Wednesday, March 18, 2009

With America Enraged, Congress In An Uproar, An FBI Criminal Investigation Revealed, Andrew Cuomo Handing Out Subpoenas, Rhetoric Turned Violent, AIG


With America Enraged, Congress In An Uproar, An FBI Criminal Investigation Revealed, Andrew Cuomo Handing Out Subpoenas, Rhetoric Turned Violent, AIG Executives Are Pinned To The R0pes.


March On The Pentagon


Indict And Prosecute The Bush Administration




The Big Bash Politicians of both parties pile on AIG.
Washington Post - United States
and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), would probably accelerate the exodus, with the likely effect that the country would lose much more money on AIG ...See all stories on this topic


Limbaugh Defends AIG From "Lynch Mob"


During the March 17 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh -- "a great leader for conservatives" -- defended American International Group (AIG) from criticism of the company's controversial employee retention bonuses. Limbaughdeclared, "A lynch mob is expanding: the peasants with their pitchforks surrounding the corporate headquarters of AIG, demanding heads. Death threats are pouring in. All of this being ginned up by the Obama administration." Limbaugh later claimed, "This $500,000 limit on executive pay -- let me tell you why it won't work. New York City will die. New York City needs a whole bunch of people being paid a whole lot of money, so they can tax their butts off, so that the city can maintain its stupid streets, potholes, and welfare state. Without the super wealthy in New York, it's over. ... This -- it's just a populist ruse. It's just designed to people go, 'Yeah, yeah!' "…


Lawmakers Eye Tax Code as Means to Recoup AIG Bonuses

In the Senate, Finance Chairman Max Baucus is preparing a tax bill that would become the vehicle for responding to public frustration while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested several committees in her chamber to have legislation ready as early as this week. Read More

In a March 17 Politico article, staff writers Lisa Lerer and Victoria McGrane uncritically quoted top congressional Republicans criticizing the Obama administration over American International Group's (AIG) employee retention bonus packages, reporting: "Having mostly opposed Obama's stimulus plan, the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and the omnibus spending bill, Republicans feel they have a free shot at the Democrats for anything that goes wrong now." At no point did Lerer and McGrane point out that it was the Bush Treasury Department that worked with the Federal Reserve in carrying out last year's bailouts and bought AIG stocks notwithstanding the existence of the publicly disclosed employee retention bonus packages. Moreover, the Politico article's headline, "Fallout: Dems in disarray over AIG," resembled a remark by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) included in the article: "What's going on in this administration? It seems like an administration in disarray."


By contrast, in a Politico article posted earlier on March 17, executive editor Jim VandeHei wrote that "[t]he bonuses were essentially a nonissue when AIG got its initial bailout money, almost $150 billion under President Bush in the two months surrounding the presidential election." As Media Matters for America has notedThe Washington Post reported on March 17 that "AIG disclosed its retention-payment program more than a year ago, and the amount of the bonuses -- more than $400 million for Financial Products alone -- had been widely reported."


In a September 16, 2008, article on the initial bailout of AIG, The New York Times reported: "Fearing a financial crisis worldwide, the Federal Reserve reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to an $85 billion bailout that would give the government control of the troubled insurance giant American International Group." In a November 10, 2008, article, the Times reported that the Bush Treasury Department and Federal Reserve announced a "revised bailout" of AIG, under which "the Treasury Department will use the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion financial system rescue plan, to buy $40 billion of newly issued A.I.G. preferred shares." Both Cantor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was also quoted by Lerer and McGrane criticizing the Obama administration's handling of AIG, voted to pass the October 2008 TARP legislation -- a fact missing from Lerer and McGrane's article.


From Lerer and McGrane's March 17 Politico article:


For the second day in a row, the AIG bonuses were just about the only subject of conversation at the Capitol. At press conferences throughout the day -- and as members filed in and out of a St. Patrick's Day lunch -- outrage over bonuses was on everyone's lips.


And that suited long-suffering Republicans just fine.


"This latest flap involving AIG, I think, is very troubling," crowed House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). "What's going on in this administration? It seems like an administration in disarray."


Having mostly opposed Obama's stimulus plan, the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds and the omnibus spending bill, Republicans feel they have a free shot at the Democrats for anything that goes wrong now.


On Tuesday, they took it again and again. "This administration could have, and should have -- through the process of providing for [AIG] another $30 billion two weeks, just two weeks, ago -- prevented this from happening," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "They had a lot of leverage prior to that infusion of $30 billion."


House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that "the American people are rightly outraged that their tax money is going to pay bonuses to the very people that got this company in trouble."


