Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stop "Plan Mexico"!

Important to see in light of previous post. -Dra. Valenzuela

Stop "Plan Mexico"! Public Service Announcement, 3.5 minutes

Now available on YouTube!



>
> Please watch, forward, embed and make use of this resource.
>
> Video text:
>
> Plan Mexico was hatched by Presidents
> Bush and Calderon without any consultation from the US or Mexican
> congresses.
>
> Officially known as the Merida Initiative, Plan Mexico,is immediately
> likened to the failures and violence of Plan Colombia that has led to an
> increase in human rights violations and cocaine production.
>
> Stopping Plan Mexico has been named by the Center for International
> Policy as one of the top three challenges to protect attempts to build
> more
> just and peaceful societies in Latin America.
>
> The United Steelworkers came out against it in November and issued a
> statement demanding public hearings about it after
> the police crackdowns on miners in Mexico last week.
>
> Plan Mexico would provide $1.5 billion in US Taxpayer monies and
> equipment
> to the Mexican military, police, and intelligence services.
>
> None of the aid contemplated in this first package of a proposed 3 year
> deal goes where it's most needed: addiction
> prevention and rehabilitation in America, and local development
> financing in
> mMxico.
>
> Sending equipment to the Mexican police and military in the context
> of unprosecuted human rights violations encourages impunity.
>
> Is this what Americans want our government to do with our tax money?
>
> Increased surveillance, secret police and paramilitary activities
> endangers
> the civil liberties of the general population at
> risk, especially activists, union leaders, indigenous peoples.
>
> The invasion by U.S. military companies such as Blackwater, and direct
> U.S.
> involvement in Mexican military would lead to a client state
> relationship
> that compromises Mexican national sovereignty and would lead to
> increased
> U.S.
> interventionist and even imperial foreign policy.
>
> This "security" initiative is proposed in the context of opening up the
> Mexican economy to further
> privatization and exploitation by multinational corporations.
>
> Plan Mexico, emphasizes interdiction and as such expands the failed
> drug war
> in Colombia. Yet, a study conducted by the conservative RAND Drug Policy
> Research Center
> for the U.S. Army ... found that treatment is 10 times more cost
> effective than interdiction...".
>
> Plan Mexico imagines anti-terrorist measures to confront an
> international
> threat that does not exist in Mexico, and would reinterpret
> migration as organized crime.
>
> Mexico needs and deserves U.S. support, in the form of fair trade
> agreements
> which prioritize labor, indigenous and other human rights &
> environmental
> protections; Instead our government sends jobs oversees where Mexican
> workers and farmers rights are abused under rapacious free trade that
> reduces wages and decimates the environment. The proposal to expand
> militarization of Mexican society is a step in the wrong direction.
>
> Plan Mexico is a dangerous ploy by the Bush administration to intervene
> in the affairs of Mexico for decades to come, while ignoring the need to
> create good paying jobs at home.
>
> Tell Congress to Stop Plan Mexico.
> (The above text is not the exact final version of the video clip.)

Violence on the US-Mexico border

Estas noticias so espantosas. Sugiere aun mas militarizacion de la frontera de ambos lados.
-Dra. Valenzuela

Violence on the US-Mexico border

Image: Zachary Tirrell, Flickr
Due to increased pressure from the Calderon administration, some members of Mexican organized crime may begin crossing the border in significant numbers to set up US-based operations.

By Sam Logan and M Casey McCarty for ISN Security Watch (29/01/08)

Dozens of murders have resulted from battles between the Mexican security forces and armed criminals along the US-Mexico border since the beginning of this year. It is a spike in violence that has many in the US worried that gun fights may spill across the border, carrying all the reprisals that left a string of Mexican border towns without journalists, mayors, police chiefs and musicians in 2007.

In another bloody encounter for what has already been a violent year, on 7 January, a van full of gunmen ran a roadblock outside the border town of Reynosa, Mexico. Mexican soldiers and federal police chased the van to a small house across the street from the Reynosa police station. The gun battle began soon after. In the aftermath, 10 suspects were arrested and five policemen were dead. Along with the suspects, Mexican police seized three automatic rifles, an Uzi submachine gun, grenades and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The US Border Patrol has not taken any extra precautions, but is keeping its agents in the field "abreast of the situation," according to Border Patrol spokesman Oscar Saldana, who recently spoke with ISN Security Watch.

"We're advising everyone to be on the alert and be extra cautious because of the situation on the Mexican side," he said.

Others, however, argue that more action must be taken to prevent the establishment of a significant presence of Mexican organized criminals inside the US. However, preparations on the US side of the border are directly linked to a lack of resources from the federal and state levels.

"What has been appropriated is likely spent," Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Former Border Patrol Organization, told ISN Security Watch in a recent telephone interview.

And what may come from the federal government in the future will almost certainly be delayed by US presidential elections.

When the lives of officers are at stake, Lundgren said, law enforcement must prepare for the worst case scenario, which could be the possibility that a small group of armed men could cross the border and encounter a patrol cruiser. The resulting firefight would be no contest. The heavily armed Mexican criminals would easily overcome one or two Border Patrol agents most likely armed with only pistols.

"We have seen no indication that law enforcement in South Texas is prepared for the worse case in this matter," he said.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government has shifted its posture from reactive to proactive. No longer interested in waiting for Mexican organized crime to strike before responding, Mexican President Felipe Calderón wants to hunt them down, starting with Los Zetas in the northeastern Mexican border state of Tamaulipas.

Sigue leyendo aqui.

SANCTUARY BEGINS AGAIN at ADALBERTO UNITED METHODIST CHURCH


The movement to make America See has begun. Please inform yourselves and if you want more information please reply to this email or call 773-523-8261. We will have events scheduled daily. Please log on to www.somosunpueblo.com or www.familialatinaunida.com <http://www.familialatinaunida.com/> to support this campaign.


For Immediate Release Tuesday, January 29th, 2008


From: Adalberto United Methodist Church
Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras

Contact: Emma Lozano or Rev Walter L Coleman 773-523-8261

SANCTUARY BEGINS AGAIN AT ADALBERTO UNITED METHODIST CHURCH


"This act of civil disobedience by an undocumented mother today is a proclamation of the "State of the Latino Nation."



Following in the footsteps of her friend Elvira Arellano, Flor Crisotomo announced today that she will refuse to report for deportation as ordered by Homeland Security and will take sanctuary in Adalberto United Methodist Church.


"I am taking a stand of civil disobedience to Make America See what they are doing. I believe with all my heart that the United States and Mexico must end the system of undocumented labor but the current policy of enforcement only is not ending this system and that is what I want America to see."



Flor's story illustrates the roots of the current immigration crisis. Driven here because of the effects of NAFTA on her home town, she came to support her three children, her sister and her aging mother. She worked for IFCO until that company was raided in a high profile national raid in 2006, when she was arrested.



Flor explained that undocumented workers are caught between two U.S. policies. On the one hand, Homeland Security and a wave of local laws across the country are making it more and more difficult to survive openly in this country. On the other hand, the policies of NAFTA have devastated the rural economy of Mexico and as many as a million more Mexican farmers will be put out of work this year and most will seek to travel north.



