Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hand Over That $700 Billion Right NOW and Nobody Gets Hurt

Hurry up! Pass this bill Right NOW. We don’t have time for amendments or debate or procedures or any of that drivel. This is an Emergency! The entire economy could collapse any minute, and you're just sitting there dithering?!?!?!?!

Does this manufactured hysteria have a familiar ring to it? Think back to the summer of 2002 (and continuing through March of 2003). Saddam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction! He has nuclear missiles pointing right at Your Family, and his finger is on the button! We don’t have time to argue about this. While we dither, Saddam Hussein is getting ready to attack! We have to Act NOW.

This phony “urgency” worked like a charm in 2003. Will it work again?

This Wall Street bailout — sort of a Patriot Act for Wall Street — would turn the Secretary of the Treasury into an all-powerful unaccountable czar. It would provide a $700 billion bailout with absolutely no strings attached. No regulation or oversight (which might actually prevent this from happening again); no limits on those famous 8-figure golden parachutes that executives keep rewarding themselves with every time they fuck up. And most importantly, no giveaways to those sniveling homeowners who should've known what they were doing.

Congress needs to hold out for what's right. (Warning: spines may be required.) Attaching a few strings to this humongous bailout is not only the right thing to do (in case that matters) — it’s also politically shrewd given the public’s fury at Wall Street right now.

When Romania was part of the Communist Bloc (their dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was overthrown and executed in 1989), it was probably Europe’s poorest country. On top of that, everyone in the country was required — maybe it was just a strong suggestion, but in a police state, you know what that means — to give money and presents to the incredibly wealthy Ceausescu family during Christmas and other holidays.

Little did we know that twenty years later, on Wall Street…

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger American Hill BIlly said...

You hit right on the nose Tom. It is a treasonous act. Paulson was the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Coincidentally WHEN the games are done, and we the people are given a great deal of debt on this, Paulson's old company is one of the major beneficiaries of this money....Who'da guessed... Treason.

United In Peace And Freedom

September 23, 2008 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

The high priests of expense accounts have decreed that they need more money, so we'll all have to work a little harder. (But not them, they have golden parachutes to fold)
What this is, essentially, is extortion:give us what we want, or the economy gets it!

September 23, 2008 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Something else that's been bothering me is why is this being pushed so hard by an administration that's four months away from leaving office? It's kind of creepin' me out.

September 23, 2008 at 4:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,
I moved out to Scotland (I figure I get out early incase McCain wins)so I'm a bit in the dark about what's going on but I will put in my two cents nonetheless. I think it is utterly ridiculous that Paulson and Co will present congress with a proposal that is lacking in detail, vague, and relieves these corrupt and greedy corporations of any responsibility while taxpayers will have to foot the bill for many years. You are right, it sounds exactly like 9-11 with this hysteria of the economy is sinking so release the funds and give Paulson absolute authority. Like Dobb said, it's unconstitutional and we ought to be outrage.


September 23, 2008 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

AHB: You're right, it's treason. Paulson wants to do for Goldman Sachs what Cheney has been doing for Halliburton -- load them up with billions of taxpayer dollars.

Lew: Extortion is just what it is. This is unthinkable. No wonder the rest of the world laughs at us.

J: Good question. It strengthens that theory that the president is pretty much just a figurehead; a cardboard cutout. The real manipulating and decisionmaking are done behind the scenes by unknown power brokers (PNAC, banking organizations, etc.).

Jo: Scotland, cool. I've been to London but nowhere else in the UK. The public should be outraged by this. Unfortunately, I think most Americans are too numbed and sedated to care or to comprehend anything any more.

September 23, 2008 at 7:14 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

If the credit system locks up, which is a real possibility, what's likely to follow will make ponying up a few hundred billion look like passing out petty cash.

Paulson's proposal, as presented, was incredibly dumb. It would've been over the top if he was a star performer in a topnotch administration with an excellent reputation for openness and honesty. Being a so-so performer in the worst administration ever, he should've known better than to try such a high-handed approach.

That said, and allowing the real possibility his and the administration's motives could well be less than pure, the crisis is still very real and very, very dangerous.

Congress must throw in oversight and transparency requirements, build in an equity stake so taxpayers get at least some of eventual profits, if any, back, and so on. Wall Street CEO's should be put on a very short leash, with no golden parachutes and no bonus if their results are lousy — for a big change.

All that and more can and should be done to make Paulson's effort viable.

I've looked at this mess carefully, though, and don't see failure to act as an option.

September 24, 2008 at 1:11 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: No argument there. This measure does need to be passed, but it's important to do it right (i.e. the changes you mentioned) rather than rubber stamping it.

And this manufactured urgency just reminds me too much of the hysteria that led up to the Iraqi invasion. I do hope Congress will come up with a sensible bailout before they go on recess. But it's not like the economy is gonna collapse in the next five minutes if Congress doesn't hand over that $700 billion immediately, with no strings attached.

