Archive for Monday, April 19, 2010

In government, we don’t trust

Poll shows public confidence among lowest levels ever

April 19, 2010


— Only 22 percent of all Americans surveyed say they trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time — among the lowest measures in half a century — according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Sunday night.

The results point to “a perfect storm” of public unrest, Pew reports, “a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter, partisan-based backlash and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.”

Growing numbers of people want government’s power curtailed, Pew reports of a mid-April survey that found “less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems — including more government control over the economy — than there was when (President) Barack Obama first took office.”

“The public’s hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall,” Pew reports. “However, the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident that they have the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate.”

There have been political ramifications in the past when the public mood grew this sour: In 1980, Ronald Reagan unseated President Carter. In 1994, the GOP won control of the House.

The current level of public skepticism was matched previously only in the periods leading up to both events — from 1992 to 1995 (reaching a low of 17 percent trust in government in the summer of 1994), and from 1978 to 1980 (bottoming out at 25 percent in 1980).

When the National Election Study first asked the question in 1958, 73 percent of Americans said they trusted the government to do what is right just about always or most of the time.

“The current survey and previous research have found that there is no single factor that drives general public distrust in government,” Pew reports. “Instead, there are several factors — and all are currently present. First, there is considerable evidence that distrust of government is strongly connected to how people feel about the overall state of the nation. Distrust of government soars when the public is unhappy with the way things are going in the country.”

The downward trend began in fall 2008, Pew says. The poll identified a combination of factors that contributed to the electorate’s hostility: the recession that Obama inherited from President George W. Bush; a dispirited public; and anger with Congress and politicians of all political leanings.

Andrew Kohut, director of the nonpartisan center that conducted the survey, said, “Politics has poisoned the well.”


Brent Garner 7 years, 3 months ago

Throw all the bums out! Let the 2nd American Revolution begin!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Destroying the effectiveness of government, and people's faith in it, has been the goal of the Republican Party since the election of Ronald Reagan.

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."

Grover Norquist

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"Well, according to those study results, boohoozo, they're on the right track. "

Yea, and under the Republican theory of government, if you cut the gasoline budget to the fire department so that they can never leave the firehouse, that becomes proof that "government" fire protection doesn't work.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"Spoken like a true looney left adherent to the Just-Throw-More-Money-At-It approach."

You funny guy.

Even though the Reagan Revolution preached smaller government, government has actually grown under their policies-- but instead of helping the middle and working classes where most of the tea partiers come from, it was really nothing but a massive transfer of wealth to the wealthiest 1% whom this "revolution" is of, by and for.

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

once you start throwing out broad "loony left" insults, your argument goes immediately out the window. Just saying, if you want to debate, graduate the 3rd grade.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 3 months ago

Bozo...both parties have been pretty good at demonstrating their lack of integrity. I do not trust either the end they are both pretty much the same...full of self-interest, deceit and corruption.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

About the only thing that can be said in defense of the Democrats is that maybe 20% of their elected officials retain some level of integrity. With the Republicans, that percentage can't be more than 5%.

LoveThsLife 7 years, 3 months ago

I have a hard time believing that. In reality, by the time one is elected into congress they have had to scratch a few backs to get there (if you know what I mean). I don't think you will find a lot of truth or honesty in Washington. Being honest is a campaign promise not a reality.
And with the supreme courts latest decision on campaign funding it's only going to get worse.

Democrats Republicans blah blah blah...both sides are full of hot air.

Your stats are more of a matter of opinion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"In reality, by the time one is elected into congress they have had to scratch a few backs to get there (if you know what I mean)."

I don't disagree-- and my previous post says as much, given that it means that 80% of Democrats elected to office have questionable ethical standards.

But I think it is the case that 1 in 5 Democrats are elected from districts in which they don't have to be complete sellouts in order to retain their offices.

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah yeah yeah, both sides are bad.... vote Republican!

That's sadly all they're really left with. Say what you will about the tenants of the Democratic Party, at least it's an ethos!

jonas_opines 7 years, 3 months ago

Damn, missed my point. I thought this would be Thomas, Krauthammer at the least.

jonas_opines 7 years, 3 months ago

Haha, yeah. It takes a good feel for the right time and right place to really get that Americans (democracies) don't like their governments.

Anyway, they both trust the government, provided that it's run by the party that they like.

jonas_opines 7 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm, plagiarism.

