Monday, March 30, 2009

Senator Bernie Sanders introduces Single-Payer Healthcare Reform Bill S.703

By: selise
From the PNHP press release

Single-payer health reform bill introduced in Senate Would save $400 billion on bureaucracy, enough to cover all 46 million uninsured Americans
Challenging head-on the powerful private insurance and pharmaceutical industries, Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a single-payer health reform bill, the American Health Security Act of 2009, in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
The single-payer approach embodied in Sanders’ new bill stands in sharp contrast to the reform models being offered by the White House and by key lawmakers like Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Their plans would preserve a central role for the private insurance industry, sacrificing both universal coverage and cost containment during the worst economic crisis since the Depression.
In contrast, Sanders’ new legislation would cover all of the 46 million Americans who currently lack coverage and improve benefits for all Americans by eliminating co-pays and deductibles and restoring free choice of physician. The most fiscally conservative option for reform, single payer slashes private insurance overhead and bureaucracy in medical settings, saving over $400 billion annually that can be redirected into clinical care.
There's no reason healthcare reform should be designed to help big insurance and big pharma instead of us. More here

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sunday Funnies

Another Giant Steaming Pile of Republican Tax Deductions and Personal Exemptions Masquerading as a Viable Alternative to Obama's Proposed Budget
House Minority Leader John Boehner and other House Republican leaders called a press conference Thursday to unveil their much anticipated detailed "road-to-recovery" alternative budget. the 18 page proposal gives no real specifics, save one - an enormous tax cut for the wealthy.
More Funnies

Friday, March 27, 2009

AIG, Market Meltdown, and Offshore Banking: Deception Incorporated

In all the discussions about TARP and AIG bonus payments and bailouts, have you ever heard a member of Congress ask Paulson or Geithner why we are bailing out financial corporations who have numerous offshore subsidiaries where they can hide money, transactions, and assets to avoid taxation -- and also to avoid reporting these assets on their balance sheets?
This needs much more discussion, and today David Shuster has some eye-popping statistics that explain why:
To get a larger sense of how serious this problem is, check out Conason's latest Salon column:
Why did Wachovia need 18 subsidiaries in Bermuda, three in the British Virgin Islands, and 16 in the Caymans? Why did Lehman Brothers need 31 subsidiaries in the Caymans? What do Bank of America's 59 subsidiaries in the Caymans actually do? Why does Citigroup need 427 separate subsidiaries in tax havens, including 12 in the Channel Islands, 21 in Jersey, 91 in Luxembourg, 19 in Bermuda and 90 in the Caymans?
What would you wager that some of those 'subsidiaries' moved money used to hedge bets on the US mortgage market? Or buy CDS's in London from AIG?
Do you recall this topic being raised at any of the Senate hearings on the economic meltdown? Or being raised in any bailout hearings?
Why are we bailing out Citigroup when we haven't even had a chance to examine what's in any of it's "... 427 separate subsidiaries in tax havens, including 12 in the Channel Islands, 21 in Jersey, 91 in Luxembourg, 19 in Bermuda and 90 in the Caymans? And furthermore, why has Congress failed to ask about these 'subsidiaries' in bailout hearings?
It's easy to get distracted with the outrageous 'bonuses' of AIGFP's employees.But what's the relationship between AIGFP and offshore bank accounts?Why are we being asked to bail out banks that are operating hundreds of offshore banking 'subsidiaries'?!!
Are these institutions, and CEOs, simply 'offshoring the money' so that their balance sheets look dire enough to come pick Uncle Sam's pocket?
Is DNI Blair serious in saying that the economic meltdown is a national security issue? And if it is, then why are we bailing out ANY financial institutions -- or 'insurance providers' -- who have offshore subsidiaries?!
And why isn't Congress asking about these things?
In providing the links and information here, I'm relying on Joe Conason for the research; I have not confirmed the numbers stated here independently, so am taking them 'on faith' from Shuster's program, and Conason's article.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Capitalism’s Self-inflicted Apocalypse

