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February 1, 2011

The Bailout Boondoggle

Shawn Burns

On the campaign trail in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama said that – if elected to serve as our president – he would hold all debate and discussion on healthcare out in the open to give us, the people who are most affected, the chance to be a part of the process.


Well, that never happened. In fact, Nancy Pelosi actually said out loud that Congress just needed to pass the bill so we could find out what was in it.


On the campaign trail, Candidate Obama promised, using strong words, that he would veto any bills that contained pork. Well, that hasn’t happened. He has signed multiple bills loaded with pork.


Just as one example, he signed into law the 2010 Defense Department budget which included an estimated $4.2 billion of pork that has absolutely nothing to do with national defense. And then he stands before us all a few nights ago and again says he won’t sign any bills with pork. This is an example of a pure politician, party affiliation doesn’t matter, who thinks we will believe anything and have the memory of a goldfish.


On the campaign trail, Senator Obama complained about how the Bush Administration was stacked from top to bottom with lobbyists and former executives from Big Business. And he vowed not to do the same. Well, that hasn’t happened.


Here are a few examples just within the Treasury Department: Mark Patterson, a former Goldman Sachs “adviser” is the Treasury secretary’s chief of staff; Karthik Ramanathan, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is now the assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets; Adam Storch, a former vice president at Goldman Sachs, is now the managing executive of the Security and Exchange Commission’s division of Enforcement; and Gary Gensler, a former managing partner at Goldman Sachs, is now the chair of the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission. The list goes on. And on, but I think you get the point.


The bailout could have been a tool to help all of us, the little people. Instead, it rewarded the bankers on Wall Street who got us into this economic mess in the first place.


Strange how many former Goldman Sachs employees are now working at the Treasury Department. And it’s strange that bonuses to Goldman Sachs executives in 2008 were in excess of $7.8 billion.


The stock value of Goldman Sachs is up, but not because of the great work of the executives at the top. The value of their stock is up because of the bailout.


And it’s estimated that bonuses to executives on Wall Street increased as much as 30% in 2009. Who knows what it will end up being in 2010.


The CEO of Goldman Sachs was even quoted as saying his company is “doing God’s work.” This is a guy who made over $157 million in bonuses in the past three years. Enough handouts at the expense of taxpayers will help any business look successful.


When your children do something wrong, you punish them in order to teach them not to repeat that bad behavior. But the bailout rewarded Wall Street for bad behavior and basically said to them, “Go ahead and do it again.”


Now, most of us little people have felt the pain of this economic mess. And as a result, we have been forced to spend less and try to save more. In fact, consumers are actually saving money for the first time in years. But not on Wall Street, thanks to the bailout.


Usually when people argued that the bailout to the banks was necessary, those words are coming from people in the banking industry.


The bailout, which was our tax money to begin with, if it was going to be handed out, should have helped us directly. That tax money should have been returned to taxpayers. How would that have helped the economy if the amount of money given to Wall Street had been given to the taxpayers instead?


Instead of handing billions more to banks to “help” small businesses, the government itself could have returned tax money to truly help small businesses in America that wouldn’t have involved the crooks in the banking industry. And it would have helped the small businesses that had already paid taxes through the nose.


As far as I can tell, most small businesses are still waiting for “help” from the banking industry.


What are the banks doing with all that money, our money that was given to them? Other than rewarding themselves with multi-million dollar bonuses, I’m not sure where that money has gone.


The bigger issue is that until we voters actually hold politicians, regardless of party affiliation, accountable for what they say and promise, politicians will keep on promising the world to the voters, but, in reality, doing whatever the hell they want.


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