"I cannot support my children if I return to Mexico because of the policies of NAFTA and yet for the 12 million it is becoming more and more difficult to survive here."



"The government has no intention of deporting 12 million people. They say they expect us to self-deport, but we cannot leave because of what U.S. economic policies have done to destroy jobs in our home countries. That is why the current policy will not end the system of undocumented labor. It will only drive us into worse and worse jobs."



"I will not be a symbol of fear to spread among my people. I hope that adding my grain of sand to the struggle will help to get the U.S. Congress to act to fix a broken law and an inhuman system of undocumented labor.



Speaking for Familia Latina Unida/Sin Fronteras, Emma Lozano proclaimed Flor's action as a statement of "the State of the Latino Nation."



"Over half of the Latinos in this country live in fear every day that a family member, loved one or friend will be deported and yet the government has failed to respond to this crisis in our community. We will likely not even be mentioned in the President's address tonight. The Democratic Presidential candidates have failed to take on this crisis and the Democratic Congress has refused to even put immigration on their agenda at their upcoming retreat this Wednesday. Neither Party has addressed the economic policies that are driving immigration from Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean.



"Not only the undocumented, but the entire Latino community has been forced into the shadows of this country.



"The current policy of "enforcement only" is a political fraud. It is not aimed at ending the cruel system of undocumented labor which separates families on both sides of the border. It is aimed only at mobilizing hate, causing fear and driving millions further into the shadows.



"Today we are saying that we will not be invisible. Congress must act to bring our people out of the shadows. Congress must act to renegotiate NAFTA and legalize both the employers and the workers to end this system of exploitation and separation of families."



Speaking on behalf of the little methodist church that stood off the U.S. government for a year with Elvira Arellano, Rev Walter Coleman reminded the people that "Jesus came to say that the people have eyes but they do not see. We must Make America See by our faith."



"!2 million people, their families here and their families in Mexico, are caught in a triangle of paralysis: Between the Greed of NAFTA, the Hatred of immigration enforcement and the hunger in their children's eyes.



"We have waited patiently for government to act meaningfully – but they have not. Every Sunday, this church like many others acros this land, is filled with families facing the pain of separation, the agony of unacceptable alternatives We call today for a renewal of the Sanctuary Movement that began with Elvira Arellano here in this church..


"Where governments fail the people, faith must stand apart. Let us go forward together in faith. Let us Make America See."







Battles ahead for immigrant rights

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Web site is filled with information. You can also download a pdf file with the NNIRR's report “Over-Raided, Under Siege [pdf].”

Battles ahead for immigrant rights
February 1, 2008 | Page 14

SHAUN HARKIN reports from Houston on the discussions at a conference of activists.

HOUSTON, Texas--The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) held its national conference here, the first of its kind in 10 years, on January 18-20.

More than 600 people attended (100 more than expected) from across the U.S. for a weekend of education, debate and discussion in plenary sessions and workshops on diverse issues ranging from “Organizing Against the 'War on Terror,'” “Guest Workers and the New Slavery,” “Raising Women's Voices: Immigrant Women and Health Care,” “15 Years After NAFTA” and “Youth Organizing: Beyond DREAM.”

The beginning of the conference coincided with the release of NNIRR's new report “Over-Raided, Under Siege: U.S. Immigration Laws and Enforcement Destroy the Rights of Immigrants.”

“The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is subjecting immigrant and refugee communities to a deliberate and distinct form of 'collective punishment,' resulting in widespread violations of basic constitutional and human rights,” according to the report.

The report demonstrates how the U.S. government continues to implement new policies and laws that systematically violate the human rights of immigrant and refugee members of our communities.

What else to read
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights Web site is filled with information. You can also download a pdf file with the NNIRR's report “Over-Raided, Under Siege.”


“Working in tandem with local, county and state governments,” the report concludes, “law enforcement agencies, employers and private citizen groups, the U.S. government has advanced hundreds of new measures that deny immigrants and refugees due process rights, a living wage, housing, labor protections, and proper health and safety.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THIS DEVASTATING report accurately captures the multi-pronged attack immigrant communities face today. Resistance to these attacks was foremost on the minds of conference participants.
Following a disappointingly conservative speech in the opening plenary by liberal Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), NNIRR executive director Catherine Tactaquin reconfirmed the network's opposition to various “comprehensive immigration reform” proposals debated by Congress in recent years.

Tactaquin argued for the necessity of a different vision--one opposed to militarization of the border and the interior, any expansion of guest-worker programs and harmful free-trade agreements.

Isabel García from the Coalición de Derechos Humanos based in Tucson, Ariz., concurred. “Our communities are being decimated, beginning at the border. Death at the border is not acceptable,” said García. “There is tremendous pressure on our movement to give in on enforcement, but we have to steer away from being a pawn in their chess game that they call 'Operation Endgame.'”

Last year alone, the bodies of 237 migrants were found near the Arizona border; since 1994, some 5,000 bodies have been recovered at the border. Also last year, the DHS reached its goal of adding nearly 70 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, with a goal of completing 370 miles by the end of 2008. Additionally, DHS aims to increase the number of border patrol agents from 15,000 to 18,300 by the end of 2008.

García ended by saying the way forward is to “educate our communities, organize at the base and tell Congress what to do.”

Monami Maulik from Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) in New York City talked about the connection between the attack on immigrants, the “war on terror” and the war on Iraq, and placed these issues in the context of U.S. imperialism and corporate globalization. “We can't get full justice for everyone until we get more organized, and we can't compromise more enforcement for more legalization,” she argued.

In the “Deportations and Detentions” workshop, presenters from the American Friends Service Committee and the New York-based Families for Freedom explained that up to 2 million immigrants have been deported since 1996 when the Clinton administration implemented new immigration laws. That's a fourfold spike in deportations.

If immigrants who accepted “voluntary departure” are included, the number of deportees jumps to 5 million. In fiscal year 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims to have deported a record 276,912 immigrants with close to 30,000 held in detention centers on any given day.

Melissa Nalani Ross from the Center for New Community (CNC), in a workshop on “The Forces and Faces of the Anti-Immigrant Movement,” described the politics and connections between reactionary groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Pioneer Fund, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and Numbers USA.

A myriad of such groups operates behind the scenes to influence public discussion of immigration and push politicians to adopt anti-immigrant initiatives. According to a new CNC report, “As these national groups have expanded their influence, the number of state and local organizations has jumped up. Between January of 2005 and January of 2007, such groups increased in number by 600 percent.”

When armed Minutemen appeared on the Arizona border in 2005, there were 37 anti-immigrant groups in 25 states; by September 2007, the number had increased to 332, located in almost every state.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

DURING THE well-attended workshop “Immigration Reform, the 2008 Elections and Beyond,” many participants displayed a determination to continue the fight for genuine social and economic justice for the undocumented.
But the session also revealed varying levels of demoralization, disorientation and frustration among activists. This is no surprise given how much the immigrant rights movement has been pushed onto the defensive since the mass marches in the spring of 2006.