By Michael Parenti
After the overthrow of communist governments in Eastern Europe, capitalism was paraded as the indomitable system that brings prosperity and democracy, the system that would prevail unto the end of history.
The present economic crisis, however, has convinced even some prominent free-marketeers that something is gravely amiss. Truth be told, capitalism has yet to come to terms with several historical forces that cause it endless trouble: democracy, prosperity, and capitalism itself, the very entities that capitalist rulers claim to be fostering. Read the rest of the article here:

Geithner Seeks Broad New Regulation of Financial Markets

By Susie Madrak
The nice thing about having the Democrats in charge is, you actually do get some much-needed regulation instead of idiotic blather about the self-healing properties of the Almighty Free Market:
In response to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Geithner outlined a six-part framework that would result in the most significant new regulation of the financial system since the broad changes made during that crisis more than 70 years ago.
"We have an opportunity we have not had in generations to put in place a stronger and more resilient system," Geithner said.

The key elements of the Obama administration's proposals are:

• Give a single government entity, possibly the Federal Reserve, the power and authority to oversee the entire economy for signs of "systemic risk."

• Establish a government mechanism to seize and dismantle large institutions whose failure threatens the nation's financial stability.

• Enact tougher requirements for the amount of money and assets financial institutions need to have on hand so they can withstand economic troubles.

• Require large private investment funds to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

• Set up a new, comprehensive framework of regulation of the complex financial instruments known as derivatives, including a central clearinghouse for trades in that market.

• Develop new, stronger requirements for money market funds so increased withdrawals won't threaten the broader financial system.

"What we need is better, smarter, tougher regulation," Geithner said.

GOP Senator: Stimulus Working Already

By Ryan Grim
Federal stimulus dollars have begun to flow, initiating an "amazing" number of projects and creating jobs, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Wednesday.
Snowe was one of three Republicans to support passage of the $787 billion stimulus package and has taken a beating form conservatives for doing so. But now that the checks are going out, she said, people can feel the benefits.
It's "paramount [for people] to see that activity, creating jobs or averting job losses," she said.
"Even those who were opposed to the stimulus spending will see some of the projects that are underway in their communities as they're initiated," she added. "I've just been meeting with a lot of municipal officials and really it is amazing the number of projects that are getting under way."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, predicted weeks ago that the terms of the debate would shift when the money went out.
"The anti-spending argument is at its strongest right now, because we've got the criticism without the benefits," he told the Huffington Post.
"If we're right, that spending is going to be more popular three and four and five months from now, because the economy starts to turn around, maybe at the end of the year, and there are police working and there are schools built. I expect to be taking credit for that all year."
Snowe said a number of water projects, among others, are getting under way soon in her home state. The intense discussion about wasteful spending has municipal leaders watching projects closely.
"They're all taking this responsibility very seriously," she said, adding that state officials "have an understanding that they have to deliver this funding and these projects but they have to do it efficiently and effectively -- not mismanage the way in which this money is distributed and which projects get underway."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Larry Summers: Brilliant Mind, Toxic Ideas

