Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs

« A New Administration, A New Policy On Torture? | Main | Bill Moyers talks with Thomas Frank: Web Exclusive »

Bill Moyers & Michael Winship: The Wave of "Capitol Crimes" Continues

Below is an piece by Bill Moyers and JOURNAL writer Michael Winship. We welcome your comments below.

The Wave of "Capitol Crimes" Continues
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

Like the largesse he spread so bountifully to members of Congress and the White House staff -- countless fancy meals, skybox tickets to basketball games and U2 concerts, golfing sprees in Scotland -- Jack Abramoff is the gift that keeps on giving.

The notorious lobbyist and his cohorts (including conservatives Tom Delay, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed) shook down Native American tribal councils and other clients for tens of millions of dollars, buying influence via a coalition of equally corrupt government officials and cronies dedicated to dismantling government by selling it off, making massive profits as they tore the principles of a representative democracy to shreds.

A report earlier this summer from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform builds on an earlier committee investigation that detailed some 485 contacts between Abramoff and the Bush administration. According to the new report, "Senior White House officials told the Committee that White House officials held Mr. Abramoff and members of his lobbying team in high regard and solicited recommendations from Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues on policy matters."

Now Abramoff's doing time in Maryland, at a minimum security Federal prison, serving five years and ten months for unrelated, fraudulent business practices involving a fake wire transfer he and a partner fabricated to secure a loan to buy SunCruz Casinos, a line of Florida cruise ships that ferried high and low rollers into international waters to gamble (its original owner, Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, was gunned down, Mafia-style, in February 2001). But come September, Abramoff will be sentenced for his larger-than-life role in one of the biggest scandals in American history, a collection of outrages that has already sent one member of Congress to jail, others into retirement and dozens of accomplices running for cover.

Over the last couple of years he has been singing to the authorities, which is why he has been kept in a detention facility close to DC and the reason his sentencing for tax evasion, the defrauding of Indians and the bribing of Washington officials has been delayed -- the FBI is thought to be using Abramoff's testimony to build an ever-expanding case that may continue to shake those who live within the Beltway bubble for months and years to come.

Bill Moyers Journal is airing an updated edition of "Capitol Crimes," a special that was first produced for public television two years ago, relating the entire sordid story of the Abramoff scandals. Produced by Sherry Jones, the rebroadcast comes at a moment of renewed interest, with not only Abramoff's sentencing imminent, but the most important national elections in decades little more than three months away and continuing, seemingly daily revelations of further, profligate abuses of power.

Monday saw the publication of a 140-page report from the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, confirming that, as the Washington Post recounted, "For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a 'farm system' for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.

"That aide, Monica M. Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command... [The report] concluded yesterday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in 'misconduct,' a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions."

With the next day's sunrise came the indictment of Alaskan Republican Ted Stevens, the first sitting US Senator to face criminal charges in 15 years. Apparently, the senator was playing the home version of "The Price Is Right," for among the gifts a grand jury says were illegally rewarded him by the oil company VECO were a Viking gas grill, tool cabinet and a wraparound deck for his mountainside house in Anchorage. In fact, VECO allegedly gave the place an entire new first floor, with two bedrooms and a bath. How neighborly.

(By the way, just to round the circle, Senator Stevens received $1000 in campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff directly, which subsequently he donated to the Alaskan chapter of the Red Cross, and $16,500 from Native American tribes and others represented by Abramoff, which Stevens gave to other charities.)

Coincidentally, this week also marks the publication of a new book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule, written by Thomas Frank, the author of What's the Matter with Kansas? In an essay in the August issue of Harper's magazine, adapted from the book, Frank adroitly weaves the actions of Abramoff and his pals into a vastly larger ideological framework.

"Fantastic misgovernment is not an accident," he writes, "nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, what follows from that: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington.

