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June 07, 2009

Is Rahm Emanuel Demanding That Walt Minnick, Bobby Bright, and Parker Griffith Commit Political Suicide?

Posted in: Rahm Emanuel

Walt Minnick has the most reactionary voting record of any of the Democratic freshmen elected last November. He’s voted more frequently with the GOP than with the Democrats and the leadership just lets him slide because his district is so hopelessly red– the home of the Aryan Nations and America’s biggest concentration of neo-Nazis and domestic terrorists (Obama barely managed a third of the vote last November). Minnick has been very careful to tow a very right-wing line when it comes to voting, so right-wing in fact that the GOP’s #1 recruitment target, state Treasurer Ron Crane, has just announced he won’t challenge him. The district likes Minnick; he’s proven that despite the Democratic Party affiliation, he’s just like they are– against anything remotely progressive and very much a part of what author Charles Pierce has dubbed Idiot America.

But all Minnick’s hard working in proving that he isn’t really a Democrat could come crashing down next week if Rahm Emanuel forces him to vote for the 2009 Supplemental Budget. True, continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are popular in ID-01 and the rest of Idiot America and, in fact, Minnick already voted "yes" on May 14th, along with 200 Democrats and all but 9 rebellious Republicans (like Ron Paul). The vote was in sync with his constituents, just as the yes votes from the two reactionary Democratic freshmen from Alabama, Bobby Bright and Parker Griffith– politically very much the same as Minnick– were also in sync with their constituents’ Hate Talk radio-fueled wishes.

But once Emanuel– in effect the Karl Rove of the current administration– saw the huge margin by which the Supplemental passed (368-60), he decided to lard it up with something the virtually no Americans who aren’t getting million dollar campaign contributions from the banksters would ever countenance. The Senate sent the bill back to the House with an IMF amendment attached, an amendment that guarantees $108 billion in taxpayer money– in this economy when states from California to Alabama are cutting back on basic and crucial services– to bail out European banks. Any Blue Dog– supposedly fiscally responsible Democrats– who votes for this garbage legislation will deserve to be beaten next year. According to John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the 168 Republicans who voted for the Supplemental on May 14 have now decided to oppose it.

Their announced opposition is what caused Emanuel’s congressional henchman, Steny Hoyer, to pull the bill off the floor Friday and postpone the vote. Suddenly Emanuel and the rest of the Bankster Bailout Bunch realized that with progressive Democrats against the Supplemental because of the wars, the GOP opposition would kill it. So Emanuel and the BBB are cracking the whip, demanding Democrats toe the line– offering bribes and threats. Does Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS) really want that $100,000 earmark for the West Point Historic Post Office in West Point, Mississippi? If he votes "no" on the European bank bailout his $100 K may get lost in the shuffle. We’re hearing reports that Emanuel is behaving like a mad dog again.

And, worse yet, the waste of taxpayer money is unlikey to even do any good– and could actually make the recession worse. Economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, has made the point that American taxpayers have been getting increasingly restive about these mega-bailouts ever since the Bush Regime rewarded incompetence and self indulgence from the too-big-to-fail banks last September with a $700 billion dollar blank check. And now Obama wants to put another $108 billion down that sink hole?

What is all this money for?… It seems that Europe’s banks have gotten into a mess in their own neighborhood that is comparable to the “troubled assets” that our financial institutions accumulated in the course of the housing bubble– which they also shared. These banks had a fit of irrational exuberance in Central and Eastern Europe in recent years, with the result that they now have at least $1.4 trillion– and that is a conservative estimate– in exposure there to loans that are certain to have a very high default rate.

The Obama administration has argued that the money is necessary to help provide a global stimulus, and to help poor people in poor countries. But the facts do not support this claim. Almost all of the agreements that the IMF has concluded since the global economic crisis began have included the opposite of stimulus programs: for example spending cuts or interest rate increases. The amount of money that will help poor countries is tiny. And it is difficult to see why the IMF would need hundreds of billions of dollars to help governments with balance of payments support: for sixteen Standby Arrangements negotiated since the crisis intensified last year, the total has been less than $46 billion.

On the other hand, European banks are facing potential losses in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Some, like France’s Societe Generale, have already gotten billions of dollars from the TARP bailout. If the purpose of adding these vast sums to the IMF’s coffers is to bail out these banks, then the taxpayers of the United States (and other countries who are being asked to contribute) ought to know about it.

George Miller and Barney Frank, two members of the Democratic leadership, have already been reeled back in and are going to vote "yes." On the other hand, Jim Moran and several other Democrats who originally backed the Supplemental have no intention of voting for another $100 billion bankster bailout. In the original vote, 3 Blue Dogs joined the progressives in voting "no," Jim Cooper (TN), Mike Michaud (ME) and Mike Thompson (CA). This week Emanuel will use all the… skill he possesses– does Jan Schakowsky really want to run for the U.S. Senate? for example– in forcing the "no" votes to switch to "yes" and in holding the "yes" votes. It’s hard to imagine that hard core anti-bailout Blue Dogs like Minnick, Bright, and Griffith will ever put themselves in such grave jeopardy by voting for something so hated in their districts. Other conservative Democrats who will be pilloried by Republicans if they vote for the bailout include Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Gabby Giffords (AZ), Glenn Nye (VA), Frank Kratovil (MD), Suzanne Kosmas (FL), Kathleen Dahlkemper (PA), Travis Childers (MS), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Jason Altmire (PA), Heath Shuler (NC), Chris Carney (PA), Dan Boren (OK), Gene Taylor (MS), Zack Space (OH), Bill Foster (IL), Mike McIntyre (NC), Charlie Melancon (LA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Melissa Bean (IL), Allen Boyd (FL), John Barrow (GA), Baron Hill (IN), and Jim Marshall (GA).

The Firedoglake action tool includes phone numbers of Congressmen who are keeping track of what their constituents have to say about the issues in this Frankenstein bill. If your member isn’t on the list, just call 202-224-3121 and tell them where you live and they’ll connect you with your Representative. Monday and Tuesday are the days this battle can be won.


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