Republican Economic Policies Destroyed Sidney, Nebraska
The 1980s were a huge turning point in the modern history of the United States. The post World War II bi-partisan consensus that supported labor unions, anti-trust enforcement and a strong social safety net was shattered. Instead, it was replaced by a new economic strategy that relied upon low tax rates on the wealthy, deregulation of big business, cuts in safety net programs and cheap labor.
The results of those new policies have been disastrous for most Americans. The middle class has seen its wages stagnate while all of the economic gains have gone to the wealthy. We now have the highest level of economic inequality since 1928. This inequality has de-stabilized the political system and created dangerous demagogues like Donald Trump.
This new era was accompanied by a new and destructive philosophy from business. Suddenly, greed became good again. Between 1933 and 1980, we had what has been labeled “stakeholder capitalism.” In 1951, the chairman of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey asserted: “The job of management is to maintain an equitable and working balance among the claims of the various directly interested groups … stockholders, employees, customers, and the public at large.” Johnson & Johnson stated that its “first responsibility was to patients, doctors, and nurses, and not to investors.”
That all changed in the 1980s when we shifted to so-called “shareholder capitalism.” The new goal of corporate management was to maximize shareholder value at any cost. This new pursuit of greed entailed union busting, mass layoffs, cutting worker pay and moving factories to countries with cheap labor.
Shareholder capitalism and the GOP’s neo-liberal policies unleashed rapacious corporate raiders. Perhaps the most infamous corporate raider of all is Paul Singer of Elliott Management. Singer has been labeled the “doomsday investor” and the “world’s most feared investor.” He is an utterly ruthless and amoral individual who has even dug up dirt on rival CEOs and blackmailed them into selling him their companies.
One of Singer’s “specialties” is to buy up devalued bonds from poor countries and then file suit demanding payment of full value. Elliott Managment’s litigation once pushed Argentina into default — which contributed to soaring inflation, layoffs and higher unemployment. Singer’s lawsuit against the impoverished Republic of Congo sucked money out of that country that could have gone to schools and hospitals.
The small, rural town of Sidney, Nebraska had the misfortune of ending up in Singer’s crosshairs. In 2017, Bass Pro bought out Cabela’s in a $5.5 billion deal. Elliott Management was heavily involved in this transaction. As a consequence, Cabela’s left Sidney and the town lost 2,000 jobs. Suddenly, Sidney was in a state of economic depression and real estate values plunged. At the same time, Singer’s company grabbed a cool $90 million.
What’s interesting (and disturbing) is that Singer is one of the top GOP donors in the country. For example, Singer donated $1 million to the Trump Inaugural Committee. This corporate raider also has close ties with most of Nebraska’s most prominent GOP politicians. Singer has made generous donations to Deb Fischer, Ben Sasse, Don Bacon and Pete Ricketts.
The Ricketts family has been the largest beneficiary of Singer’s Nebraska largesse. Pete Ricketts collected $35,000.00 for his two gubernatorial campaigns and Singer gave a whopping $3.7 million to Joe Ricketts’ Super PAC.
Singer’s contributions to Ben Sasse have attracted the most attention since this vulture capitalist’s destruction of Sidney was the subject of a recent expose by Tucker Carlson of Fox News. At the time Carlson ran this surprising expose, he reached out to Sasse for comment but Nebraska’s junior Senator initially didn’t respond.
Carlson followed up his expose with a demand that Sasse return his political donations to Singer. It turns out that Singer has donated approximately $13,000.00 to Sasse and his Super PAC. Carlson blasted Sasse: “We’re not saying Ben Sasse or any other senator is doing Singer’s bidding purely for the cash. But why not remove all doubt? If one of your biggest donors turned out to be a pornographer or a mass distributor of OxyContin, you’d send back the donation. You wouldn’t want to be associated with someone like that. You’d want to be clear about your own values. Senator Sasse should be clear about his.”
Once Singer’s economic blitzkrieg of Sidney became a hot issue, Sasse was forced to emerge from his survivalist bunker and made the following statement: “There’s a real problem with American communities coming apart, and it is going to require creative policymaking, but this problem isn’t going to be solved by the easy, overpromising big-government advocates on either the right or the left.”
The reality is that Sasse and the other D.C. Republicans don’t have any “creative” policy solutions. Sasse and the rest of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation’s economic policies largely consist of deficit funded tax cuts for the wealthy, cheap labor and the deregulation of big business. It was those policies that destroyed the American middle class and Sidney.
The values of Ben Sasse and the rest of Nebraska’s Congressional values are not Main Street Nebraska values — they’re Wall Street values. Election 2020 will be about Main Street versus Wall Street. We Democrats are on your side and the D.C. Republicans are on their side.
The most important thing you can do is get involved in a campaign or multiple campaigns. If you can afford it, please make a donation to your favorite candidate. If you can’t, go door to door and/or make phone calls. Better yet — do both!
2020 is our time and our year. Trump is politically radioactive and could drag down the GOP with him this year. Let’s leave it all out on the field! Let’s get it done! We can do it!