Are Mitt and Newt Channeling their Inner Progressives?

newt mitt flip flopTwo important reforms are stopping the revolving door between Washington and the nation’s financial giants, and preventing financiers from flipping companies(making short-term profits by borrowing big sums to buy them, then squeezing payrolls and firing employees, and reselling the stripped-down companies at a profit — unless the debt-laden firms fall into bankruptcy first).

Remarkably, the frontrunners for the Republican nomination for president seem to agree. At least, that’s the clear implication from what they’ve said today.

During a morning appearance on Fox News, Mitt Romney said Newt Gingrich should return the $1.6 million in payments he received from mortgage financial giant Freddy Mac.

Gingrich has tried to defend himself by saying Freddy paid him as a “historian,” but anyone with half a brain knows Freddy wasn’t interested in history. It coughed up the money because they wanted Newt to influence his former House colleagues, so they wouldn’t take steps to reduce Freddy’s financial risk or reach.

In effect, Romney is taking a swipe not only at Gingrich but at the well-oiled revolving door linking financial giants to former congressional leaders, Treasury officials, and their staffs. That revolving door is one of the reasons the Street and its auxiliaries (like Fannie and Freddie) took the risks that caused the financial crisis, and have still never paid the price.

robert reichWhat’s Gingrich’s response? He said this morning ”if Governor Romney would like to give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain than I would be glad to then listen to him.”

Newt is criticizing not only Romney but also the pump and dump practices of Wall Street that have caused hundreds of thousands of Americans to lose their jobs, put countless companies in jeopardy, and earned a fortune for private-equity managers and others.

If this goes on much longer, the Mitt and Newt Show will get a slot on MSNBC.

Published by the LA Progressive on December 12, 2011
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written eleven books, including The Work of Nations, which has been translated into 22 languages; the best-sellers The Future of Success and Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, Supercapitalism. His articles have appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reich is co-founding editor of The American Prospect magazine.

Reich has been a member of the faculties of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and of Brandeis University. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College, his M.A. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and his J.D. from Yale Law School.