Our media have treated us to endless replays of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama attacking one another's corporate ties. Obama said Clinton had been a corporate lawyer on the board of Wal-Mart, while Clinton countered that Obama did favors for a slumlord who contributed to his political campaign. But there's more to this than charges and counter-charges and a desperate race for the White House. It is apparent that both of these candidates are "corporate Democrats" with substantial ties to the business community. But haven't we been told by the media that the Republicans are the party of Big Business?
In fact, a review of the public record for the 2008 election cycle shows that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in the top five of all politicians, on the presidential and congressional levels, in receiving financial contributions from the controversial, mysterious and secretive hedge fund industry. Overall, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that hedge funds prefer Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 79-21 percent. Democrats have received $4.2 million and Republicans $1.1 million from hedge funds. What the hedge fund operators want from the politicians is what all of us desireÂ¯less taxation, regulation and oversight. But they have the money to get their way, even though they can hold the fate of entire nations and their economies in their hands.
It is significant that one of the richest men in the world, billionaire George Soros, is a hedge fund operator and convicted inside trader who pours millions of dollars into the Democratic Party, its front groups and candidates. He has put money into the coffers of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He will be able to pull the strings if either is elected president.
The other Democratic candidate, John Edwards, has not received money from Soros but actually worked for a hedge fund before he started going around the country blasting special interests. He is number five on the list of receiving hedge fund money.
One hedge fund pouring large amounts of money into Hillary Clinton's political activities hired her daughter Chelsea. It is no surprise that Senator Clinton has balked at supporting a congressional proposal to tax hedge funds.
Since my January 16 column, Soros Bets on U.S. Economic Collapse, Soros has been in the news at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Reporters have been anxious to interview him, as if he is some kind of disinterested observer of the political scene. But he has a vested interest in seeing the U.S. economy go down. A story from four years ago explained how Soros even then was selling dollars and propping up the European currency, the Euro.
Coming across as concerned about the meltdown, the Associated Press is quoting Soros as calling for "a massive injection of regulation and oversight of financial markets whose excessive freedoms" have led to the current financial crisis. The AP reported from Davos that Soros is saying that "Authorities ought to go in and examine the books" of financial institutions involved in the subprime mortgage scandal. What about Soros' books? What about the books of the secretive hedge funds that are manipulating currencies and economies and pouring millions of dollars into the political campaigns?
It is estimated that assets under management by hedge funds are approaching $2 trillion. But nobody knows for sure. The Securities and Exchange Commission currently oversees and regulates mutual funds and many investment advisers, but it does not regulate hedge funds.
Soros is clever at diverting attention away from his financial and political manipulations. Through his so-called Open Society Institute, he financed a "Global Integrity Project" which was supposed to track corruption, openness and accountability in the U.S. and other countries. Yet, Soros himself was accused of various election law violations in 2004 by the conservative National Legal & Policy Center, which also documented how Soros groups have received millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money. Three years later, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) still has not ruled on the complaint against Soros.
Soros seems to be above the law and above media scrutiny.
As I noted in a recent column, the Wall Street Journal reported that hedge fund operator John Paulson got a visit from Soros after Paulson had made about $4 billion betting on a housing market collapse. Soros wanted to know how he had done it. But Soros wouldn't talk to the Journal about his meeting with Paulson. Why? How does he get away with a no-comment?
Soros plays it smart in many ways. He pours money into journalism organizations, including the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and Investigative Reporters & Editors, thereby guaranteeing that they won't investigate how and where he gets his money.
Rather than focus attention on those who created and profited from an $8 trillion housing bubble, there has been a terrible tendency by some in the media, including conservative writers and bloggers, to blame average Americans for taking out loans they couldn't repay. This analysis ignores how the lenders made risky loans they knew couldn't be repaid. Those who have bought a home know that you aren't supposed to get a mortgage loan, even of the subprime variety, unless the "experts" judge through a detailed analysis of your assets and income that you were able to pay if the interest rates went up. In a real sense, many were tricked into getting loans they couldn't handle. This was predatory lending. As a result, an estimated 3.5 million homeowners could default on their mortgages in the next 2 1/2 years.
The companies that made or assumed those loans received top credit ratings from firms such as Moody's. Its stock is now in the $30 range, compared to a 52-week high of $76. You know the U.S. is in trouble when the stock price of the firm that is supposed to rate other firms for credit-worthiness and financial stability is in sharp decline.
Now, Merrill Lynch is forecasting nationwide U.S. home prices could decline 25-30 percent over the next three years. This is a terrible blow to the middle class, who were counting on their homes being a good investment for the future. Declining house prices could cost people who hold on to their homes literally trillions of dollars.
To make matters worse, this scandal is leading to another problemÂ¯the invasion of the U.S. by the so-called "sovereign wealth funds," which are foreign government-controlled. Some of them in the news are based in China and various Arab states. They are investing tens of billions of dollars in the Wall Street firms that are writing off their risky subprime mortgages.
So the firms responsible for the problem get financial bailouts from abroad, America loses more of its sovereignty, perhaps its currency, and Americans lose their shirts and their homes.
We are witnessing, writes Lou Dobbs in his new book, Independents Day, the erosion of our rights "as global economic integration creates a global interdependence that threatens to overwhelm our national identity." Dobbs takes direct aim at the "internationalists" who "seek the demise of national sovereignty around the world, the end of borders, and an integration of commerce and economies..."
His book, released last November, cited the falling dollar and the rise of the Euro and predicted "there is sufficient reason to expect that the economy may be a central issue in the 2008 election..." He was right on the mark.
If the Republican presidential candidates don't understand the growing appeal of his message, then they will lose in November to the Soros-backed corporate Democrats.