Archive for the ‘Department of the Treasury’ Category

House of Representatives Votes to Tax AIG Executives’ Bonuses at 90%

March 19, 2009

The House just passed H.R. 1586, officially titled “To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients” (sponsored by Charlie Rangel [D-NY]), which taxes the bonuses of AIG executives.  The bill technically places a tax on any bonuses given by companies who received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.

The following is the text of the legislation:

HR 1586 IH

 

111th CONGRESS 

1st Session

H. R. 1586

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 18, 2009

Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. ISRAEL, Mr. PETERS, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. STARK, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. TANNER, Mr. POMEROY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. PASCRELL, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. ETHERIDGE, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. YARMUTH, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. LUJAN, Mr. MAFFEI, Mr. PERRIELLO, Mr. CARNEY, Ms. CASTOR of Florida, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. HARE, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. LOEBSACK, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SIRES, Mr. WELCH, Mr. WILSON of Ohio, Mr. WU, and Mr. HILL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

 


 

A BILL 

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. BONUSES RECEIVED FROM CERTAIN TARP RECIPIENTS.

    (a) In General- In the case of an employee or former employee of a covered TARP recipient, the tax imposed by chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for any taxable year shall not be less than the sum of–

 (1) the tax that would be determined under such chapter if the taxable income of the taxpayer for such taxable year were reduced (but not below zero) by the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year, plus

(2) 90 percent of the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

    (b) TARP Bonus- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `TARP bonus’ means, with respect to any individual for any taxable year, the lesser of–

(A) the aggregate disqualified bonus payments received from covered TARP recipients during such taxable year, or

(B) the excess of–

(i) the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for such taxable year, over

(ii) $250,000 ($125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).

 (2) DISQUALIFIED BONUS PAYMENT-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `disqualified bonus payment’ means any retention payment, incentive payment, or other bonus which is in addition to any amount payable to such individual for service performed by such individual at a regular hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or similar periodic rate.

(B) EXCEPTIONS- Such term shall not include commissions, welfare or fringe benefits, or expense reimbursements.

(C) WAIVER OR RETURN OF PAYMENTS- Such term shall not include any amount if the employee irrevocably waives the employee’s entitlement to such payment, or the employee returns such payment to the employer, before the close of the taxable year in which such payment is due. The preceding sentence shall not apply if the employee receives any benefit from the employer in connection with the waiver or return of such payment.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT OF TAX TREATED AS TARP BONUS- Any reimbursement by a covered TARP recipient of the tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be treated as a disqualified bonus payment to the taxpayer liable for such tax.

    (c) Covered TARP Recipient- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `covered TARP recipient’ means–

(A) any person who receives after December 31, 2007, capital infusions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000,000,000,

(B) the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation,

(C) any person who is a member of the same affiliated group (as defined in section 1504 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, determined without regard to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b)) as a person described in subparagraph (A) or (B), and

(D) any partnership if more than 50 percent of the capital or profits interests of such partnership are owned directly or indirectly by one or more persons described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

 (2) EXCEPTION FOR TARP RECIPIENTS WHO REPAY ASSISTANCE- A person shall be treated as described in paragraph (1)(A) for any period only if–

(A) the excess of the aggregate amount of capital infusions described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such person over the amounts repaid by such person to the Federal Government with respect to such capital infusions, exceeds

(B) $5,000,000,000.

    (d) Other Definitions- Terms used in this section which are also used in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 shall have the same meaning when used in this section as when used in such Code.
    (e) Coordination With Internal Revenue Code of 1986- Any increase in the tax imposed under chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by reason of subsection (a) shall not be treated as a tax imposed by such chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under such chapter or for purposes of section 55 of such Code.
    (f) Regulations- The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary’s delegate, shall prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
    (g) Effective Date- This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.

The bill passed 328 (243 Democrats, 85 Republicans)-93 (6 Democrats, 87 Republicans).

Personally, this bill is very troubling to me.  It’s debatable as to whether or not it’s Constitutional.  Some have said that it’s a bill of attainder (a bill that focuses on punishing 1 group of people).  Technically, it never names AIG as the focus of the bill, but that’s definitely the intent.

This bill is more legally binding than Representative Gary Peters’ bill (H.R. 1527) that would impose a 60% tax on bonuses paid to executives if “the ownership interest of the Federal Government” is at least 79%.  Basically that says that if the government owns at least 79% of a company’s stock, it can tax bonuses on that company’s executives at a rate of 60%.  The problem with that bill, which I talked about yesterday, is that the government technically doesn’t own AIG. 

Even if it is Constitutional, I find this a huge invasion of the business sector.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  It’s a complete twist of the American tax code, and it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

I don’t think AIG executives should have received the bonuses, but that stipulation should have been placed in the original TARP legislation.

Now, that stipulation WAS in the original bill; however, when it went to the conference committee, the Democrats took out that provision.  The exact details of how that happened are still unknown, but Chris Dodd had said that he introduced an amendment at the request of the Obama administration.  When this actually gets sorted out, I’ll let you know what actually happened.

Regardless of how they were allowed to get the bonuses, they were, and taking the bonuses away like this is questionably constitutional, but in the least, a blatant perversion of the tax code.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Déjà vu : Senator Judd Gregg Withdraws Nomination for Commerce Secretary

February 12, 2009

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has just withdrawn his nomination for the position of Commerce Secretary.  This is breaking news coming in now, but there’s not yet word on the reason behind it.

Just in – there are 2 reasons:

  1. He is unhappy with the economic stimulus package.
  2. He is unhappy that the census moved from being controlled by the Commerce Department to the White House.

So, President Obama is going to have to AGAIN find another person for Secretary of Commerce (since Governor Bill Richardson [D-NM]).  I’ll try to update this when there’s more information.

UPDATE:

Here’s what Obama said during an interview on Air Force One:

“Judd is a good man.  And I think that he sincerely wanted to work with us.  I think he had a change of heart on the idea of leaving the Senate.  [Gregg is] somebody that we’re going to work with on issues like fiscal responsibility, the fiscal summit that’s coming up.  And the one thing I want to make sure of is that people don’t take from this the notion that we can’t get Democrats and Republicans working together.  I’m going to keep on working at this, and eventually, we are going to break down some of these barriers because the American people need it.  They are desperate for us to find common ground.”

