On the News With Thom Hartmann: SEC Accused of Covering Up High Crimes on Wall Street, and More

In today's On the News segment: Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is alleging that the SEC destroyed more than 9,000 documents related to investigations into some of America’s top banks during the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, rate of child poverty grew 18 percent in America over the past ten years, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darryl Issa hired vice president of Goldman Sachs to spearhead efforts to block government regulations on big banks like Goldman Sachs, gold may be the next bubble to burst, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Did the Securities and Exchange Commission cover-up high crimes on Wall Street? Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is alleging that the SEC destroyed more than 9,000 documents related to investigations into some of America’s top banks during the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Among the documents destroyed were files related to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme – files on Goldman Sachs and AIG – and other files looking into the behavior of big banks like Bank of America – Citigroup – Wells Fargo – and Morgan Stanley. In a letter to the chairwoman of the SEC – Senator Grassley wrote, “It doesn’t make sense that an agency responsible for investigations would want to get rid of potential evidence. If these charges are true, the agency needs to explain why it destroyed documents, how many documents it destroyed over what timeframe, and to what extent its actions were consistent with the law.” So far – the SEC has no comment on the issue. It looks like this is another case of corporate capture of government regulators.

More signs that this isn’t a recession – it’s a Great Depression. A new study shows a “significant decline” in the well-being of American children over the last ten years as the rate of child poverty grew 18%. Currently – one out of every five children in America live in poverty – that’s 15 million kids. And if you include children living in households of four people making double the poverty line – then more than 31 million children live in desperation. That’s nearly half of all kids in America. This is a national crisis that Republicans are making worse as they fight to cut programs for our kids while protecting their billionaire buddies from tax increases.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Who did House Oversight Committee Chairman – and richest man in Congress Darryl Issa – hire to spearhead his efforts to block government regulations on big banks like Goldman Sachs? None other than the Vice President of Goldman Sachs! In one of the most egregious cases of the revolving door on Capitol Hill – the former Vice President of Goldman Sachs – Peter Simonyi – left his job as a bankster – then changed his name to Peter Haller – and took a job working for Republican Congressman Darryl Issa to stop new Wall Street regulations. In July – Haller wrote a letter to government regulators urging them to drop new regulations against his old employer Goldman Sachs. As investigative reporter at ThinkProgress Lee Fang notes – it appears Issa has turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank-lobbying firm with the power to subpoena government regulators. Not only that – Back in 2005 – Haller used to work for the SEC – then he left to go work for Goldman Sachs so that he could lobby his former co-workers at the SEC to water down regulations. And now – he’s back working for the government trying to get rid of regulations altogether. It’s time to slam shut the revolving door on Capitol Hill – and bolt it closed. And call out corrupt Congressmen like Issa.

Want to fix Social Security? Lift the cap! As Republicans look to gut Social Security by screaming it’s going bankrupt – they are ignoring one simple solution – and that’s raising the cap. Currently – only the first $106,800 of your income is taxed for Social Security. In other words – Billionaires pay virtually no Social Security taxes, while working stiffs making 40,000 bucks a year carry almost the entire load. At a town hall event yesterday – Republican front-runner Mitt Romney was asked why he doesn’t support raising the cap – to which he responded, “that doesn’t begin to solve the problem.” That’s a lie. According to the Congressional Research Service – just by eliminating the cap – and ensuring that billionaires pay the same Social Security tax rate as the rest of us – the program will generate massive surpluses and stay solvent for at least another 75 years. It’s a simple choice really – have millionaires and billionaires pay the same rate as everybody else – or cut back on benefits for Social Security recipients. Let’s hope our lawmakers choose the solution that helps everyone – and not just the top one-percent.

Is gold the next bubble to burst? Wells Fargo is warning investors that a speculative frenzy around gold has created a, “bubble that is poised to burst.” In a report yesterday – the banks said, “we have seen the economic damage…[we] feel compelled to ring the warning bells.” Gold futures are up 26% this year – and have seen gains for ten straight years – meaning the bubble is absolutely massive. It may well be time to move everything into cash, either now or by next spring, as many of the mega-rich are doing.

The Fox so-called News Republican Primary may have hit a roadblock. Republican Presidential contender – Fred Karger – is filing a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Fox News for excluding him from last week’s debate in Iowa. Karger was the first candidate in the race – and is the first openly gay man to run for President from either Party – but his campaign has been largely ignored by Fox so-called News. Referring to his attempts to join the debate – Karger said, “I have tried repeatedly, my staff has, I have written them two letters, and I have not heard word one…I am not going to take the second-class treatment.” The simple fact is – if you’re a Republican and you want to win the White House – then you first have to go through Rupert Murdoch and his Republican propaganda news outfit at Fox – and they are very discriminating about who they choose to support…just ask Ron Paul.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, August 18th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.