December 16, 2014
Dear Santa, Could You Bring My Country A Conscience This Year?
It is me- yeah I know I haven’t written in a while. As a matter of fact, I haven’t written to you in about fifty years. However, this year, Santa, I want something special, so I thought I would write you. This year Santa, I would you to bring my country a conscience.
Santa, I have watched over the past few years this country has changed into a cold, uncaring society. The spending bill that was just passed by Congress and the Senate is proof of this, Santa. Seems our elected officials wanted to play Scrooge for the working class this year, Santa, while piling gifts up for their wealthy benefactors.
This spending bill removes provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act that prevents big banks from betting on bad loans, with the tax payers picking up the tab. The 2008 financial meltdown was largely due to large banks buying up bad loans and then expecting the government to buy out their mistakes. Dodd-Frank required banks to push these risky loans out to a separate company that wasn’t covered by the FDIC – so American taxpayers wouldn’t be on the hook for this risk. The spending bill removes this requirement, once again allowing the Wall Street bankers to play high risk poker with our money. Senator Elizabeth Warren summed it up by saying, “The House is about to vote on a budget deal, a deal negotiated behind closed doors that slips in a provision that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system.” Santa, the same folks who scream about the federal deficit now want to give the big banks the ability to take huge risk on these credit swaps, but then not be responsible for those risks.
Once these banks take these gambles, it will be the American tax payer who takes the risk, Santa, because the government will have to cover any losses. It is gambling with someone else’s money--ours. As Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi says “the same old Republican formula: privatize the gain, nationalize the risk. You succeed, it’s in your pocket. You fail, the taxpayer pays the bill.”
Santa, while the Republicans and a few Democrats were busy padding the pockets of the Wall Street raiders, they also took time to pick the pockets of regular Americans. They cut funding to the Environmental Protection Agency by 21%, forcing the agency to cut positions of the people who insure we have safe drinking water and clean air to breathe. They also cut funding to the IRS and banned them from investigating suspicious non-profits that are nothing but a front for political operatives.
Another naughty thing the spending bill does, Santa, is change a four year old law that protects the pensions of retirees who draw a pension from a multi-employer pension plan. These plans are group plans put together by multiple employers in like-minded businesses such as trucking and supermarkets. For the first time, retirees already drawing a pension from one of these plans could see their monthly payments cut. Last week 1300 employers in these businesses sent letters to Congress urging inclusion of this poison pill in the spending bill, most of whom have solvent plans. However, it is easy to see these businesses want to use this as a way to cut the retirement promised to workers who fulfilled their obligations to their companies and now will see their employers given the ability to weasel out of their obligation.
Another program that sees a cut is the Women, Infants and Children program that provides food aid to low-income families. In 2015 there will be $93 million cut from the program. Pell grants for low income students to attend college was also cut by $33 million dollars. While the hungry and students will see cuts, there was one million dollars set aside to reimburse wealthy ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.
So Santa, as you can see, the Republicans and a few Democrats have been very busy taking care of the rich at the expense of the working class and poor. One final insult in the spending bill is a provision that allows even GREATER contributions from wealthy donors to politicians.
I hope, Santa, you understand when I ask for this Christmas; you bring my country a conscience--one that will make us all question the acts of some that accommodate the desires of the few, at the expense of the many. For ages you have delivered gifts based on “the ability to be good.” Santa as you can see there are few good in Washington, D.C. At this time of giving and grace, how can we have faith in a group that plays Robin Hood in reverse and takes from the poor and gives to the rich? I ask for this gift Old Saint Nick, not for me – but for my children and grandchildren. As I stand here entering the twilight of my time, I fear for the future and what it holds for the poor and working class. Santa, if you could return the conscience of my fellow citizens, I promise to never ask you for anything again. Be advised Santa, if you grant my wish you will be attacked by the Tea Party, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the Koch Brothers, Glen Beck, Sara Palin, and the many others who are employed by the rich and powerful. But, Santa, you have withstood the perils of these type of people before and your legend ever grows.
This Christmas, Santa, please grant me this one wish--this conscience for my Country and my people--and together we can work to make a better world, not just on Christmas Day, but every day the rest of the year.
Thanks in advance, Santa,
UAW Region 8 webmaster and LUCA Advisory Council Chair