“What happens in Arizona doesn't stay in Arizona,” said Kat Rodriguez from Tucson. “Groups have difficulty understanding why we resist accepting many aspects of the STRIVE Act. One of the greatest successes of the right wing has been to marry the concept of legalization to border security. No immigration bill is acceptable if it includes militarization of the border.”

Similarly, there was frustration at the lack of any pending progressive legislation--and the deafening silence of politicians willing to support such a bill. Tactaquin argued that a Democrat in the White House might avoid immigration in its first term in order to get elected to a second term, summing up the skepticism many at the conference felt toward the political establishment.

Participants discussed why they believed it was correct to oppose “comprehensive immigration reform.” They talked about the difficulties in explaining their position to undocumented immigrants in their communities who are desperate for some form of legalization.

However, organizers said, when they were able to explain the full ramifications of the bills, many became convinced that it wasn't what the undocumented needed or deserved.

When discussing the mass mobilizations in recent years, some argued that they had “failed,” that people “were tired of marching” and that new strategies were needed. Frustrated with mounting crackdowns on the undocumented and the conservative immigration framework that dominates discussion around Election 2008, some argued radical “direct action” would be necessary this year to make an impact.

The bigger-than-expected turnout indicates activists came to be part of something larger in an attempt to overcome the fragmentation and disorientation many feel and to discuss how to move the struggle forward in the difficult context of an election year.

While discussions emphasized that the next year will likely be full of challenges, there was little in the way of explanation for why the election is making it so difficult to organize, how to challenge the anti-immigrant positions of Democratic Party candidates or what the relationship is between mobilizations and base building.

For example, there was little discussion of whether to mobilize on May 1 this year in order to insert the demands of the immigrant rights movement into the election debate and what such a mobilization might or might not accomplish.

With pressure on grassroots activism to take a backseat to “getting out the vote,” the next 10 months is going to be tough for those who have concluded that real change will come from below.

But if the U.S. economy goes into recession, an emboldened right wing can employ the politics of scapegoating to greater effect--and immigrant rights supporters will have to find effective ways to respond and seek, in whatever way possible, to turn the tide.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Copia Oficial del Discurso del Estado de la Union

January 23, 2007

Following is a transcript of President Bush’s State of the Union address as recorded by The New York Times, with audio excerpts and analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger, plus links to related articles and Web sites.

Es bueno compara este discurso con lo del 2008 que acabo de subir.

Dra. Valenzuela


The New Congress

[Related Article: A Shift in Power, Starting With ‘Madam Speaker’]

Analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger and Audio From the Speech (mp3)Thank you very much. And tonight I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker. In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. from Baltimore, Md., saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum, but nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter Nancy president tonight as speaker of the House of Representatives. Congratulations, Madam Speaker. [Background: Representative Nancy Pelosi, who was elected as speaker of the House, is the first woman to hold that post.]
Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood. ...

The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors under way and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies, and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate, and I congratulate the Democrat majority. [Background: In November’s elections, Democrats won control of Congress for the first time in 12 years.] Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions, and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we’re all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: to extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

We’re not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and we can achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them to build a future of hope and opportunity, and this is the business before us tonight.

The Economy

A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy, and that is what we have. We’re now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs, so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, wages are rising. This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.

Next week, I’ll deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.

First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need is spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 — and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget. [Background: Mr. Bush made the pledge to halve the deficit during his re-election campaign in 2004. He has not yet offered specifics on his plan to balance the budget by 2012.]

Next, there’s the matter of earmarks. These special-interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour when not even C-Span is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of the earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate; they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process — expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session. [Background: The House and the Senate have passed ethics measures that would require disclosure of the sponsors of earmarks.]

And finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience, and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet we’re failing in that duty. And this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this chamber knows this to be true, yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid and save Social Security.

Education

Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act preserving local control, raising standards and holding schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.

Now the task is to build on this success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities, and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose someplace better. We must increase funds for students who struggle and make sure these children get the special help they need. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future, and our country is more competitive, by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children, and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law. [Background: The law is Mr. Bush’s signature education measure, but Democrats in Congress are advocating changes.]

Health Care

[Related Article: Bush Revives Some Past Proposals and Offers a New Initiative on Health Insurance]

Analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger and Audio From the Speech (mp3)A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

And so tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills. [Background: White House officials said Mr. Bush’s plan would provide tax breaks to help low-income people buy health insurance and tax increases for some workers whose health plans cost significantly more than the national average. | From the White House: Fact sheet on Mr. Bush’s proposals]

At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, this proposal would mean a substantial tax savings: $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans.

My second proposal is to help the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. [Background: Several states are working to achieve nearly universal health coverage.] States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I’ve asked the secretary of health and human services to work with Congress to take existing federal funds and use them to create Affordable Choices grants. These grants would give our nation’s governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need. There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand health savings accounts. We need to help small businesses through association health plans. We need to reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology. We will encourage price transparency and to protect good doctors from junk lawsuits, we need to pass medical liability reform. In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are not made by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors.

Immigration

Analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger and Audio From the Speech (mp3)Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America, with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we’re doubling the size of the Border Patrol and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border, and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in, and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists. We’ll enforce our immigration laws at the worksite, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers, so there’s no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country, without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law. [Background: Mr. Bush has repeatedly called for “comprehensive” immigration legislation that both toughens border security and gives some illegal immigrants a chance to gain citizenship. Last year, the Republican-controlled House and Senate took different approaches.]

Energy

[Related Article: Bush Seeks Vast, Mandatory Increase in Alternative Fuels and Greater Vehicle Efficiency]
Analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger and Audio From the Speech (mp3)Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists, who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments and raise the price of oil and do great harm to our economy. [Background: Mr. Bush declared that “America is addicted to oil” in his 2006 State of the Union address. | Statistics: U.S. Department of Energy table of oil imports and exports (pdf)]

It’s in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply, and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol, using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes. [U.S. Department of Energy information on ethanol]

We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market. And now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we’ve done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years. When we do that, we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017. And that is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks, and conserve up to eight and a half billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017. Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but it’s not going to eliminate it. And so as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. America’s on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

Judicial Nominations

A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. We have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As president, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty as well: to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. [Background: Senate Democrats have opposed some of Mr. Bush’s nominees.]

Fight Against Terrorism

For all of us in this room, there’s no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that the terrorists can cause. We’ve had time to take stock of our situation. We’ve added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us, unless we stop them.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing and free-flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an Al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. [Background: Mr. Bush described the 2002 plot in February 2006.] We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an Al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. [Background: Authorities said the British plot involved liquid explosives.] For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.

In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before Sept. 11 and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” And Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah, a group second only to Al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom: societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies, and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must.

In the last two years, we’ve seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East, and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution and they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections [Background]. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature [Background]. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections: choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution [Background]. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces [Background]. In Iraq, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam, the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia, and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day. [Background: The bombing of the mosque in Samarra, Iraq, in February 2006 brought on sectarian killings that were virtually unheard of in the early years of the war.]

