Republicans Brag About Bagging Bail-out Funds, The Mighty Righty Parties Continue and an AIG update

After Voting No, Republicans Tout Funds

“Washington needs to stop spending money that it doesn’t have,” Michigan Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra said in attacking the $410 billion omnibus-spending bill…

…”Safe and navigable harbors are economic engines that drive the communities that surround them,” Mr. Hoekstra declared, announcing $3 million for harbor improvements.

Any suggestion that Hoeskstra is a pants on fire hypocrite, are of course, completely ludicrous,

“Not to be rude, but it’s one of the dumbest things,” Mr. Hoekstra said of the notion that there is a contradiction. “The only people who are supposed to get money in an omnibus bill are the ones that vote for it?…I don’t see any inconsistency at all.”

He doesn’t “see’ any inconsistency because of the Right’s ability to rationalize away unpleasant truths.

* Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R., Calif.), who denounced the stimulus bill as wasteful, soon announced that it provided a $4.2 million grant for her district to prevent families from becoming homeless. “This funding will provide much-needed assistance,” she said.

*Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.) voted against the spending bill. When it passed, he announced that he had “secured” $1.7 million in the legislation for a citrus-research project and a mental-health program.

Mack’s sudden bout of compassionate conservatism will pass, it usually does. She obviously caught it after the bill was passed, not before.

Stearns claims his constituents would be shortchanged  if he didn’t grab some of that cash for them. Thus Republicans seems to also have their own math. Voters in his district were fine without those funds according to his nay vote, but better off once that money was on the table enveloped in Stearns glow of accomplishment. Nay plus money equals brownie points to be touted in next election.

Malkin and some Republican bloggers are whining yet again about the dearth of news coverage for their parties to protest republican Representatives like Hoekstra, Mack and and Stearns voting against the Recovery Act, but bragging about the funds they snagged for their districts. OK, that’s not true, Malkin, Powerline and others are just upset at the lack of coverage of their little events ( As I post they have had 20 reports by print and local stations in the last 20 hours). See this picture at the link. Why would rational people give up their weekends to protest when Republican pols are simultaneously bragging about getting some of the funds the Righties are protesting and the president that Malkin and her supporters voted for twice is responsible for the larger portion of blame. Maybe some Republicans are embarrassed at the possibility of being on video trying to pretend the last decade never happened.

The Mighty Righties – those lyrics, written to the tune of stolen music of course, are not satire written by a liberal blogger or Jon Stewart’s writers, but by an actual kool-aid drinkers supporter. One of the Kool-Kids main carps is that Washington is wasting tax payer money. Money the same Kool-Kids voted to throw at Wall St just a few months ago, Hard Landing for the Golden Parachute

It’s about time somebody in this town stood up for the big guy.

After 7 1/2 years of drift, President Bush has finally returned to his compassionate conservative roots with a heartfelt plea to Congress to help a needy and deserving group: those Wall Street CEOs who, for all their hard work, have been unable to lift themselves up by their wingtips.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (R-Goldman Sachs) made the rounds of the talk shows on Sunday, pleading for financial executives to be allowed to keep their multimillion-dollar compensation packages even if their companies need to be rescued by the $700 billion federal bailout.

“If we design it so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work,” Paulson, whose net worth is said to be north of $600 million, told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

“To have this program work, we don’t want to make it punitive and make it difficult,” Paulson advised George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

It was a message of mercy and humanity — who, after all, would be so cruel to deny executives their eight-figure bonuses merely because they drove their companies into insolvency? — and administration officials and Republican lawmakers joined the cause of the unappreciated CEOs.

“While it is very appealing to think about executive compensation as being a part of this, one of the drawbacks to that is perhaps that we would have fewer entities participate in what is essentially a voluntary act,” Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said on CNBC yesterday morning.

“It should be up to the board of directors of a private corporation to set the compensation of an executive; it shouldn’t be Congress’s role,” Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) proclaimed on CBS News.

How many faux outraged tea partiers can you fit into a protest. As many as are accomplished at denying reality.

Some updates on AIG:

Who wrote the AIG bonus loophole? An easy question that Washington can’t seem to answer

OK – In this new age of “transparency” I want to know who in Congress, White House or the Treasury Department wrote this!

(iii) The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.

This is the loophole written into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus whopper) that “congressionally blesses” the very AIG bonuses congress itself is now blasting.