"... The conservatism that speaks to us through its actions in Washington is institutionally opposed to those baseline good intentions we learned about in elementary school. Its leaders laugh off the idea of the public interest as airy-fairy nonsense; they caution against bringing top-notch talent into government service; they declare war on public workers. They have made a cult of outsourcing and privatizing, they have wrecked established federal operations because they disagree with them, and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis. The ruination they have wrought has been thorough; it has been a professional job. Repairing it will require years of political action."
Have we the stamina, commitment -- or even the attention span -- to take such action? Abramoff may be cooling his heels in minimum security but his pals Delay, Norquist and Reed appear on television and radio whose hosts treat them as political savants with nary a nod to their past nefarious association with Abramoff. Few in the audience seem to notice or care. Former House majority leader Delay's awaiting trial on money laundering charges, and the incorrigible Ralph Reed, who played Christian pastors in Texas for suckers in enlisting their unwitting help for Abramoff's gambling clients, even has a political potboiler of a novel out -- Dark Horse, the story of a failed Democratic presidential candidate who finds God, then runs as an independent, funded, presumably, by the supreme being's political action committee.

"Do we Americans really want good government?" That's a question asked, not by Thomas Frank, but the muckraking journalist Lincoln Steffens, writing more than a century ago in his book, The Shame of the Cities. He wrote, "We are a free and sovereign people, we govern ourselves and the government is ours. But that is the point. We are responsible, not our leaders, since we follow them. We let them divert our loyalty from the United States to some ‘party;’ we let them boss the party and turn our municipal democracies into autocracies and our republican nation into a plutocracy. We cheat our government and we let our leaders loot it, and we let them wheedle and bribe our sovereignty from us."

From more than a hundred years' distance, Steffens would recognize Abramoff & company for what they are. And we for who we are; a nation too easily distracted and looking the other way as everything rightfully ours is taken.

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer Bill Moyers Journal,


TrackBack URL for this entry:


thanks for the informative post,being a unsuspecting voter, may have been lured by the prospects of a rosy future with decent income, however it seems these people have personal agendas and dreams as well, sic,
Sports Picks would be a better option and get into local laundering instead,
will watch and look carefully at the candidates ,

sad to say the least,however this trend has to be reversed and i think with the policy changes, that ought to happen slowly,

As we slept the foxes set up a “RESTORATION PLAN” to make sure the “Chicken coop” is clean!

I read yesterday 2008 9 7
"WASHINGTON - The Bush administration seized control Sunday of troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, aiming to stabilize the housing market turmoil that is threatening financial markets and the overall economy.
Is this not a Communism? Is this not what Castro did in Cuba? Is this not what the Eastern block Countries did after the World Wat II? Why not seized the Oil industry?
So much for a “free market economy”!
“The Treasury Department said it will immediately inject $1 billion in each of the companies... and could boost its investment to as much as $100 billion each over time if the funds are needed to keep the companies afloat as losses... mount. In exchange, the government will receive WARRANTS – (WORTHLESS PAPER) entitling it to purchase ownership stakes of 79.9 percent in each”.
“Officials defended this approach... the importance of (waste paper) of the trillions in mortgage debt that each company... guarantees... the need to make sure that investors in this country and overseas keep buying this debt - (worthless papers)”!
“The Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators said in a joint statement Sunday that "a limited number of smaller institutions" have significant holdings of common or preferred stock shares in Fannie and Freddie, and that regulators were "prepared to work with these institutions to develop capital-restoration plans."
Four more years of either “Democrats” or “The McCain-Palin administration will make (sure more of the same) they are smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help."
“AMEND THE CONSTITUTION”! EMPOWER the PEOPLE TO “EXPRES THEIR WILL” on ALL ISUES! This may never happen in my life time, but I would love to see it happen!


Whereas I agree with Big M that the state of the federal government is despicable, I cannot concur that we need a new constitution. We merely, please forgive my implied understatement, to look more carefully at the one we have. Of late we've preferred a laissez-faire lens when viewing activist Supreme Court rulings that for all intents castrate or disembowel the guts of our political and social premises. If we as a society have ever stood for anything besides unlimited acquisition of individual wealth, we have at least pretended to make some claim upon ethical practices. The time has come for us to walk the talk......Our government must reflect our claims to the ethical standards we have so boisterously and hypocritically rubbed the rest of the nations' noses in for over two hundred years. We also need to live up to our promise of being an ethically innovative people in order to drag ourselves out of the tarpit we've irresponsibly spent ourselves into. Sorry for the mixed metaphors, Dr. Castle.

I am fascinated and fatally attracted to poster JANE. How do you earn your living, Beautiful? And where do you shop for groceries? How I dream of meeting you in the sundry aisle and going halves on a bottle of suntan lotion. Contact me:
I'm serious! I want a tan like Tom Delay.

