May 18, 2012
By Joel Moskowitz
This past week’s announcement that JP Morgan-Chase lost $2 billion in a faulty hedging strategy surprised no one. As is typical when this happens, an executive at the world’s largest bank fell on her sword and resigned and then the lobbyists and bank mouthpieces went to work explaining how this loss was not prevented by increased financial regulation, thus we should not use this incident to call for more regulation but for less.
Alternatively, President Obama’s declaration that he now supports gay marriage, an evolving position, while welcome by his base is seen as a desperate, transparent move to reenergize those who so enthusiastically supported him in 2008 but whom for the most part he has disappointed since. After three and a half years of trying to govern like Bill Clinton, Obama finally figured out he needs be the guy he sold us on in the last election.
Both Republicans and Democrats have done an equally stellar job at turning off everyone. No one really believes that the political class is interested in anything else but holding onto their positions of power. Republicans will have you believe that letting the Bush tax cuts, one of the largest transferences of wealth in history — expire, is a tax increase. The Democrats who run the Senate will have you think that they have an alternative to the Republican proposed budget, but they have yet to put one forward. In the meantime, we all know they lie and that for most of us things have not gotten better and it is 100 percent thanks to the politicians in Washington.
Obama supporters feel let down, not one indictment by the Justice Department for the massive fraud perpetrated by the banks in the lead up to the financial crisis. Republican voters, unenthusiastic about their presidential candidate, have let the Tea baggers take over the rest of the party perhaps ending their dream of winning back the Senate and perhaps even risking the majority they have in the house.
My sense is that a chastened Obama, pushed to the left in his reelection quest, will appeal more to the 99 percent than Romney. Romney will wink his eyes at moderates to remind them that he was, after all, Governor of Massachusetts, not Texas, but most feel that he has been hogtied by an evermore extreme rightwing party. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the upcoming election is how uninterested most people are in it. This apathy is borne out by the cynicism generated by the gridlock in the nation’s capital, a traffic jam not likely to be untangled by the next election, so why bother?
Either way it goes it seems for now to be a close race. I hope the winner takes a page from George W. Bush, who despite losing the popular vote in 2000, governed in his first term as if he received a Reagan like mandate. After all, to the winner go the spoils, right? This time around we will be less interested in ideology and more in who can get us out of this mess, or if we can get out of it at all.
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