Sunday, March 08, 2009

Evan Bayh Is A Corporatist Class Warrior

Among my least favorite Democrats is Indiana Senator, Evan Bayh. Bayh wasted no time after President Obama’s election to announce his formation of a Blue Dog caucus in the Senate.

With Republicans out of power, elites are more likely to favor Bayh and his Blue Dog friends as enablers in their ongoing crusade against wage earners, small business entrepreneurs and the poor. While liberals are expending energy on Rush Limbaugh and the insipid Republican minority, corporatist predators have shifted their focus to greasing corporate appeasers such as Evan Bayh.

Accordingly, Bayh is causing mischief with respect to the Omnibus Appropriations Act. For the record, Wisconsin Senator, Russ Feingold, a politician I have long admired has also opposed legislation to keep the government running in protest to the omnibus process itself. I am of course disappointed in Feingold for playing games during an economic calamity as well as increasingly disenchanted with Senator Harry Reid’s hapless performance as Majority Leader.

Unlike Feingold however, Bayh is continuing a pattern of using appealing moderate language such as “fiscal discipline” to support a corporatist agenda. Ironically, his father, Birch Bayh was a proud and unapologetic liberal who defended the middle class when he served in the Senate. Alas, the apple has fallen far from the tree with the son.

Bayh was among eighteen Senate Democrats to betray working people and join Republicans in support of the Bankruptcy Abuse and Prevention Act in 2005. For the record, so did Vice President Joe Biden, while he served in the Senate. At least Biden though had the excuse of representing a state with workers disproportionately employed by the banks and credit card companies. Bayh had no such excuse in supporting arguably the worst piece of domestic legislation in a generation.

A review of the online Federal Election Commission database with respect to Bayh’s contributions is especially instructive. Below is a bullet summary listing some of the donations Bayh has received over the years:
  • Between 1997 and 2006, Bayh received eight contributions from the American Bankers Associations Political Action Committee (BANKPAC), totaling $20,000. No wonder Bayh supported bankruptcy legislation in 2005. It’s also noteworthy that Bayh received a $2,300 contribution from the Bank of America Corporation Federal PAC on January 8, 2008.
  • Between 1998 and 2004, Bayh received 12 contributions from the General Dynamics Voluntary Political Contribution Plan (GDVPCP) totaling $17,000. General Dynamics is a notorious war profiteer and Bayh voted in favor of our disastrous war in Iraq.
  • Between 1997 and 2005, Bayh received 16 contributions from the General Electric Political Action Committee (GEPAC) totaling $17,000. GE is not only a war profiteer but also the parent company of NBC.
  • Between 1999 and 2005, Bayh received five contributions from the Citigroup Inc. Political Action Committee-Federal (Citigroup PAC-Federal) totaling $12,000.
  • Between 2000 and 2006, Bayh received six contributions from the Capital One Financial Corp. Assoc. Political Fund, totaling $11,000. What’s in your wallet Senator Bayh?
  • Between 1997 and 2005, Bayh received eleven contributions from the AFLAC Incorporated Political Action Committee (AFLACPAC), totaling $11,000. I’ve always admired the AFLAC “duck” from their commercials. AFLAC also provides helpful supplementary coverage to your garden variety HMO plan. Nonetheless, real comprehensive healthcare reform would render AFLAC irrelevant. So once the battle for healthcare reform is joined, you can be sure their duck will not be quacking on your side.
  • Between 2001 and 2003, Bayh received five contributions from the Aetna Inc. Political Action Committee totaling $8,000. Aetna is an insidious component of the medical industry complex favoring profit over wellness and gouging Americans at every opportunity.
  • Between 1997 and 2005, Bayh received six contributions from the Action Fund of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. totaling $5,500. No more need to be said about that.
I’m not looking to merely attack Senator Bayh. To be sure, the online FEC database also references generous contributions to him that I find less objectionable such as the AFL-CIO. Also, my home state Senator Charles Schumer is no prize either. That said, Senator Bayh illustrates why liberals must remain engaged and nurture strong counterweights to corporate influences responsible for America’s current cascade of ruin.

