Wednesday, March 12, 2014

President Obama goes after TVA.....again

(A photograph of a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) switchyard in Tennessee, taken during the early years of TVA. A switchyard modifies voltage between the power plant and the customer. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

President Obama is continuing his push for the privatization of TVA proving, yet again, that he places the interests of corporations & big banks over middle-class & poor Americans. For more proof, consider his administration appointees (Wall Street executives), his secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership talks that welcomed corporations but excluded the public, his betrayal of the public option during health care reform negotiations, his repeated failures to stand up for unions (see here, here, and here), his failure to promote a new WPA (thereby ensuring--either intentionally or unintentionally--a steady pool of desperate workers that Corporate America can leverage against), his administration's refusal to aggressively prosecute financial fraud, and his corporate-friendly insult to the Post Office: "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

The president's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal states "The Administration recognizes the important role TVA serves in the Tennessee Valley and stands ready to work with the Congress and TVA’s stakeholders to explore options to end Federal ties to TVA, including alternatives such as a transfer of ownership to State or local stakeholders" (p. 41). Obama also notes a (false) "risk to taxpayers." So, can there be any doubt that what Obama is ultimately proposing is the transfer of TVA ownership to Corporate America?; which will surely bust unions at TVA, thereby lowering the wages of even more middle-class Americans. And, indeed, unionized workers at TVA seem very aware of this.  

(How cool is this? Mobile housing for TVA workers. I want one! Photo taken between 1933 and 1945, provided courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)  

Interestingly, President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget, which also threatened to privatize the TVA, noted that TVA produces "low-cost electricity" (p. 51). The 2015 budget, on the other hand, leaves out the words "low-cost" and merely notes that TVA "has been producing electricity" (p. 40). Why remove the words "low-cost" in the new budget proposal? Even more interesting, some Republicans have fought Obama's proposed privatization of TVA, noting the low cost of electricity for TVA's 9 million customers! How do you like that--Republicans defending one of the prime achievements of the New Deal against our supposedly progressive president. 

After what we've witnessed from Corporate America these past few decades, e.g., mortgage & securities fraud, interest rate rigging, Enron's manipulation of the energy market, etc., do we really want Corporate America taking over TVA? That seems far more risky to taxpayers (i.e., consumers) than simply letting TVA continue on, unmolested by the greed & selfishness of private interests.

President Obama has done some noteworthy things for the middle-class & poor, e.g., certain parts of the Affordable Care Act and promoting an increased minimum wage. He has also, on occasion, called for higher taxes on the wealthy. But he is far too accommodating to Corporate America--that powerful sector of American culture that has wrecked the American Dream by destroying unions, shipping good American jobs overseas, lobbying for (and obtaining) endless tax loopholes, and engaging in financial fraud & incompetence.

Is there any doubt that Corporate America wants to get its greedy hands on TVA, and then cut wages and raise utility rates, so that wealthy executives and investors can make millions off the ensuing misery? I mean, that's what Corporate America does--that's its modus operandi. Hence, we should all be horrified by Obama's call to sell off our TVA.  

(The caption for this 1942 photograph reads, "'Big Pete' Ramagos, rigger at work on dam (TVA) Douglas Dam, Tenn." For decades, TVA has provided good middle-class jobs for many thousands of Americans. We can be sure that Corporate America wants to put an end to that. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

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