Following the money with Bill Moyers

I’m on a Bill Moyers kick tonight. Every path I head down seems to lead to him. Right now, I’m watching footage of Bill with progressive Representative from Ohio, Marcy Kaptur, and former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund, Simon Johnson. Here’s a clip from the transcript:

BILL MOYERS: Let’s look at this story that I just read from the Associated Press this week about how Treasury Secretary Geithner is on the phone several times a day with a select group of very powerful Wall Street bankers, especially Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs. He will talk to them when Members of Congress have to leave a message on the answering machine. And these are the bankers who helped bring on this calamity and who are now benefiting from it. What does that say to you?

MARCY KAPTUR: That says to me that Wall Street and Washington is a circuit. And because Mr. Geithner headed the New York Fed that that historic relationship, unfortunately, continues. And it gives them special access and special power to influence policy.

SIMON JOHNSON: Well, I think it really tells you how the system works. The system is based on access and is based on what on Wall Street shaping Washington’s view of what’s important.

It’s the people who are very close to Mr. Geithner before when he was the head of the New York Fed. Before he became Treasury Secretary. These people have unparalleled access. And in a crisis, when everything is up for grabs, you don’t know what’s going on, the people who will take your phone calls, right, in government and people who are going to be standing in the oval office, making the key decisions. That’s the heart of the system. That’s the heart of how you get your agenda through, by changing their worldview…

BILL MOYERS: How do we get Congress back? How do we get Congress to do what it’s supposed to do? Oversight. Real reform. Challenge the powers that be.

MARCY KAPTUR: We have to take the money out. We have to get rid of the constant fundraising that happens inside the Congress. Before political parties used to raise money; now individual members are raising money through the DCCC and the RCCC. It is absolutely corrupt. It’s good people…

And then people wonder, ‘Well, why doesn’t Congress get along?’ Because they are made into arch enemies by the type of fundraising system that is embedded in the very guts of the institution. So, you’ve got to clean that out. But meanwhile, we need to get hired over at the justice department, 1,000 agents, in mortgage fraud and in securities fraud. Then, I pray, that the leadership of both chambers will do the kind of robust hearings that the nation deserves to rout out those who did wrong and to change the fundamental financial architecture of this country. And then the President needs to get his top housing advisors in the room with him. And they need to meet all weekend. And they need to get their arms around this housing market, in order to stem the rising foreclosures. We haven’t stopped the bleeding out there.

BILL MOYERS: Does President Obama get it?

MARCY KAPTUR: I don’t think President Obama has the right people around him. The poor man inherited a total mess, globally and domestically. I think some of the people that he trusted haven’t delivered. I urge him to get new generals. It’s time.

SIMON JOHNSON: Louis the Fourteenth of France, a very powerful monarch, was famous for having many bad things, you know, happen under his rule. And people would always say, ‘If only Louis the Fourteenth knew. I’m sure he doesn’t know. If we could just tell him, he’d sort it out.’ You know. I’m skeptical…

Speaking of the French monarchy, I’m reminded of something a very patriotic American said upon hearing that we as a country were about to bail our banks out to the tune of almost a trillion dollars. He said, “We could have bought a lot of guillotines for $700 billion”…. If only more people read his blog, we might be in a much better place today.

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