September 24, 2008 at 1:31 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

And aren't the people proposed to orchestrate the bailout and recovery some of the same key fucks who screwed it up to begin with?

I've lost a load of $ in the last few months because of this mess. I'm gonna write Dubya a letter and ask him to make it up to me personally.

I'm so sick of our government and its politics.

September 24, 2008 at 3:36 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

No, but it might collapse in the next ten!

I've got no problem with a bailout. As long as the attached strings number in the millions.

It's a shame no politician has the sack to bring up jacking up the highest tax rates, for one.

September 24, 2008 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: Yup, same people. They keep taking these huge gambles, using our tax dollars as front money. If they win, they keep all of their winnings/profits. If they lose, we bail them out so they can gamble again. Nice work if you can get it.

Randal: Raise tax rates? Uh oh, you ain't one of them Class Warriors are you :)

September 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM  
Anonymous proudprogressive said...

Just gonna say this bail must be stopped and damn to hell the democrats that follow this Shock Doctrine..nobody miss todays Democracy Now a full Video of it available at democracynow.org.

Has Naomi Klein , these people need punitive damages filed..not a fat pay check - Bloomberg in NYC is already taking about cutting back public/social services..

I have called twice and signed petitions..bUt Dems that sign onto this are DEAD TO ME.

freeze the fuckin morgages.call a moratorium..just do that. And corporation penalties go into a fund that makes them all lower and MONEY GOOD - regulate..don't reward.

great post

September 24, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom, once how to deal with the immediate mess is settled, we've got to have thorough, longterm reform and regulation of the whole financial industry. I mean gonzo, blood-and-iron measures so stringent CEO's will have to raise their hand to go to the restroom.

The days of heads we win, tails you lose must come to an end, whatever it takes.

September 24, 2008 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Proudprogressive: Yes, punitive damages are exactly what these Wall Street thugs deserve. Otherwise, they'll just go and do the same thing again and again.

SW: That's right, thorough long-term regulation is the only answer to this. We should have done this after the S&L bailout, but it's never too late to learn.

September 24, 2008 at 1:59 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

I just realized that I'm addicted to your fucking blog, Tom.

Thanks for keeping this shit in the public eye.

September 24, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Thanks Carlos. Hope you'll display more of those government dumbasses at your blog too.

September 24, 2008 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I have also been thinking of this bailout thing in terms of the Patriot Act re. how that piece of crap passed through Congress with very few of them having read it or familiarized themselves with it. Bush and his friends put the Patriot Act on the fast track, and it was rammed through. Those who passed it were not aware of what consequences might arise, or they were too afraid to contemplate it.

I think this is the same kind of thing... get everybody morbidly afraid, fast-track some crappy legislation that doesn't benefit anyone but those who create it, and then kick back and enjoy your power once the new legistlation is official.

Americans ought to be pretty damned suspicious of just about anything proposed by the Bush administration. We can only hope our Senators and Representatives are as suspicious as most of the rest of the nation likely is.

To answer J.Marquis, I think the Bush administration is pushing this as hard as they are partly because they think Obama is going to win the election, and they want this to cost enough that it will preclude any new spending on things people want, like universal health care. They want a bailout that will favor them and their friends, and if they can brand any Democratic administration as "do-nothing" on the economy over the next four years... wow, what a bonus for the GOP! Heh...

September 24, 2008 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: I think you're right about Bush wanting the next president to be so strapped for money that any "social" spending will be out of the question. That's been the theory ever since Reagan, that that was the Right's main goal and that was the purpose of creating a huge budget deficit.

And Bush is also relying on the politics of fear. Get everybody terrified so they'll quickly rubberstamp this bill without even looking at it. So far this tactic hasn't worked as well as it did with the Patriot Act and the Iraqi invasion. Maybe Congress and the public have learned something. I can dream, right?

September 24, 2008 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Tom, it dawned on me tonight - when they said the Prez was going to address the nation in this time of "crisis" - that THIS is the October surprise I've been dreading. Only, it's backfired, because even their own party members are balking at the sheer audacity of this power grab by the Executive branch.

Yes, we are in deep financial doo-doo and yes, something INTELLIGENT will have to be done about it. But this is nuts, and people aren't buying it.

Now that both parties are saying slow down, let's look at this and not be rushed into anything, the market held steady today, averting an immediate meltdown.

Btw, did you know it's not just the $700 billion the Executive branch would have had control of? It's $700 billion AT A TIME.

Oh, and the golden parachute business is just a red herring - designed to get the little people all upset, diverting attention from the real issue, which is the complete lack of Congressional oversight. Notice how quickly the White House caved on that today.

September 24, 2008 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Yup, this could actually be their much-anticipated October Surprise. And it backfired; partially anyway.

I'm all for a bailout bill, but it has to demand lots of reforms to go with the money. Absolutely no compensation for these CEOs, and a complete elimination of all of this Reagan-Gingrich-Dumbya shit about letting Big Business run everything with no accountability. We need to bring back the oversight of business that we had had for almost 50 years before Dimwit Raygun took over. No reform, no bailout; and we'll see who blinks first.

