I noted in 2008:
The powers-that-be have used the "Shock Doctrine" to pass anti-American, fascist legislation while the public was in a state of shock.
This applies to economic shocks, as well as physical attacks like 9/11.
Indeed, right now, Paulson and Bernanke are using the shock doctrine to try to ram through legislation that would help out the fat cats at the expense of taxpayers, and give the government control over the free market.
But there is some resistance. For example, Senator Leahy and the New York Times are questioning Paulson's use of shock and awe:
- Senator Leahy said "If we learned anything from 9/11, the biggest mistake is to pass anything they ask for just because it's an emergency"
- The New York Times wrote:"The rescue is being sold as a must-have emergency measure by an administration with a controversial record when it comes to asking Congress for special authority in time of duress."
Mr. Paulson has argued that the powers he seeks are necessary to chase away the wolf howling at the door: a potentially swift shredding of the American financial system. That would be catastrophic for everyone, he argues, not only banks, but also ordinary Americans who depend on their finances to buy homes and cars, and to pay for college.
Some are suspicious of Mr. Paulson’s characterizations, finding in his warnings and demands for extraordinary powers a parallel with the way the Bush administration gained authority for the war in Iraq. Then, the White House suggested that mushroom clouds could accompany Congress’s failure to act. This time, it is financial Armageddon supposedly on the doorstep.
“This is scare tactics to try to do something that’s in the private but not the public interest,” said Allan Meltzer, a former economic adviser to President Reagan, and an expert on monetary policy at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business. “It’s terrible.”
The Tarp bailouts were passed using apocalyptic - and false - threats. For example, as I've previously reported:
The New York Times wrote last year:Indeed, all of the other "emergency" economic and monetary measures - like quantitative easing - didn't help the American people, but just helped the richest .1%. And most of the bailout and "easy" money went to foreign banks (and see this, this and this).
In retrospect, Congress felt bullied by Mr. Paulson last year. Many of them fervently believed they should not prop up the banks that had led us to this crisis — yet they were pushed by Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke into passing the $700 billion TARP, which was then used to bail out those very banks.Indeed, Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski and Senator James Inhofe all say that the government warned of martial law if Tarp wasn't passed:
That is especially interesting given that the financial crisis had actually been going on for a long time, but - instead of dealing with it - Paulson and the rest of the crew tried to cover it up and pretend it was "contained", and that it was obvious to world leaders months earlier that it was not a liquidity crisis, but a solvency crisis (and see this).
Bait And Switch
The Tarp Inspector General has said that Paulson misrepresented the big banks' health in the run-up to passage of TARP. This is no small matter, as the American public would have not been very excited about giving money to insolvent institutions.
And Paulson himself has said:
During the two weeks that Congress considered the [Tarp] legislation, market conditions worsened considerably. It was clear to me by the time the bill was signed on October 3rd that we needed to act quickly and forcefully, and that purchasing troubled assets—our initial focus—would take time to implement and would not be sufficient given the severity of the problem. In consultation with the Federal Reserve, I determined that the most timely, effective step to improve credit market conditions was to strengthen bank balance sheets quickly through direct purchases of equity in banks.So Paulson knew "by the time the bill was signed" that it wouldn't be used for its advertised purpose - disposing of toxic assets - and would instead be used to give money directly to the big banks?
Senator McCain also says that Paulson pulled a bait-and-switch:
Even the New York Times called Paulson a liar in 2008:
Sen. John McCain of Arizona ... says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.
"Obviously, that didn't happen," McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The Republic's Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. "They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors. . . . What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street - I guess it was trickle-down economics - that therefore Main Street would be fine."
“First [Paulson’s Department of Treasury] says it has to have $700 billion to buy back toxic mortgage-backed securities. Then, as Mr. Paulson divulged to The Times this week, it turns out that even before the bill passed the House, he told his staff to start drawing up a plan for capital injections. Fearing Congress’s reaction, he didn’t tell the Hill about his change of heart.What tax breaks is the Times talking about? The article explains:
Now, he’s shifted gears again, and is directing Treasury to use the money to force bank acquisitions. Sneaking in the tax break isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring, either.”
A new tax break [pushed by Treasury], worth billions to the banking industry, that has only one purpose: to encourage bank mergers. As a tax expert, Robert Willens, put it: “It couldn’t be clearer if they had taken out an ad.”
The Same Thing Is Happening With the Debt Ceiling
The same thing is now happening with the debt ceiling.
What is being discussed would just steal more money from the American people and give it to the richest 1%. For example, Congress is planning on selling off "unused federal property". Selling off and privatizing public assets and resources is a core tactic in shock doctrine schemes.
As Matt Taibbi shows, another tax holiday for big corporations is one of the main focuses of discussion in D.C.
Note: As usual, it's not liberal-versus-conservative, but the top 1% versus the rest of the country, and you versus the giant corporations. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.