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My liberal friends are nervous as “The Donald” begins his administration. Even Oprah interviews Michelle, cutely interrupted by a dignified Barack, while “liberal” media publishes Obama legacy-burnishing editorials to amplify the hand wringing about the contrast between him and his successor.

Trump Anxiety

Trump Anxiety Trumps Reality—Adam Eran

But as awful as he is, Trump is Obama’s legacy. He’s the product of generations of Democrats betraying FDR’s New Deal. I don’t doubt Trump is a charlatan and a con man. But the real difference is simply that Obama is a more sympathetic con man.

Sure, thanks to Obama’s too-small stimulus, unemployment is down from 2007-8, but most (60%) of the jobs since 2009 are temp work, worker compensation isn’t up, in fact the vast majority (90%) of the recovery has gone to the tippy-top of the income pyramid, which was already at stratospheric levels above ordinary people. None of the country’s income growth went to the bottom half of earners (since 1980!), says the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Far from following his mandate, Obama not only didn’t prosecute the war crimes of the Bush 43 administration, he promoted the torturers and prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined—even though he says his administration is “transparent.”

Obama didn’t prosecute Wall Street’s crimes, either—arguably the largest theft in human history. The criminals only paid cost-of-doing-business fines, a fraction of their ill-gotten gains, and settled with no admission of guilt, which makes the victims’ civil suits to recover what was stolen harder to prosecute. The promise to reduce loan balances so no one would be “under water,” and to pursue justice for foreclosure and loan fraud were ignored or executed so badly they never worked. As one pundit observes: “People lost their homes while bankers kept their bonuses and banks kept their profits.”

The previous biggest-ever financial scandal was the Savings & Loans bailout. The Reagan and Bush 41 administrations deregulated S&Ls, who got into trouble, but over the objections of those administrations, their regulators filed 30,000+ referrals for criminal prosecution, and prosecuted 1200+ cases with a 90% conviction rate. They got really big fish, too—Mike Milken and Charles Keating among them.

How many referrals for prosecution of the 70-times-larger subprime/derivatives scandal Obama inherited? Zero. That’s right. Zero.

To show how little they learned, California’s Democrats have now put Holder, a candidate for the crookedest AG in history, on retainer to defend against the onslaught of Trump’s not-yet-committed crimes.

Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, prosecuted roughly a dozen cases, all small fish. To show how little they learned, California’s Democrats have now put Holder, a candidate for the crookedest AG in history, on retainer to defend against the onslaught of Trump’s not-yet-committed crimes. One simply cannot make this stuff up.

Obama is also responsible for advocating what’s really “Romneycare,” a health care system authored by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and first implemented by his Republican presidential opponent. It is needlessly complicated, inserting profits for private insurers so it is more costly, and remains under attack today. Advocates of the simpler, cheaper, more effective single-payer solutions were denied even a hearing when the Senate was taking testimony. During Romneycare’s inception, the White House had the votes to pass the “public option”—a chance to buy into Medicare—and the White House, not the Republicans, killed it.

Obama’s policies could have delivered better healthcare, but didn’t. His policies could have saved the economy or the banks. (In 2010 Damon Silvers of the independent congressional oversight panel told Treasury officials: “We can either have a rational resolution to the foreclosure crisis, or we can preserve the capital structure of the banks. We can’t do both.”) Obama picked banks. Obama’s incompetence and corruption simply beggars description, yet we’re supposed to treat the current legacy praise as history’s judgment of his administration, which will certainly go down as one of the worst.

Obama is not alone, either. He is just the latest who betrayed Democrats’ traditional core constituents: labor and the middle class. A few examples:

  • LBJ betrayed democracy itself and showed Karl Rove how to steal an election with money in his 1948 Senate race.
  • In the 1970s, Edmund Muskie campaigned to promote austerity, effectively setting up the end for both the New Deal and the Great Society.
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  • Jimmy Carter showed Reagan how to deregulate (trucking and airlines), and threw labor under the bus. The big, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” federal asylums closed during his administration. Congress funded no alternative housing, and (surprise!) homelessness exploded. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it the most shameful episode in his life of public service.

