Whiny Boo-Hoo Billionaires: America’s Indulged Super-Wealthy Are Freaking Out About 2020



“There is something about the very wealthy, they don’t have enough people telling them that they are full of shit.”

By Dominic Rushe
The Guardian (11/16/19)

The 1996 US election was all about the “soccer mom”; 2004 belonged to the “Nascar dads”; Donald Trump won the White House with a “basket of deplorables”. Every election cycle seems to have a key demographic said to define the race, and 2020 is no different. This is the campaign of the “beleaguered billionaire”.

There’s a billionaire in the White House and two of the top Democratic rivals for Trump’s job, senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have made ever-widening income inequality central to their campaign.

“I don’t think that billionaires should exist,” Sanders said recently, citing the “immoral level of income and wealth inequality” that has only deepened under the Trump administration.

  • The wealth of the top 1% of the population is more than that of the bottom 90% of the population combined
  • Forty per cent of all Americans would struggle to raise $400 in the event of an emergency.
  • There has been little or no real income growth for most people for decades.
  • The childhood poverty rate in the US is now 17.5% and has also not meaningfully improved for decades.

One billionaire bid for the White House has already flamed out. Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s former barista-in-chief, ended his run almost as soon as it had begun chased away by angry crowds who labeled him an “egotistical billionaire asshole!”

That hasn’t stopped another billionaire, hedge-fund mogul Tom Steyer, running for the Democratic nomination. And now former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, founder of the eponymous media empire, is also making moves to enter the race, fired up by the billionaire bashing. Ironically, Bloomberg (net worth $52.3bn) signaled his intention to get in the race by getting his name on the ballot in Alabama, one of the poorest states in the union with a median household income of $48,123.

Kevin Kruse, professor of history at Princeton University and co-author of Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974, believes there’ll be more to come. “The Trump candidacy made a lot of them think, ‘Well, if this guy with his inherited wealth, who went bankrupt all the time, if he can do it, why not me?’”

Big money delusion

The mistake they make is ignoring Trump’s charisma and “huckster showmanship”, said Kruse. “They think because they have even more money they will have more charisma. That’s not the case, It wasn’t with Schultz, it isn’t with Steyer and it’s not going to be with Bloomberg,” he said. “The idea that Mike Bloomberg is going to do well in Alabama is insane.”

That’s not what the billionaires think. As Warren and Sanders have stepped up their attacks, a host of plutocrats have gone public with their anger at all this billionaire-bashing, and some are already coming out for Bloomberg.

For them, this is personal. The “great plute freakout of 2019” as Anand Giridharadas, the author of Winner Takes All, a recent study of the deleterious impact of elites, has called it, is literally reducing billionaires to tears.

Asked about his views on the 2020 election on CNBC earlier this month, moist-eyed investment giant Leon Cooperman, worth $3.2bn according to Forbes, could barely hold back the tears.

“I care. That’s it,” he sobbed, eyes cast down and shuffling papers. …

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )


Robert Reich: Freeloading Billionaires Fear Warren & Sanders – And They Should Fear Us All

By Robert Reich
The Guardian (11/10/19)

Billionaires are wailing that wealth tax proposals by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are attacks on free-market capitalism.

Warren “vilifies successful people”, says Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase.

Rubbish. There are basically only five ways to accumulate a billion dollars, and none of them has to do with being successful in a genuinely free market.

The first way is to exploit a monopoly.

Jamie Dimon is worth $1.6bn. That’s not because he succeeded under free-market capitalism. In 2008, the government bailed out JP Morgan and four other giant Wall Street banks because it considered them “too big to fail”.

If unearned income were treated the same as earned income under the tax code, America’s non-working rich wouldn’t be billionaires. And if capital gains weren’t eliminated at death, their heirs wouldn’t be, either.

That bailout is a hidden insurance policy, still in effect, with an estimated value to the big banks of $83bn a year. If JP Morgan weren’t so big and was therefore allowed to fail, Dimon would be worth far less than $1.6bn.

What about America’s much-vaulted entrepreneurs, such as Jeff Bezos?

You might say the $110bn man deserves this because he founded and built Amazon. But Amazon is a monopolist with nearly 50% of all e-commerce retail sales in America, and e-commerce is one of the biggest sectors of retail sales. In addition, Amazon’s business is protected by a slew of patents granted by the US government.

If the government enforced anti-monopoly laws, and didn’t grant Amazon such broad patents, Bezos would be worth far less.

