On January 17, 1961, in his farewell speech as president, Dwight D. Eisenhower sounded a warning about a “military-industrial complex” in America. He urged Americans that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex…. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist … Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
Today, not only is there a military-industrial complex, there is another even more clear and present danger — the government-financial complex.
Documents released through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request reveal that the 2008 TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) — better known as the “too big to fail” Wall Street bailout — was actually 10 times the amount we were told, totalling $7.7 trillion.
Below are excerpts of Les Leopold’s article for AlterNet, “Bloomberg Unearths Wall Street’s Secret Government,” republished on MINA, Dec. 2, 2011:
We now have concrete evidence that Wall Street and Washington are running a secret government far removed from the democratic process. Through a freedom of information request by Bloomberg News, the public now has access to over 29,000 pages of Fed documents and 21,000 additional Fed transactions that were deliberately hidden, and for good reason. (See here and here .)
These documents show how top government officials willfully concealed from Congress and the public the true extent of the 2008-’09 bailouts that enriched the few and enhanced the interests of giant Wall Streets firms. Here’s what we now know:
- The secret Wall Street bailouts totaled $7.77 trillion, 10 times more than the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) passed by Congress in 2008.
- Knowledge of the secret bailout funds was not shared with Congress even while it was drafting and debating legislation to break up the big banks.
- The secret funding, provided at below-market rates, gave Wall Street banks an additional $13 billion in profits. (That’s enough money to hire more than 325,000 entry level teachers.)
- The secret loans financed bank mergers so that the largest banks could grow even larger. The money also allowed banks to step up their lobbying efforts.
- While Henry Paulson (Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury) was informing Congress and the public that only minor reforms were needed to protect Fannie and Freddie from collapse, he met secretly with leading Wall Street hedge fund managers — among them his former colleagues at Goldman Sachs — to alert them that he was about to nationalize the giant mortgage companies – a move that would eradicate nearly all the stock value of the companies. This information was enormously valuable because it allowed these hedge funds to short Fannie and Freddie and thereby make a fortune.
- While Timothy Geithner [Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury] was head of the NY Federal Reserve, he argued against legislative efforts by Senator Ted Kaufman, D-Delaware, to limit the size of banks because the issue was “too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions,” Kaufman recalls. Meanwhile, Geithner was fully aware of the enormous secret loans while Senator Kaufman was kept in the dark. Barney Frank, who was authoring key bank reform legislation was also not informed of the secret loans. No one in Congress was told.
All of which led Leopold to conclude:
“Usually, I am not an alarmist. In fact, I often argue against facile conspiracy theories. I want to believe that our democracy still has promise. But, the Wall Street-induced crash and the government’s response to it has me very worried. The Bloomberg News revelations suggest that Wall Street’s secret government has enormous disdain for what remains of our democracy. The financial elites obviously believe that Congress cannot be trusted to do the right thing even when it is bought and paid for by the very banks it supposedly regulates. As for the rest of us? We’re just a financially illiterate mass to be manipulated through the mass media. Our minds too can be bought and sold through careful marketing.
This financial arrogance and corruption is enormously corrosive to our democratic values. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, no longer trust their government. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, no longer vote. Already, many Americans, and for good reason, believe that democracy as we know it is a sham. Wall Street couldn’t have written a better script to maintain its domination.”
This Government-Financial Complex continues to this day, as seen in the
conflicts-of-interest corrupt relations of the federal oversight agency and the now-bankrupt MF Global.
Lastly, I have a message to the Occupy Wall Street movement:
This Government-Financial Complex is not capitalism because government is interfering with and warping the free market. This collusion between the government and big business is classic Fascism — the corporatist state. Your protests are misplaced. You should be protesting before the White House.