In this week’s quarantine episode of our Useful Idiots podcast, hosts Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper are joined by Matt Stoller, author of Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly, Power and Democracy, a book that Matt describes as having “venom for all the right people.” He is also the Research Director at the newly formed American Economic Liberties Project.
They discuss the COVID-19 bailout, how economics factors into partisan politics in 2020, what the Democrats and Republicans are both getting wrong, and what Stoller calls “concentrated financial power and consumerism.”
Matt and Katie respond to the backlash against Joe Rogan for his Trump vs. Biden quote, in which Matt describes Rogan’s “off-hand comment about how he likes Trump better than Biden.”
“It’s this moralistic, totally out of touch, and ironically purity politics, where god-forbid people are encouraged to vote,” says Katie. “Do you want them to vote for Trump, or do you want them to vote for the person running against him?”
Our hosts find out in real-time that Bernie Sanders is suspending his 2020 campaign, with Katie initially responding. “I’m actually surprised I’m not crying,” and Matt responding “Well, it’s been over for a while, hasn’t it?”
Stoller joins the Zoom call to discuss the bailout and election, among other issues of the day. The trio delves into heady territory, breaking down the 1970’s American psyche shift from identifying as citizens/workers/producers to consumers, and how that fight over financial institutions (coupled with a lack of full understanding) continues within the Democratic party today.
When it comes to the COVID-19 bailout, and Bernie and Warren’s approaches from the more progressive Democratic wing, Stoller discusses the shortcomings. “It wasn’t just them. You saw a total system-failure. You didn’t see any progressive non-profits really noticing the corporate bailouts. I mean, my organization, American Economic Liberties Project, we were basically the only ones saying ‘this is a real catastrophe. Don’t vote for this bill.'”
Stoller’s ultimate assessment? “I think this bailout’s going to be a fiasco, and it’s going to shift a lot of power and wealth upward.”