Political Hay

Boom Town and Bill Moyers

Hannity special spotlights Extractor Economics: America’s real privileged few as economy shrinks.

By 1.31.13

Bill Moyers and Extractor Economics.

The economy shrinks. And the Constitution is under liberal assault yet again.

We’ll get to Mr. Moyers — and ex-US Senator Russ Feingold in a moment. So too the shrinking economy, as announced yesterday by the Commerce Department.

But first: What exactly is the “Extractor Class” — and who are they?

They are liberals who gain wealth by using the government to take your money. To (excuse the imagery) milk you like a cow. And make themselves rich.

Last week Sean Hannity did an entire special called Boom Town, spotlighting Extractor Economics. Working with filmmaker Stephen Bannon and author Peter Schweizer (Schweizer has written Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy, and Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison), Hannity zeroed in on what just what Obama’s “fair share” redistributionist economics really means.

To wit: You get poor, Washington gets rich.

While the economy shrinks, while the poverty rate soars in the rest of America, the nation’s overall unemployment rate rests yet again at 7.8%, the black unemployment rate jumps to 14%, and the number of Americans desperate for food stamps keeps rising to record levels not seen in almost fifty years — Hannity’s special zeroes in on the blunt fact that Obama’s Washington is awash in Lamborghini dealerships, fine wine, expensive housing, and hoity-toity restaurants.

What drives Washington’s soaring affluence — an affluence denied to the rest of America? What is taking your money and redistributing it to a relative handful of people inside the Washington Beltway?

Let’s take the Hannity story and move the ball a bit further.

How does this game work? How does the money taken directly from your pocket — your paycheck, your savings, your investments, your company — fatten individual wallets in one of the biggest liberal redistributionist scams of the day?

Let’s run through some current news stories involving Washington and see what’s happening.

We will start with:

The National Labor Relations Board
You remember this story from a few days back. A federal appeals court ruled that President Obama violated the Constitution by making recess appointments of three members of the NLRB — when the U.S. Senate wasn’t in recess. The lawsuit was filed by a group of people -- among them Mark Levin’s Landmark Legal Foundation -- who are determined to see that Obama is called on his repeated and increasing attacks on the Constitution.

But for the moment, put the issue of the Constitution aside.

Follow the money.

The NLRB — just one small but powerful tentacle of the federal government — has 1,800 employees.

The board members? There are five of them, including the three Obama appointees at the center of the latest controversy. They are paid a minimum $155,500, according to the pay tables put out by the Office of Management and Budget.

Got that?

For those of you out there who are unemployed or working two jobs to replace the one you lost? Just one member of one Extractor Class bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. is extracting $155,500 a year from American pockets. He/she is just one of five board members.

That’s before you get to all the “jobs” that are associated with the NLRB bureaucracy. Jobs that extract varying amounts from taxpayers outside the Beltway to feed the NLRB beast Inside the Beltway. A mere government attorney for the NLRB can slip into his starting post for a salary in the mid-eighties in Extracted Money — and if the lawyer pleases the boss — there’s a bonus worth at least two grand.

And so on, so on, and so on it goes at the NLRB.

Over time that pays for a lot of fine wine, nice restaurants and all the rest of the high-life spotlighted by Hannity, Bannon and Schweizer.

Let’s move on to another story in the news.

• Benghazi
Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified to the U.S. Senate the other day that she was in the dark because various events of that disaster resulting in the deaths of four Americans had been handled at “the Assistant Secretary level.”

How much money is paid to these high-ranking muckety-mucks at State?

Answer? The Department of State has what is known as the Executive Schedule — as in pay schedule. There are five of them, starting at the “bottom” “EX V” — where the minimum salary is

$145,700. They move up the ladder from there — topping out at EX I and a salary that is $300 shy of $200,00 grand -- $199,700.

We’re talking here only about employees working in the State Department headquarters in Washington — numbering around 8,000. No, they don’t all get paid six figures — but they get paid well. Better than an unemployed anybody anywhere else in America.

Remember: There are fifteen Cabinet Departments, all set up in some variation of the State Department organizational and salary chart.

When President Obama uses his inaugural address to say something like this:

“Together we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers. Together we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”

…what the President is really talking about is taking more money from you, bringing it to Washington and paying $100,000-plus salaries to a group of privileged bureaucrats to “determine” the decisions he intends to make about anything and everything from “a modern economy” to …well…just about any favored topic under the sun.

This in turn creates, to use the President’s own language elsewhere, a “privileged few” — in Washington, D.C. The place where, as Hannity’s show pointed out, the Lamborghinis and the wine and the good life flow. If, that is, you are part of the privileged few.

Let’s keep going and move on to…

Bill Moyers and Russ Feingold
Bill Moyers? The PBS guy, Mr. Ex-aide to President Lyndon Johnson and strategist in the creation of The Great Society? That Bill Moyers?

Russ Feingold, the liberal Wisconsin ex-Senator? That Russ Feingold?

Yes indeed. This tale is particularly amusing.

The other day, Mr. Moyers was huffing in the Huffington Post about “Foul Play in the Senate.”

