By Rand Clifford
September, 2008, a month that will live in infamy. A month where official purring about our economy’s solid fundamentals have erupted into official bayings about economic collapse. Financial markets are suddenly so choked with “toxic debt” that only a hasty trillion-dollar taxpayer Heimlich Maneuver “might” get credit flowing again.
Taxpayers just bled about $300 billion into the maw of the “the mess”, bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, American International Group…and at week’s end the FDIC seized “The Friend of the Family”, Washington Mutual (largest failure ever of a U.S. bank). All just drops in the bucket. But now, our Corporate Government wants to get it right with $700 billion more. Does the bucket even have a bottom?
Our budding High Priestess of Christian Fascism, Sarah Palin, told Katie Couric, anchor of CBS Evening News, that Senator John McCain would take the lead in reforming Wall Street—”…or we’ll find ourselves in another Great Depression.” Of course Palin’s chief expertise is in international affairs (she HAS lived for years just across the Bering Strait from Russia), so she glazed over when asked for examples of how McCain would reform the banking industry—but rallied with, “I’ll try to find some and I’ll bring them to you.” This was on Wednesday, an interview virtually ignored by mainstream corporate media because Palin came across so crudely like Sarah Palin, and it’s time to work even harder at hiding her.
After Congress proved what a very large problem we have by working right through weekend of the 20th and 21st on The Bailout, the week of headlines, and quotes in addition to Palin’s drove a lot of ink, if nothing else.
Some of last weeks choice headlines (reproduced as printed):
Monday…Capitol Hill wants lim its Draft bill targets CEO salaries
Tuesday…TALKS PROGRESS AMID ANXIETY MARKET PLUNGES AS ADMINISTRATION, CONGRESS TACKLE DETAILS OF BAILOUT
—ON MAIN STREET, LITTLE SYMPATHY FOR WALL STREET
Wednesday…Bailout proposal runs into outrage Cheney, others find bipartisan resistance
Thursday…Bush makes case for bailout President warns of “financial panic”
Friday…Bailout talks break down Republicans rebel against price tag
Some of the week’s finer quotes include—remember, many of these people are barely weaned from the “…fundamentals of the economy are solid” mantra:
President Bush : “We’re in the midst of a serious financial crisis. Our entire economy is in danger. America could slip into a financial panic.”
—”I know that Americans sometimes get discouraged by the tone in Washington and the seemingly endless struggles, yet history has shown that, in times of real trial, elected officials rise to the occasion. And together we will show the world once again what kind of country America is: a nation that tackles problems head on, where leaders come together to meet great tests, and where people from every background can work hard, develop their talents, and realize their dreams.”
Treasury Secretary Henry A. Paulson (the administration’s point person on the “rescue” effort): “The American people are angry about executive compensation, and rightfully so. We must find a way to address this in the legislation.”
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—”I’m not only concerned, I’m angry about the things that got us here. It makes me angry, and it makes you angry. You talk about taxpayers being on the hook? Guess what? They’re already on the hook. If the system isn’t stabilized, they’re going to bear the cost.”
—”We want this to be clean, and we want this to be quick, and it’s urgent that we get this done.”
(Note: acknowledging “excesses” in executive compensation—but saying that debate should be put off for another time, Paulson said), “If we design it so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work.”
Rep. Joe Barton, R–Texas “Just because God created the world in seven days doesn’t mean we have to pass this bill in seven days.”
Rep Gene Taylor, D–Miss. Where have I heard this before? The Iraqis have weapons of mass destruction, and they’re ready to use them. I’m in no rush to do this.”
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D–Conn. Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee “It’s still possible to meet the deadline. But this is of such import, if it takes a little longer to get it right, then so be it. I’m all for moving as quickly as we can, but I’m far more interested in getting it right.”
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi “We’re moving forward. I think we are making some progress.”
—”We will not simply hand over a $700 billion blank check to Wall Street.”
—”This legislation will pass, and it will pass soon.”
(And wrapping up her week, Pelosi said), “We will not leave until legislation is passed that will be signed by the President. The market needs a message from us that we are acting.”
White House spokesman Tony Fratto (Note: Regarding Paulson echoing of the administration’s objections to limits on executive compensation, saying limits would discourage “successful” firms from participating in the bailout) “These are not all weak or troubled firms that own mortgage-backed securities. They were not necessarily irresponsible players, and so you have to be careful about how you deal with them.”
Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Shalom Bernanke “I’m a college professor. I never worked on Wall Street. My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy. I believe if the credit markets are not functioning, that jobs will be lost; the unemployment rate will rise; more houses will be foreclosed upon; GDP will contract; that the economy will just not be able to recover in a normal, healthy way, no matter what other policies are taken.”
Barney Frank, D–Mass., Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee “It would be a grave mistake to say that we’re going to buy up the bad debt that results from the bad decisions of these people and then allow them to get millions of dollars on the way out the door. The American people don’t want that to happen, and it shouldn’t happen.”
(Regarding the partisan battle brewing over the bankruptcy provision for homeowners’ mortgage payments—a rally point for Democrats, Frank said), “We’ll see how hard they fight. It’s something we care about.”
Obviously, the economic crisis we are facing pales in comparison to our leadership crisis….
Regarding how fundamentally sound our economy was just weeks ago: our leaders are implying that they were either too stupid to know what has been building up for years, or they are liars. Certainly, any pleas of stupidity remain solidly backed up by actions. But even more fundamentally, these people are liars, always have been, always will be. And now they expect to be believed when pleading for a trillion dollars more so everything will resolve itself in the financial markets?—so your retirement funds won’t simply go pppffftt!
Remember the trillion-plus taxpayer dollars that went pppffftt! in the “Savings and Loan Crisis” about twenty years ago?
Remember, since then, the trillion-plus taxpayer dollars in the “Tech Stock Bubble”—pppffftt!
And now, essentially the same species of greed and deregulation has us in today’s “Credit Crisis”.
Point person in this new orgy of taxpayer bloodletting, Secretary Paulson—the man who last week got down on one knee in front of Nancy Pelosi to beg her not to “blow up” the bailout deal by withdrawing Democratic support…what about his trustworthiness?
Before becoming Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson was Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs for 8 years, where he pulled down a paltry $1.5 million—a month! Goldman Sachs was the country’s biggest investment bank before the recent takeover (and is suddenly doing much better thanks to Paulson’s “intervention”). While commanding Goldman Sachs, Paulson was deeply involved in creating exactly the kind of “toxic waste” that now has the financial markets melting down. With this in mind, consider again the awesome hypocrisy in Paulson’s statements last week:
“I’m not only concerned, I’m angry about the things that got us here. It makes me angry, and it makes you angry. You talk about taxpayers being on the hook? Guess what? They’re already on the hook. If the system isn’t stabilized, they’re going to bear the cost.”
“The American people are angry about executive compensation, and rightfully so. We must find a way to address this in the legislation.”
Also, in Paulson’s acknowledgement of “‘excesses’ in executive compensation”—while saying debate on that should be put off for another time, because…”If we design it (the Bailout) so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work”…do you sense any trustworthiness?
Tiberious Caesar once said, “I want my sheep shorn, not shaven.”
Obviously, our corporate government wants the American flock skinned…at least.
Rand Clifford is a writer living in Spokane, Washington, with his wife Mary Ann, and their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Mink. Rand’s novels CASTLING, TIMING, VOICES OF VIRES, and PRIEST LAKE CATHEDRAL are published by StarChief Press: https://www.starchiefpress.com