Since bonuses and executive compensation made plenty of headlines back in March of 2008 and many Republicans are on record  speaking in favor of them on proponent media outlets the issue of those bonuses had to be one of the biggest open secrets in history – Timeline: AIG and Their Bonuses by Sharona Coutts

March 2008 — AIG agreed to the retention bonuses [1]. The company’s bets on mortgage-backed securities had already started to sour, forcing AIG to take a $5 billion hit.

Sept. 16, 2008 — The government “rescued” the company with Bailout I — an $85 billion loan.

Sept. 22, 2008 — The company notified the Securities and Exchange Commission — a week after the first bailout — that the retention bonuses program had come into effect. Approximately 130 executives would get the first installment in December 2008, and the remainder in December 2009.

Oct. 9, 2008 — AIG executives go on a “junket” at a California resort [2].

Who was at the SEC that AIG reported to. The same Bush appointee Chris Cox who let Bernie Madoff go uninvestigated ( H/t Left CoasterHere’s why SEC failed to investigate Madoff

“It’s not a 21st century institution; they’re all living on their past glory, which was great, but it’s gone,” said Isaac Hunt, an agency commissioner from 1996 to 2002.

One small slice of the SEC’s responsibilities is to regulate the industry’s 10,800 financial advisers, one of whom was Madoff. The agency was warned several times of possible fraud going on at Madoff’s operation – including a series of e-mails from a Massachusetts whistle-blower that now seem quite prophetic – but nothing happened.

This is not at all surprising to those who have worked at the SEC, where information overload is a fact of life.

“You get hundreds and hundreds of letters and e-mails; there’s no guarantee the SEC is going to catch” any given wrongdoer, said former Commissioner Laura Unger. That said, Unger made clear, there are no excuses.

The SEC is after all a regulatory agency and we all know from that regulation is evil. Republicans have sworn that is the case for years. So why spend money on an agency that protects investors and consumers.

Some Bailout Money Is Set Aside to Pay Firms That Bet Housing Market Would Crater

The documents show how Wall Street banks were middlemen in trades with hedge funds and AIG that left the giant insurer holding the bag on billions of dollars of assets tied to souring mortgages. AIG has put in escrow some money for at least one major bank, Deutsche Bank AG, whose hedge-fund clients made bets..

Its a common mantra that the wealthy deserve their rewards because they take risks.

There is a good chart of where AIG’s bail-out money has gone here. The “Global economy” is such a loaded term I’m not sure what it means until I see it used in a particular context. In the case of AIG, their bail-out also bails out some international players. If that is The Global Economy, populist outrage, crude or otherwise isn’t likely to end soon.

Geithner Bank Plan Emerges, Confirms ‘Zombie Ideas Have Won’

These details officially show that Geithner is hinging the rescue plan on the assumption that toxic assets have an inherent economic value and are not, as many analysts believe, relatively worthless. So, as Paul Krugman pointed out, “the zombie ideas have won“:

The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank. As Tim Duy put it, there are no bad assets, only misunderstood assets. And if we get investors to understand that toxic waste is really, truly worth much more than anyone is willing to pay for it, all our problems will be solved.

I’ve looked for something from a center-left economist that disagrees with Krugman and gives his take. It looks like we’ll have to wait a few days. TP notes that the plan could work if the assumption that those toxic assets ultimately have some real value is correct.

David Corn has an interesting post up on the connection between former Goldman Sachs lobbyist Mark Patterson and AIG bonuses. Sadly, certainly in terms of public relations, the Obama administration gave Patterson a waiver per its ethics code to get a job at Treasury. Corn’s account is a bit breathless and there is no smoking gun in regards to the current bonuses controversy, but ironic in terms of breaking the rules for a guy that was a lobbyist. Corn does have a Treasury missive in an update that says Patterson ” has recused himself from discussions on this and all other issues he worked on during his time in the private sector.” Whether there is something substantive here or it just looks awful, the Obama administration should have stuck to its original intent not to hire lobbyists. Corn’s article will be a huge disappoinment for those Conservative sites trying to push some devious connection between the fact that Obama  (along with McCain) took AIG political donations. That said, Obama obviously wasn’t influenced by them as during his campaign and as a Senator he pushed for compensation caps.


Advertisements