Iraq

Analysis by The Times’s David E. Sanger and Audio From the Speech (mp3)This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We’re carrying out a new strategy in Iraq: a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where Al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we’re sending an additional 4,000 United States marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We didn’t drive Al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq. [Background: Mr. Bush outlined his plan to send additional troops to Iraq in a speech to the nation on Jan. 10.]

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad, and they must do so. They’ve pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. And they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation: to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life, to hold local elections and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by Al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country, and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of Sept. 11 and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I’ve spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you’ve made. We went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field and those on their way.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that’s why it’s important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. That’s why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We’ll show our enemies abroad that we’re united in the goal of victory.

One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American armed forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the armed forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time. [Background: Mr. Bush proposed expanding the size of the United States military in December.]

Foreign Policy

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle, because we’re not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We’re working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the gulf states to increase support for Iraq’s government. The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. Other members of the quartet — the U.N., the E.U., and Russia — we’re pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security. In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and Al Qaeda offensive, the first time the alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China and Japan, Russia and South Korea, we’re pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus and Burma and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.

American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty, and disease, and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight H.I.V./AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa. Because you funded the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years. And I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight H.I.V./AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty. [From the White House: The Millennium Challenge Account]

Conclusion

When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness and courage, and self sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look. And tonight we need only look above to the gallery.

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine, but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. Dikembe became a star in the N.B.A., and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth or the duty to share his blessings with others. He built a brand new hospital in his old hometown. A friend has said of this good hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo a citizen of the United States of America.

After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children’s videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she’s using her success to help others, producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: “I believe it is the most important thing I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe.” And so tonight we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur: Julie Aigner-Clark.

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into a space between the rails and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. He says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We have got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. [Background: Mr. Autrey saved the stranger's life on Jan. 2. | More Articles on Wesley Autrey]

Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Ky., when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire; he used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs, yet he refused medical attention and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and the gratitude of our entire country.

In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America, and these qualities are not in short supply.

This is a decent and honorable country, and resilient too. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence, because the state of our union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on.

God bless.


Correction: January 25, 2007

Excerpts yesterday from President Bush’s State of the Union address misstated a word from the speech in some copies. Mr. Bush said, “Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate, and I congratulate the Democrat majority” — not Democratic majority.


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

The State of the Union

Haz clique aqui si quiere ofrecer algun comentario sobre el discurso. -Dra. Valenzuela

EDITORIAL, NYTimes

January 29, 2008

Six years ago, President Bush began his State of the Union address with two powerful sentences: “As we gather tonight, our nation is at war, our economy is in recession, and the civilized world faces unprecedented dangers. Yet the state of our union has never been stronger.”

Monday night, after six years of promises unkept or insincerely made and blunders of historic proportions, the United States is now fighting two wars, the economy is veering toward recession and the civilized world still faces horrifying dangers — and it has far less sympathy and respect for the United States.

The nation is splintered over the war in Iraq, cleaved by ruthless partisan politics, bubbling with economic fear and mired in debate over virtually all of the issues Mr. Bush faced in 2002. And the best Mr. Bush could offer was a call to individual empowerment — a noble idea, but in Mr. Bush’s hands just another excuse to abdicate government responsibility.

Monday night’s address made us think what a different speech it might have been if Mr. Bush had capitalized on the unity that followed the 9/11 attacks to draw the nation together, rather than to arrogate ever more power and launch his misadventure in Iraq. How different it might have been if Mr. Bush meant what he said about compassionate conservatism or even followed the fiscal discipline of old-fashioned conservatism. How different if he had made a real effort to reach for the bipartisanship he promised in 2002 and so many times since.

Then he could have used last night’s speech to celebrate a balanced budget, one in which taxes produce enough money to pay for the nation’s genuine needs, including health care for poor children and a rebuilt New Orleans. Instead, Mr. Bush called — again — for his tax cuts to be permanent and threatened to veto bills that contained excessive pork-barrel spending, an idea absent from his agenda when Republicans held Congress.

Had Mr. Bush been doing his job right just in the last few weeks, he could have used this speech to celebrate a genuinely bipartisan agreement on a sound economic stimulus plan. In addition to the tax rebates agreed on already between the White House and the House, Mr. Bush could have announced sensible proposals for extending unemployment benefits and a temporary increase in food stamps for the most vulnerable citizens.

Those aren’t just Democratic ideas. The independent Congressional Budget Office ranks those stimulus policies as far more effective than rebates.

If Mr. Bush had let compassion and good sense trump ideology, he would have been able to use last night’s speech to celebrate the expansion of health insurance to tens of millions of children with working parents. Mr. Bush vetoed an expansion of the S-chip program, and he did not even agree to pay for all of the existing coverage because he thought a relative handful of parents might switch from private to public insurance if they were offered government assistance to buy it.

In 2003, the president proposed the Medicare prescription drug benefit, his signature achievement in health insurance reform. It barely squeaked past conservative Republicans in Congress, and Mr. Bush’s appetite for making health care accessible and affordable for all Americans vanished.

Mr. Bush has included a call for immigration reform in all of his previous State of the Union addresses. But he has never matched that rhetoric with strong ideas or political passion. A push last year for comprehensive reform was defeated by his party’s right wing, which continues to spread hatred on the campaign trail. His insight last night: “Illegal immigration is complicated.”

In 2002, Mr. Bush spoke about the international coalition that invaded Afghanistan, about the consensus among civilized nations of the need to combat terrorism, about the way the 9/11 attacks had rallied nations behind America’s leadership. Afghanistan’s good war was quickly overshadowed — and shortchanged — by Mr. Bush’s Iraq folly. Six years later, the United States and its allies are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan and the Taliban is back in force.

He was not even able to assure Americans that there is an end in sight to the Iraq war. Instead, he made the same empty promise he has made every year: When Iraq can defend itself, American troops will come home. Iraq’s defense minister told The Times recently that his forces would not be able to fully keep the peace and defend their country until 2018.

Mr. Bush’s troop escalation has succeeded in stabilizing parts of Baghdad and lowering casualties. But 2007 was still the most violent year in Iraq since the 2003 invasion and — more important — Mr. Bush has little to show in the way of political reconciliation, the only guarantor of a lasting peace. Mr. Bush has made no real effort to seek the help of Iraq’s neighbors to help stabilize the country.

In the end, when it comes to Iraq, Mr. Bush’s annual addresses will be remembered most for his false claims — the fictitious “axis of evil,” nonexistent aluminum tubes and African uranium, dangerous weapons that did not exist. No president can want that as his legacy.

Mr. Bush still has a year left — and many serious problems to address. It is time, finally, for him to put aside the partisanship, the bluster and the empty rhetoric. The state of the union is troubled. The nation yearns for leadership.