by Arianna Huffington
According to most commentators, the president's press conference went a long way towards taking the spotlight off the roiling anger over AIG, bonuses, and Wall Street abuses -- and putting it back where the president wants it: on the imperative need to pass his budget.
But the best laid plans of our remarkable president may be laid to waste by a bank rescue plan that is the product of exhausted ideas put together by men far too beholden to Wall Street.
Even if the president desperately wants the spotlight to move on from the bank rescue, we should not allow it to. So today let me turn the high beam on one of the main architects of the plan -- less in the news than Tim Geithner, but no less important -- Larry Summers.
To understand why a man as brilliant and accomplished as Summers can be so wrong about what to do with the banks and Wall Street, it would be useful to turn to The Innovator's Dilemma by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen. The book explains how even very successful companies, with very capable personnel, often fail because they tend to stick to the strategies that made them successful in the first place, leaving themselves vulnerable to changing conditions and new realities. So you can have brilliant managers who miss what's needed for success in the future because they are too tied to the past.
This describes Summers to a T.
He is one of the top economic minds of his generation, a tenured professor at Harvard by the time he was 28, with plenty of real word experience -- ranging from heading the Treasury to heading a major university. But his core beliefs and assumptions helped lay the groundwork for the current crisis.
As Treasury Secretary under Clinton, Summers played an important role in convincing Congress in 1999 to pass the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed key portions of the Glass-Steagall Act and allowed commercial banks to get into the mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations game. The measure also created an oversight disaster, with supervision of banking conglomerates split among a host of different government agencies -- agencies that often failed to let each other know what they were doing and what they were uncovering.
At the signing of the bill, Summers hailed it as "a major step forward to the 21st Century."
Summers also backed Phil Gramm's other financial time bomb, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed financial derivatives to be traded without any oversight or regulation. So it was on his watch that the credit-default swaps warhead that has blown up our economy was launched.


Many Wall Street high-flyers could echo this -- if they had any self-awareness. Instead, they subscribe to our culture's veneration of exhaustion. Taibbi describes how Wall Streeters, when challenged, "talk about how hard they work, the 90-hour weeks, the stress, the failed marriages, the hemorrhoids and gallstones they all get before they hit 40."
The country would be better off if Wall Street execs and, more importantly, Summers and Geithner -- who, we are admiringly told, works 15 hours a day -- knocked off early and came back to work the next day refreshed... and with some fresh ideas. Rest of article here.

Also, if they are too big to fail - they are too big -Robert Reich Tells us Why Here:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Memory Lane - by Jonathan Schwarz

From Tom Tomorrow's - This Modern World
Here’s the New York Times story about the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act:
Congress approved landmark legislation today that opens the door for a new era on Wall Street in which commercial banks, securities houses and insurers will find it easier and cheaper to enter one another’s businesses…
“Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,” Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. “This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.”
The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation’s financial system.

Thank God this Summers guy no longer has any power over American economic policy.

Fox News VP: Fox is ‘the voice of opposition’ to the Obama administration.

By Matt Corley

Though Fox News is widely known to be biased in favor of conservatism, the network likes to claim that is “fair and balanced” and that the objectivity of the “hard news” they do is “is not in question.” But in an interview with NPR, Fox News’ Senior Vice President for Programming, Bill Shine, admitted that the network is consciously aiming to be “the voice of opposition” to the Obama administration “on some issues”:
“There were a couple of people who basically wrote about our demise come last November (and) December and were, I guess, rooting for us to go away,” said Bill Shine, senior vice president for programming at the Fox News Channel. “With this particular group of people in power right now, and the honeymoon they’ve had from other members of the media, does it make it a little bit easier for us to be the voice of opposition on some issues?”
Fox News has wasted no time in opposing the Obama administration’s agenda. For example, the network has unleashed a steady drum beat of misinformation and propaganda against the Employee Free Choice Act. In fact, when it comes to challenging the Obama administration, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes has compared the network to “the Alamo.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont Blocking Key Obama Nomination

By Susie Madrak
Ken Silverstein reports at
I reported back in February on the case of Gary Gensler, the former Goldman Sachs employee and derivatives cheerleader who President Obama nominated to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Gensler’s nomination sailed through the Senate Agricultural Committee but Senator Bernie Sanders has placed a hold on the nomination (as has a second senator who is as yet unnamed). A statement from Sanders’s office said:
While Mr. Gensler is clearly an intelligent and knowledgeable person, I cannot support his nomination. Mr. Gensler worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of A.I.G. and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history. He supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which allowed banks like Citigroup to become “too big to fail.” He worked to deregulate electronic energy trading, which led to the downfall of Enron and the spike in energy prices. At this moment in our history, we need an independent leader who will help create a new culture in the financial marketplace and move us away from the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior which has caused so much harm to our economy.
Woo hoo! Go, Bernie!

