(CO-Sen) How Bennet got rich and teachers lost their pension fund

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sat Jul 31, 2010 at 12:00

From a Quick Hit early this week by counterspin:

(CO-Sen) How Bennet got rich and teachers lost their pension fund (counterspin)

From Cherry Creek News:

    A young Bud Fox leaves Washington for Colorado, lands a job with Gordon Gekko, tycoon and corporate raider. Only in this case, young Bud is future United States Senator Michael Bennet, and Gekko, billionaire Phil Anschutz.

    The job leaves Bennet wealthy, and allows him to take a giant pay cut and work for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, then the Denver Public Schools. It gives him financial experience, which in turn leads to a complicated interest rate swap that may leave Denver taxpayers in a billion dollar hole, as the fund for Denver teachers' retirement looks in need of an AIG-style bailout.

    Ironically, the details of the source of Bennet's wealth are revealed largely in a lawsuit by Louisiana teachers, whose investment in theater chain Regal Cinemas went south after Bennet and Anshutz gained control of the company through the purchase of debt, forced other debtors and shareholder into taking losses, then sped off with $1.4 billion in cash, while jobs were lost...

Unelected Freshman Senator Michael Bennet was the 8th highest recipient of Wall Street cash in the current election cycle.  As Denver School Superintendent, he entered into a swap deal that provided $3 million in fees to JP Morgan and is now $78 million underwater, forcing teacher layoffs.  

In Congress, Bennet voted against mortgage cramdown, which would have provided bankruptcy protection and relief for homeowners.  He also opposed a 15% cap on credit card interest rates. To cement his pro-Wall Street stance, the appointed politician stood against breaking up the banks.  In a Roll Call article yesterday, he was described as having been born 'with a silver spoon in his mouth'.

An appointed senator who never ran for office before, but instead rose the ranks of corporate raidership under a notoriously anti-union mentor.  It makes perfect sense... for a Republican!

The appointment of Bennet was just one of a flurry of such moves by which the Democratic Party moved sharply to the right after the 2008 elections--a move with absolutely no credible foundations.

Today, Bennet's appointment stands out as part of a multi-front assault on public teachers and public education, which is about as inimical to traditonal Democratic Party values as it's possible to be.

Things happened so rapidly after the 2008 election that most folks simply had no idea what to make of it--much less how to react.

That is no longer the case.  The battle lines now are clear.

Paul Rosenberg :: (CO-Sen) How Bennet got rich and teachers lost their pension fund

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Billl Ritter was integral in getting Bennet his seat (4.00 / 1)
and I think one of the reasons Ritter could not run for what should have been a shoe-in second term as Gov was the backlash over his poor choice. Of course, triangulating against unions and Latinos and the heat for those stupid decisions made his ultimate decision that much easier.

DLC-type Democrats have no purpose in this political landscape. Ritter was at the fault line here and didn't see it.  

Wait, though, Zappatero--Romanoff co-chaired the DLC (4.00 / 1)
with Salazar in the early 2000s.  As you know (as a Coloradan), he was the perfect example, as a legislator, of the young DLC protege.

[ Parent ]
And what makes it weird .. (0.00 / 0)
is that Sirota loves Romanoff .. can anyone get Romanoff on record disavowing the DLC?

[ Parent ]
I don't think he'll disavow it (0.00 / 0)
And Sirota has interviewed him a number of times and I'm not sure it was even worth asking considering current circumstances.  

I do know this: if Romanoff wins this seat and reverts to DLC form, he'll end up with the same results and compromises and demoralized base that Bennet now has. I think he's smarter than that.

[ Parent ]
can romanoff beat him? (0.00 / 0)
i like romanoff- can he win this ?

Are the battle lines clear? (0.00 / 0)
Paul, I've lived in Colorado for over 4 decades.  Most of that time I've been an observer (although not necessarily an astute one) of Colorado politics.  Folks who've lived here longer than 5 years remember Andrew Romanoff as co-chair, with Ken Salazar, of the Colorado DLC.  His legislative record is one that would make Obama the pragmatic centrist bipartisan compromiser quite proud.  I have seen nothing yet to suggest that there is any reason whatsoever to trust Romanoff 2.0 as a genuine and lasting phenomenon.  I see no way in which progressives could hold his feet to the fire on the lofty promises he's made in the primary campaign.

That being said, I'm probably going to vote for Romanoff as a spite vote due to Obama's robocall on Bennet's behalf.

The Battle Lines Are Clear--But I Guess My Language Was Not (4.00 / 4)
And for that, I apologize.

To elucidate the point I was trying to make:  We don't always have the luxury of candidates we can support 100%, even when there are ones we can oppose 100%.  I was not trying to make an argument specific to this race, but rather an argument in general against the convergence of evils that we've come to accept as "normal", no small part of which is that we're not supposed to have any say in who represents us.

While I'm sure that Romanoff would be far from ideal, I'm equally sure that simply the fact of defeating Bennet would do us a world of good, just as forcing Lincoln into a run-off did, even though we didn't defeat her in the end.

So, what I'm saying right now is that we're unfortunately not in a position to field our ideal candidates in most places.  So we have to start where we are, and where we don't have ideal candidates, it's still very important to get rid of the truly most terrible ones.

This is how we draw our lines when we must.  But, of course, we draw them differently when we can.  Still, the animating principle is the same:  We're in a fight to win over our party and our country.  We're not here to support the lesser of two evils.  We will do that when we have to.  But that's not our purpose.  That's not what our battle is about.  We're in this to fight for what's right, not for the "achievable" and the "sorta-not-too-bad."

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
No, you were clear. I was just foggy in my interpretation. (0.00 / 0)
I agree with your statement re: the benefits of beating Bennet.  And I belatedly realized that your overall point was not specific as to Colorado's Senate race.

[ Parent ]
That's what I don't get ... (0.00 / 0)
you have far right ... and "centrist" .. not good for the Colorado party .. sadly

[ Parent ]

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