Everyone hates Bernie Madoff. He is the new face of what’s wrong in America. He has been called an evil monster but, according to his victims, these words are inadequate.
You have to hand it to Madoff. He lived large – no, huge – off this Ponzi scheme. It was great while it lasted and no one, including Madoff, thought it would go on as long as it did
While Madoff was considered a financial genus, his plan was surprisingly simple: Take money from investors. Give them an annual return that they could get no where else by taking money from new investors.
Of course, he kept the lion’s share for himself, socking it away in thousands of places, preferring to plead guilty to all charges, rather than cooperate and name any accomplices.
The government estimates that Madoff stole $65 billion from his clients. It has been called the biggest case of fraud in history. I beg to differ.
By my calculations there are some 465 Bernie Madoffs, who are operating a similar Ponzi scheme right under our very noses, stealing billions from hardworking Americans each and every year.
They take our money in the form of tax dollars and dole it out to their friends in the form of pork barrel projects called “earmarks,” who give it back to them in the form of campaign contributions and sweetheart business deals for themselves and members of their families. While a few – very few – members have been prosecuted, most of what they do is legal – though unethical – and they operate with impunity.
Last year, the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense compiled data that showed that 60 percent of the members of the House Armed Services Committee who arranged earmarks also received campaign contributions from the companies that received the funding. Almost all the members of the committee received campaign contributions from companies that got earmarks this year.
We look at Madoff and we point a finger at federal regulators and we say, “Why didn’t somebody do something?” What about the 200 million eligible U.S. voters who have oversight of Congress or, at the very least, the 90 million who pay taxes? Why don’t we do something? After all, we are the victims of this Ponzi scheme.
A large chuck of this money is recycled and doled back to the states, which is supposed to make us feel better about it. In fact, most Madoffs in Congress brag about this practice and use it as a tool to get reelected. Take the money from taxpayers. Launder it through layers of bureaucracy and give 50 cents on the dollar back to the states for projects the majority of people there don’t need or want.
How much better it would be to cut federal taxes, leave the money in the states and let the people who live there make the hard decisions on how to spend it! But, no! That doesn’t increase the power of our representatives in Washington!
Obama promised to get rid of earmarks but he just signed a $410 billion omnibus bill outside of the glare of the cameras that contained 9,000 of them!
It’s important to identify the Madoffs who passed this bill. In the Senate, it includes all Democrats with the exception of Bayh (IN), McCaskill (MO) and Feingold (WI). It also includes Republicans Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), Snowe (ME), Cochran and Wicker (MS), Bond (MO), Specter (PA) and Alexander (TN).
In the House, the Madoffs include all Democrats with the exception of these 20: Bean (Il), Cardoza, Costa and Speier (CA), Childers (MI), Cooper and Tanner (TN),, Donnelly and Hill (IN), Driehaus (OH), Giffords and Mitchell (AZ), Kind (WI), Kratovil (MD), Marshall (GA), Matheson (UT), Minnick (ID), Nye (VA), Peterson (MN), Taylor (MS).
The Madoff Republicans are: Bono (CA), Mack and Brown-Waite (FL), Cao (LA), Capito (WV), Castle (DE), Dent, Gerlach and Murphy(PA), Emerson (MO), LoBiondo (NJ), McHugh (NY), Miller and Upton (MI), Reichert (WA), Whitfield (KY)and Young (AK).
However, these are not the only Madoff Republicans in the House. Despite their “no” votes, all but 39 Republicans had earmarks in this bloated omnibus bill.
In all, only six senators and 64 House members have signed the “no earmark” pledge. Check it out at http://earmarkpledge.com/signers.php. The rest clearly are Madoffs and they should be dumped in the next election.
They all have excuses – some worthwhile project their state just couldn’t be without. Don’t buy it!
There are those who will argue that earmarks are only a small part of the problem in Washington. This is true. However, when you clean out something, you start with the part that smells.