Bill Clinton was especially toxic. He signed NAFTA, a treaty so misguided that almost immediately the U.S. had to lend Mexico $20 billion to deal with capital flight it provoked (and not incidentally, bail out some U.S. banks). NAFTA sold out American workers to the maquiladoras in Mexico, and not incidentally shipped lots of subsidized Iowa corn down south, putting little Mexican subsistence corn farmers out of business. Sure, those small farmers were only keeping the diversity of the corn genome alive, and corn is arguably the most important food crop in the world, but they weren’t making any money for Monsanto, darn it!

In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real income declined 34%, something not seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression. So you don’t have to wonder why a surge of economic refugees, er, I mean “illegal aliens” came north after NAFTA. Perhaps it’s helpful to think of them as “late Okies…”

Clinton also ended “welfare as we know it” throwing a half million adults off food stamps, transforming AFDC into TANF, a block grant that gives states an incentive to remove people from their welfare rolls and use the money elsewhere. Before Clinton signed this new arrangement, 76% of those needing public assistance got it; after, only 26% got it. So much for Democrats being the party of the poor.

According to Thomas Frank’s book Listen Liberal: What ever happened to the party of the people? Clinton even struck a deal with Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security during the dotcom bubble, but the Monica Lewinsky scandal distracted him from that bit of policy mischief. Imagine if not just your 401Ks, but Social Security itself had to suffer from the reduced investment returns of the Great Recession!

Clinton deregulated Wall Street, making the frauds leading to the Great Recession possible, and still brags about arranging a Federal budget surplus—a policy that made the Great Recession necessary. Why? National “debt” is our money. The money in your bank account may be your asset, but it’s the bank’s liability, or debt. When you write a check, you’re assigning part of the bank’s debt to the payee. Currency is simply checks drawn on the Federal Reserve made out to cash in fixed denominations (the Fed carries currency on its books as a liability). Remove currency from the economy in a fit of “Fiscal Responsibility™,” to reduce national “debt” and households suffer because they don’t have the dollars to repay their household debts. Lots of foreclosures and asset forfeitures occur because of these “Fiscally Responsible™” policies.

So reducing National “debt” is nothing like reducing household debt. Our nation is a sovereign currency creator, and can never run out of dollars. Not so households (or the Greeks). They are currency users, not currency creators.

Historically, the U.S. has reduced its national “debt” in a major way seven times. The Clinton surplus was the last one. The time before that occurred in 1929. Andy Jackson even paid the entire thing off in 1835.

What correlates 100% with these “debt” reductions? A Great Depression-sized hole in the economy, the worst of which was the Panic of 1837. That’s right, Clinton’s deregulation and “Fiscal Responsibility™” was what led to the Great Recession.

The Democrats don’t just betray the population with their national policies, either. Sacramento’s Democratic mayor still brags about producing a payday for plutocrats when he enabled a subsidy for the local pro basketball team, despite overwhelming public rejection of subsidised stadiums for the rich. I’d expect this from Republicans, after all 75% of George W. Bush’s networks comes from a stadium deal in Arlington TX.

Even “Democratic” congressman Ami Bera voted to fast track NAFTA-on-steroids, or the Trans Pacific Partnership, writing an editorial promoting it at least partly plagiarized from TPP lobbyists material. Bera also voted for the DARK act, which forbids local and state mandates to disclose GMOs in food. We can’t have people knowing what they eat! Monsanto’s profits might suffer!

Worst of all, Bera promotes “Fiscal Responsibility™” too. He sponsored a “budget workshop” from Pete Peterson’s Concord Coalition (think: “push-polling for austerity”). Billionaires love Great Depressions; they can pick up so many foreclosed assets on the cheap! It doesn’t matter that billionaire Peterson was Nixon’s Commerce secretary, Bera still runs as a Democrat! In name only, I say.

I’m sure Trump will make horrible mistakes, and the innocent will continue to suffer, but unless the Democrats stop their own betrayals, Trump is going to have a head start in whatever race he runs. Voters might even be excused from thinking “as crazy as The Donald looks, he can’t be worse than these Benedict-Arnold-Democrats!”

Don’t get me wrong. I have great sympathy for the anxious liberals, really. Nevertheless, our situation isn’t unprecedented. The Italians even elected a prostitute (“La Ciccolina”) to their parliament. Think of it as voting with the middle finger raised to the establishment. I doubt that’s the best way to make public policy, but until the Democrats stop blaming James Comey, the evil Russkies, or Halley’s comet for their losses, and take a look in the mirror, that’s what we’re likely to get.

Adam Eran