The federal bank bailout masterminded by President George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ignited the grassroots anger that created the Tea Party. But the populist group betrayed its roots when it went corporate in 2009 after the friendly takeover by Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers. The Tea Party sellout may be the reason why the group’s negative ratings have doubled in national polls in the last year.
The Tea Party had every right to be angry in the fall of 2008. The finance industry spent $64 million lobbying Washington in 2008, and the bankers and hedge fund managers got a great return on their investment. The feds came up with $770 billion dollars to bail out the bankers and billionaires who created the economic meltdown that led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and then their homes.
Americans were justifiability horrified at the single biggest federal welfare payment of all time. Not only did the feds bailout out Wall Street but they failed to do anything to help the millions of Americans who lost everything they had because of corporate wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Citibank used $15 million of their fed bailout bucks to buy the naming rights to the new stadium built for the New York Mets.
National surveys show that large majorities of Americans favor ending federal tax freebies for bankers, billionaires, hedge fund managers, and corporate jet setters. The public also wants to end tax giveaways for the oil companies and the Benedict Arnold corporations that send American jobs overseas. But few people in Washington listen, the Tea Party punted, and thousands of courageous Americans are taking to the streets.
To add fuel to the fire, the Bank of America announced this week that it would charge consumers $5 a month to use their own debit cards. After the Tea Party became a subsidiary of corporate America, it was just a matter of time until somebody rushed into the vacuum to channel the hostility that exists towards big business.