April 8, 2009
Honorable Senator Evan Bayh
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D. C., 20510
Dear Senator Bayh:
I am writing you as a Hoosier at heart; for I still call that small Indiana town where I was raised, Owensville, home after leaving some 45 years ago for a U.S. Navy career. I visit family and friends in Indiana frequently. It is for those that I write to you to voice my disappointment in your latest endeavors in forming a coalition to oppose the majority in our Senate. From what I’ve read and heard, you are taking positions with ideology and myths that got us into the mess we are in and that ignored America’s real needs for forty years. Ideology and myth that stand in direct opposition to the opportunity we have today to set things right. Ideology and myth most frequently shouted by Republicans and their army of pundits. You claim to be “centrist,” but you are anything but centrist. You’ve taken an extreme right political stand.
There is overwhelming proof that our economic meltdown, the state of our dilapidated infrastructure and our dependency on foreign energy is directly caused by Republican “deregulation,” “no government” and “government is the problem” ideology. In fact during Republican administrations over the past 40 years, government was the problem because they, the Republicans, were in power and didn’t govern. President Reagan began the deregulation culture that carried through the Bush II Administration. Bush II, the worst and most expensive presidency of our history, was the final straw. I didn’t see you opposing his “debt doesn’t matter” agenda.
The most significant deregulatory action over the past 40 years was Republican Senator Phil Gramm’s amendment, done in secret by the way, that eliminated the Glass-Segal act’s oversight and restrictions on banks. Senator Gramm snuck the amendment into an appropriation bill at night after the appropriation Bill had already been passed by the Senate. Senator Gramm’s change was not approved by either legislative branch. President Clinton signed the bill without knowing of the mid-night, backroom change. Thereafter, commercial banks were allowed to merge with investment banks creating “to large to fail” financial behemoths. That change also allowed insurance companies, such as A. I. G., to enter the financial business without regulatory oversight and we know what AIG has done.
But, that was just one of many such changes in regulatory law that led to our current economic collapse. It was the culture of deregulation and lax oversight that crept into government regulatory agencies and Congress that perhaps contributed most. For example, the Federal Trade Commission allowed more and more mergers that created larger and larger monopolies that created companies to large to fail; they ignored anti-trust laws. Congress watched the FTC do this without one word of criticism let alone action to hold the FTC accountable for its laziness. It was the culture of deregulation that created an environment where a Bernie Madoff was allowed to exist for years, causing hard working investors to lose sixty-three billion dollars. It is absolutely mind-boggling that any politician would now argue in favor of laissez faire free self-regulating market in the face of the overwhelming evidence of its utter failure and devastating effect on the American society. You seem to be on that path.
Your “anti-earmark” and so-called “anti-pork” stance is equally contradictory. I notice in your press releases millions of dollars of earmarks you sponsored for one reason or another; from $50 million for the International Atomic Energy Agency, who by the way said there were no WMD in Iraq BEFORE Bush II invaded it, to a $2 million grant to reduce tobacco use in Latino communities in Indiana. That’s irony magnified to the nth degree. Why only the Latino community, that is less than one-percent of Indiana’s population? Why not all Indiana tobacco users? But, it’s your stance on the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere” that shows your complete lack of understanding of what it takes to grow local economies. You jumped on the same band wagon Sarah Palin and all other self-serving, opportunistic politicians jumped on. You simply do not know the facts about that bridge, or you are ignoring them to impress your constituents and to distort the facts about that bridge.
The so-called bridge to nowhere does not connect the mainland to an island, as you and Palin say. It actually was intended to connect the city of Ketchikan, AK, to Gravina Island where the city could continue to grow. Ketchikan is a city of approximately 11,000 built on the side of a mountain on an adjacent island. While the population continues to grow and several industries, fishing, tourism, mining, etc., have grown to multi-million dollar industries, they have literally run out of room to grow. Their only viable solution is to expand to Gravina Island. They built an airport on Gravina island and it services approximately 200,000 passengers per year, but their only way of getting to the airport is by boat or ferry over a treacherous sea channel running between Ketchikan and the island. Several people die every year just going to the airport. Transportation over the channel in winter is sometimes impossible, so industry and community services shut down, costing Ketchikan, Alaska and America millions in revenue. So, the bridge to nowhere was, in reality, a bridge to the future for Ketchikan. It’s too bad that politicians didn’t stand up for Ketchikan, including Ketchikan’s own favorite daughter running for vice-president.
