Gilded Age Democrats

Now, it is time in this town for some truth-telling. The greatest single threat to President Barack Obama’s agenda is from what I call the Gilded Age wing of the Democratic Party, a minority of operatives and their allies in Congress who join most Republicans in obstructing change.

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This is a Gilded Age version of the military-industrial complex. Certain Democratic operatives with long histories of working for famous liberals sell their reputations to powerful and wealthy forces working against the president.

These Gilded Age Democratic operatives are lawyers, lobbyists, public-relations flacks and consultants who are skilled at avoiding or delaying disclosure of their agenda. They work hand in glove with a small but powerful group of allies in the House and Senate on behalf of insurers, banks, polluters, questionable foreign governments and others opposing the Obama agenda.

You read their words in the paper or see their faces on television without full disclosure, opposing change with lines such as “We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” which really means loopholes for their clients.

These Gilded Age Democrats are a small minority with huge power, usually in the Senate, to persuade a handful of Democrats to join obstruction to blockade the majority for change. For them the election of Obama was not a historic moment to transform America but a golden moment to make their fortunes while the getting is good.

They join their handful of Democratic allies in Congress on sailing trips, at Super Bowls and for their next industry fundraising breakfast.

Their champion is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a man of the banks who has been part of virtually every major blunder that led to our financial crisis today. Now Geithner has defeated the financial giant of our times, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who believes banks too big to fail should not be made bigger by taxpayer-financed bailouts, but should be made smaller based on the lessons of financial history.

I strongly disagree with liberals who criticize Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is fighting for the public option. They should be running ads exposing Gilded Age Democratic operatives who oppose it.

I disagree with Secretary Geithner, who parrots the policies of his Republican predecessor and fights for banks too big to fail becoming bigger through mergers subsidized by taxpayer money.

I disagree with those who make the false charge of socialism. My economic mentor was former Sen. and Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen. I will debate any Gilded Age Democrat or Stone Age Republican any time, any place.

Price-fixing, collusion, corruption, insider trading, rip-offs, scandals, monopoly, oligopoly and wild speculation insured by taxpayer bailouts are the real enemies of capitalism, patriotism and freedom.

The small but powerful wing of Gilded Age Democrats has far too much power. The abuses must end. The majority should rule.

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 brentbbi@webtv.net.