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The First Democratic Debates: The Corrupt Crony Capitalism of Wall St. vs. An Economy that Works for Main Street

With the first Democratic presidential candidates’ debate this Wednesday and Thursday, it’s a good time to look at what they’ve been saying and the key issues, which we will be doing often over the next year.

There are candidates who think business as usual and incrementalism is fine, as they embrace Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions and comfort the entrenched, anti-competitive, anti-investor, anti-consumer too-big-to-fail banks, their executives and minions. Joe Biden fundraising on Wall Street and assuring the one-percenters that they would have nothing to fear if he became President is a good example of this. (He should read the Better Market’s RAP Sheet report on the egregious illegal behavior of the six largest banks and ask: where do their fundraising checks really come from – the pockets of ripped off consumers and investors?)

Other candidates understand that Wall Street has perverted capitalism by rigging the economic and political systems to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else and that deep and broad structural change is necessary to save the American Dream for the rest of America. 

This is not an attack on the wealthy, the well-to-do, hard work or capitalism, as you will repeatedly hear from those defending and profiting off the status quo. 

This is a long overdue attack on the corruption of capitalism by gigantic corporations, particularly the biggest banks on Wall Street, who have used their economic power to buy political power to entrench and increase their economic power. Their campaign cash, their army of lawyers and lobbyists, and their other numerous, mostly purchased, allies have built a massive, hydra-headed influence operation that rigs the rules of the economy and politics to benefit their businesses, revenues, profits and bonuses.

Those two macro-frames -- Wall Street vs. Main Street and corrupt capitalism vs. real capitalism -- are going to underlie many of the core issues the candidates are going to discuss this week and for the next year. 

With so much financial stress, distress and anxiety among so many Americans as a result of the rigged economic and political system, these issues merit an open and robust debate. We will be tracking and commenting on the candidates’ positions on these and related issues throughout their campaigns. 

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