wrote his wickedly
satirical novel, The Gilded Age, in 1873, thus giving a name to
the first great wave of American corporate and financial thievery.
The theme reappeared constantly in his writing for over forty
years. When one of the most famous criminals of the era, the railroad
scam artist and financier known as Jay Gould, died in 1892, Twain
offered a mock eulogy:
The people had desired money before his
day, but he taught them to fall down and worship it.... The gospel
left behind by Jay Gould is doing giant work in our days. Its
message is 'Get money. Get it quickly. Get it in abundance. Get
it in prodigious abundance. Get it dishonestly if you can, honestly
if you must.
In those days, the powerful indictments
of a variety of outraged Americans-populist Democrats, trade union
organizers, progressive Republicans, home-grown and immigrant
socialists-changed our political culture. With their strong sense
of morality and their powerful voices, they condemned "Money
Power" for creating a culture of greed and dishonesty. The
struggle against the corrupt supremacy of the rich went on for
so long, roughly from 1865 to 1935, that three or four generations
of Americans had to rebound from discouraging defeats before they
finally triumphed. Along the way, they recruited the help of people
from all social classes. One of them, President Theodore Roosevelt,
the descendent of a wealthy New York family and a Republican,
had the courage to defy a substantial sector of his own party
and say: "We hold it to be a prime duty of the people to
free our government from the control of money." In the same
fashion, Woodrow Wilson, a fairly conservative Democrat, echoed
the rhetoric of the populist chorus: "The masters of the
government of the United States," he said, "are the
combined capitalists and manufacturers of the United States."
Even with such contributions at the presidential
level, the popular campaign to promote more honest politics and
progressive taxation faltered in the early decades of the 20th
century. After World War I, the rich counterattacked by mounting
an extraordinary celebration of the glory of their own money.
Their exuberant excesses-cutting taxes, speculating in finance,
and buying every possible extravagance (three attributes which
reappeared in the 1980s and 1990s)-eventually brought the Roaring
Twenties down to earth with an abrupt crash.
The Great Depression led to the disgrace
and the downfall of the aristocracy of money. Franklin Roosevelt,
backed by a massive popular coalition of working people, realized
that it was in the interests of his party to keep the rich at
bay and he was determined to keep it that way after his re-election
in 1936: "I should like to have it said of my first Administration
that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their
match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration
that in it, these forces met their master."
That never quite happened. But for decades
the equality and dignity fostered by the New Deal kept the nation
focused on the health and happiness of middle-class and working-class
Americans. The ultra-rich paid their high taxes, and lo and behold,
they survived quite well, just slightly less wealthy than before.
No aristocrats were marched off to the guillotine, nor did the
nation's industries and businesses starve for capital. In fact,
the United States lived through a golden era, from the 1940s to
the 1970s, in which most of its citizens enjoyed unprecedented
levels of economic growth and prosperity.
In recent decades, citizens of the United
States of America developed amnesia about the financial piracy
of the past. Many of us slipped into a delusional state, worshipping
the gods of finance and luxury, tantalizingly displayed in ubiquitous
advertising but not really within our reach, while forgetting
that our real priorities still concerned work, family, and community.
Some, it seemed, were bowing down before the false idols of Dow
Jones and Wall Street and chanting the incantations they found
in Money, Invest, and Fortune. Meanwhile most families were struggling
to stay afloat, with mothers and fathers working many more hours
per week simply to avoid slipping behind and going further into
The "Bush Gang" Represents Unrestrained
Upper Class Power
For years a number of authors, myself
included, have written about the growing inequality in America.
In the 1980s, I criticized the ultra-conservative path pursued
by the Reagan/Bush administrations. And in the l990s I took the
Clinton administration to task for doing too little to reverse
this reactionary course, for all too often they simply acquiesced
to the demands of powerful corporate interests. Many thoughtful
writers were raising similar warnings-from moderate, liberal,
and left perspectives-but, all in all, they barely touched the
consciousness of most Americans. During the euphoria generated
by the enormous Internet and stock market "bubble" of
the late l990s, it was difficult to get anyone to pay attention
to the pressing problems of real life on earth, such as repairing
the social fabric of our country and fairly sharing the fruits
of our labor.