And it's called continuation of a discussion (or a joke) when there's no need for any spin or diversion, like here. He made a point about two writers, I responded.

Nice try, though. So close.

Jay Keffer 7 years, 3 months ago

So almost 80% of the population doesn't trust government, but they do trust government if it is run by the party they like. Hmmm.

Since Democrats are in power, only 20% of the population is Democrat? Hmmm.

I repeat - Spin, divert, spin, divert!

Nice try, though. So close.

verity 7 years, 3 months ago

I thought the same thing---off my game today.

whats_going_on 7 years, 3 months ago

why is "winning" more important than anything else. It's disgusting. I'm so tired of that "Democrats are SCREWED in November."

It's not a basketball game...its the future of the country. If we can't work together, EVERYONE loses.

georgiahawk 7 years, 3 months ago

Tom, are you serious? The 'silent majority'!?! No such thing, never was, not now either. It is just a bunch of bull that people like you use when no one agrees with your idiotic statements!

bruno2 7 years, 3 months ago

Shoeman, they're just as furious with the elephants. You think people are stupid enough to forget 8 years of Bushsh** so soon?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Some pundits are predicting the teabagger movement will split the right wing vote, resulting in a loss of all republican seats.

headdoctor 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh geeze, another us against them argument. Anyone who totally trusts the Government regardless of which party is in power, is a fool.

acg 7 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't walk across the street to piss on those tea party idiots if they were on fire. Anyone who thinks Sarah Palin is bright beacon of hope and inspiration should be slapped and sterilized. As a matter of fact that should be the punishment for anyone who purchased her book or went to a tea party event (unless they went for a good laugh. That I can understand).

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

You do realize that unless you're 100% Native, that would mean you Anglo-Saxon furriners needs ta' git on back to that limey little island hellhole your illegal immigrant forefathers snuck in from...

sigh didn't think so...

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 3 months ago

The Pew poll supports my long-standing contention: It's not the political party that's the problem. It is the size of government that's the problem.

Whichever party can reduce the size, reach and rake of the federal government will likely fair well in the next few election cycles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Ron Paul is no more popular than he ever has been. In a time when none of the "mainstream" Republican candidates are actively campaigning (with the exception of Palin) his base just looks larger than it really is.

That said, given how awful all of these potential candidates are, Ron Paul might have a chance in 2012. BTW, even though I can't buy into his religious libertarian fervor, I believe he is one of those 5% of Republican office holders who retain some degree of integrity.

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

Hmm... so if corporations = government,

Then dismantling big corporations = dismantling big government...

Amiright? Wow, now there's a libertarianism I can start to get behind... All designer boot-strappy!

Or did you not think that so far out?

labmonkey 7 years, 3 months ago

Unfortunately, I think the Democrats keep both houses. First, they have too big of a majority to lose, and second, I believe the whole tea-party movement will end up being a bane to the Republicans' existence. This is a year that running against an incumbent will give you a good chance of long as you aren't too beat up in the primaries (and afterward) by those on the extreme right. Unfortunately, the tea-partiers will only support those on the far right which will dilute the vote for the moderates we need (not to mention pushing some moderate votes to the Democrat side). Tea partiers....look at Kansas 2002....Schallenberger (right of Rush Limbaugh) won the primary thanks to a Kansans for Life hatchet job on Knight, and we got Kathy due to moderate votes going to her.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

The party on the sinister side of the aisle is not too big to fail.

K_Verses_The_World 7 years, 3 months ago

Drought and starvation, packaging of the soul, Persecution, execution, governments out of control. You can see the writing on the wall inviting trouble.

Nightclubs of the broken-hearted, stadiums of the damned, Legislature, perverted nature, doors that are rudely slammed. Look into infinity, all you see is trouble.

Bob Dylan - Trouble

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

And to think, we had such trust in government under Bush.

How many revolutions in which we "throw the bums out" can we endure?

This all really kicked into high gear with Nixon.

notajayhawk 7 years, 3 months ago

"How many revolutions in which we "throw the bums out" can we endure?"

Well, let's see - with the 2008 edition, it's already one too many.

BTW dearie, today's RCP average has Dear Leader's approval rating at 48.4% - what happened to the lift you predicted after his great voctory on health care 'reform'?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

Yea, "voting the bums out" requires voting someone else in, and the candidates making the rounds at the tea parties are really nothing but more of the same Republican wackos that got us where we are.

