I'm a Pundit Too

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hypocrisy Reigns Supreme In Washington DC

In September of 2008, the Federal government orchestrated an $85 billion bailout of the insurance company American International Group, better known as AIG. The move was part of an effort to shore up the faltering financial sector. At the time, conservatives blasted the bailout as an expensive, foolish, and meddling experiment to “fix” the economy. Now that 6 months have passed since the initial round of bailouts, we can plainly see the folly of such an experiment. To make matters worse, AIG has just paid out millions in bonuses to many of their executives. This obviously touched off a flurry of hearings and press conferences in Washington D.C. to enable the politicians to feign their moral outrage over the payment of bonuses.

The news out of DC this week has been a constant drumbeat of anger, and calls for the names of the executives to be made public. The House has even voted to tax the bonuses at an outrageous rate of 90%. As a side note, does anyone honestly believe that Congress will stop at the selective bonuses of these executives? When does Congress ever abolish a tax? They more often than not simply expand the tax to include more taxpayers. When Congressman Barney Frank pompously pontificated about his desire to make the names of those receiving bonuses public, AIG CEO Ed Liddy responded by cautioning Frank about the danger of publicizing the names. He then read a couple of recorded death threats aimed at the executives of AIG, to which the “omniscient” Frank replied that he would take it under advisement. Sadly, for Frank and many other politicians, the visions of headlines cloud the very real possibility of bodily injury to the executives.

The hypocrisy of the politicians reigns supreme in Washington. Last month, the “stimulus” bill was pushed through Congress without any chance for real debate. It was rushed through so hurriedly, that the majority of Congress did not even have the chance to read it. Maybe if they had read the bill, they would have noticed a small addition to the bill that stated that any contractual bonuses that were promised before February 11 of this year, would be allowed to be paid out. Who added this tiny amendment to the bill? Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut was the author of the amendment. Please allow another side not here as well. The 2 top recipients of campaign donations from AIG last year were Senator Chris Dodd and Senator Barack Obama. Dodd admitted that he had added the amendment to the bill, but that an administration official had applied pressure to ensure that it did get added to the final version of the bill. So Congress passes a bill that specifically allows these bonuses to be paid, and then when it becomes public knowledge that the bonuses are being paid, the same congressman arrogantly declare their moral outrage.

The White House was questioned about how could they allow these bonuses to be paid out. Their response was that the Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, had only learned of the bonuses last week and was working to prevent them from being paid. The truth is that Geithner had known for at least 2 weeks, and AIG had been working with Federal officials for at least the past 3 months on these very same bonuses. Either the Federal government does not pass along information to the Treasury Secretary, or they knew about it and waited for it become public knowledge to milk every last ounce of political capital out of the outrage that they created.

President Obama was elected on a platform of hope and change. He swept into office with the promise to reform Washington and to work on a bipartisan basis to save the economy. This “crisis” was a manufactured crisis to allow the government to feign their surprise and anger to snatch more of our freedom away from us. One other piece of news released this week that has gotten little to no coverage was that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are poised to pay out their own share of bonuses to their top executives. Will Congress and the White House put on just as big of a show for these 2 government-controlled agencies? If the past 6 weeks have shown us anything, they have shown us that the mantra of “Hope and Change” should be changed to “Hypocrisy and Cronyism”.

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