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Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Has the 1% already "Seceded" from America? 20 January '12
In 1936 - Franklin Roosevelt was president - and he spoke to the nation about a war.
This was three years before Germany invaded Poland - so he wasn't referring to World War Two.
Instead - he was referring to a war WITHIN America - a war against the same economic forces that had crashed our economy a few years earlier in 1929 - and had corrupted our institutions of government.
It began in 1921 with the Republican Warren Harding administration - widely regarded as one of the most corrupt presidencies in American history - then it continued through the Republican Coolidge administration and into the Republican Hoover administration complete with his Stock Market crash of 1929. So by 1932 when FDR came in, the American people finally had enough and kicked the Republicans out of office.
And as Roosevelt said:
It is not alone a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.
To Roosevelt - our democracy hung in the balance in 1936 - and he referred to the enemy trying to destroy us - to destroy our democracy - as "Economic Royalists".
They were the banksters, the corporations, the industrial giants of agriculture and machinery.
They were the forces that screamed that Roosevelt's New Deal with its things like Social Security were "communism" - yes, they literally called it that - Social Security was communism - and they fought to stop the development of a middle class - to the union movement - they explicitly wanted a nation made up of the very rich...and the working poor.
These Economic Royalists even recruited a few hundred men and tried to get Marine General Smedley Butler to stage a military coup against President Roosevelt - so he really wasn't exaggerating at all when he talked about it being a war.
In regard to the tactics being used the Economic Royalists - Roosevelt said this:
These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power... In vain they seek to hide behind the Flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the Flag and the Constitution stand for.
This is a very important clip for us. That moment and this moment.
Because Mitt Romney - the man who will likely be the Republican nominee for President - IS an Economic Royalist...except today we don;t call them economic royalists any more, we refer to these Royalists as the 1%.
And Mitt Romney is trying to hide behind the flag and Constitution.
Here's what he said on Thursday to a man who asked Romney what he would do if he were president for the 99%:
Let me tell you something: America is a great nation because we’re a united nation. And those who try and divide the nation, as you’re trying to do here and as our President is doing, are hurting this country seriously. The right course for America is not to divide America and try and divide us between one and another. It’s to come together as a nation. And if you’ve got a better model, if you think China’s better, or Russia’s better, or Cuba’s better, or North Korea’s better, I’m glad to hear all about it. But you know what, you know what, America’s right and you’re wrong.
America is right - and you're wrong - and if you don't like it, then just go live in North Korea.
That's essentially what Romney just said.
And this is the strategy of today's 1%ers - this generation's Economic Royalists.
Their strategy is to deny that there is inequality in the United States - to deny that they live in an America that they live i which is vastly different than the America that the rest of us live in - and they hide behind the flag by saying that any criticism of their enormous wealth and political influence is somehow un-American.
As Romney said "America's right, but you're wrong!"
But it's a lie.
If Mitt Romney wants us to believe there's no such thing as the 1% - I'd like to hear his take on why is it that the top 1% have seen their incomes grow by 275% since 1979 - while the majority of our incomes have fallen.
Or why the top 1%'s share of national income has skyrocketed - while the middle class's has collapsed.
Growth in Real After-Tax Income from 1979 to 2007
Or why it is that 80% of ALL the new wealth created in America since 1980 - since Reaganomics - has gone to just the top 1%.
Or why there are 400 billionaires in America who own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
Or why the six Walton heirs own more wealth than the bottom 30% of all Americans.
Or why the 1% pay a different tax rate than the rest of us - a tax rate that - like Romney's - averages around 15% with no payroll tax paid.
1% vs. 99% is not campaign rhetoric - it's not a slogan from Occupy Wall Street - it's math.
It's right in your face.
The only people in America who pretend that they don't see this conflict - who say they don't see their own class warfare - are the 1% themselves.
According to a recent Pew Research Center poll - 2/3 of Americans - across party lines, across classes, and across races - strongly believe that there is a class war in America today.
As billionaire Warren Buffet said - there is class warfare going on in America right now - and it's his class - the rich class - the Romney class - that's winning.
But I guess you can't blame multimillionaires like Mitt Romney - or Newt Gingrich - or billionaires like the Koch brothers for not being aware of the class warfare... because they live in a completely different country than the rest of us.
They don't care about paying their fair share of taxes to make sure our roads aren't pot-holed and bridges aren't crumbling. Why? They have their chauffeurs and private jets.
They don't care if police budgets are getting cut - they have their own private security.
They don't care if our public schools are running out of money and failing our kids - they have their own private schools.
They don't care if our health care prices are skyrocketing - their top-notch insurance plans are just pocket-change for them.
They don't care if young men and women are being sent off to die in the Middle East - because they know their kids will never have to go.
They don't care if a generation of young Americans are saddled with over a trillion dollars in student loan debt - because their kids will never need a student loan.
They don't care if 7 million homes have been foreclosed on and another five million homes in America right now are on the verge of foreclosure - they've got homes all over the planet.
The 1% have already "seceded" from the United States - which is why the Romney presidential campaign is so ironic.
This guy really doesn't live in America - at least in the same America that the rest of us live in.
The 1% have retreated to their mansions - protected by iron gates and private guards - and are sucking dry the middle class - and then moving the money into their offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands.
They've become a cancer - and are just as big a threat to our democracy now as they were in 1936 when President Roosevelt first warned us about his generation's Economic Royalists - his generation's 1%ers.
In fact - they're a bigger threat now because of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision - because that decision has given the power to literally buy our elections to that 1%.
And that's where we have to start - right at Citizens United.
Right at the idea that corporations are people and money is speech - if we hope to turn the tide in this war that Roosevelt started more than 70 years ago - and that Warren Buffet warned recently is all but lost.
Today - federal courts across America were occupied by the 99% - I showed up and helped occupy the Supreme Court here in DC - an action organized nationwide by movetoamend.org to carry all of us forward in the struggle for democracy and an economy that benefits ALL Americans.
Repeat the mantra - money is not speech, it's property - and corporations aren't people, and should be forbidden from meddling in our politics.
Go to movetoamend.org for more information.
That's The Big Picture.