When I heard that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress last week that it was too soon for the Fed to end its extraordinary stimulus programs, I did a double take.
“What stimulus programs?” I thought. Where are the jobs programs? Where are the “extraordinary” social services that will enable those still suffering from the effects of the Great Recession to buy more and stimulate the economy?
What escaped my attention for a moment was the fact that these words were uttered by an official steeped in the jargon of high finance and political policy — where words like “stimulus” are treated to Orwellian twists, their meaning transformed into something very different from what most people understand them to mean.
What Bernanke meant by “stimulus” was not programs that economically strengthen the 99%. He was referring to policies that keep interest rates low, including what is known as Quantitative Easing QE … //
The truth is the corporate political leadership of this country has no credible answers for reversing the economic crisis, because they continue to sustain their backers’ power and the profits that created this mess. Their logic: better to continue to fatten their pockets at the expense of all than to pursue policies which address the nation’s fundamental economic problems and demand that the rich and corporations pay their fair share.
Because QE prints money out of nothing, it encourages both inflation and the creation of massive bubbles in the economy similar to those that led to the current economic crisis. For Bernanke and his supporters, the risks posed by these policies are necessary dangers that must be faced to satisfy the appetites of Wall Street and big business. “Stimulus” for these dominating special interests has, in practice, meant continued high unemployment, declining wages and worker rights, as well as greater economic instability in the future for everyone else.
There are measures that can be taken to begin to reverse the course of America’s broken economy. A massive federal jobs program to create full employment and raise wages is the stimulus that is needed, and the money is out there to do it. Currently deductions, credits and other tax breaks flow disproportionately to the highest income Americans. If we closed these, there would be nearly $1.1 trillion of revenue available.
In addition, not just corporate but bank tax rates should be sharply increased to pay for the economic mess that those financial institutions created. Putting those funds towards job creation, education and establishing universal healthcare would lift up the well-being and standard of living for all working class communities.
Putting such measures at center stage of the political dialogue requires more than good arguments. Fixing an economy is not like repairing a car engine where the problem can be diagnosed and quickly gotten to work on. It involves a contest of power between competing interests, that is, a struggle between the forces aligned with Labor and those allied with the corporations and banks.
We need real stimulus, not the insane schemes of the Fed. To get what we need, unity must be forged in the streets, building a social force independent of both major parties that will not compromise our needs to the interests of Wall Street.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations AFL–CIO is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of fifty-six national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers (as of June 2008, the most recent official statistic) …;