In an article co-written with colleague Michael Wineship, Moyers was furious, don’t you know, about the discovery by the New York Times that a biotech company — Amgen by name — had managed to get what Moyers, Feingold (here), and the Times deemed special treatment in, can you believe it, the much ballyhooed fiscal cliff bill President Obama forced down GOP throats. Wrote the Times:

Senators who play a major role in federal health care financing were happy to help Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients, including Sensipar, a drug made by Amgen. That provision was inserted into the final fiscal bill by Senate aides. Many members of Congress did not know it was in the bill until just hours before it was approved.

The Times went on to note — and this really had Moyers and Feingold lathered — that:

Although other companies will benefit financially from that delay, Amgen, which has 74 lobbyists in Washington, was the only company to lobby aggressively for the provision. The delay will cost the Medicare program up to $500 million over a two-year period.

Amgen has “74 lobbyists in Washington.” And they include former top aides to both Democrat and Republican Senators.

Oh… My… God. Put me down as shocked. Shocked!

Now, Mr. Moyers is a very intelligent man. All those interesting TV specials on Joseph Campbell and the rest. Former Senator Feingold is no dummy either. So one can only marvel.

Moyers personally — say again personally — was a senior aide to the father of the Great Society. LBJ himself. In his day Bill Moyers was Valerie Jarrett or Jack Lew. And what were Moyers and his boss all about back then?

That’s right. Creating mammoth government programs. In his memoirs, LBJ was so button- bursting proud of them he listed them program by program — some 207 in all — at the opening of his book. From the Clean Air Act of 1963 all the way to the Safe Streets Act of 1968 — with Medicare and Aid to Education and the creation of PBS along the way — LBJ lists them all. The very guts of the Great Society. Along with this proud inscription describing them:

Landmark Laws of the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration: With these acts President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Congress wrote a record of hope and opportunity for America. 

Well.

It’s fair to ask Mr. Moyers and Mr. Feingold — actually any liberal will do — whether it ever occurs that this much injection of government into the mainstream of the private sector economy can produce any other result than, in the case Moyers and Feingold are so outraged about, Amgen’s “74 lobbyists in Washington.”

In fact, it’s more than fair to say that Bill Moyers himself was a godfather to all these high paid bureaucrats, not to mention all this revolving-door business where Capitol Hill aides leave government to lobby government. If anyone is responsible for setting all this business in motion it would be Bill Moyers.

Now… now… Moyers shrieks in horror at the system he has had such a huge role in creating.

If you ask me, Amgen is the fool here. (And no, I've checked, they don't really have 74 lobbyists on their staff.) Well aside from the fact that lobbying is protected by the First Amendment (yes, this attack on Amgen is in fact another liberal attack on the Constitution), if Amgen did have 74 in-house lobbyists it ought to hire another 174 lobbyists just to figure out what the hell the first page of all the thousands of Medicare regulations really means. Not to mention who was the joker in HHS who wrote the thing.

Amgen isn’t the only corporation in America suffering this nonsense either. Everybody from Chairman Mom of Mom and Pop enterprises in Peoria to Bill Gates out there in Washington State now has to have their own version of a fleet of lobbyists in Washington DC just to get through the day.

Why?

To pay respectful visits to any and every member of Congress who can possibly help them do their business unimpeded by some dolt earning a hundred and fifty grand of your extracted money for sitting in a concrete big box in Washington making life or death decisions for their respective companies. In between drives in the Lamborghini and sips of really, really excellent red wine. Don’t you know.

Just this week, the Wall Street Journal’s L. Gordon Crovitz wrote up the tale of another company relying on lobbyists in Washington — Google. It seems no less than the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (a mere staff attorney over there at the FTC can extract $114,000-plus from your pockets) was outraged that Google had spent some $25 million to “stop an antitrust case against it.” Google, you see, has hired former Republican Congresswoman Susan Molinari and a fleet of 38 lobbyists — up from 23 back in the way-back of 2011 — to wind its way through the Washington maze.

Mr. Crovitz raised the obvious about the Google situation. A point that applies as well to Amgen or the Mom and Pop in Peoria. The resources of these companies would be better spent on what they do — rather than employing fleets of lobbyists in Washington. The late free-market economist Milton Friedman made the same point.

But there is a plain and simple reason these companies — and by now all manner of Americans whether they work in a private company or not — feel the need to employ lobbyists in Washington.

Simply put, it’s because of people like Bill Moyers and his old boss LBJ, and Russ Feingold when he was a Senator. Not to mention today the entire Obama administration.

The working principle of liberalism is to create program after program after program (like LBJ’s beloved 207), then hiring privileged and expensive bureaucrats, then putting them in big concrete boxes along the Potomac.

There can be no possible other end to all of this than to create exactly what Hannity, Bannon, and Schweizer showcased the other night: Boom Town.

Will there be a Boom Town in your neighborhood outside of the Washington Beltway?

Not with all your money being sucked — sorry — extracted to keep the Washington Boom Town afloat in excellent wine, and riding in Lamborghinis.

Yesterday, the news was out from the Commerce Department: the economy shrinks.

Well.

No kidding.

This is what happens when you take money from your pocket and send it to Washington.

Extractor Economics is doing its thing.

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: “Sur…prise, sur…prise, sur…prise.

Photo: UPI

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.