Monday, September 29, 2008

A boondoggle by any other name...

In case anyone was wondering, the Wall Street bailout legislation which failed today was the same thievery proposed by Bush and Paulson over a week ago, just dressed up in some happy-happy language that congressional Democrats thought would save them from being hauled out of their cushy offices and lit on fire.

Limits on executive pay? Sounds great to the hoi polloi when you go in front of teevee cameras to explain how you are really teaching those greedy Wall Street fuckers a lesson in exchange for allowing them to loot the treasury. (Here, note, "looting the treasury" being merely a metaphor, since the treasury has no money and all these ill-gotten gains must be borrowed.)

But when you see it in print, eh, not so much, buddy. First, it is all "at the discretion of the Secretary". The same Secretary, you'll remember, who didn't want any of this language in there in the first place. Second, even if required by the Secretary, it only does the following: (a) limits "golden parachutes" being put into new exec contracts, (b) discourages exec bonuses which incentivize "excessive" risktaking -- which is obviously a crock, because (1) bonuses are never explicitly based on excessive risktaking, and (2) if your bonus is achieved and actually paid out... then how in the hell can you, looking backward, ever possibly say that any risk was "excessive", since the risk, obviously, paid off!), and (3) allows a "claw back" of bonuses paid out which are later determined to have been based on "incorrect" earnings statements -- in other words, stock fraud, which, last I checked, was already a felony resulting in civil asset forfeiture and, uh, imprisonment.

So, there's your limits on executive comp.

And as for the $700,000,000,000 being broken up into "tranches" so that congress can monitor how it is being spent and whether this "rescue" is working? Heh. You didn't think Henry Paulson was a dummy, did you? Goldman Sachs used to pay this guy tens of millions of dollars to cook their books. You don't think they'd let just any moron off the street do that, do you?

No. Whatever else Henry Paulson may be, he's no dummy. Read for yourself. Sure, the bill starts out by appropriating only $250,000,000,000. Um, but then, "[i]f at any time, the President submits to the Congress a written certification that the Secretary needs to exercise the authority under this paragraph, effective upon such submission" the amount will be increased to $350,000,000,000. [My emphasis] So, another $100,000,000,000 on merely the President's say-so alone.

But what about the other $350,000,000,000? you may ask. Well, either these people are a whole lot smarter than congress, or congress thinks the public is a bunch of shit-for-brains dumbfucks. Because the next $350,000,000,000 may also be requested by the President at any time, and such request will be granted unless congress jumps through a whole lot of hoops with really tight deadlines and passes a law within 15 days rejecting the request. So, ok, well... not entirely impossible, I guess... BUT WAIT, there's MORE! The President may then veto such rejection. In which case, you guessed it, the additional $350,000,000,000 will be appropriated. Unless, of course, congress is able to override the veto with 2/3 majority in both houses before the end of the aforementioned 15 day period. Heh.

Put simply, this bill is and was a complete crock of shit. And just to drive home the point, Paulson's minions at Treasury held a conference call with 800 Wall Street fucks telling them about the toothlessness described above, plus some other toothlessnesses that I'm don't have the energy to blog about right now (oversight? Hah, you mean from this congress? Please. Transparency? In the Bush Administration? You've got to be fucking kidding me.). Suffice to say, all this bullshit touted by assholes in congress over the last several days as "protections for taxpayers" is no more than window dressing to assuage the righteous anger of the taxpayers who were (or, are still) to be stolen from.

Of course, the press was not invited to this conference call. Some bloggers, however, crashed the party. The "Treasury Boys" (you know, those folks putting in their time playing at government before moving to Wall Street to cash in) more or less baldly stated that the exec comp provisions had no teeth (why limit your future paychecks!?) and that the "tranching" was a mere formality, as the whole $700,000,000,000 could be requested pretty much immediately.

The story of this bailout is not that investment bankers want to steal the public's money. That's a "dog bites man" story if ever there was one. No, the real story is how our representatives (yes, OUR REPRESENTATIVES) in congress lined up like whipped curs to help these fuckers loot the treasury.

Well, they have failed. So far.

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