White House Calls Bonuses A Late Surprise

Congress Moves to Impose Hefty Tax on Executives Who Don't Return Money

By Shailagh Murray, Paul Kane and Michael D. Shear

Washington Post Staff Writers 


Senior White House officials said last night that President Obama did not learn that bonuses worth $165 million were to be paid to executives of American International Group until Thursday, one day before they were issued and two days after his Treasury secretary was informed that the payments were going forward.


Obama aides defended Timothy F. Geithner's handling of the situation yesterday, with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs saying the president has "complete confidence" in the Treasury chief.


In a letter to congressional leaders last night, Geithner said that in addition to pressing the company on compensation issues, the Treasury Department will deduct an amount equal to the total bonuses paid from a pledged $30 billion commitment to the troubled insurance company.


As Geithner and other Obama aides continued to scramble to pull back the bonuses and calm the public furor they sparked, Congress was preparing its own remedies. In what they acknowledged would be an extraordinary move, leading Democrats proposed using the tax code to punish executives at the firm, in which the federal government controls an 80 percent stake, unless those payouts are surrendered voluntarily.


Action on the legislation could begin as early as today in the Senate. A proposal from Senate Finance Committee Chairman  Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and the panel's ranking Republican,  Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), would levy an excise tax on AIG and the executives who received the payments, adding up to more than 90 percent of the total of the bonuses. That tax would also apply to future bonuses awarded, either by AIG or by other firms receiving federal aid.


Similar proposals taking shape in the House would target as much as 100 percent of the bonus money, which was distributed Friday to 73 AIG employees in sums ranging from $1 million to $6.4 million, according to New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who provided details of the payments -- although not the identities of specific recipients -- in a letter to House Financial Services Committee Chairman  Barney Frank (D-Mass.).


The bonus scandal has inflamed lawmakers in both parties and could have broad repercussions, and lawmakers warned that it could serve as the death knell for further aid to the ailing sector. Obama's budget calls for allocating an additional $750 billion to bail out troubled firms, and his administration had hoped to quietly "wind down" operations at AIG without an excess of intervention from Congress, but both of those ambitions could be in doubt after the explosion of attention drawn by the bonuses.


Although the bonuses were permitted under the terms of the 2008 bailout bill, the payments have triggered alarm, particularly among Republicans, about oversight of the way the money is spent. With the prominent exception of Grassley, GOP leaders were noncommittal yesterday about embracing the tax approach and declined to offer their own proposals for recouping the $165 million. But they rebuked Geithner for not stopping the bonuses, and they made it clear that further requests for aid would be rejected out of hand.


"No more bailouts," said House Minority Whip  Eric Cantor (R-Va.). "The American people have had it. They want this Congress to get back to fiscal discipline and restraint and the belief that the freedom to succeed includes the freedom to fail."


 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will consider its own AIG tax bill, along with measures authorizing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to recover excessive compensation payments made by companies that received federal financial assistance and to block further bonuses at such companies. Pelosi predicted "tough questioning" today when AIG's chairman and chief executive, Edward M. Liddy, appears before Frank's committee.


A company official said Liddy is expected to issue a letter today to AIG employees asking them to return the bonus payments they received.


Democratic lawmakers raced to put their proposals on the table.  Reps. Steve Israel(N.Y.) and  Tim Ryan (Ohio) introduced the Bailout Bonus Tax Bracket Act to create a 100 percent tax on bonuses over $100,000 that are distributed to employees of financial firms receiving federal bailout money.  Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.) offered a version that would tax such bonuses at a 95 percent rate.  Continued   1    2    Next >


JustOneMinute: The Race To Stupid - Tax The AIG Bonuses

AIG CEO defends bonuses as public fury mounts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of AIG said on Wednesday the "cold realities of competition" compelled the insurer to pay $165 million in bonuses, and acknowledged that bailout-weary Americans' patience was running thin.


American International Group Inc has come under intense fire from the public, politicians and President Barack Obama for accepting up to $180 billion in government aid and then handing out multimillion-dollar bonuses, but Edward Liddy said the best hope for recouping taxpayer money was to keep running AIG as a business.


"No one knows better than I that AIG has been the recipient of generous amounts of government financial aid," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to a congressional committee.


"We have been the beneficiary of the American people's forbearance and patience. And we are acutely aware not only that we must be good stewards of the public funds we have received, but that the patience of America's taxpayers is wearing thin," he said.


Fury over the bonuses threatens to undermine Obama's efforts to solve thecredit crisis and pull the economy out of a deep recession. Many voters view the financial rescues as free handouts to wealthy executives who made bad decisions, and the fat bonuses -- although relatively small compared to the government's $700 billion bailout fund -- have fueled that anger.