Thank you for airing this again and for the update. Did I hear you correctly that Ralph Reed is hosting a McCain fundraiser later this month? So the cycle does indeed continue.
A reminder for the American voter. Check the voting records of representatives and senators up for election this year and if they don't agree with your concerns, fire them!


I just watched your Capital Crimes PBS special and it was an excellent piece of honest, investigative reporting.

However, I fail to understand why all of them are not in jail and banned from any involvement in Politics for life. What they have done is equivalent to Mafia shakedowns.

Then, President Bush, Karl Rove and everyone else involved should be jailed or sent to sweatshops in the Marianas.

Why isn't this on CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC, so all Americans can see the level of corruption in Washington and the Republican Party?

this country has had lawless "leaders" for way to long; the "housing" crisis had laws to protect it as well as the banks since the great depression; i strongly suspect since the truckers are saying the housing crisis is far greater than it is being let on to be, & since the "media" is censored just like in Hitler's day which is illegal as well; the "people" just "walking" away from their homes, leaving every single thing behind; then "foreclosure" since payments not made; where did the American people go to folks? Why are other countries refering to Hitler, how it was done then & how it is being done today in the USA & talking of genocide here? No one has talked of Lou Dobbs book 2006 "war on the American Dream" it might as well state the American citizens: by Gov, special interest, & Pentagon: we have been under psychological & financial warfare by them for decades now; we have been set up as the scourge of the earth; Obama portrays us as ripping babies from mothers arms as they seek refuge in churchs & says WE are the terrorists; I have no doubt they have "film" to show just like the "monks" in Tibet supposedly looted & burned; but it was not them, folks made up to "look" like them; the real monks went to journalists & pleaded with them to help them; alas, they could not; this was a Western tactic folks: concentration camps in Alaska "supposedly" for immigrants; now elec bills "adjusted" as we the people have to pay Corporation taxes; oh, and of course, now while "supposedly" broke, college tuition will be paid for in Oregon: who has always has lots of $ at both st & fed levels under "ag workers"; other countries SEE us as slaves to Corps; with wealthy, Corp's & Gov taking all; & say by the time the citizens ever wake up it will be to late.

This show made me want to puke. To see so politicans acting in this manner is truly disgusting. I know theyre bad but this takes the cake. Thanks for showing us the truth. I looked at delays website and that jerkoff is still fronting for the ccm. At least now people will be more aware of what is really going on. Always follow the money! good job Mr Moyers.
Respectfully-another disgusted middleclass tax payer,
Chris S.

jan-August3-5:58 am!
It's only "self-satisfied" and "holier-than-thou" if you stop at watching Moyers and voting for Obama. We have to build fires under both their asses, and maybe our own, before any real change will come. Let's march on Washington, DC Inauguration Day and give the newly elected a hearty push in the right direction. We don't have to agree on every detail, just the general direction. Sacrifices may be in order to save democracy and this planet, for ourselves and anyone's children.

This is only the very tip of the ICEBERG; keep digging... And for all others who know, tell us your stories too now!

There are very few Republicans, as Gerri wrote,who are corrupt and morally bankrupt. It goes across party lines. Am sure much "dirty money" has been given too and,spent by Liberals also.Because the show was shown on PBS/Moyers is why it might appear as if the Republicans are the evil receivers as Moyers is so far left and hates anything conservative. Read Bill Oreilly's book "CULTURE WARRIOR"

The Ignorance - to Fear - to Violence cycle.

Did the ignorance of the USA as to who flew airplanes into our towers, cause fear, and violence to Iraq, who was not involved in the planes of 9/11? They did have some violent weapons like the USA does, but is that enough to attack them in war?

Did we as a country do just as Adkkison did, and attack innocent Humans like he did? How can Government Morals be any better, than their citizens that approve of Killing innocent Brothers/Sisters of Life, and ruin GODs Planet.

We are all victims of the Inequality of Human Life on Earth. Not just in War, but in all other phases of Killing our land, sea, and air.

With all our High Tech Science Knowledge of the Universe, we still act like Animals.

Did we really come from the Animals and Cavemen, or from the High Tech Science Male and Female Clone Humans in Genesis? We still do not accept if Life on Earth Evolved or was Created Supernaturally by the High Tech Science in Genesis.