From the vantage point of a new century,
we can see that our worst suspicions have been confirmed. Economic
analysis shows that the increasing inequality in the United States
was not an unfortunate or transitory phenomenon, but the result
of systematic plundering by the rich. Historical perspective places
the Bush family and its political associates at the heart of this
privileged elite. For this reason, the "Bush Gang" becomes
a convenient and accurate metaphor for describing how the corporate
upper class and the ultra-right wing of the Republican Party have
manipulated the economy and the government for their own selfish
From the moment the first George Bush
took over leadership of the Task Force on Regulatory Relief in
1981, the Bush Gang mounted a very effective program of dismantling
the rules and regulations that had controlled the predatory instincts
of big business ever since the Great Depression. This led to the
emergence of a new, low-wage corporate model that utilized every
possible method of exploiting working people. In later chapters,
we will explore how diverse corporate actors-WalMart, the meat-packing
industry, and for-profit health care providers-used a combination
of business deregulation and the outright coercion of labor to
make their employees work harder, faster, longer, and for less
pay. Squeezing working people-this is the legacy of the Bush dynasty.
They did not do this primarily to be cruel; they did it to make
And since we are talking about an upper
class gang whose prime objective in life is money, we will devote
considerable time focusing on how the rich have been getting it
and keeping it-their methods of hauling in income; their preoccupation
with accumulating wealth and capital; their obsession with avoiding
taxes in order to augment their income and wealth all the more;
and their insatiable appetite for other people's savings and Social
We will also look at some important ideological
elements that have helped the Bush brand of capitalism win out
over American democracy. Their belief in the value of capital
takes priority over all other human values; their support for
the anti-democratic legal apparatus of corporations protects their
class advantages; their isolation in elite organizations warps
their ideas and social relations (the Bushes' Skull and Bones
club is a prime example); and their monopolization of news and
information in the corporate media spreads their views widely
among the general population.
Finally, we will consider political questions
that are of immense importance to the future of American democracy.
What kind of lust for power and profit is driving the Bush Gang's
compulsion to take over the world? Do the American people realize
that they are rapidly losing both their money and their ability
to influence their government?
George W and the Renewed Urge to Plunder
Ever since the 1980s, grave damage has
been done to the institutions that promote democracy and equality.
The ultra-conservative program of serving the wealthy and punishing
lower income Americans became so well-entrenched, even among many
Democrats, that it ultimately gave free rein to corporate thievery.
During the Clinton years, the Democratic Party occasionally tried
to limit the most egregious methods which the corporate class
used to bilk the majority of working Americans, but in most respects
they fell under the influence of the Bush Gang, too. Frightened
off by the vicious attacks mounted by the Republican Congress
and the pit bulls of talk radio, Democrats attended to the agenda
of their own wealthy campaign donors. For this reason, there was
no effective Democratic opposition to the initiatives of the Bush
Administration in 2001, even though the Democrats won more popular
votes in the 2000 election.
This abdication of responsibility by the
j Democrats allowed the reassembled Bush Gang to pursue the same
objectives that guided the United States when Ronald Reagan and
the first Bush Gang took office twenty years earlier. They wanted
to 1 ) give huge tax breaks to the wealthy and the corporations;
2) begin a military build-up that reaps very high profits for
defense industries; 3 ) ignore the increasing indebtedness of
the private sector and the federal government; 4) disregard the
general welfare of most citizens and their natural environment;
5) deregulate almost all corporate activity and financial markets;
6) limit constitutional freedoms and the rights of working people.
When the younger Bush was inaugurated,
the U.S. government had a federal surplus o $129 billion. But
less than two years later, by the autumn of 2002, the deficit
hit $157 billion and kept growing, with shortfalls of over $450
billion predicted for 2003 and 2004.
Robert Brenner, director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative
History at UCLA
Between 1995 and 1999, the value of stock
options granted to US executives more than quadrupled, from $26.5
billion to $110 billion, or one-fifth of non-financial corporate
profits, net of interest. In 1992, corporate CEOs held 2 percent
of the equity of US corporations; today, they own 12 percent.
This ranks among the most spectacular acts of expropriation in
the history of capitalism.
An interesting analysis by United for a | Fair Economy (UFE),
which specializes in interpreting economic trends for a popular
audience, looked at the compensation of corporate CEOs whose companies
were being investigated for improprieties by the Securities and
Exchange Commission, the US Justice Department, and other authorities.
In the 23 major companies examined, including AOL Time Warner,
Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kmart, Lucent Technologies. and Xerox, the
CEOs were paid a combined total of over $1.4 billion from 1999
through 2001, or an average of $62.2 million each for the three
year period. In contrast, the average CEO at the top 500 US corporations
had cumulative earnings averaging $36.5 million for the same period
of three years. Crime, it seems, was paying well, double the going
rate for more honest executives. For the shareholders of these
23 companies, there was a different story-they lost $530 billion
in stock value, or more than 73 per cent. Many workers at these
companies, 162,000 of them, fared the worst- q7 they lost their
In September of 2002, Fortune surveyed
1,035 large companies whose market value had dropped at least
75 percent and found that insiders had cashed out to the tune
of $66 billion, since January 1999.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Bush received more
than twice as much as Gore in individual campaign contributions
for the 2000 election. He took in $101 million to Gore's $45 million.