He was then asked, “What do you see in terms of common ground potential that perhaps we in the media do not?”

Obama: “I’m an eternal optimist.  I can tell you, generally speaking, Judd Gregg and I agree on 80% of things that matter to the American people.  There’s 20% that we disagree on.  I’ve always felt that we can find areas to work on that we share, and then have a vigorous, heated debate on some of the things that we don’t.  And I think we’re going to get there. [Gregg and I] had a discussion over the last couple days.  I wasn’t sure whether he had made a final decision or not.  But clearly, you know, I think he was just having second thoughts about leaving the Senate, a place where he’s thrived and been there for a long time.  You know I think the one thing I give him credit for is having searched his heart before he took on the job because obviously you don’t want somebody having a change of heart after they have been confirmed and are in the process of building a team.”

Answering a question about when he realized Gregg had reached a final decision, Obama said: “Today.  Look, this kind of thing happens all the time, people change their minds.  Just usually there aren’t a lot of reporters around when it happens.”

And here’s a press release that Gregg issued:

“I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.  This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time.  I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me.  Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns.  We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

“I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

“As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals.  This will certainly be a goal of mine.

“Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period.  In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision.  I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.

And here’s what he said in an interview right after the news broke that he was withdrawing:

I regret that due to the impending Senate schedule involving the potential of dealing with an extremely large stimulus package, coupled with the ongoing issues of developing fiscal policy relative to the budget and the continuing economic downturn and my responsibility for foreign operations appropriations, it has become difficult to continue service on the TARP oversight board.  I have advised Senator McConnell I will need to step aside from this effort.

Gregg, also a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that even though he is leaving TARP, he will continue to work with the panel.

I will continue to be involved in ongoing TARP discussions and oversight, and will work to ensure that TARP funding remains focused and targeted in order to stabilize our economy and protect consumers.

Alright, so there’s the press releases / comments that were issued.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Senate Approves Release of Additional $350 Bailout Funds

January 16, 2009

Yesterday, the Senate voted 42-52 to not block the release of the second half of the $700 billion bailout (the Troubled Asset Relief Program [TARP] money).  Within hours of that vote, the Department of the Treasury announced that $118 billion of the $350 billion would be spent on bailing out Bank of America by investing in it and guaranteeing loans.

President-Elect Obama told reporters, “We can’t just spend our way out of the problem.  At some point credit has to flow effectively. … Banks now are fully caught up in a downward spiral where they have now affected the real economy, the real economy is now affecting their balance sheets.  And so we’re going to have to intelligently and strategically infuse some additional capital into the financial system.”

He went on to say, “[This] wasn’t an easy vote … because of the frustration so many of us share,” referring to how President Bush handled the release of  the first $350 billion.  He continued, “Restoring the economy requires that we maintain the flow of credit to families and businesses.  So I’m gratified that a majority of the U.S. Senate, both Democrats and Republicans, voted today to give me the authority to implement the rest of the financial rescue plan in a new and responsible way.”

This bill, Senate Joint Resolution 5 (sponsored by David Vitter [R-LA]) was kinda backwards, in that the vote against the Joint Resolution actually meant that the Senate supported the release of more money.  The vote fell pretty much along party lines, with a few dissenters on both sides.

I think you all know how I feel – this was absolutely terrible.  The Bush Administration and Treasury Secretary Paulson mishandled the release of the first $350 billion, and I really don’t think the Obama Administration will do much better.  Even if they released the money absolutely “perfectly” (according to how they planned it to go), I STILL think that it will harm the economy and just waste government/taxpayer money.

These bailouts have got to stop!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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President Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout

December 19, 2008

Alright, well this morning, President Bush held a press conference where he announced his plans to give  a $17.4 billion loan to GM and Chrysler.  Here’s a video of  that press conference (courtesy of FOX), and I have a transcript (again, courtesy of FOX) which I’ve done a “play-by-play” analysis of below:

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO ASSIST THE AUTOMAKERS

Roosevelt Room

9:01 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. For years, America’s automakers have faced serious challenges — burdensome costs, a shrinking share of the market, and declining profits. In recent months, the global financial crisis has made these challenges even more severe. Now some U.S. auto executives say that their companies are nearing collapse — and that the only way they can buy time to restructure is with help from the federal government.

This is a difficult situation that involves fundamental questions about the proper role of government. On the one hand, government has a responsibility not to undermine the private enterprise system. On the other hand, government has a responsibility to safeguard the broader health and stability of our economy.

Well, personally, I think that the best way to safeguard the health and stability of our economy is to NOT give out loans to companies who were irresponsible!

Addressing the challenges in the auto industry requires us to balance these two responsibilities. If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers. Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay — and I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business.

How exactly would the bankruptcy be disorderly?  The whole point of  bankruptcy is to keep the process orderly.  And if President Bush means liquidation as in the entire company, then this press conference was just a scare tactic to get the American people behind the auto bailout.  The companies wouldn’t go under.

But these are not ordinary circumstances. In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action. The question is how we can best give it a chance to succeed. Some argue the wisest path is to allow the auto companies to reorganize through Chapter 11 provisions of our bankruptcy laws — and provide federal loans to keep them operating while they try to restructure under the supervision of a bankruptcy court. But given the current state of the auto industry and the economy, Chapter 11 is unlikely to work for American automakers at this time.

American consumers understand why: If you hear that a car company is suddenly going into bankruptcy, you worry that parts and servicing will not be available, and you question the value of your warranty. And with consumers hesitant to buy new cars from struggling automakers, it would be more difficult for auto companies to recover.

Then by this argument, Chapter 11 would NEVER work for an auto company, because people would be hesitant to buy.  And how do you remedy these fears?  You emphasize the fact that 3rd party institutions offer warranties, and you don’t HAVE to go to the dealer to get your car serviced.  There are lots of other shops that do just as good of a job, if not a BETTER job than the dealership.

Additionally, the financial crisis brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy much faster than they could have anticipated — and they have not made the legal and financial preparations necessary to carry out an orderly bankruptcy proceeding that could lead to a successful restructuring.