When are we going to put our Actions where our Mouth is, and instead of 'Saying' we love God, and our Brothers/Sisters of Life, 'Live' like we do, like Jesus did?

Dear Mr. Moyers and crew,
I dread the day when your type of journalism comes to an end. I know nothing lasts forever, a lesson the capitol crimes bosses always seem to ignore, but I, in my simple understanding am fully aware.

Thank you for your enlightenment and your continued effort in keeping the citizenry truly informed. Now all we have to do is act. Take good care and I will continue to be informed and to act. Peace.

Dear Mr. Moyers and crew,
I dread the day when your type of journalism comes to an end. I know nothing lasts forever, a lesson the capitol crimes bosses always seem to ignore, but I, in my simple understanding am fully aware.

Thank you for your enlightenment and your continued effort in keeping the citizenry truly informed. Now all we have to do is act. Take good care and I will continue to be informed and to act. Peace.

Not only have they used Religious doctrines to push forward their Corp agenda, but follow the idea that god only blesses the worthy, and all others are sinners. They have not been 'anionted' with Entitlement, and are not deemed worthy of attaining it. So everything they do should focus on keeping the 'Sinners' down and escalating the 'Blessed' to as high of level as possible.Failure to do so would be going against 'God's design', plan,pre Ordained Judgement.
Funny we never got a glimpse of what 'church' Hillary regularly attends and Mac had to make rare appearance at the claimed Baptist church- he's always stated he was an Episcopalian, until this election season.which is it? Either/ Neither?
Both Hillary & Mac seems to pulled pages right out of Hagee's Armageddon handbook "Bomb bomb bomb Iran" "Obliterate Iran".
As far as i'm concerned both confessed to whos' doctrine guides their actions and moral stances.

Is it "self-satisfied" and "holier than thou" to hope for survival for ourselves and our children?

Not an excellent program, not even satisfactory. Look at the story Linda suggests: T-bone Pickens is stealing our water while selling us his gas.
Bill has done nothing to inform the public how much gas from deep water and sensitive drilling would cost per gallon (at least $5+) or how such policy would retard CO2 sequestration or alternative energies. Bill is playing the tabloid game of name-dropping and finger-pointing before the election. Everybody accepts that you and your audience are partisan for Democrats, and that most Republicans are gangsters: We don't have to be reminded. Your little audience has proven to be so self-satisfied and holier than thou that they will never evangelize the truth to their daily associates. Some are so Milquetoast that they would deny watching the Journal 3 times before the cock crows. Bill is going to have to be more provocative to get attention and wake up the public before it is too late. You can't organize without first raising some Hell! (Journalistic neutrality is dead! Bill still clutches the blanket binding in his clenched hands.) Screw the Olympics; Screw the election; There are greater urgencies at stake!

Think we could tie all the characters in last night's ABRAMOFF SCAMS with the current REFORM INSTITUTE and McCain's lobbying.

