Jesse Jackson: America 'On Edge of An Explosion'

Sunday, 02 Oct 2011 06:15 PM

By Martin Gould and Kathleen Walter

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Civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson warns that the American economy resembles nothing so much as the Titanic, and if President Obama and Congress doesn't do something soon, America's streets could easily explode in civil unrest.

Jackson warned in a Newsmax interview that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg might have a point when he predicted rioting on the streets.

“There is real tension in the streets because people are becoming so desperate,” he said. “We’re really on the edge of an explosion.”

Jackson said it is time to revisit President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, targeting jobs to the most needy areas.

“We must now reconvene that basic White House commission on malnutrition and human need and not give jobs indirectly through tax cuts but direct jobs in the Roosevelt vein.

“When people are able to work they get their self-esteem back; their families gain strength again, they buy houses, they buy cars.

“But we are giving more and more to fewer and fewer and they are investing less and less. Put the money where the people are who spend it.”

Jackson likened the situation in America now to the sinking of the Titanic. “We keep feeding the wealthy on the deck while the water is coming in at the bottom,” he said.

“The great Titanic did not sink because the wind blew the chairs on the deck, it sank because the water came in from the bottom. The bottom is feeling the impact of rising water and desperation.

He also implored his friend Ralph Nader not to try to set up a third-party challenge to President Barack Obama in an exclusive message relayed through a Newsmax interview.

The veteran civil rights champion labeled Nader’s plan as “not wise” and said it would have Republicans “salivating” because it would make the path to the White House so much easier for the GOP.

“While I’m a great supporter of Ralph Nader, his run allowed [George W.] Bush to get in,” Jackson said in the exclusive interview during a break at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. “Your strategies must correspond with your objectives.”

Jackson, who turns 70 next month, noted that he himself ran for president in 1984 and 1988 through the Democratic primary system, not as a third-party challenger.

“I wanted to expand the options, expand the issues, but not in any way that will in fact create unintended consequences,” he said.

Jackson alleged that Republicans in 38 states are trying to suppress votes and Nader’s plan would only drain support from Obama’s re-election campaign.

“If they are going to add to voter suppression the loss of 3 or 4 million votes, [Republicans] will win hands down. I don’t want that to happen.”

Jackson expressed disappointment that nobody on the campaign trail is talking about the issue of poverty among Americans.

“We have nearly 47 million Americans in poverty,” he said. “Poverty is bad for your health. People who are in poverty are least able to get insurance, the infant mortality rate is higher, life expectancy is shorter, many illnesses go undealt with.

“It’s bad for education: Children with good minds cannot afford to go to school. Today’s student loan debt is greater than credit card debt, many lose aspirations. Communities do not have a tax base, so it destabilizes communities.

“There must be some commitment now to reinvest in America from the bottom up. The trillion-dollars plus that we have spent in Iraq alone, that misappropriation of funds is coming back to haunt us.”

And even though he believes that Obama’s jobs plan probably will not benefit black America, he supports it because of the proposal to increase the tax burden on corporations and the wealthiest.

“We gave them the most subsidy. The banks drove over the cliff because of greed,” Jackson said. “They invested over lending and we bailed them out, the government gave them a tax deal, but not linked to lending.

“So banks are now awash in capital and home foreclosures continue to rise.”

He also criticized the president’s healthcare plan for not including a public option which he said will mean that insurance companies continue to make money at the expense of the consumer.

On top of that, he said, “The five major oil companies made a trillion dollars since 9/11, they’re still getting tax subsidy. The Bush tax cut extension amounts to more money than all the state budget deficits combined.”

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