China Calls for Creation of New Currency to Replace the Dollar as the World's Standard

BEIJING -- China called for the creation of a new currency to eventually replace the dollar as the world's standard, proposing a sweeping overhaul of global finance that reflects developing nations' growing unhappiness with the U.S. role in the world economy.
The unusual proposal, made by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan in an essay released Monday in Beijing, is part of China's increasingly assertive approach to shaping the global response to the financial crisis.

China is on the offensive, backed by other emerging economies such as Russia in making clear they want a global economic order less dominated by the U.S. and other wealthy nations. Chinese officials are frustrated at their financial dependence on the U.S., with Premier Wen Jiabao this month publicly expressing "worries" over China's significant holdings of U.S. government bonds. The size of those holdings means the value of the national rainy-day fund is mainly driven by factors China has little control over, such as fluctuations in the value of the dollar and changes in U.S. economic policies. While Chinese banks have weathered the global downturn and continue to lend, the collapse in demand for the nation's exports has shuttered factories and left millions jobless. Full story here

Monday, March 23, 2009

You Have To Be Shitting Me

by John Cole
This just gets better and better (via):
The federal agency that insures bank deposits, which is asking for emergency powers to borrow up to $500 billion to take over failed banks, is facing a potential major shortfall in part because it collected no insurance premiums from most banks from 1996 to 2006.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which insures deposits up to $250,000, tried for years to get congressional authority to collect the premiums in case of a looming crisis. But Congress believed that the fund was so well-capitalized – and that bank failures were so infrequent – that there was no need to collect the premiums for a decade, according to banking officials and analysts.
I’d like to get some car, health, and homeowners insurance like that. I mean, I never have had cancer, have never wrecked my car, and my house has never burned down. Why are they still collecting premiums from me.
In other words, banks gave away a lot of money in the form of bad loans to people who had nonexistent means to pay them back, then lost their asses in the derivatives market in which they gambled on all the bad loans they and others had made, all the while earning money on fees and pretending nothing could go awry. But that is ok, because they are covered by FDIC and the premiums they don’t pay.
I eagerly await learning how this is Obama’s fault.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rachel Maddow: Deregulation for "Dummies"

Rachel Maddow reminds all of us just what got us to where we are in the first place with this financial crisis. Deregulation. (video here).
For anyone who would care enough to know (and be completely disgusted with) just how big of a mess we're actually in, go read Matt Taibbi's latest article for Rolling Stone: "The Big Takeover: The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution".
Maddow: There would be no outrage about AIG's bonuses if AIG hadn't needed bailing out, right? I mean sure people get mad at fat cats with high salaries when everyone else is broke. But it's the fact that this company was using our money, taxpayers money to pay those bonuses that caused the entire country to grind our teeth down their nub ends to rage at these guys.
So there would be no outrage about AIG turning taxpayer bailout dollars into executive bonuses if there hadn't been a bailout. AIG wouldn't have needed bailing out if it weren't too big to fail, too integral to all these other parts of the financial industries. AIG wouldn't have become too big to fail if they hadn't become a big hybrid complicated uber-financial everything company that made all sorts of arcane financially engineered moves that got them squirreled into every kind of financial related business that you can think of.
AIG wouldn't have become a big hybrid complicated uber-financial everything company if there hadn't been, and this is key, deregulation of Wall Street that allowed firms to get like that. And massive deregulation of Wall Street wouldn't have happened without the rise of a political movement that preached that regulation was inherntly evil and deregulation was inherently wise and virtuous and would make everyone rich and it would be free well behaved puppies for every family.
Do you want an example of how this deregulation thing worked? You can totally use this at the high school dance or a bar or whatever to try to impress someone. Somebody starts complaining about the bailout. Complaining about AIG. You tell them actually the real villain here is Gramm-Leach-Bliley. Just say it with total confidence. Watch. You will get dates.
Here's how to explain it.