Insider cheating

A second way to make a billion is to get insider information unavailable to other investors.

Hedge-fund maven Steven A Cohen ($12.8bn) headed up a firm in which, according to a criminal complaint filed by the justice department, insider trading was “substantial, pervasive, and on a scale without known precedent in the hedge fund industry”. Nine of Cohen’s present or former employees pleaded guilty or were convicted. Cohen got off with a fine and changed the name of his firm.

Insider trading is endemic in C-suites, too. SEC researchers have found that corporate executives are twice as likely to sell their stock on the days following their own stock buyback announcements as they are in the days leading up to the announcements.

If government cracked down on insider-trading, hedge-funders and top executives wouldn’t rake in nearly as much.

A third way to make a billion is to buy off politicians. …

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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )


Obtuse, Whiny & Freaked Out: Billionaires Panicking Over Sanders Candidacy

The sudden ruling class meltdown

By Krystal Ball
The Hill (11/13/19)

At a grassroots fundraiser last night [11/12] in D.C., Bernie Sanders had a message for our fragile ruling class.

His utter mockery and ‘F your feelings’ attitude towards billionaires is just sublime and, of course, perfectly timed given that the ruling class is truly in full meltdown panic mode. First, Tom Steyer jumped into the presidential race after saying he wouldn’t. When pressed for a justification by Politico, he said it’s because no one was prioritizing climate change. This, of course, in spite of the fact that he still has investments in oil and gas companies, not to mention an undying faith in the consumerist capitalistic system that led the planet to the point of collapse in the first place. Then, after numerous reports of Manhattan donor hand wringing, Michael Bloomberg decided to get in on the action. He is now officially on the ballot in at least a few states and his advisor Howard Wolfson says that he will skip the early primary states to focus on Super Tuesday.

The billionaire former NYC mayor would enter the primary race with a worst in field negative 31 favorability rating among Iowa voters.

Don’t believe the bullshit that this is all about their patriotic duty to defeat Trump. They aren’t afraid Democrats will lose to Trump, they are terrified that a real progressive may actually win.

Next up, Deval Patrick who brings quite a record of white-washing corporate malfeasance to the table. He’s got a classic up by the bootstraps story that ends with him as VP at Coca-Cola, VP at Texaco, and managing director at Bain Capital. But maybe his most revealing resume item was his time with Ameriquest, which was written about by Zach Carter over at the Huffington Post. Ameriquest was the largest subprime lender in the housing crisis. Described as the “worst bottom feeder of them all,” Deval Patrick sat on their board. Patrick has called Biden and others to indicate he may jump in the race. I guess the donor class loves Pete but can see the polling that has him near 0% with black voters. I personally see no reason to believe that a similar corporatist background wrapped in a different identity will achieve significantly better results— but sure, whatever.

As if that wasn’t enough, now Obama A.G. Eric Holder is taking another look at the race. He’s reportedly talking to strategists about a late entry. And of course, the matriarch of the Democratic establishment herself, Hillary Rodham Clinton just told the BBC that she’s “under enormous pressure from many, many, many people to think about” running.

So why now? Why has full freakout set in over the past couple weeks? …

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Applauding His Record Of Standing Up To Charter School Billionaires, United Teachers Los Angeles Endorses Bernie Sanders

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (11/15/19)

The 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles overwhelmingly voted Thursday to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, citing the need for an “unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House.”

UTLA, the second-largest teachers union local in the nation, said in a statement announcing the endorsement that 80 percent of its elected leadership voted in favor of supporting Sanders.

“Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services,” said UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Critically, like UTLA, Sen. Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change.”

Teachers have consistently ranked among the most common donors to Sanders’ presidential campaign. As the Washington Post reported, “K-12 teachers have donated more money to Sanders than to any of the other Democratic presidential candidates.”

UTLA’s decision to back Sanders came on the eve of National Nurses United’s official endorsement of the Vermont senator, which is scheduled for a press conference in Oakland, California at 4:30 pm PT.

NNU first announced its endorsement of Sanders earlier this week. …

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Seth Meyers Takes A ‘Closer Look’ As Fragile Billionaires Freak Out About Elizabeth Warren & Bernie Sanders

Late Night with Seth Meyers (11/11/19)

Seth takes a closer look at billionaire Mike Bloomberg reportedly being on the brink of joining the Democratic primary as Wall Street panics about the current crop of candidates.

Link To 13-Minute Video