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Archive for March 22nd, 2009

White House Looking to Curb Wall Street’s Excesses

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:51 am by HL

White House Looking to Curb Wall Street’s Excesses

White House

Faced with the glaring problem of indulgence and intractability on the highest tiers of Wall Street’s corporate behemoths, the Obama administration is considering different options to make financial institutions more accountable and more transparent to the government and to the taxpayers who granted them buoyancy—and are still waiting for evidence that doing so will help them in turn down the line.

The New York Times:

The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said.

The outlines of the plan are expected to be unveiled this week in preparation for President Obama’s first foreign summit meeting in early April.

Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.

It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules.

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Frank Rich: Has A ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:50 am by HL

Frank Rich: Has A ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?
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CNN’s Whitfield advanced false GOP claim that recovery bill created right for AIG to pay bonuses

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:49 am by HL

CNN’s Whitfield advanced false GOP claim that recovery bill created right for AIG to pay bonuses

During the March 21 edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Fredricka Whitfield advanced the false Republican accusation that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Whitfield asserted that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) was “widely criticized for allowing the bonuses in the first place,” and then did not challenge guest and criminal defense attorney Richard Herman’s claim that “[t]he stimulus package specifically included these bonus payments to be made. … Then, pursuant to the congressional action approving the stimulus and the contracts existing at AIG, the bonuses were paid. Well, all of a sudden, Congress says, ‘How could you pay those?’ Congress authorized it.” In fact, as Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, the recovery bill did not create the right for AIG — or any company — to pay bonuses. Rather, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, and the Bush Treasury department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place. Furthermore, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to award bonuses in the future.

As Media Matters noted, CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash also recently misrepresented the economic recovery bill’s provision concerning executive compensation. CNN is slated to air a special report on AIG on March 21 and 22.

From the noon ET hour of CNN Newsroom on March 21:

WHITFIELD: As if there wasn’t enough outrage already, we have new developments in the AIG bonus fiasco. Twenty states — the ones you see in blue right here — have announced official investigations into the payouts. Connecticut’s attorney general has issued subpoenas for AIG’s CEO, Edward Liddy, and 11 other company executives. The state’s senior senator, Chris Dodd, widely criticized for allowing the bonuses in the first place, claims that he was misled by Treasury officials.

Tonight, Ali Velshi and the CNN Money team search for truth inside the AIG scandal. See what they found in AIG: Facts & Fury, a CNN special report, tonight at 8 o’clock Eastern.

And because now, this has become a legal case, with the attorney general in Connecticut getting involved, among others, we thought we’d turn to our legal guys. Always great to see you. Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor. And Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor, good to see you as well.

HERMAN: Hi, Fred.

FRIEDMAN: Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: OK, Richard I’m going to begin with you because, you know, you’ve been away from [unintelligible] for a while, so I’m going to begin with you on the heavy lifting with AIG. Why is this now a case that the attorney general would get involved in — at least in Connecticut?

HERMAN: It’s not, Fred. It’s pathetic. It’s absolutely pathetic. The 10-Q filings by AIG before they voted on the stimulus reflected these bonuses payments would be made. The stimulus package specifically included these bonus payments to be made. Congress voted on that and approved this package, although the Congress probably never read the proposal that they voted for.

Then, pursuant to the congressional action approving the stimulus and the contracts existing at AIG, the bonuses were paid. Well, all of a sudden, Congress says, “How could you pay those?” Congress authorized it. That was a fiasco the other day. It was disgusting.

WHITFIELD: So this is not a legal case. You say this doesn’t belong in court?

HERMAN: There is no legal case for these bonuses.

FRIEDMAN: Right, right.

HERMAN: They were entitled to be paid.


