Those of you who’ve been following my work here at The Daily Banter for the past six years know that the Great Recession absolutely clobbered me, not to mention millions of others.
Whenever the topic pops up in conversation and war stories are exchanged about the full impact of the 2008-2011 crash, I often like to describe my experience as having included every possible downside one could endure during a significant recession, minus suicide of course. For those of you just joining us, my list included: a short sale of an investment property, a foreclosure of my house, three cars repossessed, threatening collection calls around the clock, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the dissolution of a business I ran for 10 years, a tax lien, a contentious divorce, and dozens of sleepless nights.
The hellscape I navigated during those years was so utterly devastating to my financial health, not to mention the many years it shaved off my lifespan due to the accompanying stress, I simply can’t muster any tolerance for the “Bring back George W. Bush!” meme that’s going around in response to Donald Trump’s lawless incompetence. Yeah, Bush was slightly better than Trump, but his economic policies landed on my head like a Boeing 747 filled with bricks and exploding shrapnel. Therefore I refuse to give Bush and his cronies more credit than they deserve simply because Trump is worse.
George W. Bush and the deregulatory obsession of both parties (many more Republicans than Dems) during the 1990s and 2000s kicked my ass. No matter how many adorable Wes-Anderson-Criterion-Collection-paintings Bush produces, it’ll be a long time before I can hear the sound of his voice without exploding with rage.
Ultimately, I recovered and my credit score has since risen from ludicrously shitty (actual credit score category) to the 700-plus “good” range. And as of July, 2019, the Chapter 7 will be wiped off my record. Thanks to some luck and mostly the recovery triggered by President Obama’s stimulus package, I’m back. The real question, however, is how long will last given the despotic, disruptive supervillain currently occupying the White House?
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to begin weakening the post-recession regulatory law known colloquially as “Dodd-Frank.” The full name of the law is the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This first pass at undermining the law will effectively allow smaller banking institutions a free pass from regulations. If this rollback is signed by Trump, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t be, The New York Times reported that “fewer than 10 big banks in the United States [will remain] subject to stricter federal oversight, freeing thousands of banks with less than $250 billion in assets from a post-crisis crackdown that they have long complained is too onerous.”
The banks, and, of course, Trump and his enablers on the Hill, will tell you this rollback was necessary. They’ll tell you that it’s time for the government to gets it boots off the necks of the corporations that precipitated the Great Recession. Bullshit. It’s all whiny bullshit. Profits for the banking sector have climbed to record levels as of this year. A 27.5 percent increase, sector-wide over last year. (As for the rest of us, enjoy that $2 bump in your paychecks, America!) There’s no widespread suffering as a consequence of the Dodd-Frank rules, even though there probably should be suffering — a gap that’s the direct consequence of Dodd-Frank being weaker than it should’ve been. The notion of breaking up the banks, while reinstating the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933 (it segregated commercial and investment banking) is a fantastic idea, provided it doesn’t trigger a recession itself.
Needless to say, the undermining of these regulations illustrates a soul-crushing epidemic of amnesia by both the Republicans and the couple dozen House Democrats who voted to support it. More than anyone else, though, the voters who cast their ballots for Trump allegedly due to economic anxiety can feel free to shut the hell up.
This argument that we, the Normals, need to somehow reach out to the Trump voters and speak to their economic needs is horseshit, now more than ever. If they continue to support Trump after the president and his party destroy the safety nets created to protect ordinary Americans from another job-immolating recession, it’s safe to conclude they’re not particularly pissed about the economy. Instead, it’s a safe bet they voted for Trump due to ugly cultural grievances, including sexism, racism and white supremacy to name a few. And I’m not sorry to observe that there’s no way in hell these people will ever be convinced with some sort of economic outreach from the left.
The Trumpers who were, in fact, genuinely pissed about the economy were most likely ignorant to its Obama-era status or they’re unfairly projecting blame for their own anecdotal troubles onto Obama and the Democrats. Funny how none of these people are complaining about the national debt any more, now that Trump is president. Likewise, they don’t seem to mind that the “labor participation rate” is basically unchanged since Obama left office, same goes for the “real” unemployment rate. The rest of us continue to understand that a retiring baby boomer generation is the actual cause of both statistics, but it was Trump and the Republicans who blamed Obama… until Trump became president, then both of these indicators vanished into a cloud of Trump’s Aquanet hairspray. Voters who continue to insist today that Trump has single-handedly reinvigorated the economy also don’t know what the hell they’re talking about either. The trendlines for both unemployment and economic growth are merely continuations of the nearly-ten-year trend since the passage of the aforementioned March, 2009 stimulus.
And anyway, if the Red Hats are okay with allowing the banks to decimate the economy for fun and profit, they deserve whatever shitstorm may arise. When it does, they’ll blame the Democrats even though they themselves seeded the clouds by stupidly voting for and supporting Trump. After too many years of awfulness brought on by deregulation, I have no quarter for those who’d tempt another economic meltdown. Please vote accordingly.