By Brent Budowsky - 07/06/09 06:30 PM EDT
During the Fourth of July recess, decorated war heroes were honored throughout the land — while some banks celebrated by heaping more credit card rate hikes on hard-hit Americans in their latest contribution to joblessness in America.
Something is very wrong when almost six months into the term of a president who predicted unemployment would peak at 8 percent the jobless rate reaches 9.5 percent, another 467,000 join the jobless and both parties agree a jobless recovery is acceptable.
The “party of no” has neither leaders nor programs nor ideas except hoping the president fails and offering more of the failures of the past.
What our leaders, including the president, have lost is the notion of rallying the nation to a shared cause.
It is economically wrong and obscene that with another half-million jobless we read headlines such as: “Banks raise credit card rates and fees for millions of customers” and “huge pay packages are back on Wall Street.”
It is wrong that collapsing states throw the kids that will pay for our deficit out of summer school, while our Treasury secretary sells out taxpayers again, with heavily discounted sales of taxpayer warrants back to banks that still refuse to lend.
Even The Washington Post attempts a pay-for-access scheme designed to profit by bringing together special interests and government, in what would have been secret dinner parties of power and privilege excluding subscribers and taxpayers, in a sign of times that have not changed.
Four hundred and sixty-seven thousand new jobless and I think of John Adams in the play 1776: “Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?”
Four hundred and sixty-seven thousand new jobless and on their behalf I say: When we give trillions of dollars to banks that refuse to lend, raise interest rates, increase fees, cut credit lines, increase foreclosures, pay back the government to protect its own pay and meet capital ratios by squeezing their consumer and small-business customers, this becomes certain:
Four hundred and sixty-seven thousand more jobless.
One need not be Junius P. Morgan to know: When a customer is fighting for her economic life and her bank raises her rate to 32 percent; when a customer is fighting to stay afloat in a job-losing economy and his bank dumps new fees on him; when a small business with a high credit rating cannot get business loans from the bank, must rely on credit, but has its credit slashed by banks it pays taxes to save, this becomes certain:
Four hundred and sixty-seven thousand more jobless. More bankruptcies. More foreclosures.
It is time to fight for a foreclosure freeze, a credit card rate freeze, more urgent jobs spending now and less later, bigger tax relief for buying new homes, a true public health option that leaves no American in the cold and a call to patriotism to make and buy well-made, fuel-efficient American cars.
For 467,000 new reasons, it is time for Democrats to do what Democrats were elected to do.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.