Um … when they were losing money years ago and asked the UAW members to take a pay cut, but the union said no, so in order to avoid a strike, the companies gave in, the companies should have known that continuing to pay wages that you can’t afford would make you go into bankruptcy eventually.  Like I’ve said before, it’s the companies’ heads’ fault for not cutting wages of the workers as well as taking pay cuts themselves, and it’s the UAW members’ fault for being greedy and refusing to budge at all.

The convergence of these factors means there’s too great a risk that bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of American auto companies. My economic advisors believe that such a collapse would deal an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry. It would worsen a weak job market and exacerbate the financial crisis. It could send our suffering economy into a deeper and longer recession. And it would leave the next President to confront the demise of a major American industry in his first days of office.

Are these the same economic advisors who encouraged the Economic Stimulus Package and the first bailout bill?  Because if so, they suck, and I would have fired them a LONG time ago.

A more responsible option is to give the auto companies an incentive to restructure outside of bankruptcy — and a brief window in which to do it. And that is why my administration worked with Congress on a bill to provide automakers with loans to stave off bankruptcy while they develop plans for viability. This legislation earned bipartisan support from majorities in both houses of Congress.

If bipartisan you mean Democrats along with traitorous Republicans, then yes, I guess it was bipartisan.  HOWEVER, I commend the brave and honorable REAL Republicans who stood up against this bailout, and the other bailouts.  I especially commend Bob Corker (R-TN) for standing up against the UAW.  Of course, Ron Paul (R-TX) must be mentioned, since he’s hugely against this as well.  I commend all 28 Republicans who had the common sense to vote against this bill.

Unfortunately, despite extensive debate and agreement that we should prevent disorderly bankruptcies in the American auto industry, Congress was unable to get a bill to my desk before adjourning this year.

This means the only way to avoid a collapse of the U.S. auto industry is for the executive branch to step in. The American people want the auto companies to succeed, and so do I. So today, I’m announcing that the federal government will grant loans to auto companies under conditions similar to those Congress considered last week.

These loans will provide help in two ways. First, they will give automakers three months to put in place plans to restructure into viable companies — which we believe they are capable of doing. Second, if restructuring cannot be accomplished outside of bankruptcy, the loans will provide time for companies to make the legal and financial preparations necessary for an orderly Chapter 11 process that offers a better prospect of long-term success — and gives consumers confidence that they can continue to buy American cars.

Because Congress failed to make funds available for these loans, the plan I’m announcing today will be drawn from the financial rescue package Congress approved earlier this fall. The terms of the loans will require auto companies to demonstrate how they would become viable. They must pay back all their loans to the government, and show that their firms can earn a profit and achieve a positive net worth. This restructuring will require meaningful concessions from all involved in the auto industry — management, labor unions, creditors, bondholders, dealers, and suppliers.

Well obviously they have to pay back the loans.  It’s not a loan if you keep the money!

In particular, automakers must meet conditions that experts agree are necessary for long-term viability — including putting their retirement plans on a sustainable footing, persuading bondholders to convert their debt into capital the companies need to address immediate financial shortfalls, and making their compensation competitive with foreign automakers who have major operations in the United States. If a company fails to come up with a viable plan by March 31st, it will be required to repay its federal loans.

OK, this is where this whole thing just confuses the crap out of me.  We give them the money, and they spend it.  If they don’t have a plan by March 31st, they have to give all the money back.  But does Bush really think that they’ll have all the money that we gave them?  If they do, then it’s OBVIOUS that they don’t NEED the loan, because they still have enough money!  If they can’t repay us back, how is it any different than a normal loan.  How are we going to force  them to pay us back?  The entire PREMISE around this bailout is just idiotic!

The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake, and make hard decisions necessary to reform, These conditions send a clear message to everyone involved in the future of American automakers: The time to make the hard decisions to become viable is now — or the only option will be bankruptcy.

The actions I’m announcing today represent a step that we wish were not necessary. But given the situation, it is the most effective and responsible way to address this challenge facing our nation. By giving the auto companies a chance to restructure, we will shield the American people from a harsh economic blow at a vulnerable time. And we will give American workers an opportunity to show the world once again they can meet challenges with ingenuity and determination, and bounce back from tough times, and emerge stronger than before.

Thank you.

END 9:08 A.M. EST

Well, I have now lost most all of the approval that I still had for the Bush administration.

There’s still a glimmer of hope: Once Treasury Secretary Paulson actually makes a formal request, the money will be released unless Congress rejects the request within 15 days.  I can only hope that Republicans oppose it and that enough Democrats, angry at the way Bush has handled the release of money, will oppose this awful plan.  Sadly, I don’t see that happening; however, I will hope and pray and continue advocating that we put a stop to all of this economic nonsense!

This bailout plan is NOT the solution.  Like I said, the entire premise of it is flawed: We’ll loan you money to spend, but if you don’t have a good plan, you have to give that money back.  Well, either the money is STILL in their bank accounts (meaning they didn’t NEED the money), or the money has already been SPENT (partially)!

We need some strong fiscal conservatives to show what the Republican party truly stands for.  We need more people like Neil Cavuto, Bob Corker, and Ron Paul.  I’m tired of the Republicans here in Michigan supporting the bailout because it will help our state.  It’s selfish and wrong.  I’m especially disappointed in Representative Pete Hoekstra, who has always been very outspoken about fiscal conservativism.  We need people who will fight for economic justice!  We need people who will fight for the American TAXPAYER!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Obama Advisor: Obama Likely to Not Repeal the Bush Tax Cuts

November 23, 2008

Well, I called this one (not on this blog, but another website I post on) over a month ago, when he said that a recession may make him delay the repealment of the Bush tax cuts.  Well, this morning on Meet the Press, an advisor on his transition team, Bill Daley (Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton), said that it’s looking like Obama isn’t going to push for them to be repealed, but just let them expire in 2011.  Here’s the transcript courtesy of Meet the Press:

MR. BROKAW: And let’s talk about taxes for just a moment ,if we can. The New York Times is reporting today that “in light of the downturn, Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.” Is that your understanding of what may happen?

