By Eric Zuesse
On December 17th, Gallup headlined “Biden Inherits a Battered U.S. Image Abroad”.
The Pew surveys have found the same thing: In almost all countries surveyed, other than Poland, public approval of America’s leadership plunged when Trump replaced Obama, and that low approval stayed down throughout Trump’s Presidency.
However, also on December 17th, the great investigative journalist David Sirota headlined at his “The Daily Poster” blog, “End The Austerity Loop”, and he documented that President Obama’s response to George W. Bush’s policies that had crashed the U.S. economy (and actually the entire world’s economy) had actually been to institute a bailout of the megabanks (“broker-dealers”), and — as soon as it was passed by Congress — Obama’s Administration refused to help the people who had been evicted from their homes as a result of what Wall Street had done. Obama said instead that all of the federal money had already been spent and he wouldn’t authorize increasing the federal debt even more than he already had authorized in order to bail out Wall Street.
Of course, Congress was also culpable in all of these Robin-Hood-in-reverse policies (protecting Wall Street while abandoning Main Street), but the ultimate leadership was at the top, and it was a policy of sheer hypocrisy. Trump has merely been hypocritical in a different way, and espousing a different set of excuses for his failures.
The purpose of Title XIII (“Pay it Back Act”) of the DoddFrank Act, according to Senator Michael Bennett, was to “rebuild the credibility of our financial system, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and finally move to end the TARP”12 by “prevent[ing] further government spending, recaptur[ing] taxpayers’ investment in financial institutions, and ensur[ing] that repaid funds are used for deficit reduction.”13 Under Title XIII, TARP funding authorized under the EESA was reduced from $700 billion to $475 billion.14 Also, no additional TARP funds can be spent on any program initiated after June 25, 2010; any money repaid to the TARP fund must be used for deficit reduction only.15 Title XIII amends the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The Treasury must allocate the sale of obligations and securities, as well as fees paid by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Home Loan Banks to the General Fund of the Treasury (“General Fund”).16 The funds must be “dedicated for the sole purpose of deficit reduction” and “prohibited from use as an offset for other spending increases or revenue reductions.”17 Similarly, TARP funds provided to a state under ARRA and rejected by the Governor or by the State legislature, or funds withdrawn or recaptured by the head of an executive agency not obligated by a State or local government, will be rescinded and deposited in the General Fund.18 Once in the General Fund, the money will be “dedicated for the sole purpose of deficit reduction” and “prohibited from use as an offset for other spending increases or revenue reductions.”19 Section 1306 further provides that discretionary ARRA appropriations that have not been obligated as of December 31, 2010 shall also be rescinded and deposited in the General Fund for the sole purpose of deficit reduction.
On 18 February 2011, National Public Radio headlined “TARP Watchdog Says Foreclosure Plan Is Failing” and reported that
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the massive federal bank bailout program, or TARP, is stepping down from his post in March. He says the Obama administration’s program to prevent foreclosures is broken, and that many of the people it’s supposed to be helping are now “in a far worse place than they would have been had this program not existed.”
The megabanks had gotten their federal help, but foreclosures and boarded-up windows and storefronts were appearing everywhere and were lowering the surrounding property-values, so that both lower and middle-class real estate were getting progressively worse and more run-down. The TARP Bailout Program saved the megabanks but not their victims; and here is why, as explained even by a conservative, pro-corporate, source:
The Problem With the TARP Program for Homeowners
Why didn’t more people take advantage of the HAMP and HARP programs? This would have pumped billions into the economy and helped millions of homeowners avoid foreclosure.
The problem was the banks. They cherry-picked applicants and refused to consider those with lower equity. Banks were too wary of risk to allow the programs to work.
These were the same banks, who just a few years before, were giving out loans to anyone because they were making money on the investments that were created from the loans.
There was no risk to the banks, as all these loans were guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Banks didn’t want to be bothered with the paperwork involved with homeowners who had mortgage insurance.
On 25 July 2016, a mortgage-industry website headlined “Obama administration presents a look at life after HAMP” and acknowledged “that there’s more work to be done.” (That was putting it mildly.)
The Obama Administration did nothing whatsoever to reduce those foreclosures. In fact, there was even less prosecution of financial and other white-collar crimes than there had been under Bush.
The admirers of President Trump are equally deceived — no less deceived than the admirers of Obama had been. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and did none of that.
In foreign policies, Trump continued Obama’s wars (including aggressive sanctions), such as against Syria, and against Russia, and against Iraq, and intensified Obama’s war against China and against Iran and against Venezuela — all of these being against countries that had never threatened to invade the U.S., and so all of them were (and are) actually wars of aggression, not of defense.
Americans are profoundly deceived to accept such people as leaders, instead of to reject them as liars and as traitors.
Most Americans — and many people throughout the world — prefer one or the other of those two American Presidents on the basis only of political prejudices, but the actual differences between Obama and Trump were more stylistic than substantive.
President Trump, at the end of his Presidency, is polling, among the American public, both as one of the worst Presidents ever and as one of the best Presidents ever, and this is a reflection of the astoundingly sharp partisan divide now between Democrats and Republicans. Pathetically few Americans recognize that both of the two Parties represent only the billionaires — not the American people. This pervasive miscomprehension, by the public, results because the billionaires control not only the Government, they also control the press — they shape the population’s perceptions, so as to make this aristocracy (America’s billionaires) acceptable to the public, directing the public’s rage to be against the opposite Party, instead of against the billionaires themselves, who actually control the country.
Consequently, Democratic Party voters think that that Party is their Party, and Republican Party voters think that that Party is their Party. However, in reality, both Parties are controlled by America’s hundreds of billionaires — not by the Party’s voters. Obama represented the Democratic Party’s billionaires, and Trump represented the Republican Party’s billionaires (other than the ones who, in 2020, disliked Trump so much that they donated instead to the Biden campaign or to one of its PACs). This is a Government of the people, by the billionaires, and for the billionaires. It’s no democracy, whatsoever, and the U.S. Constitution has been covered-over, by the U.S. aristocracy’s Supreme Court’s rulings, to become, by now, merely a parchment document, which ‘means’ whatever the (majority of) the U.S. aristocracy’s Supreme Court say that it means. Although those jurists are paid by the public, they don’t represent America’s Founders, and they don’t represent the American people. They represent — and protect the interests of — America’s billionaires. They were chosen because that is what they had been doing before they had been chosen. If they hadn’t been doing this, they wouldn’t have been chosen. That’s today’s American reality.