The Great American Stickup
How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street
By Robert Scheer
(Nation Books, Paperback, 9781568584348, 304pp.)
Publication Date: August 17, 2010
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A legendary journalist exposes how the very architects of our financial calamity now engineer the recovery program
Robert Scheer, former foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, is Editor-in-Chief of Truthdig and a senior lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication. He lives in Los Angeles.
REPRESENTATIVE HENRY WAXMAN, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
“Robert Scheer has used his skills as one of the best investigative reporters to show that the deregulation philosophy from Reagan to Clinton and both Bushes led to the near collapse of our financial institutions and the Great Recession from which we are still suffering.”
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post
“The Great American Stickup exposes the ugly truth behind the economic meltdown: the fix is in. Seduced by campaign cash and hordes of lobbyists, political leaders of both parties regularly do Wall Street's bidding--leaving Main Street to fend for itself. Even worse, Scheer shows that the people that nearly drove our economy over the cliff still have their hands on the wheel.”
MATT WELCH, editor-in-chief of Reason magazine
“Robert Scheer is among the vanishing breed of journalists who take it as a patriotic duty to criticize power no matter who wields it. Whatever your views on financial regulation, The Great American Stickup makes nauseatingly clear that both major parties—including the current and former president—colluded with banks ‘and left the rest of us holding the bag”
CHRIS HEDGES, Senior fellow of The Nation Institute and author of Empire of Illusion
“Robert Scheer, one of our most brilliant journalists, shows how we have been fleeced by Wall Street and our bankrupt political class. Those in the halls of Congress, the White House, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department and the corporate offices of high finance have ignored the common good, trashed the economy, set us on a course for another economic shipwreck and looted the U.S. Treasury of trillions of taxpayer dollars to sustain a system of casino capitalism.”
Publishers Weekly, 8/30/10
Following Ronald Reagan’s obsession with the “radical deregulation” of financial markets through its apotheosis under the Clinton administration to Obama’s reform efforts--which rely, oddly enough, on Clinton cronies to clean up (and profit from) the mess they made--Scheer (The Pornography of Power) proves that, when it comes to the ruling sway of money power, Democrats and Republicans, Wall Street and Washington make very agreeable bedfellows. Scheer names names (Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Alan Greenspan), while praising those who sounded the alarm and underscoring the foreseeable results of putting Wall Street in the driver’s seat. What grew in this regulatory vacuum, Scheer shows, was a global “casino,” a mind-bendingly enormous and arcane system of gambling on new financial products worth hundreds of trillions of dollars. By 2007, when the house of cards collapsed, Wall Street alone understood what it had wrought while its government partners remained clueless.
Vanessa Bush, Booklist, 9/15/10
Coziness between Wall Street and Washington, D.C., from as far back as the Reagan administration, set up the nation for a deliberate swindle that nearly brought down the U.S. economy, argues Scheer, a veteran journalist and editor of TruthDig.com. Drawing from investigative reporting, memoirs, and news accounts, Scheer traces the building crisis through the Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and even Obama administrations, taking aim at three myths: that the financial markets are logical and self-correcting, that excesses only hurt speculators and not the general public, and that government regulation stands in the way of effective free enterprise. Instead, he presents a portrait of financial and political skulduggery by several influential players, notably Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Phil Gramm, and heroic efforts by a few regulators to stop it. Scheer explains in accessible detail the expanding derivatives markets, loosening of regulations on financial activities, and the subprime mortgage market, with much of the abuse aided and abetted by a handful of influential men. He highlights Rubin’s machinations within government to grant expanded powers to Enron and Citigroup, then later joining Citigroup to benefit from the changes that he helped to engineer. Scheer is also critical of the business press that championed deregulation and asked few questions as iconic figures sat atop failure after failure, many of them now engaged in “reforming” the system. A scathing, penetrating look at the unsavory links between American finance and politics.
San Francisco Chronicle
“Scheer, a veteran journalist with a large following among conventional left-wingers, refreshingly admits that the "greedy bankers and the politicians who love them" are both Democrats and Republicans. . . . By blaming and shaming, Scheer reminds us that, because no one associated with the fraudulent practices in banking has gone to jail, and many remain in their high-paying jobs, at the very least, the reputations of these people should be destroyed.”
“As promised, muckraking liberal journalist Robert Scheer delivers an opinionated screed on what (and mostly who) he thinks caused the financial calamity of 2008-09. . . . To politicians and bankers who say there was no way they could have foreseen the financial meltdown, Scheer says: Baloney. . . . The renowned journalist makes some convincing arguments. . . . if you're looking to throw stones, Scheer offers plenty of houses, including a white one.”
“Robert Scheer is a journalist in the gadfly tradition of Lincoln Steffens, I. F. Stone and Seymour Hersh… so practiced at investigative journalism and advocacy journalism that his book is like a strong dose of black coffee — bracing and eye-opening. . . . Without sacrificing the subtleties and nuances of his subject, Scheer (along with his sons Christopher and Joshua Scheer) leads us briskly through the policy-making of the last three presidents and their advisors and argues that Democrats and Republicans share the blame.”