September 24, 2008 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Yeah, this is such BS. I mean, even some members of the GOP feigned anger over throwing money at failing companies like AIG but in the end they will fall in line. And...um....who are they calling socialists?

September 24, 2008 at 11:00 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

We'll see if Chimpy has managed to fleece us yet again. Frank says a deal has been reached. If the golden parachutes are still there, it'll be time to break out the torches and pitchforks.

September 24, 2008 at 11:25 PM  
Blogger The Chemist said...

It's close to that time that congress goes into recess. They can and will try to push something through in that time. Just wait and see.

September 25, 2008 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Now now, it's only socialism when the government helps people who need help. When taxpayers shower billions of dollars onto people who are already incredibly wealthy, it's, well, I don't know what it's called. But we don't dare call it socialism :)

JR: Sounds like a plan. Golden parachutes = torches and pitchforks.

Chemist: Yes, recess Uber Alles. They'll pass something just so they can go home and take a vacation (from what?).

September 25, 2008 at 12:33 AM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

Paulson has already started to show his honor. The two firms that he worked for will not be left out in the cold.

Bush is just doing what he always does, getting others to manipulate the House and Senate to do his will by urging disaster if not carried out just the way he wants it.

September 25, 2008 at 1:07 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Let's Talk: Bush was hoping that this would be a repeat of the Iraqi invasion and the Patriot Act. He'd come in and make all these dire predictions about what would happen if Congress didn't jump right on it, right now, no questions asked. But he had higher approval ratings back then. A lame duck president with single-digit approval ratings doesn't command quite as much shock and awe.

September 25, 2008 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I am shocked and in awe that Bush and Cheney are still in office and that the torches and pitchforks weren't brought out a few years ago.

I'm not sure about this being an INTENTIONAL October Surprise... I think it was something that maybe some people in high places just maybe knew might happen, and were maybe kinda willing to let it go ahead and happen because "Gee, if that should happen, if it should fall into our laps, just look at what we can do! We can basically do anything we want!"

Sounds eerily familiar, eh?

I do agree though, not as many voters and elected leaders seem to be getting sucked in by Bush's siren song this time. The sad little boy can only "cry wolf" so many times before people start to wise up. So much for his "legacy"...

So, I don't know that this crisis was planned enough ahead of time to be considered a real October Surprise. I think the definition of something like that should include PLANNING and INTENT. Because we still have 40 days until the election though, I wouldn't put it past Bush and Cheney to come up with some OTHER disaster... but this time it would obviously be one of their own planning, i.e. an attack on Iran, and/or maybe some seriously worsening relations with Russia... with the intent of throwing the election to their own party or to keep themselves in office beyond January. How desperate they really are will likely be determined by what they come up with in the next month.

How desperate ARE Bush and Cheney? I would have to think they aren't all that desperate, with something like only 118 days left until 1/20/09. My guess is that they figure they are going to do whatever they please, because it will be either John McCain or Barack Obama stuck with the problems they have created (and may yet create). We know they are vindictive. We can be sure they probably don't like Obama at all, but they probably don't really like McCain either. After all, McCain has said some things about the administration for which they might feel retaliation is needed...

Bush is the ultimate in failed business. Historically, he would be given the reins of a business and he would run it into the ground, only to be bailed out by Poppy or his friends. That has been a pattern for Bush throughout his life, and he has tried to run the country like a business. He has always been able to get others to do his bidding and save his bacon, whether the problems have been real or imagined... and to solve his problems by putting them on the backs of the little people.

The current crisis on Wall Street is the ultimate manifestation of his mediocrity. This should be the time that people have finally had enough of him and won't do favors for him, and won't follow his orders so he can get what he wants for saving himself and his friends.

It's time to tell Bush "Sorry, Charlie. You played a huge part in getting us into this huge mess, and we aren't going to let the small minds that created the problem try and solve it for us."

To ask Bush for help in solving the Wall STreet crisis (or to even allow him to help soive it) would be like asking a group of arsonists to come up with a fire prevention plan. It would be like asking known felons to design a plan to increase effective law enforcement. It would be like bringing in someone from the Seattle Mariners bullpen to snuff an opposing team's rally. In other words, it would be absurd.

With 40 days until the election, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this was indeed the GOP leadership's big try, and that it will ulitmately not work for them as they hope it will.

September 25, 2008 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: "To ask Bush for help in solving the Wall STreet crisis (or to even allow him to help soive it) would be like asking a group of arsonists to come up with a fire prevention plan." Bingo. I can't believe Congress and the public aren't seeing the irony here. Bush, of all people, trying to "help" and "lead" in this crisis -- LOL. And the robber barons who caused this whole catastrophe are the ones getting most of the help from taxpayers.

It's past time for Bush's repeated cries of "Wolf!" to go unheeded.

This may not be the October Surprise they had in mind, but with our treasury in the shape it's in, I don't think we can afford any more invasions at the moment.

September 25, 2008 at 11:31 AM  

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