Politics and Media Headlines 3/19/09
by Caro, Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 03:18:17 PM EDT
House passes bill taxing AIG and other bonuses (AP)
WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led House overwhelmingly approved a bill on Thursday to slap punishing taxes on big employee bonuses from AIG and other firms bailed out by taxpayers. The vote was 328-93. "We want our money back and we want our money back now for the taxpayers," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
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So President Obama Is Finally Pissed Off? So What? (by Glen Ford at the Black Agenda Report)
The President's public display of anger at AIG is a cover for well-deserved political embarrassment. He and his bankster advisors have dedicated trillions to rescuing the criminal corporations of Wall Street from the consequences of their actions. He acts disappointed that they're still gangsters. "The logic of bankster capitalist enterprise, which AIG was created to protect and serve, is take the money and run - every chance you get."
Outraged Americans Want AIG Bonus Money Recovered (Gallup)
Three in four Americans (76%) want the government to take actions to block or recover the bonuses insurance giant AIG paid its executives after receiving federal bailout funds.
TONE DEAF? (by David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo)
Yesterday, Rahm Emanuel called the AIG bonuses a "big distraction." Today, David Axelrod says: "People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG," Axelrod said. "They are thinking about their own jobs." I honestly don't get what up-side they see politically in taking this tack. Thoughts?
My comment: Of the last two candidates standing in last year's Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton was the one attuned to ordinary people and our concerns. Barack Obama has had, all his life, only to tell people how special he is because of his multiracial heritage, to have people fawn all over themselves to give him benefits they wouldn't even consider giving to most people. George Bush is tone deaf because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but Barack Obama is tone deaf because people shoved silver spoons into his mouth. How can either one of them have any inkling of what ordinary people face?
Hillary, on the other hand, has had to fight for everything. But TPM savaged her relentlessly, using the most vicious right-wing lies that have dogged her for almost 20 years. And you put Obama on a pillow, refusing to credit any concerns about him.
Don't talk to me now about worries that he might not be up to the job.--Caro
FLASHBACK: In October, Obama Said That AIG Executives `Should Be Fired' For Their Excesses (Think Progress)
Last fall, as Wall Street crumbled and just one week after the federal government bailed out AIG, the firm's executives spent $440,000 on manicures, facials, pedicures, and massages at a luxury resort in California. At the time, Obama was a vocal proponent of firing AIG executives. During an October 7, 2008 presidential debate with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), candidate Obama declared, "those executives should be fired".
Click through to watch the video.--Caro
The Public Wants Justice (by Froma Harrop)
Brush aside the congressional theatrics about taxing the bonuses to their eyeballs. Let's talk jail time. William Black, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, envisions a federal investigation into AIG's past accounting, securities disclosures and executive-pay program. Black was the litigation director of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and helped bag the "Keating Five" lawmakers during the savings-and-loan scandal in the late '80s and early '90s. As the bottom was falling out of its derivatives trading, AIG was reporting healthy profits, he told me. That's not allowed... "If you're publicly traded, the SEC rules require that you follow GAAP," he says. "If you don't follow GAAP, then it's securities fraud." The excuse that the auditor gave the accounting a green light won't fly. Enron and the infamous Lincoln Savings & Loan had clean opinions, too.
The "buzz on Wall Street" is that the bonus-deprived AIG employees might leave, then "simply turn around and trade against AIG's book," writes Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times Dealbook column. "Why not? They know how bad it is." (Trading against book involves using what is known about weaknesses in what a company owns to presumably short sell the stock.) I asked Black about this scenario. He almost laughed. Using that inside information would be securities fraud, "and everyone that hires them would be frauds." It's time that the Obama administration stopped issuing statements of shock as it coddles the Wall Street bankrupts. The public wants more than the bonus money back. It wants justice.
Happy Hour Roundup: Cantor Agrees With Boehner That Geithner Is "On Thin Ice" (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
- Are Republicans getting closer to calling for Tim Geithner to get the push over the AIG mess?...
- Newt Gingrich test-drives a new phrase: The "Bush-Obama-Geithner policy of bailing out failing companies."
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