Sunday, December 5, 2010

A bitter, losing fight against the power of money

Out of America: Tax cuts for billionaires, and bankers with more clout than ever – nothing has changed

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"The US is a land of extremes: climatic, economic and ideological. But amid the turbulent craziness of American politics, there is one constant: money rules. And never more so than in the closing weeks of this sour and eminently forgettable year of 2010 – when the recession never really went away, the Tea Party marched into Washington, and the presidency of Barack Obama shrivelled before one's eyes.

Right now, the country has a budget deficit equal to almost 10 per cent ofGDP. The official unemployment rate, announced on Friday, rose to 9.8 per cent. Add in the people who would like to work but have given up even looking for a job, and you have an "under-employment" rate of about 17 per cent. And yet politicians can't even get round to extending unemployment benefits for the two million people whose meagre help from the state ran out last week, at the start of the holiday season.

Instead, forget the deficit. Forget the poor souls who had to try to make ends meet on a dole of $320 (£200) per week for a family of four, before that support expired. Congress – or rather the resurgent Republican part of it – is adamant that nothing be done until tax cuts, which also are about to expire, are extended for the very richest in America...."

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