Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG Outrage: Earmarking Hogs are Hypocrites

Writing at NewsBusters, Brent Bozell said yesterday that the outrage from lawmakers over the $165 million in bonuses is mostly coming from hypocrites.
Just days earlier, President Obama signed an omnibus spending bill with $12.8 billion in self-serving earmarks for legislators during the economic crisis. How can the president and Congress lecture AIG? Don’t the earmarking hogs look like hypocrites?
Bozell continues, saying that liberals dismiss complaints about their drunken spending habits as just a conservative distraction. Why, it’s only a couple percentage points of the omnibus spending bill. So how much of the AIG bailout is for bonuses? The company has benefited from more than $170 billion in government bailout cash, or one dollar out of a thousand. If the earmarks are a tiny distraction, the AIG bonuses are less than insignificant.
But no one’s expecting the media to be consistent in their thinking. The same reporters who yawned past the excesses of the Democrats (and yes, the Republicans) stuffing their budget with pork – now they’re outraged, positively outraged at AIG.
Read it.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mad About AIG?

You better hold on tight, we are seeing the first of the many messes caused when legislators (and the administration) don't slow down and read the legislation they pass.

In this case, and it's well recorded in the public record, the AIG mess was caused by the stimulus bill. The Democrats OWN the stimulus, they shoved it through Congress in days; only three Republicans voted for it.

Democrats created this mess and all the feigned outrage is a diversion so everyday folks don't catch on to that very fact.

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WSJ: Government Caused the AIG Mess

In today's edition of the Wall Street Journal, the editors explore the real AIG outrage.

Government caused the AIG mess and feigned outrage over employee bonuses is a smoke-and-mirrors ruse to redirect blame away from politicians ultimately responsible for the mess.

President Obama joined yesterday in the clamor of outrage at AIG for paying some $165 million in contractually obligated employee bonuses. He and the rest of the political class thus neatly deflected attention from the larger outrage, which is the five-month Beltway cover-up over who benefited most from the AIG bailout, reported WSJ.
Taxpayers have already put up $173 billion, or more than a thousand times the amount of those bonuses, to fund the government's AIG "rescue." This federal takeover, never approved by AIG shareholders, uses the firm as a conduit to bail out other institutions. After months of government stonewalling, on Sunday night AIG officially acknowledged where most of the taxpayer funds have been going.

Since September 16, AIG has sent $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparties around the world. This includes at least $20 billion to European banks. The list also includes American charity cases like Goldman Sachs, which received at least $13 billion. This comes after months of claims by Goldman that all of its AIG bets were adequately hedged and that it needed no "bailout." Why take $13 billion then? This needless cover-up is one reason Americans are getting angrier as they wonder if Washington is lying to them about these bailouts.
There was and has never been any proof the financial world would end if AIG failed.
Given that the government has never defined "systemic risk," we're also starting to wonder exactly which system American taxpayers are paying to protect. It's not capitalism, in which risk-takers suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And in some cases it's not even American. The U.S. government is now in the business of distributing foreign aid to offshore financiers, laundered through a once-great American company.
Most of AIG's troubles started when the company's board buckled under pressure from then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and fired longtime CEO Hank Greenberg.

The Washington crowd wants to focus on bonuses because it aims public anger on private actors, not the political class. But our politicians and regulators should direct some of their anger back on themselves -- for kicking off AIG's demise by ousting Mr. Greenberg, for failing to supervise its bets, and then for blowing a mountain of taxpayer cash on their AIG nationalization.

WSJ said whether or not these funds ever come back to the Treasury, regulators should now focus on getting AIG back into private hands as soon as possible. And if Treasury and the Fed want to continue bailing out foreign banks, let them make that case, honestly and directly, to American taxpayers.

Read it.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama Reversed Federal Ban on Stem Cell Funding? Not Really

President Obama may have abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on federal funding of stem cell research on Monday, but a legislative obstacle still remains for scientists seeking more money, Fox News and AP reported Saturday.
A spending bill that Obama signed on Wednesday explicitly bans federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death," language that pertains to creation of new stem cell lines.
Read it.