MR. DALEY: That looks more likely than not, Tom, but the president-elect is very committed to the fact that there must be greater equity in, in the responsibility of, of taxes in this country. We must bring tax relief to the middle class. He has said this now for two years as he’s been out there on the campaign, and he’s going to deliver on that. That’s an integral part of his economic recovery package next year is to bring some tax relief to the American people and the vast majority who are in the middle class, not those of us who do much better than that. So I, I think he’s going, he’s, he’s got a great team he’s putting together: Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, a whole host of other people, that he’s charged with putting this plan together. I think he’s gone out to get the most competent, qualified, experienced people to put this together. We are, as Secretary Baker said, in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis. We will come out of it, but these are times that no one’s ever seen, and it’s a global issue. And of all the people he’s put forward in these major jobs are very experienced in a global setting of economics also.

MR. BROKAW: And, Secretary [James] Baker [Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan], keeping the Bush tax cuts in place, will that be central to winning any Republican support for a massive public stimulus program of some kind?

MR. BAKER: Well, it depends on which you mean by keeping them in place. If that means he’s not going to try to repeal, not going to try to increase taxes during this very critical next two-year period, then, yes, it would be and probably would be if it means that he’s going to abandon the idea of, of keeping them, keeping taxes low thereafter. But let me, let me second what, what Secretary Daley said about the team that the president-elect is putting together. I think he’s appointed some extraordinarily capable people, and we’re going to see some more, as I understand it. And I think he’s to be commended for that. Bill Daley knows and I know that any new president has got to surround himself with competent advisers, and that’s even more so today when we’re facing the kind of economic crisis we’re facing.

May I say one other thing, Tom? I, I think that a lot of what we’re seeing out there today is a lack of confidence, and the president-elect and, as a matter of fact, the current president have to face this problem over the next 60 days. It’s unfortunate that we’re in this interregnum of a transition, but I think that something very useful might even come out of the two of them sitting down together and addressing not the, not the midterm, not the mid and long-term problem that we face that was the subject of the president-elect’s speech, but the–but facing–but addressing stability of our financial system and to see if there isn’t something that they could do jointly, together, over the next 58 to 60 days that would help us make sure that the–that the financial system is stabilized and, and secure. Because if that goes under, then this thing is even, believe it or not, going to get worse. And I think just the mere fact of their sitting down together and seeing if there’s not one thing that they could come together on would do a lot to restore confidence and, and remove the anxiety and fear that’s out there.

Well, now this is interesting, since Senator Obama has said that he would pay for his health care plan with the money that would come in from getting rid of the Bush tax cuts.  So, this will set him back 2 years which will be $100-$135 billion.

Like I’ve said before, Obama is all talk, on taxes, on Iraq, and on a lot of what he says.  He was elected on promises that he never intended to fulfill, but most Americans didn’t realize that.  Oh well, in 4 years, people will be begging for a Republican in the White House.  Either that, or they’ll excuse Obama by saying, “His problems were Bush’s fault.”  Knowing American voters, I’m scared that it may be the latter.

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Timothy Geithner to be Secretary of Treasury

November 21, 2008

I’ve just received a report that Timothy Geithner will be nominated for Secretary of Treasury.  Geithner is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as well as the Vice Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Geithner worked for Kissinger’s consulting firm and he later worked for the Treasury Department, becoming the Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs.

I really don’t know much about Geithner or his politics, but I’ll be sure to update this if I find out anything about him.

Hopefully he does a better job than our current Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson!  NO MORE BAILOUTS!

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Analysis of the House Voting Down Yesterday’s Bailout Bill

September 30, 2008

I had hoped to do a post on this yesterday, but I wanted to actually see the bill before I did anything on it.  It took them a while to get the bill language up, and I found out that it was about 110 pages long (it is available here if you’re interested).  Also, here’s the bill that the Senate didn’t vote to pass (it needed 60% to pass).

As I’m sure all of you know, the House voted down yesterday’s bill, H.R. 3997, the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008″ 205 (140D/65R) – 228 (95D/133R), with 1 not voting (R).

The following is the summary of the act, courtesy of the Financial Services Committee of the House:

SUMMARY OF THE “EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008″

I. Stabilizing the Economy

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) provides up to $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy mortgages and other assets that are clogging the balance sheets of financial institutions and making it difficult for working families, small businesses, and other companies to access credit, which is vital to a strong and stable economy. EESA also establishes a program that would allow companies to insure their troubled assets.

Alright, this basically explains the principle that the Representatives who were for the bill were advocating: This is an investment, not a bailout (similar to the Chrysler government loan guarantees of the 1970s and 1980s, where we co-signed on a $1.5 billion loan).  They argue that we will make our money back, and even possibly make a profit (like we did with Chrysler).  Here’s the problem with that thinking: many American people who are in crisis right now are NOT helping the situation.  I gave an example of a woman who simply left her old home and mortgage in the middle of the night and bought a house in the Carolinas (I don’t remember which off the top of my head) the next day, before the credit caught up to her.  There have been stories of people tearing apart houses right before the bank repossesses them, “because the bank is the bad guy” when in actuality, it’s both the bank’s fault for giving a loan to somebody who never should have been able to get one as well as the homeowner’s fault for trying to buy a house that he/she simply couldn’t afford.  It’s a lack of basic family budgeting and spending principles that helped get us into this situation.  Then mortgage companies gave out Adjustable Rate Mortgages to people who NEVER should’ve been able to get one, and people looking to buy homes ignored the first basic principle of fiscal responsibility: don’t buy something you can’t afford!  So, we’re going to buy these mortgages, but that’s not going to stop people from not being able to pay the mortgages.  Instead of banks losing money, it’ll be the government.

Now, on the other hand, it IS unfair for responsible buyers who happened to get a mortgage from the wrong company to have to suffer, and it is THESE instances that I am more willing to accept government intervention, but how the government is to analyze and weed out the good from the bad is quite a problem, considering the massiveness of banks and mortgage companies that have failed or are looking like they will fail.

II. Homeownership Preservation

EESA requires the Treasury to modify troubled loans – many the result of predatory lending practices – wherever possible to help American families keep their homes. It also directs other federal agencies to modify loans that they own or control. Finally, it improves the HOPE for Homeowners program by expanding eligibility and increasing the tools available to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help more families keep their homes.

Now, that last sentence is where the government could lose a lot of money.  When you expand eligibility and increase tools for helping people stay in their homes, you’re saying that these people are getting help to stay in homes that they can’t afford, which means that the government is footing the bill, and that’s money that the government will not see back in its hands a good chunk of the time.