Sunday Funnies

Don't let this happen to your financial professional! We must act now to protect the flamboyant lifestyles of our wealthy American executives!

Many thanks to Zaius for the graphics

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Atlas Sucked - by Doug Gillett

So I've been reading at several different blogs how a small but vocal cadre of libertarian right-wing-authoritarian-masquerading-as-libertarian bloggers are threatening to respond to Barack Obama's cruel, Marxist attempts to make us all communist and put the highest marginal income-tax rate back where it was in the late 1990s by "going John Galt" -- i.e. quitting work in protest and ceasing to make contributions to a society that supposedly only wants to suck off of them like leeches -- and I was prepared to write a long, withering rant about how stupid that is, but DougJ at Balloon Juice has already done a better and more succinct job than I would've done (and is named Doug to boot) and there's no empirical proof that anyone's actually done it yet. So in lieu of that rant, I will simply say this: If you're basing your lifestyle, your belief system, or even the name of one of your pets on Atlas Shrugged or anything else written by Ayn Rand, you are a tool. More Randian philosophy here

Krugman On Administration: 'Bad Analysis, Bad Policy, And Terrible Politics'

Paul Krugman is back from Europe, and he comes out swinging in a blog post Friday. Of the bill that passed the House yesterday that would tax bonuses given to executives of bailed-out companies, Krugman said, "It's not the way you should make policy -- it's clumsy, and it will punish some innocent parties while letting the most guilty off scot-free."
But, Krugman adds, "But -- there wasn't much alternative at this point. And for that I blame the Obama people." He goes on to call the Obama administration's handling of the American International Group scandal "bad analysis, bad policy, and terrible politics" that makes it seem as if the White House is "owned by the wheeler-dealers."
The New York Times reported Friday that many in government knew about the bonuses weeks ago. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted Thursday that he pushed for the loophole in the stimulus bill that allowed bailed-out executives to receive bonuses.
Republicans in the Senate, meanwhile, have vowed to slow the anti-bonus bill.
"If legislation is going to be proposed, who all should it apply to? Can it be written in a broad enough fashion to not violate the Constitution?" asked Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. "Until we have hearings and understand all of this, we're not going to know what kind of fix to implement."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Suze Orman To Bush: "You Owe The American People Every Penny Of Your Fortune And Your Family's Fortune"

In a long profile by WWD's Jacob Bernstein, Suze Orman sounds off on George Bush and blames the ex-president for the financial crisis (near the bottom of the first page).
Sitting in a green room after her TV interviews, she lambasts everyone from Alan Greenspan to Larry Summers to the former president of the United States, who holds an especially dark place in her heart. "Commander in Chief?" she says of George W. Bush, with a mix of disbelief and scorn. "You blew up every single financial vessel we had and if you think you aren't personally responsible, well, the blame starts at the top. There is no higher top than you, SIR! If I were you, I would feel so absolutely horrific that I would take every penny I had and distribute it to anybody and everybody to help them in whatever way I could. You owe the American people every penny of your fortune and your family's fortune."
Read the full profile here at

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Corporate Calvin

Click for larger image

The Weird Contradictions of the Tea Bag Revolution

By Bob Cesca Political Author, Blogger, and New Media Producer

Throughout history, there have been more than a few unfortunate and ill-conceived branding and marketing ideas to have been thrust into public view. I'm not just talking about minor infractions like the recent Cocaine energy drink or that children's candy with the hard plastic "prizes" suitable for choking buried inside. I'm talking about serious failures. Probably the most famous example of an epic fail product was the diet pill known simply as "Ayds," circa 1982. The slogan: "Why take diet pills when you can enjoy Ayds?" I'm not making that up.

