Want to Prevent a Depression? Impeach Dick Cheney
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As we all know, Nancy Pelosi's "Capitulation Congress" will do absolutely everything it can to avoid a battle with Bush over his utter contempt for the Constitution, the rule of law and even Congress itself.
Remember Pelosi's 2006 campaign reason No. 1 for electing a Democratic Congress? "Subpoena power." So what about all those subpoenas Bush flagrantly and illegally defied in 2007? Never mind, says Pelosi.
House Democrats will postpone votes on criminal contempt citations against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers, while congressional leaders work with President Bush on a bipartisan stimulus package to fend off an economic downturn, according to party leaders and leadership aides.
Senior Democrats have decided that holding a controversial vote on the contempt citations, which have already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation into the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, would "step on their message" of bipartisan unity in the midst of the stimulus package talks.
Ah, "bipartisan unity." If that phrase means anything, doesn't it require compromise by both parties? So why is it that since Reagan came to Washington in 1981 -- including the eight years of President Clinton -- "bipartisan unity" has always meant Democratic capitulation to Republicans? Every progressive knows what Republican Grover Norquist famously said: "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."
At the moment, the Washington establishment -- and Democratic "leaders" -- believe the slightest hint of constitutional conflict would terrify financial markets and trigger a depression. So if "bipartisan unity" is the issue-above-all-other-issues, why doesn't the Washington establishment demand that Bush show some bipartisanship by respecting lawful (and entirely justified) congressional subpoenas?
American business leaders arrogantly tell foreign leaders that economic growth is impossible without the "rule of law." Well, without the basic legal tool of subpoenas, there is no rule of law -- in the third world or in the United States.
Just imagine what Bush would say if Vladimir Putin defied subpoenas from his parliament. By refusing to hold Bush in contempt, Congress is allowing Bush to be more of a dictator than Putin.
Personally, I believe the single most important thing Congress could do to prevent a depression and restore the pillars of our legal-economic system is to get to the source of all White House legal obstruction -- by starting impeachment hearings for Dick Cheney as advocated by Rep. Robert Wexler. Why?
First, consider the alternatives. Financial markets around the world think a $150 billion economic stimulus is utterly useless in the context of the massive collapse of the U.S. mortgage industry and the banks that tried to milk it. That's precisely why global markets plunged 5 percent to 10 percent on Monday.
Why did the mortage industry collapse? Simple: Bush's government stopped regulating it and let the banks create a gigantic bubble by offering reckless and even criminal mortgages to people who could not afford them. Who in the White House waged war against all forms of economic regulation? Dick Cheney, of course.
And speaking of war, another major reason for our profound economic problems is Iraq. After predicting a cost-free war, Bush's disastrous occupation has already forced him to borrow $500 billion from China and the Arab oil monarchies, driving down the dollar and discouraging foreign investment. Who demanded the war in Iraq? Dick Cheney, of course.
Speaking of oil, the indirect economic costs of Iraq have dwarfed the direct budget costs. Oil was under $30 per barrel before Bush's invasion, but the political instability caused by the invasion has helped drive oil near $100 per barrel. This has driven up costs throughout the economy, cut business profits and slashed consumer spending power.
Another drag on the U.S. economy is hard to measure but still large -- corruption. Bush and his huge donor "Rangers" brought crony capitalism to Washington and killed competitive bidding in favor of corrupt no-bid contracts. The result was predictable -- massive waste and cost overruns. Who was the driving force behind Bush's crony capitalism? Dick Cheney, of course.
Bush's disastrous policies in all three areas -- economic regulation, foreign/military policy and government waste -- have driven the U.S. economy to the verge of another Great Depression. Just as Karl Rove was "The Architect" of Bush's political strategy, Dick Cheney was -- and remains -- "The Architect" of Bush's economic and military policies. So as long as Dick Cheney controls these policies, absolutely nothing will change.
If Congress wants to prevent the coming depression, it should forget about tax rebates and start impeachment hearings for the most catastrophic vice president in history, Dick Cheney.