III. Taxpayer Protection

Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. The legislation requires companies that sell some of their bad assets to the government to provide warrants so that taxpayers will benefit from any future growth these companies may experience as a result of participation in this program. The legislation also requires the President to submit legislation that would cover any losses to taxpayers resulting from this program from financial institutions.

This is again, where the “investment” principle comes into the bill.  And this could be good for the government, like the bailout of Chrysler was profitable to the government in the 1980s and 1990s.  The part that confuses me is that last sentence – why the President is the one to draft legislation to cover taxpayer losses seems to confuse me, unless that’s their way of knowing that the President will approve of the measure, since he himself drafted it.  I’ll have to look into that a little more to understand what all that would do.

IV. No Windfalls for Executives

Executives who made bad decisions should not be allowed to dump their bad assets on the government, and then walk away with millions of dollars in bonuses. In order to participate in this program, companies will lose certain tax benefits and, in some cases, must limit executive pay. In addition, the bill limits “golden parachutes” and requires that unearned bonuses be returned.

If these executives cared about their companies, most of them just would stop taking pay.  I guarantee you that if I were the CEO of AIG, and if I were set for life, I wouldn’t take another pay check until the company was back on track.

V. Strong Oversight

Rather than giving the Treasury all the funds at once, the legislation gives the Treasury $250 billion immediately, then requires the President to certify that additional funds are needed ($100 billion, then $350 billion subject to Congressional disapproval). The Treasury must report on the use of the funds and the progress in addressing the crisis. EESA also establishes an Oversight Board so that the Treasury cannot act in an arbitrary manner. It also establishes a special inspector general to protect against waste, fraud and abuse [sic]

Good.  Frankly, I don’t trust the Treasury Department after they advocated the Fannie and Freddie bailouts.  I want to know where this money is going, and I want Congressional approval of it (even though I don’t support the Democrats in Congress, the more people that have to approve where the money goes, the better).

So, that’s the summary, and here’s the section-by-section analysis of the bill, basically the summary with details, also courtesy of the Financial Services Committee:

 SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short Title.

“Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.”

Section 2. Purposes.

Provides authority to the Treasury Secretary to restore liquidity and stability to the U.S. financial system and to ensure the economic well-being of Americans.

Section 3. Definitions.

Contains various definitions used under this Act.

Title I. Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Section 101. Purchases of Troubled Assets.

Authorizes the Secretary to establish a Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions. Establishes an Office of Financial Stability within the Treasury Department to implement the TARP in consultation with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FDIC, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Requires the Treasury Secretary to establish guidelines and policies to carry out the purposes of this Act.

Includes provisions to prevent unjust enrichment by participants of the program.

Like I said above.  The government has to be careful that this really is an investment, because if more companies say, “We can take risks, because we’re too big, so the government will HAVE to bail us out,” then it becomes purely a bailout and a terrible investment that will cost taxpayers billions (if not ultimately trillions, since this bill alone would authorize up to $700 billion).  Personally, I really don’t think the government should be doing this at all, but since some bailout bill will eventually pass, I’d want it filled with as many fiscal conservative principles as possible.

Section 102. Insurance of Troubled Assets.

If the Secretary establishes the TARP program, the Secretary is required to establish a program to guarantee troubled assets of financial institutions.

The Secretary is required to establish risk-based premiums for such guarantees sufficient to cover anticipated claims. The Secretary must report to Congress on the establishment of the guarantee program.

Again – I like the whole reporting to Congress idea.

Section 103. Considerations.

In using authority under this Act, the Treasury Secretary is required to take a number of considerations into account, including the interests of taxpayers, minimizing the impact on the national debt, providing stability to the financial markets, preserving homeownership, the needs of all financial institutions regardless of size or other characteristics, and the needs of local communities. Requires the Secretary to examine the long-term viability of an institution in determining whether to directly purchase assets under the TARP.

Section 104. Financial Stability Oversight Board.

This section establishes the Financial Stability Oversight Board to review and make recommendations regarding the exercise of authority under this Act. In addition, the Board must ensure that the policies implemented by the Secretary protect taxpayers, are in the economic interests of the United States, and are in accordance with this Act.

The Board is comprised of the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Federal Home Finance Agency, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Section 105. Reports.

Monthly Reports: Within 60 days of the first exercise of authority under this Act and every month thereafter, the Secretary is required to report to Congress its activities under TARP, including detailed financial statements.

Tranche Reports: For every $50 billion in assets purchased, the Secretary is required to report to Congress a detailed description of all transactions, a description of the pricing mechanisms used, and justifications for the financial terms of such transactions.

Regulatory Modernization Report: Prior to April 30, 2009, the Secretary is required to submit a report to Congress on the current state of the financial markets, the effectiveness of the financial regulatory system, and to provide any recommendations.

Section 106. Rights; Management; Sale of Troubled Assets; Revenues and Sale Proceeds.

Establishes the right of the Secretary to exercise authorities under this Act at any time. Provides the Secretary with the authority to manage troubled assets, including the ability to determine the terms and conditions associated with the disposition of troubled assets. Requires profits from the sale of troubled assets to be used to pay down the national debt.

Section 107. Contracting Procedures.

Allows the Secretary to waive provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation where compelling circumstances make compliance contrary to the public interest. Such waivers must be reported to Congress within 7 days. If provisions related to minority contracting are waived, the Secretary must develop alternate procedures to ensure the inclusion of minority contractors.

Allows the FDIC to be selected as an asset manager for residential mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities.

Section 108. Conflicts of Interest.

The Secretary is required to issue regulations or guidelines to manage or prohibit conflicts of interest in the administration of the program.

Section 109. Foreclosure Mitigation Efforts.

For mortgages and mortgage-backed securities acquired through TARP, the Secretary must implement a plan to mitigate foreclosures and to encourage servicers of mortgages to modify loans through Hope for Homeowners and other programs. Allows the Secretary to use loan guarantees and credit enhancement to avoid foreclosures. Requires the Secretary to coordinate with other federal entities that hold troubled assets in order to identify opportunities to modify loans, considering net present value to the taxpayer.

This is the section that is most helpful directly to taxpayers, but will also award people for bad fiscal principles.  If you can’t afford a loan that you took out, it’s not the government’s job to use loan guarantees (essentially co-sign on the loan).  If you lose your house, that’s your own fault.  It’s harsh, but it’s fair.