Alyosha 7 years, 3 months ago

Who is "the government"?

We the people are the government. We elect people to office. There is no one to blame but each and every one of us.

Of the people, by the people, for the people.

If you don't trust the government, there's only one person, for each American, to blame: ourself.

Pay attention, make sure your beliefs are grounded in facts, not demagoguery, and understand your responsibilities as an American.

If you distrust our government, the fault and blame is wholly your own.

verity 7 years, 3 months ago

Oh, so true.

"Pay attention, make sure your beliefs are grounded in facts, not demagoguery, and understand your responsibilities as an American."

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

In other news: “RALEIGH, N.C. -- A political rebellion is brewing inside an old funeral home near the state Capitol here. Frustrated liberals and labor organizers are taking aim at the Democratic Party, rushing to gather enough signatures to start a third party that they believe could help oust three Democratic congressmen… Less than two years ago, this same funeral home was a command post for the grass-roots army that propelled Barack Obama to victory in this conservative swing state. Here is where supporters distributed signs and stickers, sorted lists of registered voters and rallied with a Johnny Cash cover band. Now, some of Obama's supporters are mounting a defiant strike against the president's party. The nascent third party, North Carolina First, could endanger the Democratic congressional majority by siphoning votes from incumbent Democrats in November's midterm election, potentially enabling Republican challengers to pick up the seats... “

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, I'd vote for Ron paul too, in a heartbeat. A) because he actually represents principled conservatism, and B) for the LULz watching Hannity, Beck, et al. incur permanent debilitating whiplash trying to de-dissonance their cognitions...

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

I thnk Obama's gonna have a hell of a time taking that title from the Reverse Midas we had before him.

Or on a less recent level, I guess you could say he'll also have to beat out Harding, Grant, and Buchannon. But that would presupose you fervent patriots had half a clue about the history of the nation you claim to love prior to the War That Had D-Day In It...

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

Tom, don't hold your breath until No-vember.

On second thought, go for it!

remember_username 7 years, 3 months ago

There is considerably more to this report than a simple declarative of dissatisfaction with the current administration and congress. I would urge those who really care about facts to read the full 140 page report (google Pew Research - report 606). I've just started reading it and it is fascinating! The trends started farther back than the current federal government, and while there is dissatisfaction with the federal government, there is growing dissatisfaction with state government and major corporations as well. It's too bad they didn't ask about churches, but if polls regarding growing anger with the catholic church are any indication I would guess they would have reflected similar opinions. Much to my surprise there have been recent studies indicating growing suspicion with science in recent news.

There is much more to this trend than partisan political philosophies. I could be partly the growing industry that feeds off of the dissatisfaction of the easily swayed, or the internet and it's ability to give every blogger a voice regardless of qualifications and an audience with no access to rational thought. Whatever, a few things are clear. It doesn't matter who is in charge - as long as there is no compromise half the people will be very angry, and as long as half the people are very angry there will be no compromise. In two years, four, or eight there may be another party in power and nothing will significantly change. The change that is needed is within the electorate and that doesn't appear likely anytime soon.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

"There is considerably more to this report than a simple declarative of dissatisfaction with the current administration and congress."

This blog has no room for nuance-y kinda things like facts.

snoozey 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, the ball is in our court. Come election time do we vote in the same clods who've been selling us all out to corporate interests or do we demand changes? Perhaps next time we insist our pols address accountability and reform issues then vote accordingly.

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

No Tom, the polls don't mean a thing. Like magic, suddenly the pole numbers mean everything!

Yes, that is funny how that works.

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

You do realize that Rasmussen has a well-documented 5-7 point house effect toward Republicans, right?

I'd hate to think you were posting uninformed...

verity 7 years, 3 months ago

". . . and they'd just nail him up if he came down again."

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Our Pantone 138 Kansas ancestory President needs your respect, also your money.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

What is important to note about the S&L scandal is that it was the largest theft in the history of the world and US tax payers are who was robbed.

The problems occurred in the Savings and Loan industry as they relate to theft because the industry was deregulated under the Reagan/Bush administration and restrictions were eased on the industry so much that abuse and misuse of funds became easy, rampant, and went unchecked.

There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and still part of the Bush Jr. administration today. Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this is about one quarter of our national debt).

