Thursday, January 14, 2010
First... so that we're all on the same page... please take a moment to read the full text of the President's remarks today announcing his proposal.
(Never fear... it's short - only twelve paragraphs and a "thank you" closer!)
Now... a bit of excerpting - along with commentary from yours truly --
As we all know, our country has endured the deepest recession we've faced in generations. And much of the turmoil was caused by irresponsibility on the part of banks and financial institutions.
Hmm... "banks and financial institutions" huh?
Not government? Laws and government regulations - either via their existence or their absence - had NOTHING to do with this, the deepest recession we've faced in generations?
Fed policies had NOTHING to do with creating this "perfect storm?" Artificially low interest rates decreed by the Fed coupled with the government's distortion of the mortgage finance system through the Community Reinvestment Act had NOTHING to do with creating the housing bubble...???
Really...??? REALLY...??? This is your story and you're sticking to it, Mr. President?
Folks... com'on... no doubt I could spend all night listing the names of private sector business and finance executives whose greed, shortsightedness, and incompetence contributed to getting us into the mess we're now in... but even the most fanatical liberal Democrat reading this is no doubt aware that the "crony" in "crony capitalism" is just as often a Democrat as a Republican, sometimes a conservative, but often a self-described liberal.
As to Obama's "us vs. them" thesis of public sector vs. private sector...
Again... Fannie Mae... Freddie Mac... Barney Frank... Chris Dodd... government entities and "public servants" are less likely to be problem solvers than to be problem creators!
Consider the words of our nation's Demagogue-In-Chief:
Firms took reckless risks in pursuit of short-term profits and soaring bonuses, triggering a financial crisis that nearly pulled the economy into a second Great Depression...
Even though these firms were largely facing a crisis of their own making, their failure could have led to an even greater calamity for the country. So the Federal Reserve and other agencies took emergency measures to prevent that outcome. And the previous administration started a program - the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP - to provide these financial institutions with funds to survive the turmoil that they had helped unleash. It was a distasteful but necessary thing to do.
(Or so he claims! I don't buy it and never will. Bush was wrong in calling for the creation of TARP, and Congress, the Democrat-controlled Congress, including then Senator Obama, was wrong in going along with Bush.)
We've worked over the last year to manage this program effectively, to hold firms accountable, and to recoup as much tax money as possible. Many originally feared that most of the $700 billion in TARP money would be lost. But because of the management of this program by Secretary Geithner and my economic team, we've now recovered the majority of the funds provided to banks.
(Not really... there has been loads of slight of hand with banks and other financial actors being loaned/given government money at low or no interest only to have this money "reinvested" in Treasuries and other governmental instruments paying higher yields or appreciating in value BECAUSE of follow-up governmental actions... but for the moment we'll leave it at that.)
As far as I'm concerned, however, that's not good enough. My commitment is to the taxpayer. My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed. And my determination to achieve this goal is only heightened when I see reports of massive profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms who owe their continued existence to the American people - folks who have not been made whole, and who continue to face real hardship in this recession.
OK. Fine. You want taxpayer funds which were loaned to private entities to be repaid - with interest. Well, so do I! So does everyone, I'm guessing! But what's any of this have to do with taxes - special "fees" - you seek to force certain private entities (including firms which didn't ask for TARP funds or were "encouraged" to accept TARP funds whether they thought they needed them or not, and in fact even including firms which TOOK NO TARP MONEY) to pay year in and year out for at least ten years and perhaps for longer than that?
Barak of Locksley (aka "Robb'n Hood"), now on a roll, continued...
We want our money back, and we're going to get it. And that's why I'm proposing a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee to be imposed on major financial firms until the American people are fully compensated for the extraordinary assistance they provided to Wall Street. If these companies are in good enough shape to afford massive bonuses, they are surely in good enough shape to afford paying back every penny to taxpayers.
Excuse me... one small point if I may...
Here in America - at least the America I once knew - if you loaned money to say 10 people and seven had paid you back and three still owed you money... you didn't simply demand ADDED payments from the seven who were in the clear; you sought to collect from the three who STILL owed you money!
Folks... please... understand what's happening here. Obama and his Democratic allies are not calling for the collection of unpaid debts; what the President and Democratic Members of the House and Democratic Senators are calling for is singling out firms because of the business they're in rather than what they've done or haven't done - what they've borrowed or haven't borrowed - with no regard for whether a firm owes money or has repaid all debts with interest.
Actually it's worse than that. Talk about deadbeats, incompetents, and those whose firms routinely paid out huge bonuses to their executives regardless of performance... Obama and the Dems have exempted "The Big Three" from this "fee" business; they've exempted Fannie and Freddie from this proposed "Responsibility Fee."
Folks... if that doesn't tell you all you need to know than I don't know what else to highlight. This is "group punishment" - which would be bad enough on its own - but worse... it's "SELECTIVE group punishment" seemingly based - at least partially - upon a company's or firm's political orientation and the share of "union ownership" in play.
Hey... if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck...
This is wrong, people. This is a pure shake-down - a politicized shake-down at that. It isn't fair... it isn't right.
If President Obama and the Democrats want to raise taxes - individual or business taxes - then let them say so and fight for their proposals.
We live in a nation with a progressive income tax code - if President Obama feels it vital to raise taxes on business (or on individuals) let him do so in line with American ideals of fairness. If Obama seeks to raise personal/family rates across the board let him propose rate changes that effect each and every American within a certain bracket equally. As for corporate (business) taxes...
I say this: If President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry (the light skinned white man with no negro dialect) Reid feel that corporate tax rates should be raised above the current 35%... LET THEM SO PROPOSE!
If President Obama and his Partymates believe it's in the best interests of the U.S. economy for corporate rates to be raised ONLY on those companies who possess assets of over $50 billion... then let them propose raising taxes for EACH AND EVERY company/firm meeting that threshold.
The President's proposal is wrongheaded, unfair, and corrosive to the spirit of individual liberty and the Rule of Law as understood by our Founders and succeeding of Americans.
Crony Capitalism is wrong. So is Crony Socialism. Join me in rejecting both.