Section 110. Assistance to Homeowners.

Requires federal entities that hold mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve to develop plans to minimize foreclosures. Requires federal entities to work with servicers to encourage loan modifications, considering net present value to the taxpayer.

Again, the government will lose a lot of money here, and so will banks.  If they’re letting people stay in houses when they can’t afford them, somebody is going to lose money, and it will be both banks and other lending agencies as well as the government.

Section 111. Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance.

Provides that Treasury will promulgate executive compensation rules governing financial institutions that sell it troubled assets. Where Treasury buys assets directly, the institution must observe standards limiting incentives, allowing clawback and prohibiting golden parachutes. When Treasury buys assets at auction, an institution that has sold more than $300 million in assets is subject to additional taxes, including a 20% excise tax on golden parachute payments triggered by events other than retirement, and tax deduction limits for compensation limits above $500,000.

Section 112. Coordination With Foreign Authorities and Central Banks.

Requires the Secretary to coordinate with foreign authorities and central banks to establish programs similar to TARP.

Section 113. Minimization of Long-Term Costs and Maximization of Benefits for Taxpayers.

In order to cover losses and administrative costs, as well as to allow taxpayers to share in equity appreciation, requires that the Treasury receive non-voting warrants from participating financial institutions.

Section 114. Market Transparency.

48-hour Reporting Requirement: The Secretary is required, within 2 business days of exercising authority under this Act, to publicly disclose the details of any transaction.

Good, if we’re going to screw our economy up more, I at least want to understand exactly how it happened.

Section 115. Graduated Authorization to Purchase.

Authorizes the full $700 billion as requested by the Treasury Secretary for implementation of TARP. Allows the Secretary to immediately use up to $250 billion in authority under this Act. Upon a Presidential certification of need, the Secretary may access an additional $100 billion. The final $350 billion may be accessed if the President transmits a written report to Congress requesting such authority. The Secretary may use this additional authority unless within 15 days Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval which may be considered on an expedited basis.

Again, good – it at least gives us the hope that we won’t use all $700 billion, at least on this bailout.

Section 116. Oversight and Audits.

Requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct ongoing oversight of the activities and performance of TARP, and to report every 60 days to Congress. The Comptroller General is required to conduct an annual audit of TARP. In addition, TARP is required to establish and maintain an effective system of internal controls.

Section 117. Study and Report on Margin Authority.

Directs the Comptroller General to conduct a study and report back to Congress on the role in which leverage and sudden deleveraging of financial institutions was a factor behind the current financial crisis.

Section 118. Funding.

Provides for the authorization and appropriation of funds consistent with Section 115.

Section 119. Judicial Review and Related Matters.

Provides standards for judicial review, including injunctive and other relief, to ensure that the actions of the Secretary are not arbitrary, capricious, or not in accordance with law.

Section 120. Termination of Authority.

Provides that the authorities to purchase and guarantee assets terminate on December 31, 2009. The Secretary may extend the authority for an additional year upon certification of need to Congress.

Section 121. Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Establishes the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program to conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the actions undertaken by the Secretary under this Act. The Special Inspector General is required to submit a quarterly report to Congress summarizing its activities and the activities of the Secretary under this Act.

Section 122. Increase in the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Raises the debt ceiling from $10.6 trillion to $11.3 trillion.

Section 123. Credit Reform.

Details the manner in which the legislation will be treated for budgetary purposes under the Federal Credit Reform Act.

Section 124. Hope for Homeowners Amendments.

Strengthens the Hope for Homeowners program to increase eligibility and improve the tools available to prevent foreclosures.

I’ve already voiced my opinions on this – this is gonna hurt us.

Section 125. Congressional Oversight Panel.

Establishes a Congressional Oversight Panel to review the state of the financial markets, the regulatory system, and the use of authority under TARP. The panel is required to report to Congress every 30 days and to submit a special report on regulatory reform

prior to January 20, 2009. The panel will consist of 5 outside experts appointed by the House and Senate Minority and Majority leadership.

Section 126. FDIC Enforcement Enhancement.

Prohibits the misuse of the FDIC logo and name to falsely represent that deposits are insured. Strengthens enforcement by appropriate federal banking agencies, and allows the FDIC to take enforcement action against any person or institution where the banking agency has not acted.

This wasn’t prohibited before?  I feel like that should’ve been outlawed back when the FDIC was FORMED!

Section 127. Cooperation With the FBI.

Requires any federal financial regulatory agency to cooperate with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigating fraud, misrepresentation, and malfeasance with respect to development, advertising, and sale of financial products.

Again, this needed to be in a bill?

Section 128. Acceleration of Effective Date.

Provides the Federal Reserve with the ability to pay interest on reserves.

Section 129. Disclosures on Exercise of Loan Authority.

Requires the Federal Reserve to provide a detailed report to Congress, in an expedited manner, upon the use of its emergency lending authority under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act.

Again, if we’re going to kill our economy, at least we know how we did it so we don’t do it again.

Section 130. Technical Corrections.

Makes technical corrections to the Truth in Lending Act.

Section 131. Exchange Stabilization Fund Reimbursement.

Protects the Exchange Stabilization Fund from incurring any losses due to the temporary money market mutual fund guarantee by requiring the program created in this Act to reimburse the Fund. Prohibits any future use of the Fund for any guarantee program for the money market mutual fund industry.

Section 132. Authority to Suspend Mark-to-Market Accounting.

Restates the Securities and Exchange Commission’s authority to suspend the application of Statement Number 157 of the Financial Accounting Standards Board if the SEC determines that it is in the public interest and protects investors.

Section 133. Study on Mark-to-Market Accounting.

Requires the SEC, in consultation with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, to conduct a study on mark-to-market accounting standards as provided in FAS 157, including its effects on balance sheets, impact on the quality of financial information, and other matters, and to report to Congress within 90 days on its findings.

Section 134. Recoupment.

Requires that in 5 years, the President submit to the Congress a proposal that recoups from the financial industry any projected losses to the taxpayer.

Again, why is the President writing this proposal?  And how do they honestly plan on recouping losses?  How do you get back billions of dollars from the financial industry?  I feel sorry for whoever has to write that proposal.

Section 135. Preservation of Authority.

