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Observing my upside down America

Archive for March 2009

A bill to let Big Government set your salary

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It was nearly two weeks ago that the House of Representatives, acting in a near-frenzy after the disclosure of bonuses paid to executives of AIG, passed a bill that would impose a 90 percent retroactive tax on those bonuses. Despite the overwhelming 328-93 vote, support for the measure began to collapse almost immediately. Within days, the Obama White House backed away from it, as did the Senate Democratic leadership. The bill stalled, and the populist storm that spawned it seemed to pass.

But now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the “Pay for Performance Act of 2009,” would impose government controls on the pay of all employees — not just top executives — of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.

The purpose of the legislation is to “prohibit unreasonable and excessive compensation and compensation not based on performance standards,” according to the bill’s language. That includes regular pay, bonuses — everything — paid to employees of companies in whom the government has a capital stake, including those that have received funds through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The measure is not limited just to those firms that received the largest sums of money, or just to the top 25 or 50 executives of those companies. It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.

In addition, the bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is “unreasonable” or “excessive.” And it directs the Treasury Department to come up with a method to evaluate “the performance of the individual executive or employee to whom the payment relates.”

The bill passed the Financial Services Committee last week, 38 to 22, on a nearly party-line vote. (All Democrats voted for it, and all Republicans, with the exception of Reps. Ed Royce of California and Walter Jones of North Carolina, voted against it.)

Full story here

Ed:  This change thing is fricking awesome.

Written by Ben

March 31, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Fed to pump another $1 trillion into U.S. economy

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Washington: The Federal Reserve sharply stepped up its efforts to bolster the economy on Wednesday, announcing that it would pump an extra $1 trillion into the financial system by purchasing Treasury bonds and mortgage securities.

Having already reduced the key interest rate it controls nearly to zero, the central bank has increasingly turned to alternatives like buying securities as a way of getting more dollars into the economy, a tactic that amounts to creating vast new sums of money out of thin air. But the moves on Wednesday were its biggest yet, almost doubling all of the Fed’s measures in the last year.

The action makes the Fed a buyer of long-term government bonds rather than the short-term debt that it typically buys and sells to help control the money supply.

The idea was to encourage more economic activity by lowering interest rates, including those on home loans, and to help the financial system as it struggles under the crushing weight of bad loans and poor investments.”

Full story here.

ED:

Treasury monetizes debt by printing 1 trillion dollars to inject into economy – effectively borrowing from itself.

Taking such a measure this drastic means the “patient” is almost dead and this “injection” is a last ditch effort to save it.

Written by Ben

March 22, 2009 at 7:38 pm

The (not so) mainstream media agrees Dems obstructed reform

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International Herald Tribune: “Democratic takeover of Congress was major victory for Fannie and Freddie … Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage finance giants, which have been recovering from accounting scandals, had faced the possibility of tight new oversight laws pushed largely by Republicans. But some powerful Democrats had resisted, preferring to promote the companies’ housing mission over tighter capital standards and portfolio limits. (International Herald Tribune, 11/8/06)

American Banker: “Democrats Oppose White House plan to strengthen Fannie and Freddie oversight.” In late summer Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. began an effort to reach an agreement in the Senate, where Democrats oppose a White House-favored provision that would force Fannie and Freddie Mac to slash their mortgage portfolios. (American Banker, 12/1/06)

Origination News: “Until recently, the administration and Sen. Shelby have pushed for limits on the size of the GSE portfolios, which Democrats opposed. Now it appears that Secretary Paulson will insist on language that would allow the new GSE regulator to use systemic risk considerations in determining proper size of the portfolios. But the Democrats see systemic risk as a code word for portfolio limits.” (Origination News, 12/1/06)

Written by Ben

March 22, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Who benefits from this meltdown?

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Since 1989, Rep. Frank has received $42,350 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Senator Reid has received $77,000 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Sen. Dodd has received $165,400 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, more than any other Member of Congress. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Sen. Carper has received $55,889 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

In just four years, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has received $126,349 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, more than any Member of Congress except for Sen. Dodd. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has received $111,000 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has received $76,050 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has received $56,250 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)

Since 1989, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) has received $51,750 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Lindsay Renick Mayer, “Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Invest In Lawmakers,” Center For Responsive Politics’ “Capital Eye” Blog, www.opensecrets.org)