"Sin Maíz, No Hay País"

En Celaya, caravana contra el TLCAN
Martín Diego y Javier Salinas Cesáreo (Corresponsales) / La Jornada, 28 Enero, 2008

Al menos 900 integrantes del Movimiento de Resistencia Campesina Francisco Villa –con organizaciones de Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas y Guanajuato– se manifestaron por las principales avenidas de Celaya para exigir al gobierno mexicano la renegociación del capítulo agropecuario del Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (TLCAN).

Los inconformes, que viajan con unos 50 tractores, se instalaron en la plaza principal de la ciudad con la advertencia de que este lunes realizarán un plantón en la sede de la Secretaría de Agricultura en Celaya.

La caravana salió el 18 de enero de Ciudad Juárez para formar parte de la campaña nacional de las organizaciones Sin maíz no hay país, que tienen programada una manifestación el 31 de enero en la ciudad de México.

Mientras, el coordinador del Centro de Investigaciones en Ciencias Agropecuarias de la Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Octavio Castelán Ortega, afirmó que los efectos del TLCAN han sido devastadores. Señaló que de 1994 a 2006 se perdieron unos 2 millones de empleos en el agro. Sostuvo que la dependencia alimentaria del exterior aumentó de 15 por ciento en 1982 a 40 en 2005, y estimó que en 2008 será de 50 por ciento.

Generamos riqueza en EU, dicen paisanos

Espero que el tema de la economía cambie este discurso malo del inmigrante. Hasta que hay menos enfoque hoy en día pero todo sigue relacionado. Dra. Valenzuela

Generamos riqueza en EU, dicen paisanos
Georgina Olson /Excelsior January 27, 2008

La deportación de cientos de trabajadores indocumentados que se da en Arizona desde principio de año agravará aún más la crisis económica en ese estado, pues los empresarios están perdiendo una mano de obra capacitada la de los inmigrantes que cobra los salarios más baratos del mercado, afirmó en entrevista con Excélsior, Elías Bermúdez, líder de Migrantes sin Fronteras, quien vive en la Unión Americana desde hace 23 años.

En diciembre pasado, 50 mil indocumentados en su mayoría mexicanos salieron de Arizona previendo que en enero entraba en vigor la Ley del Trabajador Legal, que obliga a los empresarios a revisar el estatus legal de sus empleados en una base de datos. Si contratan a indocumentados, los empresarios corren el riesgo incluso de ser encarcelados.

Desde cuando entró en vigor la ley, un promedio de 100 indocumentados son detenidos cada día por las autoridades migratorias que efectúan redadas en los centros de trabajo y en el transporte público de ese estado sureño. Los trabajadores mexicanos legales e ilegales representan 15% de la fuerza laboral de ese estado, según la Universidad de Arizona.

Muchos han emprendido la huida: “Entre quedarse y morirse de hambre aquí, a morirse de hambre en su patria, deciden irse, pues al menos van a ver a su familia que no ven desde hace años”, consideró. Otros están esperando recibir el reembolso de sus impuestos para tener dinero y regresar.

“A muchos les decimos: ‘No pagues la renta, hasta que te venga a sacar el alguacil’, porque muchos no tienen trabajo, y a otros ya se los quitaron. Les aconsejamos que guarden su dinerito para que tengan con qué irse cuando tengan que salir”, explicó.

La precaución que los migrantes están teniendo con su dinero no es cosa nueva: empezaron desde junio de 2007, cuando diferentes organizaciones como Migrantes Sin Fronteras les empezaron a aconsejar que aplicaran la lógica del “consumidor sabio”, es decir, que sólo compraran comida y nada más, pues ya veían venir las políticas antiinmigrantes de 2008. Esta cautela en consumidores latinos y mexicanos provocada por el temor a la ley antiinmigrante, contribuyó a la desaceleración de la economía del estado. “Hay una ironía... este año, Arizona tiene un déficit en el presupuesto de gobierno. Va a recibir mil millones de dólares menos de lo previsto y están así por la incertidumbre creada en la comunidad hispánica, pues desde julio empezamos a decirle a la gente que sólo gastara su dinero en lo indispensable”, dijo.

De acuerdo con Bermúdez, si al migrante se le permitiera vivir y comprar libremente en la Unión Americana y entrar y salir libremente del país, eso le inyectaría capital a la economía: “Tanto México como Estados Unidos se beneficiarían muchísimo del movimiento de personas que contribuyen a la economía con su trabajo diario”, enfatizó.

“Los inmigrantes hemos pagado, con nuestra mano de obra, las riquezas de muchas corporaciones; los récords de ganancia se deben a que nosotros les ahorramos un promedio de 50 centavos a un dólar en salarios a este país, los siete, diez o 12 millones de trabajadores le están ayudando a los empresarios a ahorrar esa cantidad por hora. Y alguien se queda con esa ganancia”, aseveró.

De acuerdo con Bermúdez, hay algunos sectores que empiezan a cambiar su postura. “Grant Woods, ex procurador de Justicia de Arizona, republicano y conservador, dio recientemente un discurso en que atacó a los antiinmigrantes. ‘Qué esperan los ciudadanos de Arizona para reaccionar, si el estado está conformado 50% por mexicanos’, les dijo. Se empiezan a dar cuenta, pero es demasiado tarde. Ahogado el niño, quieren tapar el pozo; es una tristeza”, dijo.

Para Bermúdez parte de la solución es una reforma migratoria o un programa de trabajo temporal, y recientemente le solicitó al senador Jon Kyl, de Arizona, la creación de un programa piloto de empleados temporales en el estado. En una carta, Kyl le manifestó que había presentado la propuesta en el Senado,pero no fue escuchada; le aseguró que seguiría insistiendo.

“Lo que va a determinar que pase una propuesta como ésa es la economía de Arizona: se está viniendo abajo y ahora mismo en el Super Tazón hay más de 800 trabajos que antes hacían migrantes mexicanos y que hasta el momento no han conseguido quién quiera llenar esos puestos”, aseveró.

Monday, January 28, 2008

“Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression

A financial crisis in the US amounts to a global crisis. This is an important interview with a detailed analysis on this crisis that all should read. This could have been prevented.

-Dra. Valenzuela


January 23, 2008

Economics Journalist Robert Kuttner on the “Most Serious Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression”: “This is the Result of Rightwing Ideology and the Political Power of Wall Street”

Amid growing fears of a worldwide recession, the Federal Reserve
slashed a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point on
Tuesday, the biggest single cut in nearly a quarter of a century.
Meanwhile, President Bush and congressional leaders pledged to work
together on a stimulus measure that would inject about $150 billion in
additional money into the economy. But many economists are skeptical
over whether any measures can turn around a severe slump in the
housing market and the subprime mortgage crisis, signs of growing
unemployment and weakening consumer spending and the added blow of
record high oil prices. We speak to veteran economics journalist
Robert Kuttner and Robert Weissman, co-director of the corporate
accountability group Essential Action and editor of Multinational
Monitor magazine. [includes rush transcript]


Guests:
Robert Kuttner, Veteran economics and financial journalist. He is a
founder and co-editor of the American Prospect magazine and a former
investigator for the Senate Banking Committee. He is the author of
seven books, his latest is The Squandering of America: How the Failure
of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity.
Robert Weissman, Co-director of Essential Action, a corporate
accountability group based in Washington, D.C. He is also editor of
Multinational Monitor magazine.

