Monday, December 22, 2008

I Blame Congress

I don't really blame the people who have accepted $700 billion in bailout money and have squandered it. They're executives. That's what they do. That's all they do. I blame Congress, especially Democrats, for capitulating to them as spinelessly as they've capitulated to the Bush administration that'd asked for this bailout.

So it should come as no surprise that our tax dollars had fallen into a black hole from which nothing escapes, especially accountability. Because, Lord knows, accounting for money by accountants within the banking industry is a bit too much to ask for.

The AP did a survey recently, asking banks that have received bailout money how they're spending the money, whether they're loaning it out, etc. Not a single bank responded with concrete answers. One bank spokesman even complained about being cited for its total lack cooperation. Another wanted to respond anonymously and when AP refused, they sent a curt email refusing to participate.

Does this honestly surprise anyone considering that Congress imposed no restrictions or conditions whatsoever (and of course the Bush administration insisted on none) before handing out a sum of money equivalent to the economy of Holland?

That's why we're now hearing about billions being handed out for executive bonuses and corporations refusing to stop using corporate jets and going on executive junkets costing almost half a million dollars, all on the taxpayer dole.

So I think it's kind of hypocritical when Congress started yip-yapping to auto executives and demanding that they restructure over what amounted to a tiny fraction of the 700 billion they'd already handed out with no restrictions or conditions whatsoever. The bailout money to banks was supposed to free up liquidity within the credit market, it was supposed to help out homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages.

Yet Paulson has refused to hand out a penny to help homeowners and it seems as if the largest banks are hoarding the money or blowing it on executive compensation rather than lending it out. Goldman Sachs, Paulson's own former company, even had to get bailed out despite record revenues last year. This is their laughable line:
Goldman Sachs' tab for leased cars and drivers ran as high as $233,000 per executive. The firm told its shareholders this year that financial counseling and chauffeurs are important in giving executives more time to focus on their jobs.

That's their whole rationale for refusing to let go of their money managers and luxury corporate jets. They need professional money management to manage all the billions they're getting from the taxpayer. Jets are mobile offices, doncha know? They have important shit to do, like steering us into one iceberg after another like the Titanic-class captains of industry that they are. They also need country club memberships for... what?

Well, I can think of millions of travelers who fly commercially who also work in first class or coach. I can think of millions more who can do the same thing on buses or even cars. It's a bullshit response, they we need to continue bloating and pampering these executives in order to keep them doing the wonderful job they've been doing.

But these banks and lenders got the money with no strings attached because they didn't have to actually beg for their money from Congress like the automakers. And when a cynical and angry Congress couldn't or wouldn't give them their bailout money, the Bush administration, typically, acted autonomously and gave them a $17.4 billion bridge loan, punting the next installment, and the fate of the auto industry and hundreds of thousands of jobs, to the Obama administration.

So if you want to blame anyone for this crisis, blame Congress, especially the Democrats for falling for financial alarmism. Blame the Bush administration for insisting on it with no preconditions and blame the Treasury Dept. for creating a despotism. Executives by and large are greedy, selfish and unconscionable fucks who hold the rest of us in complete disdain and contempt. Our elected officials, on the other hand, are not naive babes born just yesterday and ought to stop acting as if they are when they shovel down Wall Street countless hundreds of billions of the Treasury's money.


At December 22, 2008 at 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfectly brilliant, jp!


At December 22, 2008 at 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, jurassicpork, but one statement above is not correct: there were provisions on executive pay in the bailout, but Congress was double-crossed by Paulson.


At December 22, 2008 at 4:36 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

wmr: Thanks for the correction. I didn't know that. I thought it was an unconditional cave-in by Congress.

Figures that a career greaseball executive like Paulson would make such a deletion.


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