One such counterweight is Accountability Now founded by Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald. Accountability Now is the netroots answer to special interest lobbyists that buy politicians like Bayh to support their pro-war/pro-corporatist agenda.

Already you’re hearing voices question whether President Obama’s is pushing too much at once on the “system.” These voices sound reasonable when they claim we should “fix the economy first” and worry about health-care, energy and education later. They're enablers of capitalism’s dark underbelly, hoping to run out the clock on President Obama’s popularity and continue business as usual.

We in the reality-based community know that America’s can’t be saved until we fix health-care, implement an effective environment friendly energy policy and strengthen public education from coast to coast. America’s salvation stems from a comprehensive overhaul of our priorities and how we divide a rapidly shrinking pie. That is why I am donating to Accountability Now and I hope readers here do the same.

Nothing concentrates a politician’s mind like the prospect of a primary challenge. Accountability Now is a vehicle to obtain leverage and pressure Democrats such as Evan Bayh that opposing progressive change will put their careers in jeopardy. Delivering power to the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008 was merely Phase One. Phase Two is transforming the Democratic Party as the people’s party rather than simply existing as the lesser corporatist evil in a two party duopoly.

This also happens to be the best way to support President Barack Obama. And we must not fail in that endeavor. At stake is nothing less than peace and prosperity.

6 comments:

Gary S in Indianapolis said...

I am always happy to see liberal bloggers putting the word out on Indiana's own pro-war, pro-warrantless wiretapping, pro-financial services, health insurance and pharmaceuticals industries, and anti-working and middle class Senator Evan Bayh. Even Rachel Maddow took notice last night of Bayh's stated intent to reign in government spending (during a recession!) while putting the brakes to President Obama's energy and health care reform initiatives. If anything, your March 8 post understates the danger Bayh poses to the progressive agenda and the extent to which he both benefits from and supports corporatist interests. Opensecrets.org lists Bayh's top contributors during his last election cycle (2004), and it is a who's who of failed/discredited Wall Street behemoths (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, AIG, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup) and other well-heeled special interests (Eli Lilly, Anthem Inc--later merged with Wellpoint). It should also be noted, his wife Susan worked as an attorney for Eli Lilly prior to 1994, and has served as a director for Anthem/Wellpoint (and other companies) in recent years. Bayh's support of the so-called Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 was a clear betrayal of the middle class in favor of his big bank buddies. But he has also been a strong supporter of financial deregulation (as have many "Clintonista" democrats) and voted for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, thus helping to put the nation on the path to the current economic meltdown. Even Alan Greenspan (laissez-faire proponent-in-chief) has expressed some regret for his opposition to stricter regulation during his tenure as Fed chairman), but I have yet to hear or read about Senator Bayh uttering even a single mea culpa for the disastrous policies he supported.

Anonymous said...

I am very happy to have this nice blog to pass out amongst the Indiana populist crowd. It is very difficult being in Indiana.

No I am telling you - You have no idea, because many of the Democrats are just as corrupt as the Republicans. I have lived here my entire live and it is very hard to take it anymore - It's the G_D D__Ned Misssisspi of the North!

Gary S in Indianapolis said...

Correction: I erred earlier in alleging Senator Bayh voted for repeal of Glass-Steagall (which was the intent of the infamous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999). In fact, he was one of ninety Senators from both parties voting in favor of the Conference Report on Nov 4, 1999; however, Senator Bayh had voted against the bill itself six months earlier. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina was the only Democrat who voted in favor of Gramm-Leach-Bliley in May 1999, but the Republican majority at that time was able to pass it by a vote of 54-44. For more on the distinction between the May and November votes, see the explanation at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/9/16/203823/008/1013/601053. I regret the error: although President Clinton ultimately signed Gramm-Leach-Bliley into law, it appears NONE of the Democrats who are still in the Senate today can be blamed for this colossal fraud.

Robert Ellman said...

Hi Gary S -

Thanks for following up and correcting the record. No worries, we all make mistakes sometimes. And thanks for sharing the interesting factoids here.

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