For all I can I can tell, economist and author David Korten may have never heard of Michigan plutocrat Fred Upton. I haven't noticed that he's mentioned Upton in his newest book, Agenda For A New Economy. But I did notice that in a subchapter, "Winning The Class War," he couldn't have done a better job in describing Upton's political career. The fortunate son of the family that founded Whirlpool generations ago, Upton has devoted his political life entirely to the service of the one percent. Korten doesn't flinch from describing characters like Upton as being engaged in a brutal class war against the rest of us.
Wall Street has been engaged in class warfare pure and simple. It uses its control of the money supply and its political influence to ensure that Wall Street players capture virtually all the benefits of productivity gains in the Main Street economy as interest, dividends, and financial service fees...
This effort to achieve an upward redistribution of wealth was so successful that, from 1980 to 2005, the highest earning 1 percent of the U.S. population increased its share of taxable income from 9 percent to 19 percent. Most of that gain went to the top tenth of 1 percent and came from the bottom 90 percent. In 2007, the top 400 U.S. tax returns reported an average annual income of $345 million; $12.7 million was the average for the top 427 returns in 955, adjusted to 2007 dollars.
The measures used to achieve this remarkable outcome included managing monetary policy to maintain a target level of unemployment, managing trade and tax policies to facilitate the corporate outsourcing of jobs to low-wage economies, suppressing labor unions, limiting the enforcement of law against hiring undocumented immigrant workers, and using accounting tricks that understate inflation to suppress inflation-indexed Social Security increases.
Yep, that's Fred Upton. And just as the NY Times was reporting that this year wage and salaries as a percentage of American GDP hit a new low: 43.7%-- the lowest since 1929-- the Kalamazoo Gazette opened Upton up to a whole new line of criticism. Upton is front and center in one of the most grotesque instances of revolving door corruption in modern American history. Meet Gary Andres, the Solyndra lobbyist-- one of K Street's sleaziest operators-- who Upton persuaded to take a $235,500 a year paycut to go from working at Dutko (for $418,000 annually) to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (as chief of staff for $172,500 annually).
And Upton knew exactly the kind of slimy operative he was engaging.
Upton said in his new role, Andres will take a lead role on the Republicans' efforts to repeal the White House's healthcare bill. The GOP is also expected to fight any new climate change regulations, and the committee should serve as ground zero for those confrontations.
"For over two decades, Gary has been a leading voice in Republican policy, always seeking solutions to advance our principles to limit the size and scope of government," Upton said in a statement.
"Gary knows how to focus like a laser beam to get the job done. He is one of the most respected, most knowledgeable individuals in Republican policy who has advised Presidents and Republican Leaders through the years and has the demeanor and relationships to help advance our agenda."
Andres previous served as deputy assistant for legislative affairs to the first President Bush and was an adviser to President George W. Bush's transition team. He currently services as vice chairman of public policy and research at the lobbying firm Dutko World Wide.
Andres has contributed over $100,000 to Republican politicians-- including Upton-- since 2008, particularly to Members of Congress with suspect ethical standards who were in positions to further the special interests of his clients, like Boehner, Upton, Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Connie Mack (R-FL), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dave Camp (R-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Barton (R-TX), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Pete Sessions (R-TX), and John McCain (R-AZ). Previous to that-- from 1990 to 2006-- he contributed over a quarter million dollars to the same calibre of corrupt congressmen willing to sell out their constituents for a few thousand dollars. He donated tens of thousands of dollars to right-wing PACs and thousands directly to a rogues gallery of corrupt Republicans from Tom DeLay (R-TX), Don Young (R-AK) and John Ensign (R-NV) to George Allen (R-VA), J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) Ed Schrock (R-VA), and Mark Foley (R-FL), each of whom has been involved in shocking-- even by Washington standards-- ethics scandals. Most of the biggest recipients of his legalistic bribes have been driven from office for their criminal and/or ethical conduct. And, now he works for Upton.