In the past several years, this caliber of epic fail has also appeared at various political protests. There's the infamous mullet-headed pro-war demonstrator holding a sign reading: "GET A BRAIN! MORANS." But the funniest and most contradictory aspect of the recent far-right revolution is, hands down, the tea bag thing. But it's not just about the double entendre aspect of "tea bagging." A lot of it has to do with the idea that far-right conservatives are emulating the Boston Tea Party.

Let's recap. It began with the on-air rant from the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange by the Coward Rick Santelli -- "coward" because he's apparently too afraid to go on The Daily Show and, instead, Jim Cramer went on and took a beating for something that Santelli basically started. Nevertheless, according to one of the official tea bag websites, Santelli is credited as the patron saint of the movement.

More here: The Weird Contradictions of the Tea Bag Revolution

Corn: Rove should call his book 'To Kill a Presidency' - David Edwards and Muriel Kane

MSNBC's David Shuster revealed on Tuesday that he recently received a Twitter message from former White House adviser Karl Rove, saying, "Wait until the book-you're in there!""So Karl Rove is writing a book!" Shuster exclaimed. "It sounds like Rove may try and settle some scores!" He then turned to David Corn, who, like Schuster, did significant reporting on the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity, and asked "Do we have anything to fear?""I don't think you and I do," Corn replied. "Maybe the president, or the former Vice President, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice." Corn then leaned forward conspiratorially and added, "That's only if he -- tells the truth. So they have nothing to fear either."Asked for ideas about what Rove might call his book, Corn came up with such possibilities as "To Kill a Presidency," "Low Expectations: Why the Bush Administration was Really, Really, Really Much Better Than Everyone Says," and "The Guilt-Free White House Diet: Telling Fibs to Lose Weight and to Protect Your -- Abs."Shuster then invited liberal commentator Ed Schultz and former McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds to join the discussion.Bounds suggested that the real interest in a Rove book would center around his continuing influence on US politics and that it might be titled, "The Cloning of Karl Rove: The David Axelrod Story.""There's a big difference between [Obama political adviser] David Axelrod and Karl Rove!" Schultz objected."Here's what Karl Rove is going to be remembered for by the American people," Schultz went on, singling out Rove's alleged involvement in the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of US Attorneys. "The American people are used to dirty politics and underhanded tricks and such stuff," Schultz explained. "The Judiciary is sacred territory to all Americans ... and I can guarantee you the American people do want to see prosecutions."This video is from MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., broadcast Mar. 17, 2009.Download video via

Senate quietly stripped measure restricting bonuses from bailout legislation - John Byrne