Between 1981 and 1989, when George Bush finally announced that there was a Savings and Loan Crisis to the world, the Reagan/Bush administration worked to cover up Savings and Loan problems by reducing the number and depth of examinations required of S&Ls as well as attacking political opponents who were sounding early alarms about the S&L industry. Industry insiders were aware of significant S&L problems as early 1986 that they felt would require a bailout. This information was kept from the media until after Bush had won the 1988 elections.

Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars.

Neil Bush was the most widely targeted member of the Bush family by the press in the S&L scandal. Neil became director of Silverado Savings and Loan at the age of 30 in 1985. Three years later the institution was belly up at a cost of $1.6 billion to tax payers to bail out.

The basic actions of Neil Bush in the S&L scandal are as follows:

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

In 1985, while Iran and Iraq were at war, Iran made a secret request to buy weapons from the United States. McFarlane sought Reagan's approval, in spite of the embargo against selling arms to Iran. McFarlane explained that the sale of arms would not only improve U.S. relations with Iran, but might in turn lead to improved relations with Lebanon, increasing U.S. influence in the troubled Middle East.

Reagan was driven by a different obsession. He had become frustrated at his inability to secure the release of the seven American hostages being held by Iranian terrorists in Lebanon. As president, Reagan felt that "he had the duty to bring those Americans home," and he convinced himself that he was not negotiating with terrorists. While shipping arms to Iran violated the embargo, dealing with terrorists violated Reagan's campaign promise never to do so. Reagan had always been admired for his honesty.

image The arms-for-hostages proposal divided the administration. Longtime policy adversaries Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the deal, but Reagan, McFarlane and CIA director William Casey supported it. With the backing of the president, the plan progressed. By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called "a hostage bazaar."

When the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Shiraa" printed an exposé on the clandestine activities in November 1986, Reagan went on television and vehemently denied that any such operation had occurred. He retracted the statement a week later, insisting that the sale of weapons had not been an arms-for-hostages deal.

Despite the fact that Reagan defended the actions by virtue of their good intentions, his honesty was doubted. Polls showed that only 14 percent of Americans believed the president when he said he had not traded arms for hostages.

While probing the question of the arms-for-hostages deal, Attorney General Edwin Meese discovered that only $12 million of the $30 million the Iranians reportedly paid had reached government coffers. Then-unknown Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council explained the discrepancy: he had been diverting funds from the arms sales to the Contras, with the full knowledge of National Security Adviser Admiral John Poindexter and with the unspoken blessing, he assumed, of President Reagan.

Poindexter resigned, and North was fired, but Iran-Contra was far from over. The press hounded the president: Did he know about these illegal activities, and if not, how could something of this magnitude occur without his knowledge?


Larry Bauerle Jr. 7 years, 3 months ago

"You do realize that unless you're 100% Native"

Since some plan on playing the "native card" forever, technically, there are no natives. EVERYBODY came from some place else, originally.

These studies keep telling us this, but incumbents win 90% of elections. Ultimately, whose fault is this?

werekoala 7 years, 3 months ago

Yeah I know, but really it's kinda silly to see people who are odds-on not to have 200 years of full heritage from people born on this continent rail about getting the "foreigners" out.

See, the thing is I could almost get behind some of the tea party/libertarian ideas, like what Liberty One said about revoking corporate charters and massively decentralizing government in some similar way. It's kernel of truth that attracts many otherwise rational people to the right-wing-anger movement.

But then you have transparent xenophobia and proud ignorance masquerading as patriotism in the sort of drivel I was replying to, and it all goes up in smoke...

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

A threat of violence against a Democratic member of Congress by a Republican donor. "Erik Pidrman threatened to murder GOP Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. FBI agents arrested a Spring Hill man late Sunday for threatening to kill Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL). The Orlando Sentinel reported: FBI agents and officials with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office say they have arrested a Spring Hill man on a charge of threatening harm against U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite. The Brooksville Republican’s office received a “telephonic threat” on March 25 from an unidentified male, authorities said. Late Sunday, FBI agents and Hernando deputies arrested Erik Lawrence Pidrman, 66, at his Spring Hill home in connection with the threat. The charge is “threatening to assault or murder a US official,” according to FBI Special Agent Dave Couvertier. Hernando deputies and the FBI started a joint investigation after Brown-Waite’s Brooksville office received a telephonic threat. This investigation is ongoing and the United States Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, will handle the prosecution. Brown-Waite’s office released a text of the voicemail soon after it was received March 25. The caller stated: “Just wanna let you know I have 27 people that are going to make sure that this [expletive deleted] does not live to see her next term. Good-bye.” Brown-Waite contacted the Capitol Police and the Hernando County Sheriff after receiving the message. ... ...Pidrman gave $250 to Hillary’s campaign in 2008" Oh, wait, it was a Democratic donor threatening to kill a Republican.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Why do americans fall over themselves for political media stars and fat cats? Have we not learned that these people NEVER make things better they just continue the corporate welfare and watch american jobs go abroad. It really stinks!