In order to gain this $56 million advantage, the Bush campaign
sacrificed about $15 million in federal funds.
Theft and Plutocracy
Lobbyists and corporations were dangling
the bait for all comers throughout the 1990s. Many Democrats were
scared silly that they would fall far behind the levels of political
funding achieved by their rivals. They had good reason; they had
lost badly in the money-raising races during the Reagan/Bush I
years. So off they went, scurrying after big business, currying
favor in the most obsequious ways. Clinton, with his "New
Democratic" image that kept working people and unions at
arms length, was quite adept at using the power of the White House
to attract corporate donations, particularly from the burgeoning
financial sector that loved his Secretary of the Treasury, Wall
Street dynamo Robert Rubin.
Probably no one on the Democratic side
outdid Joe Lieberman, the 2000 candidate for vice president and
long-time devotee of the probusiness contingent known as the Democratic
Leadership Council. He was a major supporter, often working hand-in-hand
with Republicans, of changes in accounting rules and tax preferences
that led directly to abuses of stock options and corporate bookkeeping.
When the Senate pushed through rules stipulating that stock options
given to employees (and in particular, to CEOs) did not have to
be reported as expenses, this allowed corporate boards to keep
grossly overcompensating their chief executives while inflating
the levels of corporate profits at the same time. Many CEOs then
went so far as to drive up the price of their newly acquired stock
with bookkeeping tricks and sold off their inflated holdings through
insider trading schemes before the stock values fell. After these
scandals became public in 2002, Lieberman pretended to be appalled
at the lack of corporate oversight by public watchdog agencies.
But Arthur Levitt, the former head of the Securities and Exchange
Commission, had been deeply frustrated when Lieberman and others
undermined his attempts to catch fraudulent behavior. He called
the Democrat to account when he said:
Where was Lieberman? He was busy tying
up the SEC in knots over auditors' independence, over the budget,
and over options accounting.
Clinton and his henchmen did not cause
the corporate crime wave, but were reacting to the burgeoning
"Money Power" that had enveloped American politics.
They felt they had no choice but to bargain with the big-time
corporate brokers who had been feeding at the Republican trough
throughout the 1980s. The "New Democrats" seldom showed
the slightest interest in reviving the substantial ideas of the
Old Democrats, such as instituting universal health care or restoring
the rights of laboring people, themes that date back to the robust
promises of the New Deal. In general, the Democrats were easily
frightened back into line by a rabidly right-wing Congress and
were held prisoner to the economic course that was dictated by
historian Sidney Schama
... the United States Inc. is currently
being run by an oligarchy, conducting its affairs with a plutocratic
effrontery which in comparison makes the age of the robber barons
in the late 19th century seem a model of capitalist rectitude.
Americans in the 1970s were starting to make demands that seemed
unreasonable to the most powerful leaders of our economic institutions.
Citizens groups agitated and petitioned for many things, and among
their demands were the following: clean up the environment and
stop burning so much oil; use workers' pension funds, which were
burgeoning, to govern corporations in a more democratic manner;
free up the labor process and wake unions up from their lethargic
state; promote more opportunities and better wages for minorities
and women; restrict the kinds of imperialistic policies that had
led to the Vietnam War; and keep progressing on civil rights.
The prospect of a more democratic America
was threatening to the rich in the early to mid-1970s. The bastion
of big business, The Business Roundtable, which represented 200
of the largest American corporations, was formed under the guidance
of John Connally, President Nixon's Secretary of Treasury.
Nixon and Connally helped the Business Roundtable get started
on plans to reassert corporate power and use the vast resources
of big business to mold public opinion. The Roundtable asserted
that "chief executives of major corporations should take
an increased role in the continuing debates about public policy."
Elite organizations dominated by Wall Street bankers, executives,
and lawyers, such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the
Trilateral Commission, began discussing the problem of "too
much democracy" in both industrialized and developing countries.
They were finding it difficult to control the new varieties of
political movements that were springing up everywhere. And new
think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, or obscure ones
given new life, such as the American Enterprise Institute, were
suddenly funded in lavish style by a bevy of ultra-conservative,
ultra-rich families such as Coors, Mellon, Bradley, and Olin.