With a rampage corruption, war, devaluation of the currency, deregulation on the financial market, run on the banks, bailing out institution is a reminder that the
“chickens have come home to roost”!
A -“TROYKA”system of government - “political corruption, moral decay in local and state level; “TROYKA” System “School Board, Department of Education and DCED, as well as others. The “purpose” to provided check and balances are none existence.. One files a deceive petition, 2nd inspect it for compliance with the law with a “blind eye”, and the 3th rubber stamps the approval of the finances irrelevant of any violations of the law!
The “TROYKAS” system works in harmony for the benefits of themselves! The news report was, there is “run on the bank”! It reminded me that “In early portion of Civil-War one-third of paper money in circulation was counterfeit”! It is a fact “the Financial system is not sound! "... The conservatism that speaks ... in Washington... declare war on public workers..., have wrecked established federal operation... , and they have deliberately piled up an Everest of debt in order to force the government into crisis” is very true!
A system created in 1930 of “PURPOSEFUL, DELIBERATE and RATIONAL”, is corrupt! “The Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and a Banking System” created “to serve the public, it turns out it serve themselves”. “The Civil War, the 1930's and 2008 run on the bank” must not be ignored, for it has been a deliberate agenda to “Reclaim the Conservative Value” by “deregulation of the Financial System”! Conservative claim, a capitalism system... “provides, service, benefit and a product... that you get rewarded for it”, turns the “reward” is stolen, - “run on the bank”! “The Republicans claim the cost of living has fallen dramatically..., have championed... for Americans”! Has the cost of living fallen? From $1.00 a gallon gas, it is now selling over $4.00 a gallon. We have been reminded of Constitutional system... that protects “the rights of the people” - a right to loose saving funds by corruption in a saving institution! "Fantastic misgovernment to cultivate a 'farm system' is not an accident..! I agree, “it has been a professional job.”! A Judge from the supreme court states, “... what did the words mean to the people who ratified the Bill of Rights or who ratified the Constitution, as opposed to what people today would like". Claiming “it puts him on the defensive as defending presumably a dead Constitution." The judge argue. “Society doesn't change through a Constitution, the laws do change and we adopt their value”! In place of an amendment to the Constitution the new “adopted value” is $10,6 trillion debt, on going war of trillion dollars, 4200 death, thousands wounded, economic crises - depression etc.
The justice system has failed to protect the Constitution. It has failed to enforce the statute 5301 Official Oppression, it states, - “A person acting in an official capacity, knowing his conduct is illegal he: denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity”! It is a government for the special interest group, the privilege and wealthy. I disagree, that ".... we govern ourselves and the government is ours”.
It is a Constitutional system of political corruption that denies the fundamental right of the people to “EXPRESS THEIR WILL” on ALL ISSUES!
Have we the stamina, commitment.... to take such action?
To take action now is to amend the CONSTITUTION to “empower the people to express their will on all issues”! Impose strict rules on the three branches of
government! The two party system is corrupt and do not offer substantial change!

Dear Mr. Moyers,
What I viewed was in depth reporting on what has taken place and from what I recall from living day to day is accurate. I would think a lot of Christians would really be concerned about Ralph Reed. When you read the Bible, it doesn't say anything about the wealthy going to Heaven and after viewing the whole episode, I would think a lot of people involved in this mischeivious plot would be embarrassed. It should be investigated and prosecuted and they have only touched the surface up to now I believe. The only way us voters are going to get this system back is use common sense and listen to programs like yours.
Yours truly, Disgusted Middleclass Taxpayer, LaVern Isely

Hello Mr. Moyers and Journal Staff,

With this and last weeks editions of the Journal you have touched on too angles of the same problem with our Congress.

I think its time you connect the dots for your viewers. The relationship between campaign fund raising, lobbyists, PACs, earmarks and the role of transparency needs to be seen as a whole.

I think it is time you have on Joe Trippi and Larry Lessig to discuss Change Congress and the role the average citizen must play to bring improper dependence in Congress to an end.

I have to agree with Ralph Nader’s appeal to the silent majority of American citizens from all over the political spectrum; "When are you going to get indignant and do something ?".

People like Abramoff were empowered by a system that offered little or no opposition to out and out corruption. Our founding fathers must have had a lot of faith in the citizenry of their era, and their willingness to correct such problems in the voting booth, to constitutionally endow members of Congress with such power. Yet only one third of the population shows up on Election Day to make their concerns known. Nothing new here, throughout history Plutocracies have never required a consensus to establish total control over the population !

I have to agree with Ralph Nader’s appeal to the silent majority of American citizens from all over the political spectrum; "When are you going to get indignant and do something ?".

People like Abramoff were empowered by a system that offered little or no opposition to out and out corruption. Our founding fathers must have had a lot of faith in the citizenry of their era, and their willingness to correct such problems in the voting booth, to constitutionally endow members of Congress with such power. Yet only one third of the population shows up on Election Day to make their concerns known. Nothing new here, throughout history Plutocracies have never required a consensus to establish total control over the population !

Heckuva job, Mr. Moyers and your staff!

I have a suggestion for another project that's large in scope like this one: T. Boone Pickens.

What's behind Pickens' buying up the water rights to America's largest aquifer that just happens to lie beneath his wind corridor? What's with his establishing a water district, with help from local Texas legislators, that gives him authority to invoke eminent domain along his wind corridor? And to back up a bit, what's been going on with this eminent domain thing of his? Who's lost their land so far? What's this about his building a water pipeline alongside the power transmission line in his wind corridor to pipe the water which he allegedly plans to drain from said aquifer, pipe to Dallas, and then sell to Americans at a huge profit?