STOP sending the same faces back to Washington it is doing none of us any good.

The parties, news media and corporate america do NOT need to decide who OUR candidates should be for local,state or federal level representation. Why do we allow them to decide considering there are billions more of us?

The media has become a large part of the special interest takeover of our process as if they know what is best for all of us. Voters support this takeover by voting for those candidates who spend the most money and the question is why? The media loves those big dollars the incumbents get and they keep increasing their rates.....what a racket!

Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths. Replace 95% of all elected officials every 4 years for the house and every 6 years for the Senate.

Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.

Lets’s demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the next ballot.

The big money ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE MORE BEHOLDEN than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? They say NO to the voters while officials live in glass houses.

We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue.

Who would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers and their bought and paid for politicians!

Demand all presidential candidates participate in debates NOT only those selected by the media and two parties.

remember_username 7 years, 3 months ago

"Why do Americans fall over themselves for political media stars and fat cats?" - really it's a human thing. All nationalities do it, not just Americans. People (in general) want to be rich and famous, and by extension perceive those that are rich and famous as someone to be admired. I helps to remember the race is only about 40K years out of the bush.

independant1 7 years, 3 months ago


guesstimation about 22% approve of government or about 52,000,000 approve about 240,000,000 voters about 56% turn out to vote about 135,000,000 votes cast

about 41% democrat or 55,350,000 about 39% republican or 52,650,000 about 20% independant 27,000,000

Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him. (Will Rogers)

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

From the article: "When the National Election Study first asked the question in 1958, 73 percent of Americans said they trusted the government to do what is right just about always or most of the time."

Imagine, people trusted their government just a couple of years after Senator McCarthy's hearings on Un-American Activities and their resulting blacklists. Perhaps people shouldn't have trusted their government in the 1950s either.

independant1 7 years, 3 months ago

So, 188,000,000 elgible voters don't trust the government

I hope some of the men who get the most votes will be elected. (Will Rogers)

independant1 7 years, 3 months ago

We vote against in general or we vote for the evil of two lessers.

You’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best. (Will Rogers)

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

So began the chain of events that would convulse Washington for two years, lead to the first resignation of a U.S. president and change American politics forever.

The story intrigued two young reporters on The Post's staff, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward who were called in to work on the story. As Woodward's notes show, he learned from police sources that the men came from Miami, wore surgical gloves and carried thousands of dollars in cash. It was, said one source, "a professional type operation." Woodward and Bernstein

The next day, Woodward and Bernstein joined up for the first of many revelatory stories. "GOP Security Aide Among Those Arrested," reported that burglar James McCord was on the payroll of President Nixon's reelection committee. The next day, Nixon and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman privately discussed how to get the CIA to tell the FBI to back off from the burglary investigation. Publicly, a White House spokesman said he would not comment on "a third rate burglary."

Within a few weeks, Woodward and Bernstein reported that the grand jury investigating the burglary had sought testimony from two men who had worked in the Nixon White House, former CIA officer E. Howard Hunt and former FBI agent G. Gordon Liddy. Both men would ultimately be indicted for guiding the burglars, via walkie-talkies, from a hotel room opposite the Watergate building.

In Miami, Bernstein learned that a $25,000 check for Nixon's reelection campaign had been deposited in the bank account of one of the burglars. The resulting story, "Bug Suspect Got Campaign Funds" reported the check had been given to Maurice Stans, the former Secretary of Commerce who served as Nixon's chief fundraiser. It was the first time The Post linked the burglary to Nixon campaign funds.

Follow the full story:

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Fraud certainly was very important in the housing bubble of recent years. But the housing bubble—like bubbles generally—did not depend on fraud, and most of its development was there for everyone to see.

