A Pocket Full Of Lies

Unemployment keeps rising and people wonder why small businesses aren’t creating the number of jobs that the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration have said would be created.

Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the fact that no one knows what the government will look like in the next year or two?

Maybe it has something to do with all the potential increased costs if the Cap and Trade bill or the Healthcare Reform bill make it through Congress to the President’s desk? Who knows?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson lied to Congress and the American people when he said, “These are healthy institutions, and they have taken this step for the good of the U.S. economy. As these healthy institutions increase their capital base, they will be able to increase their funding to U.S. consumers and businesses.

The bailouts did nothing but prop up banks which should have been allowed to fail. Sure, things would have been tough for a lot of people, but if the banks were insolvent, they should have been allowed to fail so the system could correct itself.

But what did we get instead?

We got one great big headache, a big ol’ pocket full of debt, and a bunch of banks that are still on the verge of failing because $700 billion wasn’t enough to provide the financial security they needed to open up lending to consumers and businesses again.

I bet the next thing they’re going to tell us is that the Obama administrations revised estimate of $2.2 trillion in long term deficits was incorrect as well.

Thanks a lot Hank, for nothing.

Twenty-Seven Potential Acts Of Violence

Blue GrosbeakWhen we think about the implications of Homeland Security, it’s important to remember that Americans are not the enemy.

As I wrap up my three-part series about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “assessment” on Rightwing Extremism (PDF), I want to point out several more references included in the report, and touch on some thoughts about the release of this report.

Let’s refresh our memory.

The title of the assessment is “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment”. The targets of the assessment are radical and extremist groups as well as “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration”, and the government believes some of our fine men and women of the military could be extremists, or even potential terrorists. All of these items are mentioned before the end of page 3. It’s a nine page report.

Page three wraps up by blaming the current economic crisis and the election of Barack Obama as the catalysts for creating more extremist thoughts in our country.

Page four makes it clear that most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical since the election and have stopped short of violent action. The assessment warns us (vaguely) that there were two incidents before the election, but law enforcement interceded. Isn’t it funny they can point to specifics like the shooting in Pittsburgh on April 4th and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but when it comes to supporting their “imposition of fear”, they can’t state any specifics?

Apparently, the government feels that the “perceived government infringement on civil liberties” leads to domestic rightwing terrorists lashing out. Of course they have to cite an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors, yet, if you remember correctly in the paragraph above this one, they also stated that there has been no violent action.

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You Shouldn’t Compromise Your Principles

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the $15 billion automaker bailout earlier this week, I was disappointed, but not nearly as disappointed as I was that Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) voted for the bailout. To say I was shocked is an understatement.

Before I get too far into this post, let me make a few statements. I understand that Thaddeus McCotter is from Michigan, a state that has been hit hard by this economic downturn because of their ties to the automotive industry. I understand he is an elected representative, whose job is to represent the constituents who live in his district. And, I understand that many of his constituents probably support the bailout effort and demand that he do so as well.

Rep. McCotter has made no secret of his support of this bailout, yet he adamantly fought against other bailout efforts in the past. Apparently, supporting taxpayer funded programs to prop up failing U.S. businesses is only correct if it happens to involve businesses that have a direct impact on your own district. It’s a shame too, because unlike many other members of Congress, I really didn’t think Rep. McCotter was a hypocrite. I thought he was one of those elected officials we could believe in. You know, someone who we could actually trust and who would stand up on their principles and do the right thing for our country.

It seems I, like many other people, was mistaken.

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Hundreds of Hands, Billions Of Dollars

Two months ago, the United States Congress passed, and the President signed, the “Great Bailout of 2008”. The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was created to provide up to $700 billion of taxpayer money for use by the Treasury Secretary.

Administration of the TARP includes the purchase of mortgage backed securities as well as a program to purchase whole loan packages from regional banks to free up credit on the regional level. According to the Treasury Secretary, these programs will ensure homeownership preservation as well as increase the availability of credit to small businesses and individuals. The TARP also includes an equity purchase program and a program to establish insurance for troubled assets.

While lawmakers in Washington and members of the mainstream media want you to focus on the AIG bailout, the rescue of Bear Stearns, the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the latest bailout of Citigroup, I think you should take a look at the list of banks that have received funds or are in the process of doing so.

I find it quite ironic that some banks, which purchased other banks recently, are now on the list for a government handout. Would they have needed the handout if they hadn’t spent all their money purchasing banks that needed to fold in the first place?

The list below, which I found at the CNNMoney website, includes a list of the companies that plan to take part in the government’s TARP program. It’s a massive list of approximately 130 banks, and you’ll be shocked by some of the names on the list.

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Save The Economy, Save The World

Last week, while the federal government continued tossing life jackets to other members of the financial community, Citigroup hit an iceberg. Everyone heard the unique crunching sound that is made when a ship smashes into ice. Then again, maybe it wasn’t ice crunching as much as the cash in our wallets shrinking in value as the feds printed more money to handle the ongoing crisis.

On Tuesday afternoon shares of Citigroup closed at $8.36 on the New York Stock Exchange. By Friday afternoon those same shares were worth just $3.77. Shareholders lost more than 55% in 72 hours. Like investors at other banks and investment firms before them, the investors at Citigroup were shocked to learn that Citigroup had also sunk a lot of money into very risky investments.

Citigroup is in trouble, big trouble. As Congress debated the Great Bailout of 2008, many pundits were asking, “How big must a company be to be ‘too big to fail'”? Apparently, we know the answer to that question. ‘Too big to fail’ is now defined as bigger than Citigroup. We’re just not sure how much bigger.

As late as Sunday afternoon, the White House said they were unaware of any rescue talks, but hours later we learned a deal had been in the works for days. It appears the feds will be investing quite a bit of pocket change in Citigroup to go along with all of the other investments they have made over the course of the past few weeks. But just wait until you hear what the feds have planned to help keep Citigroup from sinking.

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It’s Time To Bail On The BailOuts

A month and a half ago, on October 3rd, our Congress opened the gate and led our country down the path in it’s first steps toward socialism. The Great Bailout of 2008 was touted as the “rescue plan” that would save our country from certain economic demise, while giving our government control it should not have. The measure passed handily with a majority of Senators (including both Presidential candidates) and Representatives attempting to assure the American people that this path was the only way out.

Leading up to its passage, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke lobbied heavily for the plan. They both said we had no other choice. They both said if we did not act quickly, we were doomed. It turns out, they were wrong. Apparently we didn’t need to venture down this path.

To date, $290 billion has been committed by the Treasury Department. $125 billion has gone to the nation’s nine largest banks and investment banks. Another $125 billion has gone into regional banks, and $40 billion was added to the original AIG bailout. Under the terms of the Great Bailout, the Treasury Dept. can spend up to $350 billion before asking for an additional $350 billion more from Congress. That leaves $60 billion to spend, and today we learned that the original bailout plan isn’t going to work.

They told us this plan was the only way to solve the problem. They told us if this plan did not pass, we were going to lose more than our shirts. Does this mean we have lost our initial $290 billion? What do they mean it’s not going to work? Does this mean we are heading for hell in a hand-basket?

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