I find it really hard to believe that this hostile takeover hedge fund billionaire who has put people out of jobs from his buying and breaking up companies is focussed on saving energy and the environment. Seems not just plausible, but likely that he's speculating on water, a scarce resource that's becoming scarcer and more valuable by the day.

It really irks me that people like Carl Pope are saying he's out to save America.

Issues raised by his speculation in the wind (or water, which is it?) industry are:
(1) Environmental impact of water drilling all over America's largest aquifer.
(2) Land rights issues. Billionaires forcing American citizens to hand over their private property so that guys worth $4 billion can become worth even more. Eminent domain is a huge, huge issue today.
(3) Ethical/humanitarian issue of secretly buying up a scarce resource essential to all life on earth, under the guise of do-gooding for the environment, and then profiting off of its redistribution during a totally predictable time of drought.

Shows like this are the only way to make any sense out of the news that has been coming out this administration on a daily basis. The corruption is so completely pervasive throughout, ranging from the top down. Sometimes I get this sickening feeling in my stomach that we are watching the slow and wrenching destruction of liberty.
Please keep on informing us and making us think about our values and the kind of country we want, the kind of society we want for our children and grandchildren.

President George W. Bush, 192 Representatives and 41 Senators has made a pledge to Grover G. Norquist and “Americans for Tax Reform” to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.” Since reducing the marginal tax rates only affect the wealthy; this is, in effect, a pledge to support big business and the super wealthy.

Since the National Taxpayer Protection Pledge was started in 1986, the marginal income tax rate has declined from 50 to 35 percent for individuals and from 51 to 39 percent for corporations. This has exacerbated the growing inequality of income and wealth to the point that the wealthiest 1 percent has more wealth than the bottom 95 %. Only the wealthy have benefited from these tax breaks and in the process we also take from the many to enrich the few.”

According to the “Budget of the United States Government, Historical Tables, FY 2006.” In 1953 the Corporate Income Tax as a Share of GDP was 6 % and in 2004 it was down to 1.3 %. . Now Senator John McCain’s tax plan will reduce the maximum corporate tax rate to 25 percent.

According to “Effective Tax Rates for Taxpayers with the Top 400 Adjusted Gross Income”
When we look at the effective tax rates for the top 400 we find the number of top 400 taxpayers paying less than 20 % was: 1995 – 25; 2000 – 136; and in 2005 – 255. The number of top 400 taxpayers paying less than 15 % was: 1995 – 12; 2000 – 40; 2005 – 144. This is much less than the average middle class worker.

The United States is the most economically stratified society in the western world. As THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reported, a recent study found that the top .01% or 14,000 American families hold 22.2% of wealth — the bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, just 4% of the nation's wealth. Steve Fraser said on Bill Moyers Journal “I read the other day I mean this is incredible, that the hedge fund managers had average the 50 top hedge fund managers had averaged, I think, 29 billion doll or had accumulated 29 billion dollars in 2007. The one who was at the top of the list had made a 3.7 billion dollar income in 2007, largely by speculating against sub prime mortgages. That is to say he's made a huge amount of money speculating they would collapse. Three point seven billion dollars is comes out to be 30 times and in an hour, that man made 30 times what the average American family made in a year.”

Their Republican representatives have deceived the general public, who must pay higher taxes, lose public services, or be responsible for big future debt burdens. The national debt has doubled in the last seven years to $9.5 trillion and will add another $0.5 trillion this year. Our infrastructure is in disrepair, New York had a sinkhole, bridges fall down, levees break, and many parts of the country are running out of water.

If republicans wanted to reduce taxes for working people they could eliminate the payroll taxes or give a personal exemption for the first wages up to the poverty level. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states that three-fourths of taxpayers pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes, while the rich are limited to the first $102,000. Reduction of the payroll taxes can prevent the welfare trap. The welfare trap theory asserts that taxation and welfare systems can jointly contribute to keep people on social insurance. This is also known as the unemployment trap or poverty trap.

This pledge has limited the Republican response to critical government problems, which has curtailed the roll of government and distorted social views to conform to the pledged goal. The standard Republican response to problems is to recommend a tax break. If the Republicans get their way, revenue will shrink to zero and government will shrink to anarchy. This pledge undermines confidence that no one can beat the system and the system is fair for all. To build an inclusive society, Congress must structure the tax system to do the greatest amount of good for the largest number of people, not just big business and the super wealthy. Every Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan has made this commitment, as well as over 90 percent of incumbent GOP House and Senate members. As long as Republicans insist on serving Mr. Norquist, the American people can expect the rich to get richer and everyone else to get poorer. ”Mr. Norquist, a native of Massachusetts, has been one of Washington’s most effective issues management strategists for over two decades.” Mr. Norquist claims to represent all taxpayers. Did he ask you?