Clarifies that nothing in this Act shall limit the authority of the Secretary or the Federal Reserve under any other provision of law.

Title II-Budget-Related Provisions

Section 201. Information for Congressional Support Agencies.

Requires that information used by the Treasury Secretary in connection with activities under this Act be made available to CBO and JCT.

Section 202. Reports by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office.

Requires CBO and OMB to report cost estimates and related information to Congress and the President regarding the authorities that the Secretary of the Treasury has exercised under the Act.

Section 203. Analysis in President’s Budget.

Requires that the President include in his annual budget submission to the Congress certain analyses and estimates relating to costs incurred as a result of the Act; and

Section 204. Emergency Treatment.

Specifies scoring of the Act for purposes of budget enforcement.

Title III-Tax Provisions

Section 301. Gain or Loss From Sale or Exchange of Certain Preferred Stock.

Details certain changes in the tax treatment of losses on the preferred stock of certain GSEs for financial institutions.

Section 302. Special Rules for Tax Treatment of Executive Compensation of Employers Participating in the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Applies limits on executive compensation and golden parachutes for certain executives of employers who participate in the auction program.

That I agree with.  If we’re bailing out these companies, lets at least waste the money solely on the companies.

Section 303. Extension of Exclusion of Income From Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness.

Extends current law tax forgiveness on the cancellation of mortgage debt.

Alright, so that was the full summary of the bill that FAILED the House yesterday.

I want give you a quote from Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), given during yesterday’s House session:

Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this bill. This is only going to make the problem that much worse. The problem came about because we spent too much; we borrowed too much, and we printed too much money; we inflated too much, and we overregulated. This is all that this bill is about is more of the same.

So you can’t solve the problem. We are looking at a symptom. We are looking at the collapsing of a market that was unstable. It was unstable because of the way it came about. It came about because of a monopoly control of money and credit by the Federal Reserve System, and that is a natural consequence of what happens when a Federal Reserve System creates too much credit.

Now, there have been a fair number of free market economists around who have predicted this would happen. Yet do we look to them for advice? No. We totally exclude them. We don’t listen to them. We don’t look at them. We look to the people who created the problem, and then we perpetuate the problem.

The most serious mistake that could be made here today is to blame free market capitalism for this problem. This has nothing to do with free market capitalism. This has to do with a managed economy, with an inflationary system, with corporatism, and with a special interest system. It has nothing to do with the failure of free markets and capitalism. Yet we’re resorting now, once again, to promoting more and more government.

Long term, this is disastrous because of everything we’re doing here and because of everything we’ve done for 6 months. We’ve already pumped in $700 billion. Here is another $700 billion. This is going to destroy the dollar. That’s what you should be concerned about. Yes, Wall Street is in trouble. There are a lot of problems, and if we don’t vote for this, there are going to be problems. Believe me: If you destroy the dollar, you’re going to destroy a worldwide economy, and that’s what we’re
on the verge of doing, and it is inevitable, if we continue this, that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s [Page: H10370]
going to be a lot more serious than what we’re dealing with today.

We need to get our house in order. We need more oversight–that is a certainty–but we need oversight of the Federal Reserve System, of the Exchange Stabilization Fund and of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. Find out what they’re doing. How much have they been meddling in the market?

What we’re doing today is going to make things much worse.

Pure economic genius from Dr. Paul.

And here’s a quote from Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO):

Mrs. MUSGRAVE. Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the strong opposition to the initial administration proposal has helped to force some very important changes such as the bipartisan oversight board, which is an online database that will allow greater oversight of the Secretary’s actions, but this is still a bailout for Wall Street that will cost the average Colorado household thousands.

I simply cannot stomach transferring that kind of money from the middle class families to a bunch of Wall Street bankers whose avarice and greed put us in this situation in the first place. It’s interesting that, when working families were being crushed by soaring energy prices this summer, Congress went on vacation. Yet, when Wall Street faced the consequences of its actions, we worked around the clock to help them. We should place the same priority on helping Main Street that we place on helping
Wall Street.

And there she expresses what most Americans are expressing: “Why use my money to bail out people and companies who acted irresponsibly?”

A full record of everything said at yesterday’s House session is available on C-Span’s website here (it’s actually pretty cool – I never knew they had that!).

So, again, I am glad that the House voted down this bill.  Hopefully I’ll be able to see the next bill BEFORE there’s a vote on it – I was very disappointed that there was no record of this until today, and even then, so many people were trying to access it that they were killing GovTrack.us and the House websites.

On a side note, here’s a copy of the roll call vote, and I’d like to note that I’m terribly disappointed in Representative Tancredo (R-CO) for voting Aye on this.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Unofficial Deal Reached in Congress on Financial Bailout Bill

September 28, 2008

Word has just come in that congress has reached at deal; however, this deal has NOT been written down officially on paper yet.  This was a verbal deal made between Congressional leaders and the Bush administration.  The House is expected to vote on this bill later today (Sunday), and then pass it on to the Senate for a vote on Monday.  Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told reporters that the deal still has to be officially finalized, but “I think we’re there.”

Earlier in the night, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters that “quite a bit” of progress had been made.

Earlier in the night, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus had told reporters, “We’re making a lot of headway; I think it’s possible to get this thing done tonight, [but] I can’t guarantee it.”  It appears as if this deal was reached sometime within the last hour, sometime just after midnight.

I really want to see the guts of this bill before I make a final judgment on it – I just hope that we’re not going to waste more taxpayer money on something that will completely plunge our economy into the ground.

I’ll give any updates as soon as I get them, which probably won’t be until the House convenes tomorrow.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Obama and Biden Voted Against Funding for Rebuilding After Katrina, But Supported Bridge to Nowhere Funding

September 8, 2008

So, I found something interesting today.  Back in 2005, Congress voted on and passed H.R. 3058 [109th Congress]: “Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia,…”.  This purpose of this bill was for “Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and independent agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, and for other purposes.”

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  Before being passed by the Senate it underwent 181 amendment proposals (49 by the House, 132 by the Senate).  One of the Senate amendments, proposed by Tom Coburn (R-OK), S.Amdt. 2165, “To make a perfecting amendment,” was proposed on October 20, 2005.  The original full text of the amendment can be found here, but the amendment basically took money that was, in the original bill, allocated to 2 “Bridge to Nowhere” projects in Alaska, the Knik Arm Bridge, and the Gravina Island Bridge, and would put this money toward rebuilding the Twin Spans Bridge which was bridge connecting New Orleans to Slidell, LA, that was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.