Rush Transcript

This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help
us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our
TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
Donate - $25, $50, $100, More...

AMY GOODMAN: Amid growing fears of a worldwide recession, the Federal
Reserve slashed a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage
point Tuesday, the biggest single cut in nearly a quarter of a
century. The move marks only the fifth time in history the Fed has
reduced the overnight federal funds rate outside of its scheduled
policy meetings. The last time was after the 9/11 attacks, when the
Fed cut rates by half a percentage point.
The Fed’s move was prompted in part by turmoil in global markets
Monday with stock averages in Japan and Germany and elsewhere seeing
some of their worst declines in decades. On Wall Street, stocks
plunged at the opening of trading on Tuesday, propelling the Dow Jones
Industrial Average down about 400 points before climbing back up to
close down about one percent. The major US market indexes are down
about ten percent so far in January.
Meanwhile, President Bush and congressional leaders pledged to work
together on a bipartisan stimulus measure that would inject about $150
billion in additional money into the economy. Flanked by House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Bush told
reporters he’s confident an agreement on a stimulus package could be reached.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I believe we can find common ground to get
something done that’s big enough and effective enough so that an
economy that is inherently strong gets a boost to make sure that this
uncertainty doesn’t translate into, you know, more economic woes for
our workers and small-business people. And so, I really want to thank
you all for coming, and I’m looking forward to our discussions.
And­look, there’s a­everybody wants to get something done quickly, but
we want to make sure it gets done right and make sure that
we’re­everybody is realistic about a­the timetable. Legislative bodies
don’t move as­you know, necessarily in an orderly, quick way. And
therefore, these leaders are committed, and they want to get something
done. But we want to make sure we’re realistic about how fast that can
possibly happen. So when we say “as soon as possible,” that means
within the­obviously within the ability of these bodies to effectively
do their jobs. So I have got reasonable expectations about how fast
something can happen, but I also am optimistic that something will
happen. And I appreciate very much the leadership being here today.
AMY GOODMAN: But many economists are skeptical over whether any
measures can turn around a severe slump in the housing market and the
subprime mortgage crisis, signs of growing unemployment and weakening
consumer spending and the added blow of record-high oil prices.
Robert Kuttner joins us today, veteran economics and financial
journalist, founder and co-editor of American Prospect magazine,
former investigator for the Senate Banking Committee, author of seven
books­his latest, The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our
Politics Undermines Our Prosperity. He is also former general manager
of Pacifica station WBAI in New York, joining us here in our firehouse
studio. Joining us in Washington, Robert Weissman, co-director of
Essential Action, a corporate accountability group. He’s also editor
of Multinational Monitor magazine.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! The solutions now­the Fed
interest-rate cut, the stimulus package­is this enough, Robert Kuttner?
ROBERT KUTTNER: No, it’s not the beginning of enough. And I think the
place to start is to recognize why this recession is different from
all other recessions. This began and is continuing with a collapse in
credit markets, and the collapse in credit markets is, in turn, the
result of deregulation gone nuts. And it’s a repeat of a lot of things
that happened in the 1920s, where there was too much speculation with
too much borrowed money and a complete lack of transparency. The
regulators, the public had no idea of what these bonds that had been
created out of subprime mortgages really contained, what they were
worth. The people who packaged them were not subject to any kind of
regulatory scrutiny.
And when it turned out that a lot of these loans were never going to
be paid back, the layer upon layer upon layer of bonds and then
securities based on the bonds­you know, if you can picture the World
Trade Center collapsing floor by floor or you can picture the collapse
of the Ponzi schemes of the 1920s, that’s a good­or horrible­analogy.
And when you have a credit contraction, it means that banks have less
capital against which to make loans, and lowering interest rates
doesn’t fix that.
There are two other things that lowering interest rates and an
ordinary stimulus package won’t fix. One, you alluded to in your
opening comments, Amy, and that’s the collapse in housing prices. At
the current rate of decline in housing values, American homeowners­and
that’s about 70 percent of Americans­are going to lose $2.2 trillion
of net worth this year alone. Well, when you lose $2.2 trillion of
savings, you’re not inclined to rush out and do home improvements,
you’re not inclined to rush out and buy durable goods. And again,
compared to that kind of a loss, a stimulus­and they’re talking about
$140–$145 billion, that’s one percent of GDP­that’s a drop in the bucket.
Lastly, this occurs on top of thirty years of increasing insecurity on
a whole bunch of fronts: the greater risk of losing your job, the
greater risk of having your paycheck not keep pace with inflation,
rising energy costs, rising tuition costs, rising health insurance
costs. All of the things that make you middle class have become more
difficult to attain in the past thirty years. So you’ve got a
three-layer cake here. You’ve got this thirty-year history of flat or
declining living standards for most Americans, you’ve got this
terrible weakness in financial markets, and you’ve got this housing collapse.
AMY GOODMAN: Thirty years would take us back to the beginning of Reagan.
ROBERT KUTTNER: A little bit before, actually. I mean, the great
experiment in deregulation really started under Carter in the late
1970s. It was Carter who started the deregulation of trucking and
natural gas and broadcasting. And the whole ideology of deregulation
and the practice of deregulation was unfortunately bipartisan.
AMY GOODMAN: Rob Weissman, you talk about deregulation and the
financial crisis, and you talk about at least five distinct regulatory
failures that led to the current crisis. First, explain deregulation,
and then go through what you think these failures are.
ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, there’s both the actual rollback of regulation,
is the ones were in place, that kind of deregulation. There’s also a
kind of non-regulation, the failure of government agencies to exercise
authority that they have, but just choose not to use or choose
not­authority they choose not to assert. There are five that I laid
out in a recent column, but there are many more, as Bob is
referencing, including ones that led directly or indirectly to this crisis.
I think one big-picture deregulatory failure was the failure to manage
the trade deficit. The US trade deficit led to this huge accumulation
of capital in countries like China, and that capital had to find a
place to go, and that ended up lowering interest rates and sort of
chasing after all kinds of investments, including the mortgage
investments that were the trigger for this crisis.
A second regulatory failure was the failure to address the housing
bubble. Even if interest rates were low, there was a lot of ability
for especially Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan to pop the bubble
before it reached the point that it got to. And this is not just a
retrospective criticism. People at the time identified the housing
bubble as taking place. And you had to believe that the rules of
economy, as they have existed for the last hundred years, had been
suspended to think that we didn’t have a housing bubble. But Greenspan
let it go by.
A third failure was the broader financial deregulatory failure, which
is both a specific rollback of prior financial regulations on Wall
Street and on big banks and, more generally, a laissez-faire attitude
about let finance do whatever it wants. And Wall Street has gone crazy
over the last decade, and now we’re going to pay a very serious price
for that.
With the government not acting, there were private actors that were
supposed to regulate and provide important signals for high finance.
Those are especially the credit rating agencies, like Standard &
Poor’s and Moody’s. They failed totally, probably because of their own
conflicts of interest, in part.
And finally, there was the failure to regulate in the housing market
itself, with all the subprime mortgage lending abuses. Again, these