Do you want your representative to uphold the preamble to the constitution “to promote the general welfare” or support the wealthy and big business?

Thank you Mr Moyers! It seems to me that America´s moral fitness & values lines one´s own pockets basing it upon, of course, religion and moral up-rightness....then when these blocks of values start falling how quickly they turn on each other. I suppose it will continue(???)

filman said: "I think these men started out with good intentions, and got sucked into evil schemes."

I don't think so filman, they were the evil.

filman said: "they all deserve orange suits for a couple of years"

If it were your money they took filman from you and your family, and you were called and viewed as a "moron", a "monkey", an idoit, and a "MoFo, would you still think they shouild only get a couple of years ???

filman salso said, "what i don't understand is why does Bill Moyers only take the story if it's a republican involved".

Well maybe filman because they, the republican are the most reprehensible ???

And lastly filman you have the audacity to attack Bill moyer's integerty because he only reported what was the truth about this jewish bigot ???

You got a lot of damn gull filman, a whole lot !!!

I appreciate that Bill Moyers shares info that is based on fact and whats important to focus on, not rumors and gossip.
The current lies and disregard for the general public has gone out of proportion in this current administration. It amazes me that Republicans are scandalized about clinton's lie over an affair, at least thousands didn't die over Clintons lie as they have over Bush and Chaney's lies and abuse of power.
There are good people as well as the bad running our government. People need to quit the party bias, passing gossip and attacks and review each person running with an open mind. Its not a good leader that spends our money to do personal attacks of his opponent. We need someone with more integrity and not mired with the old school of politics.

Again another excellent program! The Bill Moyers Journal has no equals, an important investigative program that is sadly missing in todays media. That said I do agree with Philman; to be taken serious by all sides one must watch out for any partisan slant. Great program!

Thank you so much for your enlightening story on the Abramoff scandal! Although, it is certaintly disheartening to learn about poltiical scandals and corruption; I am glad that there are television shows such as your as reporters who are willing to expose these issues and bring it to the public's attention. We as voters and citizens have a responsibility to act when we learn about these issues and keep our officals accountable. There was a petition in my area asking for signatures to put a poltiical party on the ballot who wanted to outlaw the IRS. Now I am wondering if it is related to Delay. I plan to follow up with my Congressman and Senators to find out why there wasn't further action taken against Delay and Reed. Thank you for keeping us on your toes! I encourage others to follow up as well and fight these injustices! We do elect our officials and can exercise our power through our freedom to vote. Thank you Bill Moyers!

I guess the old saying power corrupts,and absolute power corrupts absolutely.I think these men started out with good intentions, and got sucked into evil schemes.they all deserve orange suits for a couple of years. what i don't understand is why does Bill Moyers only take the story if it's a republican involved. when was the last time you remember him covering a Democrat scandal so thouroughly. like Clinton and the China gate story , where Clinton took Illegal money fron China for secret missle technology, or how about all the money he took for 100 pardons when he left office. how about the latest story all the liberal Media is dodging about John Edwards and his Mistress and love child, while his wife battels about william Jefferson in louisiana taking 100 grand least the Conservitive WORLD Magizine is not Biased they will investigate crooks whichever Party they belong to. NOW THEY HAVE MORE INTEGRITY in ther little finger than all of Bill Moyer and the liberal Media like abc cbs msnbc cnn. Take a Lesson Bill...

Dear Mr. Moyer,

I watched "Capitol Crimes" tonight (8-1-08) and I can not believe the institutionalized corruption that exists in our government ...our
"Government of the People, by the people". Thank you for shinning a light on the darkest hearts that have gone to Washington to serve themselves and the people , corporations, dishonest non-profits that keep them in power. Everyone seems to be more than willing to sellout for money, what a shame. It is difficult not to loose faith in our government, and to wonder how and who can ever fix all of the damage that has been done.
I will continue to be a regular viewer of The Journal. I am looking foward to the election this year and maybe we will be able to "throw the bumbs out!!"

