Magazine article Insight on the News

Superrich Stand to Profit from Kerry; Billionaire Businessmen Who Oppose the Re-Election of President Bush Are Swayed as Much by the Prospects for Power and Policy Influence as by the Political Ideology

Magazine article Insight on the News

Superrich Stand to Profit from Kerry; Billionaire Businessmen Who Oppose the Re-Election of President Bush Are Swayed as Much by the Prospects for Power and Policy Influence as by the Political Ideology

Article excerpt

Byline: John Berlau, INSIGHT

President George W. Bush constantly is criticized and attacked by Democratic partisans and their media surrogates for pursuing policies that benefit "the wealthy." Yet surveying the political landscape an observer can't help but ask why it is that so many of what would be considered America's superrich are his political opponents? In addition to the Hollywood mega-elite, which since the death of Sam Goldwyn have opposed the GOP mainly for cultural reasons, billionaire businessmen have stepped forward calling for the defeat of Bush or his policies.

Most prominent has been speculator George Soros, who has pledged to raise $75 million to defeat Bush, given millions to Democratic Bush-bashing groups such as MoveOn.org, and told the Washington Post that ousting Bush is "the central focus of my life" and "a matter of life and death." But investor Warren Buffett also has opposed many of Bush's tax policies, such as estate-tax repeal and dividend tax cuts, calling them "class welfare for my class."

The mass media never cease to talk about how "the rich" will benefit from policies such as estate-tax repeal, while overlooking what many economists have seen as the positive effects that will benefit the economy as a whole such as job growth, increased savings and preservation of family businesses. Yet when a celebrated would-be plutocrat such as Buffett, Soros or William Gates Sr., father of the Microsoft billionaire and a wealthy lawyer in his own right, comes out against the estate tax or in favor of any other left-wing policy, their motives never are questioned. These economic royalists regularly are described as acting against their interests, even though Insight has found that Buffett, for instance, has businesses that actually profit from the existence of the estate tax.

Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, notes that Soros regularly is described as a philanthropist, whereas no such term ever is affixed to Richard Mellon Scaife, who gives to conservative causes and is portrayed by the liberal media as an agitator. This was so even though the sums he gave to conservative and anti-Clinton groups were a fraction of his giving. Scaife gave mostly to ballet companies and other cultural institutions in his hometown of Pittsburgh, carefully keeping his economic interests separated from his philanthropy.

And analysts say economic interests always should be looked at when examining political players on both the right and left. Although both Soros and Buffett may be advocating policies that fit their worldview, it develops that both also stand to gain financially from the policy ideas they're pitching. "These aren't just philanthropists, and these aren't just political ideologues; these are people who stand to profit" says Tim Carney, a Phillips Foundation journalism fellow and author of the forthcoming book Regulatory Robber Barons.

"They're making investments and expecting a return on it," Carney notes. Soros, for instance, is a currency trader, with reported vast holdings in unstable financial markets. He has taken a beating in the last few years on his positions in the Russian ruble. Coincidentally or not, Soros advocates global taxes to strengthen institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to bail out unstable governments facing currency crises.

In his book George Soros on Globalization, the international speculator criticized an IMF/World Bank reform commission headed by noted conservative economist Allan Meltzer that called for sharply limiting bailouts. Soros wrote that this was too strong a medicine and the proposal for a restructured agency was too restricted: "Contrary to the Meltzer Commission's recommendations, it would be premature to terminate the existing lending operations of the World Bank. So-called middle-income countries like Brazil, and even Chile, have very uneven income distributions and great social needs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.