With the principal problems out in the open and with the authorities not only ignoring those problems but contributing to their development, one might say that the situation with the housing bubble was worse than a Ponzi scheme. And Madoff bilked his marks out of only $50 billion, while trillions were lost in the housing bubble.

And, yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities.

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan denied the housing bubble’s existence—not fraud exactly, but deception that kept the bubble going. (Greenspan, whose view was ideologically driven, got support in his bubble denial from the academic work of the man who was to be his successor, Ben Bernanke.)

In addition, government regulatory agencies turned a blind eye to the highly risky practices of financial firms, practices that both encouraged the development of the bubble and made the impact all the worse when it burst. Moreover, the private rating agencies (e.g., Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s) were complicit. Dependent on the financial institutions for their fees, they gave excessively good ratings to these risky investments. Perhaps not fraud in the legal sense, but certainly misleading.

During the 1990s, the government made tax law changes that contributed to the emergence of the housing bubble. With the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, a couple could gain up to $500,000 selling their home without any capital gains tax liability (half that for a single person). Previously, capital gains taxes could be avoided only if the proceeds were used to buy another home or if the seller was over 55 (and a couple could then avoid taxes only on the first $250,000). So buying and then selling houses became a more profitable operation.

And, yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities.

So, no, a bubble and a Ponzi scheme are not the same. But they have elements in common. Usually, however, the losers in a Ponzi scheme are simply the direct investors, the schemer’s marks. A bubble like the housing bubble can wreak havoc on all of us.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Where are the Regean links, merrill? He's only been out of office for 32 years now. Don't you have any dirt on William Henry Harrison?

beatrice 7 years, 3 months ago

Snap, I'm quite sure if you are still with us you will still be whining about Obama 32 years from now.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

Since Nixon the republican party has involved itself in true high crimes. Much of it began with Reagan/Bush.

In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about how "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

That complex's recent mega-leap to power came under George H.W. Bush and even more under George W. Bush — with the post-9/11 expansion of the military and creation of the Department of Homeland Security. But armaments and arms deals seem to have been in the Bushes' blood for nearly a century.

Oil: The Bushes' ties to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil go back 100 years, when Rockefeller made Buckeye Steel Castings wildly successful by convincing railroads that carried their oil to buy heavy equipment from Buckeye.

George H. Walker helped refurbish the Soviet oil industry in the 1920s, and Prescott Bush acquired experience in the international oil business as a 22-year director of Dresser Industries. George H.W. Bush, in turn, worked for Dresser and ran his own offshore oil-drilling business, Zapata Offshore.

George W. Bush mostly raised money from investors for oil businesses that failed. Currently, the family's oil focus is principally in the Middle East.

Family favoritism soon followed. When Bush senior lost the 1992 election, Lay picked up with son George W., first in Texas and then as a top contributor to Bush's 2000 presidential campaign. Before Enron imploded in late 2001, it had more influence in a new administration than any other corporation in memory.

The intelligence community: Bushes and Walkers have been involved with the intelligence community since World War I. The importance of Sam Bush's wartime munitions-regulating role was obvious. During the 1920s, when George H. Walker was doing a lot of business in Russia and Germany, he became a director of the American International Corporation, formed during the war for purposes of overseas investment and intelligence-gathering.

Prescott Bush's pre-1941 corporate and banking contacts with Germany, sensationalized on many Internet sites, appear to have been passed along to officials in government and intelligence circles.

George H.W. Bush may have had CIA connections before the agency's unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. A number of published sources suggest that Zapata Offshore was a CIA front long before he went on to become director of Central Intelligence in 1976. As for George W. Bush, his limited ties are said to have come through investments in, and buyouts of, several of his oil businesses by CIA- and BCCI-connected firms and individuals.

Full story: Bush Family Values: War, Wealth, Oil

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

With all the fear-mongering falsehoods flying around, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Below, Doug Orr helps D&S readers do just this, with clear, at times surprising, answers to many common Social Security-related questions.

Has the president actually lied to the public about Social Security?

Yes. President Bush has repeatedly said that those who put their money in private accounts are "guaranteed" a better return than they'll receive from the current Social Security system.

But every sale of stock on the stock market includes the disclaimer: "the return on this investment is not guaranteed and may be negative"--for good reason. During the 20th century, there were several periods lasting more than 10 years where the return on stocks was negative.

After the Dow Jones stock index went down by over 75% between 1929 and 1933, the Dow did not return to its 1929 level until 1953(24 years).