Upton... the guy who has, along with career criminal Darrell Issa, made trying to blame Solyndra's bankruptcy on Obama. I wonder why he's so hysterical about it-- or I used to wonder. Now I think I know why... that old subterfuge of getting people misdirected and off the scent. Yeah, I forgot to mention: Upton's boy Andres was a top Solyndra lobbyist. And now Upton has to decide if he's going to plead incompetence or corruption when he's investigated about why he hired someone as conflicted as Andres. Of course, Upton's pretty conflicted himself... always has been. In fact, while he was criticizing the administration for the Bush-initiated failed loan guarantee to the firm Solyndra, he pressured the Energy Department to approve funding assistance for a Michigan solar company, United Solar Ovonics, that said last week it's halting operations.
The loan was never approved by the Energy Department, but Upton’s advocacy for United Solar stands in contrast to his recent skepticism about the government’s clean-energy loan guarantee program.
“It is not the role of government to pick winners and losers,” Upton said in a statement in September regarding Solyndra. “Let’s learn the lessons of Solyndra before another dollar goes out the door.”
In 2009, Upton had also signed letters asking the Energy Department to provide financial assistance to automakers, a wind turbine maker, a biofuels refinery, a smart-grid project, a battery company and a water wave energy firm.
The Energy Department’s “job is to scrutinize applications and identify the best participants, and that’s what the Michigan delegation asked them to do,” said Alexa Marrero, a spokesman for Upton. “Many in Congress questioned whether the stimulus would produce the promised jobs. At the same time, members on both sides of the aisle wanted to see jobs created and folks put back to work, especially in Michigan.”
Congressional Republicans and the administration have sparred for weeks over Solyndra, with many lawmakers charging that the government has been wasting millions of taxpayer dollars funding businesses that never stood a chance.
Last September the Huffington Post reported on Andres' glaring conflict of interest which Upton completely ignored. Early this morning the Kalmazoo Gazette and the Huffington Post broke the story about the Upton/Andres shenanigans. I'll let you know when the House Ethics Committee gets to work on Upton. It's clear that federal prosecutors should also be made aware of the movements involving both Upton and Andres to determine if their actions warrant criminal conspiracy charges. Andres denies knowing Dutko was lobbying for Solyndra; Upton refuses to discuss anything about it with the press (suddenly.) Waltz's comment to the Gazette:
“Congressman Upton knows that Gary Andres was a lobbyist for Solyndra. He has not disclosed that nor has he asked Andres to recuse himself from leading investigations into this matter. We feel that Congressman Upton is guilty of a house ethics violation and should be investigated.”
Meanwhile, though, I want to be clear that Blue America endorsed John Waltz because of who he is, not because of how terrible is opponent is. Sure we've pointed out Upton's cascade of flaws all year, but the reason Blue America continues urging people to contribute to Waltz's campaign is because John is an ideal candidate for ordinary working families. He'll never be part of the conservative consensus of transpartisan corporate shills that have run the country into the ground on behalf of their 1% paymasters... like Fred Upton. Remember, Waltz was the only candidate endorsed by Blue America who "ex"-Blue Dog/DCCC Chair Steve Israel didn't invite to a candidates' forum in Washington last month. Israel's power flows from his ability to aggregate dirty cash from Wall Street, K Street and the institutions of the 1%. He probably doesn't feel especially comfortable when Democrats say things like what Waltz told us about OccupyWallStreet:
"What started out with a handful of folks on a windy day in Kalamazoo ended up growing into a protest with over 200 people as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Talking to several folks I could tell that they were frustrated that the top one percent of this nation is being coddled while the rest of us are getting trampled on. I heard concerns that ranged from economics to education and they were focused on making a difference.
"It was an honor to take part in this day of action in Kalamazoo. While we marched the streets with the sound of chants and drums there were several folks who were honking in support. It appears that the sleeping masses have awoken and there is a sea change coming. Question is whether this can be sustained and the answer I heard was a resounding yes."
You won't hear anything like that from the Fred Uptons or the Steve Israels of the world.