So, who voted against this amendment?  The same people who have been lying about Sarah Palin, saying that she supported the Bridge to Nowhere projects.  That’s right.  Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted to keep this money going toward the Bridge to Nowhere instead of spending it to rebuild after Katrina.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a vote for Senator McCain who was not in the Senate that day.

Later, that same day, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) (yes, the terrible Republican who got so much pork barrel spending for his state) proposed S.Amdt. 2181: To ensure reconstruction of the Twin Spans Bridge.  He probably felt bad about the money going to his bridges instead of the New Orleans bridge.  Who voted against this amendment?  That’s right, Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  Again, we don’t have a vote from McCain, since he wasn’t there that day.

So Barack Obama and Joe Biden voted twice against funding to rebuild after Katrina, but didn’t vote to stop funding TWO Bridge to Nowhere projects?  And Obama/Biden call Palin a hypocrite?  Palin is against the Bridge to Nowhere.  Obama and Biden were for it, and they were against rebuilding a bridge damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  Is this change we can believe in?  No, this is the same old Washington politics.

Done Ranting,

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Obama and McCain Respond to Takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

September 7, 2008

Well, I already talked about the Federal takeover of Fannie and Freddie, and since then, I was able to find statements from the Presidential candidates.  We’ll start with Barack Obama:

Originally, this was all we had from Obama:

I have been and will continue to monitor this situation closely, and I’ll evaluate whatever plan is put forth by this administration with the following three benchmarks:

First, any action we take must be focused not on the whims of lobbyists and special interests worried about their bonuses and hourly fees, but on whether it will strengthen our economy and help struggling homeowners who are also being hit by lost jobs, stagnant wages and spiralling costs for everything from gas to groceries.

Second, we must protect taxpayers, not bail out the shareholders and management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is a challenging situation, and there are some community and regional banks, including those serving low-income communities, that we need to carefully address. But we must not allow government intervention to protect investors and speculators who relied on the government to reap massive profits.

Finally, we must ensure that any plan clarifies the true public and private status of our housing policies. We need to make clear that in our market system, investors must not be allowed to believe that, unlike working families, they can simply invest in a “heads they win, tails they don’t lose” context.

Then Obama’s blog somebody posted a slightly different press release, which basically said the same thing with a few differences:

Today Senator Obama released the following statement on the U.S. Treasury Plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:

Given the substantial role that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play in our housing system, I believe that some form of intervention is necessary to prevent a larger and deeper crisis throughout our entire economy. I will be reviewing the details of the Treasury plan and monitoring its impact to determine whether it achieves the key benchmarks I believe are necessary to address this crisis.

First, this plan must not focus on the whims of lobbyists and special interests worried about their bonuses and hourly fees, but instead on strengthening our economy and helping struggling homeowners who are also being hit by lost jobs, stagnant wages and spiraling costs of everything from gas to groceries. Second, the plan must protect taxpayers, not bail out the shareholders and management of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Third, once we ride out the current crisis, the plan must move toward clarifying the true public and private status of our housing policies. In our market system, investors must not be allowed to believe that they can invest in a “heads they win, tails they don’t lose” situation.

And then we have John McCain, who made this statement on CBS’s “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer:

SCHIEFFER: And thank you for saying that.

Let’s talk a little bit about the big news of the day.

Sen. McCAIN: Mm-hmm.

SCHIEFFER: Both the Post and The New York Times report that the administration is preparing to put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two guarantors of mortgages, in some sort of a conservorship***(as spoken). Basically what they’re going to do is dismiss the officers, the government will take over. There’s no way you can say this is not going to cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. Do you think this is a good idea, Senator McCain?

Sen. McCAIN: I think it has to be done, Bob. I think that we’ve got to keep people in their homes. There’s got to be restructuring, there’s got to be reorganization and there’s got to be some confidence that we’ve stopped this downward spiral. It’s hard, it’s tough, but it’s also the classic example of why we need change in Washington. It’s an example of cronyism, special interest, lobbyists, a quasi-governmental organization where the executives were making hundreds of–hundred and some million dollars a year while things were going downhill, going to hell in a handbasket. This is–this is the kind of cronyism and corruption that has made people so justifiably angered. I did have a long conversation with Secretary Paulson, a man I admire and respect, and he did say that when the housing market starts back up–and it will, it will in America–then the taxpayers are going to be the first to be paid off. They’re the ones that are going to be reimbursed when the values of the homes start–hit bottom and start back up and they start getting more money back in. And that has to be a vital part of it. And again, this is a system that cries out for reform.

SCHIEFFER: You’re talking about–they’re going to have some more regulation. Is that what you’re saying? More control?

Sen. McCAIN: More regulation, more oversight, more transparency, more of everything. And frankly, a dramatic reduction in what they do. You know, they are originally designed to provide a chance for middle income people to have an affordable home loan mortgage, and it grew into this sprawling, massive bureaucracy rife with corruption, cronyism, special interests, lobbyists and a relationship with Congress. Congress passed these laws that allowed these massive loopholes to be there. And so obviously, it’s got not only to be fixed, but it’s a system. It’s an example and a symptom of a system where we’re so close to the special interests that somehow–in Washington, we’re so close that somehow the average American is totally disregarded.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let’s take a break here.

Sen. McCAIN: Sure.

OK, so who do I agree with more?  Neither really.  Obama seems to have formed less of an opinion than McCain, and McCain seems to have pretty much taken this from the takeover.  McCain talks about “a dramatic reduction in what [Fannie and Freddie] do,” which is pretty much what the takeover plan states.

Like I said before, I don’t think that the takeover was a good idea.  I don’t think that “reduc[ing] what they do” is a good idea either.  As of now, I want the government to do their plan with the company, and get out of the companies (since they obviously won’t take my idea of doing nothing with the companies).  I see no need for the government to start dictating how much these (now formerly) PRIVATE companies do.

So, I’m kinda disappointed in McCain, but I’m not really surprised.  This follows his stance on the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, in that he wants bailouts to help the people (at least he’s not doing it to help the company), but that government involvement is only going to hurt more people more in the long run.

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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