The situation has put Obama in a tight spot as he tries to strike the right balance between sharing the public's outrage and keeping his focus on the bigger issue of repairing the economy. Some economists have warned that the bonuses could become a distraction that delays recovery efforts.


AIG has argued that the payouts were necessary to retain top employees with the specialized knowledge to dispose of $2.7 trillion in complex securities that ended up dragging the company to the brink of collapse last year.


Liddy, who took over as chairman and chief executive six months ago when the government first stepped in to try to stabilize AIG, said the company had made mistakes "on a scale few could have ever imagined possible."


That stark admission did little to dull the anger directed toward him on Wednesday. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the bonus situation "an offense to the taxpayers, and we're going to get to the bottom of it, even if the Department of the Treasury hasn't."


U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said late on Tuesday that AIG would have to promise to compensate taxpayers for the bonuses as a condition for receiving a planned $30 billion expansion of its bailout.


But Geithner said anger toward Liddy was "unjustified" because he had joined AIG at the government's behest and the problems there predated him.












Fox News Admits They Were Wrong, Apologizes to Viewers


Martha MacCallum, co-anchor of the Fox News program "The Live Desk," apologized today after Fox News "inadvertently" used a six-month-old clip of Joe Biden talking about the economy.


The misleading segment featured splices of recent interviews with Obama administration officials discussing the state of the economy. One clip showed Joe Biden saying that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong." The Huffington Postreported yesterday that the clip of Biden was taken from a much earlier stump speech, and that he was repeating a statement John McCain made on the campaign trail.


Can Holder Ignore the Red Cross Report? Can Obama?


The Push to Arrest Bush :: News :: 

Aw, c'mon. We all know that the elite will only do what they have to do when it's convienent or there will be little or no repurcussions. There are Americans who have more than enough information about the Bush administration to impeach him long ago. ... There is a perfectly valid and logical case for charging Bush with criminal behavior and violations of international law, just as there is for charging Cheney, Rumsfeld and Henry Kissinger. ...Tyee - Home -


CBS News Poll: Limbaugh Has Higher Approval than Pelosi
NewsBusters – USA

Limbaugh’s Favorable Rating: 19 Percent,” shouts the headline at the top of tonight. A look, however, at the PDF of the full CBS News poll results, posted at 6:30 PM EDT Tuesday, pegs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorable rating a point lower at 18 percent -- within the margin of error, but evidence Limbaugh is no less popular than the leader of congressional Democrats. (Friday's CBS Evening News highlighted President Obama's 62 percent approval level and a few other results about the bailouts, but didn't mention the Limbaugh or Pelosi numbers.)

GOP gunning for a suddenly vulnerable Dodd
Washington Times - Washington,DC,USA
Republicans also may be facing a divisive primary fight. State Sen. Sam Caligiuri and Tom Foley, a businessman from Greenwich, are also said to be eyeing ...See all stories on this topic


Ex-1970s radical freed from prison


CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (AP) -- Sara Jane Olson, the 1970s radical who assumed a new identity as a Minnesota housewife while spending a quarter century as a fugitive, was released from prison Tuesday, a corrections spokeswoman said.


Olson, 62, was freed just after midnight from the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, in the heart of the state's farm country about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton.


Thornton said two parole agents picked Olson up and took her to an office in Madera County, where she was processed and released to her husband, Dr. Gerald "Fred" Peterson.


Olson served seven years -- half her sentence -- after pleading guilty to placing pipe bombs under Los Angeles Police Department patrol cars and participating in the deadly robbery of a bank in a Sacramento suburb. The crimes took place while she was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, most notorious for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst….


Continues 1 2 Next


Study concludes a well-worn gripe may be right: ABA ratings are ...
The National Law Journal - USA
But after the Bush administration's announcement, members of the US SenateJudiciary Committee asked the standing committee to continue the evaluations for ...See all stories on this topic


Obama Asks American Bar Association to Resume Vetting Judicial ...
AllGov - Santa Monica,CA,USA
In fact, the ABA committee judged Bork “well-qualified,” but conservative critics were upset that four of the 15 ABA committee members called him ...


Senate Passes Bill to Require Votes on Pay Raises

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., struck a deal to wrap up his chamber's wrestling match on the issue Tuesday, but the issue could go to the mat again in the House. READ MORE


Leaked Memo: EPA Planning Historic Action on Global Warming in April
By Bruce Nilles, Sierra Club
This is very big and very historic news. This action by EPA will set the stage for the first-ever national regulation of CO2 in US history. Read more »


BuzzFlash is in Serious Need of Your Ongoing Financial Support. We ...
BuzzFlash - Chicago,IL,USA
Blue PACS formed and grew from an anti-impeachment petition to the basis for how the Dean and Obama campaigns used the net for organizing. ...



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