They were ready to launch their highly ideological, right-wing
agenda into the middle of American politics.
As the moderately conservative elite and
the very conservative foundations mounted their offensive, they
were joined, for various reasons, by a number of middle-class
allies: fundamentalist evangelists who proclaimed the moral decline
of the United States; "nativist whites" who worried
that they would lose ground if economic and political opportunities
were extended to Hispanics and Blacks and Asians; and a variety
of home-owners and small business owners who were being pinched
financially and wanted to have their taxes reduced, and so naively
threw in their lot with big business.
The Arrival of Bush Gang I
In the '80s, these economic and political
forces combined to establish a new ultra-conservative, Republican
era of government that has dominated the United States ever since.
This power shift to the extreme right, with its unabashed devotion
to the needs of rich Americans and the biggest corporations, has
been attributed to various factors over the years-for instance,
to the "Reagan Revolution" in the early '80s, the "New
Christian Right" in the late '80s, or Newt Gingrich's "Conservative
Revolution" in Congress in the mid '9Os. Looking backwards
from the 21st century, however, it is apparent that this has been
the era of the "Bush Gang." The Bush family and their
political allies have been the dominant influence in and around
the White House and they are perfect representatives of the ascendant
Once in office, the Reagan and Bush regime immediately embarked
on a campaign to lower taxes on the rich, cut regulation of business,
restrict the activities of organized labor, and cut back on federal
assistance for education, health, and other social needs.
... the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was established
in the 1930s to protect the right of Americans to bargain for
a fair wage. The Reagan-Bush team did not abolish labor laws or
the NLRB; it simply stacked the Board with appointees who were
sure to take the side of big business in any disputes with labor
unions. This tactic, combined with a reluctance to enforce regulatory
laws on pollution and safety, allowed corporations to increase
their profits without raising wages at the same time. Then, to
make those profits even more valuable, income taxes on corporations
and rich individuals were sharply cut. At the same time, many
Americans experienced a decline in their wages and their standard
of living, while almost all Americans were working more hours
than they had in the 1970s and paying higher social security taxes.
Their first time through, riding into
Washington on the coattails of Ronald Reagan, the Bush Gang and
their associates pulled off a two-pronged assault on the stability
of the economy. They approved large spending increases that benefited
military contractors (their former business associates) by an
inordinate amount. They let their campaign contributors and political
pals play fast and loose with the nation's banking system. And
through it all they got much richer.
Despite the shaky state of both the economy
and the average family's finances at the end of the 1980s, the
first Bush Gang kept basing its decisions on a very narrow foundation
defined by parameters of accumulated wealth. When George I became
President in 1989, he brought in three especially trusted associates
with him: Secretary of Treasury Nicholas Brady, Secretary of State
James Baker, and Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher. These
old friends not only shared Bush's upper class training and background,
but they also had a collective net worth of about $250 million
By 1991, the average American family with
the median income of $37,340 was working much more than it had
twelve years earlier (two-earner families increased their working
hours by about 10%), but hardly making more than they had in 1979
(less than a 3% increase; according to figures provided by the
U.S. Census Bureau, the gain was less than a thousand dollars).
This typical family was paying 27.6% of their income in combined
federal, state, and local taxes.
The richest Americans fared much better,
increasing their before-tax incomes by over 60% over the same
period, while their overall tax rates continually declined until
they approximated those paid by average citizens. One prominent
example was the household of President George H.W. Bush, whose
income varied from $0.5 million to $1.3 million per year from
1989 to 1991. Their total tax rate-state, local, and federal-ranged
from 18% to 27%. The rate would have been higher except that George
I listed his residence as a hotel in Texas, not the White House
or the family home in Maine. Texas has no income tax, whereas
the District of Columbia and the State of Maine levy a healthy
income tax on the rich.
By 1992 most Americans were left with
a very bad taste in their mouths. Not only had they been deprived
of growth in their incomes but they were also saddled with a worrisome
federal deficit and a steep recession. Twelve years of Reagan
and Bush budget deficits, largely caused by a failure to collect
sufficient taxes from the rich and by the expense of a ballooning
defense budget, had more than quadrupled the federal debt. It
climbed from less than $1 trillion when they took office to more
than $4 trillion when they left. The American economy was a wreck-the
commercial banking and financial system had barely survived numerous
scandals, while the savings and loan system had been so thoroughly
looted that taxpayers were left to pick up the bill that would
climb to $500 billion (when annual interest payments were applied).
