Standard and Poor's downgrading of the US treasury bills -- and its sanctimonious lecture about its "concerns" that the U.S. won't get its fiscal house in order -- are like a reckless, drag-racing teenager teaching a safe driving class.
Wall Street in general -- and Standard and Poor's in particular -- have done more to contribute to America's budget deficit than anyone else in America.
This is the same firm that maintained their AAA rating of the mortgage-backed securities that were being used to gamble on Wall Street right up until the time that Lehman Brothers collapsed and set off the global market meltdown.
Their reckless disregard for any modicum of due diligence in determining the soundness of the financial instruments traded by Wall Street allowed the speculative bubble that caused the Great Recession to grow and ultimately explode. The US Gross Domestic Product has yet to recover to pre-meltdown levels. That is the single greatest contributor to the all of the increases in the budget deficit that have happened since.
And of course it is directly responsible for the jobs deficit that is the real underlying disease afflicting the American economy -- directly costing eight million Americans their jobs.
But that's not all. The big Wall Street banks lobbied for years to deregulate their operations. That lack of oversight -- including lax regulations of rating agencies like Standard and Poor's -- led directly to the meltdown. And, of course, the big Wall Street banks did everything that they could to stop the Wall Street Reform bill that passed last year. They continue to work hard to undermine the regulations intended to implement it.
And when it comes time to pay their fair share to reduce the deficit, Wall Street has done everything it can to lower tax rates on the rich to the lowest levels since before the Great Depression. Let's remember that the people with the highest incomes in America -- hedge fund managers -- pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries do -- just 15%.
All the while as they pontificate about the need to get America's fiscal house in order, they twist arms to make sure that people like hedge fund manager John Paulson -- who made $5 billion in income last year (that's $2.4 million an hour) -- don't have to pay higher taxes. Paulson had more income last year than the Gross Domestic Product of five nations.
Just a little over ten years ago, America had budget surpluses into the foreseeable future. That was largely because President Clinton and the Democrats voted in 1993 to modestly increase taxes on wealthy Americans. Wall Street worked hard to roll back those modest tax increases on the rich by passing the Bush tax cuts ten years later. Those Bush tax cuts, together with two unpaid-for wars and an unpaid-for Republican Medicare pharmaceutical bill -- tipped the Federal budget into huge deficits.
Of course their recklessness continues. The financial analysis that Standard and Poor's used to argue for its downgrade of U.S. debt had a two trillion dollar mathematical error that was caught by the Treasury Department. That's the kind of error that would get an "F" in elementary school.
The very idea that Wall Street -- and Standard and Poor's -- would have the chutzpa to lecture the rest of America about fiscal responsibility should infuriate each and every American.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in the firm Democracy Partners. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.
Follow Robert Creamer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rbcreamer