In claiming that the rate of return on a stock investment is guaranteed to be greater than the return on any other asset, Bush is lying. If an investment-firm broker made this claim to his clients, he would be arrested and charged with stock fraud. Michael Milken went to jail for several years for making just this type of promise about financial investments.

President Bush also misrepresents the truth when he claims that Social Security trustees say the system will be "bankrupt" in 2042. Bankruptcy is defined as "the inability to pay ones debts" or, when applied to a business, "shutting down as a result of insolvency." Nothing the trustees have said or published indicates that Social Security will fold as a result of insolvency.

The system won't be bankrupt in any sense. On this point, President Bush is "consciously misrepresenting the truth with the intent to deceive." That is what the dictionary defines as lying.

More interesting facts about Social Security:

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

No matter if THEY call themselves republicans,neo conservatives,Tea Party people,moral majority or party with a contract for america this group is still no more than the new bogus republican party since 1980.

Republicans have been using" lower taxes and smaller government" as there campaign rhetoric for more than 30 years.

In the past 30 years this group of insecure people has controlled the white house and congress the greater majority of the time.

This group of whoever they are has never reduced the size of government,reduced taxes OR reduced the cost of government. In essence they are full of crap.

This party initiated more military activity than any party in USA history. How can taxes be reduced if war against oil rich nations is part of the republican platform?

How can taxes be reduced by establishing more than 50 USA military bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan?

How can taxes be reduced if more than 300,000 soldiers come home disabled from the wars with oil rich nations?

How can taxes be reduced by creating private armies such Blackwater/Z at $1000 per day per body/mercenary/terrorists?

How can taxes be reduced by paying out 60 cents of every tax dollar to the military industrial complex?

How can taxes be reduced by creating one of the most bloated new departments aka Homeland Security?

How can taxes be reduced by trying to force americans to live under military rule?

How can taxes be reduced by trying to control the worlds largest oil supply?

How can taxes be reduced by putting millions upon millions upon millions out work?

How can taxes be reduced by sending USA industry to China,Pakistan,India and Mexico?

How can taxes be cut by robbing the USA financial institutions? 1. The Reagan/ Bush Home Loan Scandal

  1. The Bush/Cheney Home Loan Scandal

This republican party or whatever they call themselves is lying to the citizens of the USA!

Liberty275 7 years, 3 months ago

Republicans don't need to win either house. All they need to do is pad their ability to filibuster in the senate and block everything obama wants to do. Right now it is entirely on the shoulders of the minority of senators to prevent this country from falling further into socialism.

I don't expect them to fail.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

What exactly is wrong with socialism? Fortune 500 people love socialism. As does the medical insurance industry to the tune of $1.2 trillion health insurance tax dollars. Shareholders love socialism.

The Tea Party's Takeover of the GOP

The anti-health care reform rally in Washington indicates the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement are increasingly one and the same.

You have to hand it to Michele Bachmann: She has succeeded in turning the GOP into one big Tea Party. This past weekend, the Minnesota Republican went on Fox News and called on viewers to show up on the Capitol lawn on Thursday at noon for a press conference and a last ditch attempt to kill health care reform. The gathering that resulted was marked by the now-routine extremism of the Tea Party conservatives. "I'm a bitter gun owner who votes," read one sign.

Others questioned President Obama’s citizenship, portrayed him as Sambo, or called him a traitor. One said, "Obama takes his orders from the Rothschilds." Old ladies wore red T-shirts decrying "Obamao care." The crowd also took spirited swipes at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At one point someone yelled, "Put down your Botox and show yourself."

But what was most noteworthy was that the entire House Republican leadership was also in attendance—and their rhetoric was just as over-the-top as some of the protesters. House Minority Leader John Boehner declared the health care bill the "greatest threat to freedom I have seen."

In essence, Congressional Republicans were merging with a movement that gives open expression to racist and anti-Semitic sentiments.

The crowd was several thousand strong, many bused in by Americans for Prosperity, a group created by the owners of Koch Industries, a huge oil and gas conglomerate. The AFP chapter from New Jersey reportedly sent 29 buses.

Four AFP buses came from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and more came from Richmond and North Carolina. Lots of people in the crowd carried AFP signs or stickers warning "Hands off my health care."


jayhawklawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

I think the reason the Republican Party has gotten increasingly unreliable as a political organization and has resorted to the low road of political extremism is because the world is changing faster than they can adapt to it.