were things that were identified not just in the last couple months,
but five years ago. You’ve had guests on from ACORN and other
organizations fighting against predatory lending. We’ve reported on
it. This is something that people highlighted over the years, but was
let to spin completely out of control by a federal government that
didn’t care and by state governments that sometimes care, but were
often lobbied against doing anything by the banking industry itself.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Robert Weissman, co-director of
Essential Action, editor of Multinational Monitor magazine; and Robert
Kuttner, veteran economic journalist, author of the book The
Squandering of America. We’ll be back with both of them in a minute.
[break]
AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman, as we talk about the crisis in the
economy today with two experts. Robert Kuttner, veteran economic
journalist, author of The Squandering of America: How the Failure of
Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity, he is the co-editor of
American Prospect. Robert Weissman is with us in Washington. He is
editor of Multinational Monitor magazine and co-director of Essential Action.
Robert Kuttner, that image that we have of President Bush flanked by
Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, and Harry Reid, the Senate Majority
Leader, either all of them­Bush, Pelosi and Reid, the images­going to
solve this problem or all owning this problem. What is your response?
ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, let’s bring this back to politics. There’s a big
risk that the Democrats, trying to be realists, trying to help out in
a crisis, enact something that President Bush can sign, and then their
fingerprints are on a piece of legislation that is obviously not going
to solve the problem. There’s a time for bipartisanship, and there’s a
time for a partisan difference. It seems to me the duty of an
opposition party is to oppose, and this is one of those moments when
the Democrats would be well-advised to really clarify the differences
between themselves and President Bush.
But I want to bring it back to politics in a broader sense. Rob
Weissman, I think very eloquently, ticked off all the multiple
failures of deregulation. This did not just happen. This was not an
accident. This was the agenda of business, particularly Wall Street,
going back thirty years. And if you look at the history of this, the
Great Depression discredited free-market ideology, because it was such
a colossal practical failure. Nobody in the 1930s could argue with a
straight face that free markets worked. And so, we had a whole mixed
economy, a regulatory structure invented during the New Deal, that
really lasted thirty or forty years. By the ’70s, for a variety of
reasons, big business had recovered a lot of the political power that
it had lost in the Depression. And both parties, beginning with
Carter, continuing with Clinton, became enablers of the kind of
deregulation that finally has come home to roost in this crisis.
So now we’re learning, painfully, for a second time a lesson that we
never should have had to learn twice, that markets don’t regulate
themselves. Markets, left to their own devices, create grotesque
inequality, ruin the environment and ruin the economy. And we’re
seeing that unfold.
AMY GOODMAN: And what could the Democrats do right now as an opposition party?
ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, I think there are three things they ought to be
doing. First of all, there’s the housing mess. We need something like
the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation of the 1930s, where a government
agency, financed by government bonds, would buy these bonds back from
Citigroup and Merrill and whoever at a steep discount, maybe thirty or
forty cents on the dollar­they’ve already been written down to zero,
because nobody wants to buy them­and turn them back into affordable
mortgages, turn them into mortgages that would have a rate below
market instead of the kind of predatory rate that subprime mortgages
had. And you could then repopulate these houses. People on the brink
of foreclosure would be able to keep their houses. Other people could
become homeowners. So you need a much bolder approach to the housing crisis.
Secondly, I don’t even think “stimulus” is a good word. You need a
recovery program. And a recovery program means not just a quick shot
in the arm, it means reversing all of the things that make it harder
to be middle class in this country. It means everything from a massive
program of infrastructure repair to energy independence to good jobs
in the service sector, reversing the whole thirty-year trajectory of
ordinary people finding that their personal economic situation is
insecure, they can’t keep up with the cost of living. And a “stimulus”
implies a kind of a quick jolt to get us out of a temporary problem.
This is not a temporary problem, this is a long-term problem. It’s
going to require long-term solutions. And that doesn’t even get at
some of the harder stuff, like the dependency on foreign borrowing
that was caused by chronic trade deficits that in turn were the result
of bad trade policies.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to turn to an excerpt of the Democratic
debate now that took place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Senators
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards sparred over the economy.
This was the first question put on the issue of the economy, put by
CNN moderator Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS: Senator Clinton, good evening. The number one issue for
Americans of both parties is the economy, and today the news is simply
not good. Markets around the world are in a tailspin because of fears
of a US recession. So far this year, the Dow has lost nearly nine
percent. How much money would your stimulus plan put in the pockets of
the average South Carolinian?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Joe, I’m glad you started with the
economy, because that is the number one issue: what’s been happening
in the markets, what’s been happening with the home mortgage crisis,
$100-a-barrel oil, so many of the issues that are really at the
kitchen tables of Americans today and what they’re talking to me about.
We have to stimulate the economy. I began calling for some kind of
economic action plan back at the beginning of December. I have a
package of $110 billion. $70 billion of that would go toward dealing
with the mortgage crisis, which, unfortunately, I don’t think that
President Bush has really taken seriously enough.
I would have a moratorium on home foreclosures for ninety days to try
to help families work it out so that they don’t lose their homes.
We’re in danger of seeing millions of Americans become basically, you
know, homeless and losing the American dream.
I want to have an interest rate freeze for five years, because these
adjustable-rate mortgages, if they keep going up, the problem will
just get compounded. And we need more transparency in the market.
Then, I think we need to give people about $650, if they qualify,
which will be millions of people, to help pay their energy bills this winter.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: It is absolutely critical right now to give a
stimulus to the economy. And Senator Clinton mentioned tax rebates.
That wasn’t the original focus of her plan. I think recently she has
caught up with what I had originally said, which is we’ve got to get
taxes into the­tax cuts into the pockets of hard-working Americans
right away. And it is important for us to make sure that they are not
just going to the wealthy. They should be going to folks who are
making $75,000 a year or less, and they should be going to folks who
only pay payroll tax, but typically are not paying income tax. If we
do that, then not only can we stimulate the economy, those are the
folks who are most likely to spend money right away.
WOLF BLITZER: Do you agree with her, $650 is a good number for a tax rebate?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Well, I think that we are going to have to get some
immediate money. What I do is I say, for a typical family, $500 for a
tax rebate per family. But also, for senior citizens, get a supplement
to their Social Security check, because they get that every month. We
know exactly how to do it. And that would provide seniors all across
the country right away some money to help pay for their heating bills
and other expenses that they’ve got right now.
JOHN EDWARDS: Now, one difference between what I have proposed and
what my two colleagues have proposed is I have done something that not
only stimulates the economy, but creates long-term benefits:
investment in green infrastructure, which creates jobs. Instead of
just getting money out in the short term, this will actually create
jobs over the long term, create green infrastructure. Yes, we need to
do something about the mortgage crisis.