A new revelation in the scandal surrounding AIG's decision to pay multi-million dollar bonuses to executives -- a provision that would have restricted companies receiving federal government bailout aid from paying bonuses was quietly stripped from a bill last month.The measure, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), was removed by negotiators in a late-night, close door meeting. In the negotiations, senators agreed to limit executive compensation but decided to forgo barring excessive bonuses -- in fact, they specifically exempted it.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (above right) dodged a question about the decision when asked by a reporter."I'm wondering sir, if that was a mistake by Democrats to drop that and you wish you hadn't at this time?" the reporter asked."I think we should look at what we did put in the bill," Reid replied. "We did put the Dodd language."In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. Wyden bemoaned the removal of his bonus-limiting provision.
Senator Ron Wyden said on Tuesday that the furor surrounding AIG's bonus payments could have been avoided had the Obama White House and members of Congress simply backed legislation that he and Sen. Olympia Snowe introduced more than a month ago.In an interview with the Huffington Post, the Oregon Democrat noted that during the crafting of the stimulus package, he and his Republican colleague from Maine introduced a provision that would have forced bailout recipients to cap their bonuses at $100,000. Any amount paid above that would have been taxed at 35 percent. The language made it through the Senate, but during conference committee with the House, it was inexplicably removed."The reality is, had that legislation been passed it would have been a very strong disincentive to anybody paying out bonuses in the future," said Wyden. "Earlier, the President had denounced those bonuses that came at the end of the year. And when Senator Snowe and I said it is not enough for those in elected office to say it was wrong, that they have got to have a plan to have them pay it back, we were able to get legislation through the United States Senate. Not a single United States Senator was willing in broad daylight to stand up and oppose our bipartisan amendment... but it died in conference."Looking back, Wyden laments the missed opportunity, saying that it remains unclear who got the language stripped -- "it didn't die by osmosis."More of Wyden's interview can be read here.Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the White House knew AIG executives would be paid hefty bonuses well in advance of their self-professed "outrage."
For months, the Obama administration and members of Congress have known that insurance giant AIG was getting ready to pay huge bonuses while living off government bailouts. It wasn't until the money was flowing and news was trickling out to the public that official Washington rose up in anger and vowed to yank the money back.Why the sudden furor, just weeks after Barack Obama's team paid out $30 billion in additional aid to the company? So far, the administration has been unable to match its actions to Obama's tough rhetoric on executive compensation. And Congress has been unable or unwilling to restrict bonuses for bailout recipients, despite some lawmakers' repeated efforts to do so.The situation has the White House and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the defensive. The administration was caught off guard Tuesday trying to explain why Geithner had waited until last Wednesday to call AIG chief executive Edward M. Liddy and demand that the bonus payments be restructured.The Washington Post, however, says Obama wasn't informed until the day before the AIG bonuses became public."Senior White House officials said last night that President Obama did not learn that bonuses worth $165 million were to be paid to executives of American International Group until Thursday, one day before they were issued and two days after his Treasury secretary was informed that the payments were going forward," the Post reported Wednesday.

Republican Lawmakers Who Opposed Salary Caps Last Month Are Now Attacking AIG Bonuses, Part II

As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Republicans who opposed Wall Street salary caps, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Banking Commitee ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL), are now flipping their positions to condemn the bonuses paid by AIG. Last night, McConnell made the rounds on cable television to misleadingly suggest that he has always favored salary caps.
But McConnell and Shelby are not the only Republican lawmakers pushing this deception. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) also are hypocritically altering their views:
Q: “Should Congress, should the White House be getting a way for these contracts to be broken?”KING: “Congress should find a way to do it or the administration should lean on them in a way to get – to have it done.” [MSNBC, 3/17/09]
BOND: “It’s unacceptable to pay bonuses after the American taxpayer was forced to bail out an institution without reforming it.” [KRCG, 3/18/09]
INHOFE: “The AIG situation is clear evidence of what happens when you shovel money out the door with no strings attached and no transparency.” [KTUL, 3/17/09]
Only a month ago, King argued against strong provisions to ensure executive salaries were capped:
KING: “No, I will say, I agree there should have been some caps. I think this went too far, and I think it can be counterproductive.” [ABC News, 2/15/09]
Last month, Bond sharply criticized a bill offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill to limit the salary of executives at companies receiving federal bailout money to no more than what the president of the United States makes — $400,000 a-year:
BOND: “The worst thing we can do is tell businesses how to run themselves. Congress has a pretty bad track record. If you you look at our collective judgment, all 535 of us in our wisdom can’t run government very well. (We) sure can’t run business.” [STL Today, 2/2/09]
While Inhofe today demands “strings attached” to federal bailout money, he expressed the opposite in February:
INHOFE: “I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?” [Huffington Post, 2/6/09]
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich today penned an op-ed venting his “outrage” at the “fat bonuses” paid to staffers at AIG. However in November, while speaking with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, he attacked Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) for having the audacity to send “off letters to every bank demanding to know all of their executive compensation policy.” Gingrich then scoffed at the idea of capping salaries specifically at AIG:
GINGRICH: “You have a level of micromanagement of AIG and others. You can’t apply Washington bureaucratic rules to a free market company without ultimately destroying the company.” [Fox News, 11/12/08]
Hypocrisy abounds.