During the Clinton years a combination
of factors-higher rates of taxation on the rich, the Earned Income
Tax Credit granted to many low-paid workers, an increase in the
minimum wage, and a period of lower unemployment- seemed to slow
the growth of income inequality. But on many other issues, Clinton
caved into the pressure of the mounting challenges from the conservatives.
His willingness to lower the capital gains tax from 28% to 20%
signaled an enthusiasm for aiding the big financial and investment
institutions and the people who profited from them. His unwillingness
to keep pursuing health care reform betrayed most Americans, and
especially lower-income working people.
During the Clinton years a combination
| of factors-higher rates of taxation on the rich, the Earned
Income Tax Credit granted to many low-paid workers, an increase
in the minimum wage, and a period of lower unemployment- seemed
to slow the growth of income inequality. But on many other issues,
Clinton caved into the pressure of the mounting challenges from
the conservatives. His willingness to lower the capital gains
tax from 28% to 20% signaled an enthusiasm for aiding the big
financial and investment institutions and the people who profited
from them. His unwillingness to keep pursuing health care reform
betrayed most Americans, and especially lower-income working people.
Clinton and Gore abandoned the natural constituency of the party
that had been built up by the followers of Franklin Roosevelt
during the Depression and the Second World War. That is to say,
the Democrats were so busy trying to compete with the Republicans
in wooing the wealthy and the upper-middle class that they did
little of substance to serve working Americans. In fact, they
often sided with the allies of the Bush Gang in promoting reactionary
policies, such as the so-called "welfare reform," that
punished the poor. No one was helping the wage and salary earners,
the farmers and small business people, and the retired people
... had depended on strong government
... political discussion in the United States is usually restricted
to the moderate to conservative range that precludes discussion
of class conflict. If "class warfare" is mentioned,
it is because a conservative wants to suggest that certain matters
should be kept off-limits in American political discussion ...
According to The Washington Post, the president, the vice president,
and their cabinet were the richest men ever to take over the executive
branch of government. In particular, five of them-Vice President
Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of
the Treasury Paul O'Neill, Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans,
and Secretary of State Colin Powell-were together worth about
$600 million dollars, according to their own self-disclosure statements.
George W's own wealth was a little more modest, in the $20 to
$30 million range, but that estimate did not take into consideration
large sums he might inherit from his parents some day.
Most of these men, and the larger raiding
party they brought into government with them, had already served
loyally under the Reagan/Bush I administrations and they knew
the routine very well. In the first half of the year 2001 they
immediately reverted to the modus operandi that had been set forth
back in 1981:
* Give extraordinary tax relief to very
rich citizens and corporations.
* Build up the military with rapid increases in defense spending
and weapons procurement. * Assert a very aggressive posture in
* Offer every possible kind of deregulation of business activity.
* Overlook the criminal activity of the businessmen who support
their agenda. * Disregard the very real possibility of large federal
The tax legislation of 2001 promised tax savings for all, which
was only true to the extent that many average taxpayers enjoyed
a small rebate on their 2001 tax payments (due to an amendment
that originated in the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives,
not in the Bush administration). The real money, however, was
written into the full ten-year program-52% of the tax benefits
went to the richest 1% of Americans ...
The Bush administration immediately renounced a series of foreign
agreements, including the Kyoto Agreement on Global Warming and
the International Criminal Court, that would have held it to true
international standards. It also signaled the United Nations that
it did not necessarily intend to comply with future U.N. decisions.
As the depth of the economic downturn became apparent, the Bush
administration did not pursue a broad-based plan of economic stimulus.
Although they might have used deficit spending in a positive way
to revive the incomes of average Americans or invest in public
infrastructure, the Bush Gang chose instead to follow the exact
same course that had led to very wasteful deficits throughout
the 1980s and early l990s. They kept expanding the tax cuts for
the rich at the same time they were increasing expenditures on
defense and new weaponry. Thus, within their first year of retaking
office, Bush Gang 11 relinquished the entire government surplus
that had been so carefully cultivated in the previous few years
and set a pattern for incurring large deficits for the coming
In short, the Bush Gang immediately delivered
the goods in 2001 that wealthy Republican supporters had paid
for in advance.
Bush Gang II wanted to eliminate the federal estate tax, the levy
on inherited wealth that falls almost exclusively on the very
rich. Currently, inheritance taxes only affect the top 2% of the
population, and for most of those people who leave estates under
$5 million, the consequences are generally mild. Estate taxes
are designed to take the biggest chunk from a much tinier segment
of the populace, the super rich-people like George H.W. Bush and
George W. Bush. In 1999, for instance, half of all federal inheritance
taxes were paid by only 3,300 estates that had an average value
of $17 million apiece.