Why are so many Republicans corrupt and morally bankrupt? Not only that but some of them go around pretending to be Christians and praying together. What hypocrits. Can't wait for more shoes to fall. It is pure evil what they did in the Marianas.

Is this what Republicans really mean by free market capitalism? Abusing, exploiting and enslaving human beings??

I wrote everything out and then it disappeared. Can't you do better than that? Why can't you retain what is typed out?

Big M: The problem would be that the state governments are run by the same fascist cabals as the federal government, and, if the federal were abolished be even less able to stand up to multinational corporate power. (The wealth and class gap is also producing an "awareness divide.") Still, you are correct that states are the key in that they presently hold the power of domestic corporate charter. By revoking corporate legitimacy the states have the power of altering the hopeless political landscape without immediate resort to Article V. I think I fear the racist and militant tendencies of ultra conservatives who want to overthrow the last vestiges of human and civil rights under the Constitution by totally abolishing it more than I fear the present wealth dominated federal government. I think of the "ethnic" warfare that broke out when international fiscal policy fostered the breakup of Yugoslavia (once a peaceful workers' state). And yet, at the same time I see how confederation could work in North America as it has in the European Union (which mostly protects member human rights and generally protects their economic well-being.)
This is all speculative in a nation that mistakenly believes that drilling for petroleum (and natural gas)at greater depths in more sensitive areas can alleviate rising fuel prices. (Difficult drilling will raise the gallon to $10 while delaying the inevitable shift to solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, tidal, biometric, etc.) If people cannot understand how it takes more energy to pump from deep wells under the oceans and can't understand that nuclear power is our worst nightmare when it comes to security (proliferation) and a sustainable environment (waste disposal) then how can they understand the disparity of socio-economic power that keeps them from having any say-so in federal (or even state) government legislation and policy.
I can't help but recommend that education through grassroots organizing, followed by peaceful civil actions is the only way out of this cattle chute the global oligarchical corporations have humanity corraled in.
Bigger M's than you have suggested we ditch federalism and have only wound up drugged and murdered in a cheap rural motel room, power being what we have let it become.
Don't let your expectation that a few white male gun owners have all the answers fool you Big M. These car-puzzler, sports betting types will only be the first ones in sniper sights or under the tank tread, their efforts (McVeigh) being used to undermine our legitimate nonviolent efforts. Resistance operators must be realistic and clever by using mass nonviolence and inclusive tactics. The gun is a pitiful deathstick, especially for the one holding it, given present technological sophistication (weapons designed to mass kill civilians, surveillance, data bases, biometric identification....)
We have to shame and co-opt power weilders to our insight of egalitarianism, not fight them. If we fight superior forces we only become their meat, because their destiny (staying the course) is ultimately sub-speciation, and cannibalism (on this dwindling planet).

P.S.: The convention would be invoked under Article V of the Constitution.

Dear Bill:

Anybody with an ounce of brains knows that it doesn't matter if Americans want "good government." The federal government is murdering this country. The federal government is completely fascist at this point in history. The federal government represents nobody in this country, except corporations, oil companies, and the military/industrial complex. Practically every member of Congress has an Israeli bar code stamped on their asses. The federal government has to die, or this country WILL die. Period.

Do you want to use your forum in a constructive way? Then tell people not to vote for ANYBODY running for federal office, especially for Fascist-in-Chief. Then tell every state legislature in this country that they need to demand, and implement themselves if necessary, in the event that Congress tries to kill the process, a new constitutional convention, where amendments will be introduced and passed, abolishing the federal government, every single federal enforcement agency, and the standing military. The Articles of Confederation, new and improved -- an idea whose time has come.

It's way past time for this "union" made in Hell to end.

Post a comment

THE MOYERS BLOG is our forum for viewers' comments intended for discussing and debating ideas and issues raised on BILL MOYERS JOURNAL. THE MOYERS BLOG invites you to share your thoughts. We are committed to keeping an open discussion; in order to preserve a civil, respectful dialogue, our editors reserve the right to remove or alter any comments that we find unacceptable, for any reason. For more information, please click here.

A Companion Blog to Bill Moyers Journal

Your Comments


THE JOURNAL offers a free podcast and vodcast of all weekly episodes. (help)

Click to subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe with another reader

Get the vodcast (help)

For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