I want to mention one last thing. There is one other issue that was
mentioned in passing by the two of them, which is the issue of jobs.
And there is a difference between myself and my colleagues on this
issue of jobs, because they both supported the Peru trade deal. My
view is the Peru trade deal was similar to NAFTA. And this is crucial
to the state of South Carolina and­
WOLF BLITZER: But­
JOHN EDWARDS: No, no­crucial to the state of the South Carolina and
jobs in South Carolina. South Carolina has been devastated by NAFTA
and trade deals like NAFTA.
WOLF BLITZER: But I just want to be precise. What you’re proposing are
really long-term objectives. In terms of a short-term stimulus
package, you disagree with them on an immediate tax rebate.
JOHN EDWARDS: No, no. What I’m saying is, if we do what we should do
to green the economy, if we change our unemployment insurance laws,
modernize them to make them available to more people, to more
Americans, if we in fact get help to the states, which gets money
straight into the economy, and we deal with the mortgage crisis in a
serious way with a home rescue fund to provide transitional financing
for those people who are about to lose their homes, all those things
will stimulate the economy.
AMY GOODMAN: Former Senator Edwards, Senator Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton debating in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Robert Weissman,
your assessment? Did they satisfactorily come up with proposals that
will resolve this crisis?
ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, everything they say isn’t bad, but of course
the answer is no. And also, it’s interesting to hear the questioner,
Wolf Blitzer, impose the conventional wisdom on presidential
candidates. There is a need to take immediate action. And while I­my
guess­and I don’t claim to be an expert in this area­is that Bob’s
sense of how deep this problem is is right. There is a possibility
that a short-term fix will paper it over for a while. We shouldn’t
underestimate the adaptability of the global capitalist and financial
capitalist system. It’s proven itself quite resilient in a lot of ways.
A huge danger is that a short-term response­and I think these are
inadequate, but not trivial­will enable policymakers and the public to
look away from the much deeper problems that Bob is talking about and
that must be addressed, which include the excessive financialization
of the economy, not just the deregulation, but the capture of
political and economic power by Wall Street over the rest of the
economy, its major control over what we do.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me put that question to Bob, to Robert Kuttner,
editor of the American Prospect, author of Squandering of America. Do
you think their answers were satisfactory?
ROBERT KUTTNER: I think Edwards came closest, because, first of all,
what he was proposing was bolder and bigger, but also he was tying the
need for short-term medicine to the need for longer-term structural
change. And I liked the idea of putting money into green
infrastructure that would promote energy independence, promote a
cleaner economy and also create some good jobs. I think Rob Weissman
is right that the conventional wisdom, as enforced by the usual media
suspects, keeps this narrowly focused as a stimulus. And it’s really a
down payment on a longer-term recovery strategy. So Edwards comes closest.
And I think even Edwards doesn’t go far enough, because if you think
about 600 bucks a year, that’s twelve bucks a week, you know, in the
face of a ten percent increase in health insurance premiums and a ten
percent increase in gas at the pump and tuition costs. And now you’ve
got rising food prices because of all the mistaken use of food
production for energy and the assault on the environment. So you’re
going to have a kind of ’70s stagflation on top of everything else,
where you’ve got declining purchasing power and rising inflation. What
even the Democrats are proposing doesn’t begin to come to terms with
that. And they need to be saying so.
And finally, they need to hang this around the necks, not just of the
Republican Party, not just around George W. Bush, but around the whole
conservative ideology, because this economic mess is the gift that’s
going to keep on giving, unfortunately, for years to come, of
rightwing ideology put into practice in its most extreme form since
Reagan. And that message, I think, has to keep getting out. This did
not come out of thin air. This was not like a comet striking the
earth. This was the result of rightwing ideology and the political
power of Wall Street taking over the economy.
AMY GOODMAN: You’ve talked about a crash, like 1929. Is that what you see?
ROBERT KUTTNER: I think the Fed has some powers now that it didn’t
have in 1929. The Fed is determined to try and get out ahead of this.
Mercifully, all of the stabilizers of the New Deal were not repealed,
even though a lot of Republicans wanted to. We still have unemployment
comp, although it’s too weak. We still have Social Security; the
Republicans didn’t manage to privatize that. We still have Federal
Deposit Insurance, or we’d have runs on banks. So they didn’t repeal
the entire New Deal, thank God.
On the other hand, the similarities­the weakness in credit markets,
the assault on financial institutions, the hit that purchasing power
has taken, the speculation with other people’s money and these
pyramiding schemes­are all too familiar. So I can say flatly, this is
the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, and
we’ve only begun to see how bad it is.
AMY GOODMAN: What about specifically the role of the banks on Wall
Street? You had Jesse Jackson leading a march on Wall Street with the
subprime crimes, as he called them, the subprime crisis­
ROBERT KUTTNER: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: ­saying that they should give back their bonuses at
Christmas to deal with this crisis.
ROBERT KUTTNER: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you name the names of these companies and what they
should be doing right now, or what should be done to them? And again
the role of the opposition party here­we’re in an election year­they
could be making a statement or join with the ruling party, with the
Republicans, and support President Bush right now.
ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, you know, some people have this picture of
subprime lenders as these neighborhood predators. They were put in
business by Citigroup. They were put in business by Merrill Lynch.
They were put in business by the bluest chip names on Wall Street.
The prime enabler under Clinton of deregulation was Robert Rubin,
Secretary of the Treasury. And Rubin comes out of Goldman Sachs, then
he goes to work as one of Clinton’s top guys. He presides over the
repeal of the key piece of New Deal legislation designed to prevent
conflicts of interest, the Glass-Steagall Act. And then he lets a
short interval go by, and then he becomes chairman of the executive
committee of Citigroup, which was only able to become the kind of
conglomerate it did because of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.
Now, that’s a flat-out conflict of interest.
And so, what should the big banks do? Well, they should hang their
heads in shame. But they’re not going to become converts to our view
of the economy. We have to impose that on them as citizens through the
democratic process of legislation and regulation. We have to fight the
battle that we fought in the 1930s and onward and win it all over
again, because, otherwise, if we don’t, the power of speculative
finance is going to just wreck the economy for the rest of us.
AMY GOODMAN: And the stimulus package, who exactly does it help?
ROBERT KUTTNER: Well, it will put a little bit of money, hopefully,
into the pockets of ordinary people rather than business, which is
what Bush wants to use it for. I would like to see a much bigger
program of aid to the states, because, you know, the states are
required to have a balanced budget. So when a recession strikes, tax
receipts to the states go down. States have to cut back services at
exactly the moment when they should be increasing services. One way of
making sure that the money is going to get spent is to prevent the
states from cutting back services. You need to have a much stronger
program of unemployment insurance. Most Americans aren’t even covered
by unemployment insurance, because there are so many temp jobs and
contract jobs now. That would help, but it would be like taking
aspirin; it would be symptomatic relief; it will not cure the deeper
problems of the economy.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you, Robert Kuttner, for joining us, as
well as Robert Weissman. Robert Kuttner, author of The Squandering of
America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity.
Robert Weissman is editor of Multinational Monitor magazine in
Washington, D.C., and co-director of Essential Action.