Their ideology and emphasis on maintaining ideological purity is a ship not built for travel in the new universe.

Today we have the internet, the greatest tool for learning that has existed in all of human history. Far more of a game changer than the translation of the Bible, which itself was a game changer.

Educated people believe we can solve the problems of the world by facing them head on. The issues of health care, sustainable energy solutions and better living standards for all is something that the new generation wants to tackle and solve. We want to end war, not play around with the idea. We want to end the threat of nuclear annihilation.

The new generation is looking for partners around the world in solving problems we all face together, not seeking a global dominance that can only be achieved by overwhelming military dominance, an idea that is utterly futile and embraced only by fools.

When a couple of dozen guys flying a few planes can cause so much damage to our country, that is the proof of how fragile we really are.

The Republican Party is simply obsolete.

John McCain showed us what an angry old saber rattler he was and a man unable to make good decisions when he chose Sarah Palin as the next in line to command the most powerful military on the Earth.

I am hoping that a better political party can rise from the ashes, but for now, the best team on the court is the Democratic Party.

They are center stage and we are all watching. I don't think the American people are going to be very forgiving if they fail.

gogoplata 7 years, 3 months ago

Both parties should not be trusted. Democrats are not the best team. They suck just as much as the Republicans.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 3 months ago

Slow down, merrill. You're causing global warming with all that copy/paste activity.

Liberty275 7 years, 3 months ago

By Lyndsey Layton Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, April 20, 2010; A01

The Food and Drug Administration is planning an unprecedented effort to gradually reduce the salt consumed each day by Americans, saying that less sodium in everything from soup to nuts would prevent thousands of deaths from hypertension and heart disease. The initiative, to be launched this year, would eventually lead to the first legal limits on the amount of salt allowed in food products.

The government intends to work with the food industry and health experts to reduce sodium gradually over a period of years to adjust the American palate to a less salty diet, according to FDA sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the initiative had not been formally announced.

Look up the link yourself.

Liberty275 7 years, 3 months ago

"What exactly is wrong with socialism?"

It is a philosophy of bottom feeders that always fails the moment capitalism stops propping it up.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

It’s been exactly one year since the onset of the financial crisis and the passage of the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. The bailout marked the single largest financial intervention by the Treasury into the banking system in American history.

The beginning banks, the first nine, the big banks, they all got their money one day after a meeting with Henry Paulson, in which he told them, “You’re taking this money.”

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, what about that big meeting that you talk about—I think it was October 12th—the nine big banks? Eight of those banks, as you reported, ended up getting two-thirds of all of the money, 67 percent. How did that meeting come about, and who was there?

JAMES STEELE: Paulson actually called that meeting. He called the heads of those banks the night before and said, “I want you here tomorrow in Washington.” He was very vague as to what the purpose of the meeting was. But once they got there, he told them, “You are taking money. We are going to buy stock in your banks. And we need to get this economy going again.” Some bankers objected, saying by accepting this money it would look like they were weak. Others simply said they didn’t need it.

The fact of the matter is, one of the things we concluded very early on in this whole process is that while Treasury was trying to create the image that there was widespread weakness in these banks—and then there was a credit freeze, there’s no doubt about that—the way they went about this, just throwing the money out there in hopes that that would get the economy going, is not really what this was all about.

There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America, Citigroup, those three were clearly in very weakened form. So, many of the other big banks were not. And the best example that they didn’t need this money in the beginning was that many of them, within just a very few months, paid everything back.

AMY GOODMAN: Don Barlett, this meeting of the big nine, with Vikram Pandit of Citigroup, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Kenneth Lewis of Bank of America, Richard Kovacevich of Wells Fargo, John Thain of Merrill Lynch, John Mack of Morgan Stanley, Lloyd Blankfein, who succeeded Paulson as head of Goldman Sachs, Robert Kelly of the Bank of New York Mellon and Ronald Logue of State Street Bank, went to the secretary’s conference room.

It was even difficult to find this information out. But what did he lay out for them there? And how does Paulson, who was former head of one of these banks, fit into it, as well?

DONALD BARLETT: Well, reduced to its simplest terms, he laid in front of them, each of them, a sheet of paper and saying, “Write on this the amount of money you’re going to take, and you are going to take it. ....

the full story: What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the bail out money?

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