It’s ironic that the new bridge being built that connects Gibson County to Mt. Carmel, Ill, is not a bridge to nowhere or at least “pork” since there already is a bridge. But, the new Mt. Carmel Bridge is long overdue since the old one is falling apart and the new one will continue and improve services, both industrial and social, to and from Gibson County. The Mt. Carmel Bridge was also an earmark probably costing around $80 to $100 million dollars. Was that your earmark? I know of another bridge costing $5 billion (BILLION!) that is equally important; it spans the San Francisco Bay from Oakland to San Francisco. It, too, is needed because the old bridge will collapse in the next strong earthquake and there are literally billions of dollars of industry revenue at stake if it isn’t replaced. The cost of these bridges depends on the span to be crossed and traffic it serves. A $223 million dollar bridge in Alaska doesn’t seem so expensive considering the treacherous span it has to cross, the lives it will save and the industrial and social growth it will provide. The Bridge to Nowhere was in fact a Bridge to Somewhere. You should have supported it.
The fact is that investment in infrastructure improvement and development in America has been ignored for so long, led by Republican dogma, that there is great concern about our country becoming just another banana republic like our southern neighbors in Central and South America. From coast to coast and border to border, our highways, airports, railways, bridges and cities are dilapidated and failing. It’s time to pay the pauper or we won’t continue to be the most powerful and innovative nation in the world.
It is equally fact that we ignored our nation’s energy investments. It has been Republicans that repeatedly fought gasoline tax and ALL OTHER environmental restrictions on industry. Repeatedly, Republicans have taken billions of dollars over the past 40 years from corporations to create laws that allow them to ignore environmental laws and continue making high-energy using appliances, vehicles, manufacturing plants from A to Z that have made us the number one polluter and gas-guzzler of the world. It is fact that we send trillions of dollars to other countries to support our energy consumption while those countries support the very terrorist that fight against us. We are supplying the rope that will hang us, thanks to the position you are taking. You are on the take and following the same path. Had we not followed industry special interest and Republican dogma, we would now be an economic dynamo leading in energy conservation and innovation.
Your latest push, of course, is to jump on the “new” Republican fiscal responsibility and tax cut shouting band wagon. I notice that you, and nine other Democrats, are supporting the estate tax cut initiative that will allow the super-rich to avoid estate tax. The small business already avoids estate taxes. And, of course, your argument is that this cut will provide more employment. It won’t do that and you know it. You’ve picked a hell of a time to get on that wagon now that the bill for our societies’ excess and greed has come due. Somebody has to pay for our past sins, but a tax cut just delays the bill for the next generation. It is simply counterintuitive to say that we can defray paying taxes for ourselves when we know that our children are going to have to pay them. We have run out of time and we can no longer pass on our responsibilities or burden to our children. If we are not willing to do it, then we’ve completely lost our sense of what it means to be American. If we don’t step up to the plate and pay our bill and invest in our country, then we are guilty of overwhelming irresponsibility.
It is very obvious that Republican fiscal responsibility is not really fiscal responsibility. It is really a failure to be responsible for what we have to do. Republicans, and you, are being opportunistic, grabbing national notoriety to get national recognition of your name for the next election. I know you’ve taken money from Goldman Sachs, over $200,000, and over $1 million from other investment banks and interests. I’m sure you are being pressured to vote against regulation of these industries, to sponsor anti-regulatory legislation that they write or to make sure the super-rich owners avoid taxes. I hope you don’t do that. I hope that Indiana can put an honest Senator in the U.S. Senate that really is for Indiana, America and good government, not Goldman Sachs. I encourage you to be that Senator. I encourage you to speak out against Limbaugh, O’Rielly and Hannity instead of listening to them, because you’re beginning to speak their language. Indiana needs a Senator who takes the position serious, including the Senate oversight duty of regulatory agencies without the bias of Industry.
According to the latest at politicalbase.com, you’ve collected $4,454,286 for your 2010 election, including $24,500 from investment bankers including Morgan Keegan, Inc. These are the same people who duped Tennessee towns and cities in a municipal bond scheme similar to the subprime mortgage schemes. See today’s New York Times’ article. Morgan Keegan Inc. was also accused of fraud in cheating an Indiana Children’s Wish Fund and has lost numerous arbitration cases in Indiana for false and fraudulent statements and representation in investments peddled in Indiana. If it is true that you’ve accepted money from this gang of thieves, then you should voluntarily give the money back… quickly and get away from Morgan Keegan as soon as possible. Morgan Keegan appears to be another Bernie Madoff, albeit more sophisticated and hiding in plain sight since all cases are settled through arbitration instead of court.
You’ve been a favorite of my family that still resides in Indiana. They’ve said good things about you that convinced me that you stood for good government. But, your latest diversion does not point in that direction. I am going to send a copy of this letter to family members still living in Indiana to make them aware of what I’ve learned. They are your constituents and they will not be pleased if their Senator is on the take. It is time to make corporations responsible to the United States and long past time that Senators cease to grovel to corporate special interest.
Sincerely – a Hoosier at Heart,