Obama Pushes Budget in Weekly Address

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:48 am by HL

Obama Pushes Budget in Weekly Address
Last week, I spent a few days in California, talking with ordinary Americans in town halls and in the places where they work. We talked about their struggles, and we talked about their hopes. At the end of the day, these men and women weren’t as concerned with the news of the day in Washington as they were about the very real and very serious challenges their families face every day: whether they’ll have a job and a paycheck to count on; whether they’ll be able to pay their medical bills or afford college tuition; whether they’ll be able to leave their children a world that’s safer and more prosperous than the one we have now. Those are the concerns I heard about in California. They are the concerns I’ve heard about in letters from people throughout this country for the last two years. And they are the concerns addressed in the budget I sent to Congress last month.


Expert: Allegation That Cassano Blocked Auditor Is “Analogy To Obstructing Justice”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:47 am by HL

Expert: Allegation That Cassano Blocked Auditor Is “Analogy To Obstructing Justice”
We’ve told you about allegations from AIGFP’s internal auditor, Joseph St. Denis, that the unit’s leader, Joseph Cassano deliberately thwarted St. Denis’ effort to do his job. And according to one expert we just spoke to, those allegations, if borne…

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AIG Gives Names Of Bonus Recipients To Cuomo
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has received the names of the AIGers who got bonuses, and is weighing whether to release those names, his office has announced. Cuomo had subpoenaed AIG for the names. Yesterday, the firm’s CEO, Ed…






Harumph! Harumph!

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Harumph! Harumph!


Did Israel Intentionally Subvert Obama’s Iran Message?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Did Israel Intentionally Subvert Obama’s Iran Message?
Yesterday when the New York Times inexplicably gave Shimon Peres’ threatening and insulting message to Iran equal play with President Obama;s, I thought it might be no coincidence. Peres, who is an uberhawk on Iran, suddenly sends “greetings” to the…

Congress’s Potemkin Populism
It’s nice to see that when the public gets sufficiently angry about something, Congress responds. In a rare show of bipartisanship, members are eagerly registering shock and outrage at AIG’s bonus payments by coming up with an assortment of ways…


WMO: George Will?s climate change denial column was a ?misinterpretation? of the facts.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:41 am by HL

WMO: George Will?s climate change denial column was a ?misinterpretation? of the facts.
In February, the Washington Post published a factually-challenged column by George Will that attacked the reality of climate change. One of Will’s claims was that “according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” In a letter to the editor today, Michel Jarraud, the secretary […]

In February, the Washington Post published a factually-challenged column by George Will that attacked the reality of climate change. One of Will’s claims was that “according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.” In a letter to the editor today, Michel Jarraud, the secretary general of the WMO, explains how Will’s column was a “misinterpretation” of the organization’s data:

Evidence of global warming has been documented in widespread decreases in snow cover, sea ice and glaciers. The 11 warmest years on record occurred in the past 13 years.

While variations occur throughout the temperature record, shorter-term variations do not contradict the overwhelming long-term increase in global surface temperatures since 1850, when reliable meteorological recordkeeping began. Year to year, we may observe in some parts of the world colder or warmer episodes than in other parts, leading to record low or high temperatures. This regional climate variability does not disprove long-term climate change. While 2008 was slightly cooler than 2007, partially due to a La Niña event, it was nonetheless the 10th-warmest year on record.

Writing on the Post’s op-ed page, Science Progress contributing editor Chris Mooney calls Will’s WMO claim a “sleight of hand” that leads to the false “conclusion that ‘global cooling’ sets in immediately after every new record temperature year, no matter how frequently those hot years arrive or the hotness of the years surrounding them.”


Obama Backs Geithner Despite Vast Criticisms ? No Talk of Treasury Secretary Resigning, President Says in ?60 Minutes’ Interview

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:40 am by HL

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FACT CHECKER
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A Presidential Wake-Up Call

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 22nd, 2009 4:33 am by HL

A Presidential Wake-Up Call
Eleanor Clift, Newsweek

This is Not What Americans Voted For
David Warren, Ottawa Citizen

Dodd’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Aaron Kennon, Connecticut Post

It’s Not the Time to Give Up On Markets
Gary Becker, Wall Street Journal

New Deficit Forecast Casts Shadow on Obama Agenda
Jackie Calmes, NYT