Saturday, March 21, 2009

OK, Pandit Rhymes With Bandit But What Does Boehner Rhyme With? How The Banksters And Their Congressional Shills Destroyed The Economy

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Yes, yes, the CEO of CitiGroup has a name, "Pandit," that is only one letter away from what would describe his line of work. But the problem with the banksters goes beyond Vikram Pandit and beyond CitiGroup. Basically the finance/insurance/real estate sector invested around $6 billion dollars ($2,215,520,643 in legalized bribes, or what our elite encourages us to call "political donations") and the balance in indirect bribes or "lobbying." And although one of the worst and most corrupt handmaidens of these banksters-- Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH- $3,045,809 in bankster bribes)-- insists there was not only no quid pro quo that could describe the billions spent by banksters and the deregulation of the financial industry that allowed them to loot the economy, but that the financial industry wasn't even deregulated! Watch Keith Olbermann explain exactly why he named Boehner "Worst Person In The World" yesterday and then we'll get more into the specifics (all you need to watch is the first 35 seconds of the clip):



Wikipedia has a decent history of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, which was meant to allow the financial sector to modernize all the way back to the roaring twenties, the pre-FDR era of no regulation. It repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which had kept investment banks, commercial banks and insurance all separate-- the opposite of what outfits like CitiGroup, Bank of America and, of course, A.I.G. are all about. See, money well spent. Well, well spent for the thieves and crooks who manage these firms, although an unmitigated disaster for the owners (shareholders) and for society at large and for the economy, but Republican policy is always premised on the corporate managers-- the ones who hand out the money and goodies-- and never on the stockholders or, God forbid, on society at large. Why blame this on Republicans when Democrats were complicit in this as well and took nearly as much in bribery from the banksters as Boehner and the Republicans?

Glad you asked. Let's start with a look at the legislative history of the bill (straight from wikipedia):
The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act since the 1980s, if not earlier. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the case for preserving Glass-Steagall and the case against preserving the act.

The bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate by Phil Gramm (R-Texas) and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Jim Leach (R-Iowa). The third lawmaker associated with the bill was Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Virginia), Chairman of the House Commerce Committee from 1995 to 2001. On May 6, 1999, the Senate passed the bills by a 54-44 vote along party lines (53 Republicans and one Democrat in favor; 44 Democrats opposed). On July 20, the House passed a different version of the bill on an uncontested and uncounted voice vote. When the two chambers could not agree on a joint version of the bill, the House voted on July 30 by a vote of 241-132 (R 58-131; D 182-1) to instruct its negotiators to work for a law which ensured that consumers enjoyed medical and financial privacy as well as "robust competition and equal and non-discriminatory access to financial services and economic opportunities in their communities" (i.e., protection against exclusionary redlining). The bill then moved to a joint conference committee to work out the differences between the Senate and House versions. Democrats agreed to support the bill after Republicans agreed to strengthen provisions of the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act and address certain privacy concerns; the conference committee then finished its work by the beginning of November. On November 4, the final bill resolving the differences was passed by the Senate 90-8 and by the House 362-57. This legislation was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton on November 12, 1999.

Let's look at the vote on May 6, 1999 on Gramm's bill, S. 900 and at who voted for and who voted against late in the evening of that fateful day. Illinois Republican Peter Fitzgerald couldn't bring himself to support it and voted "present," while every other Republican voted in favor of the bill that has cost the American taxpayers trillions of dollars-- but has worked out well for banksters and politicians. Conservative Democrat Fritz Hollings of South Carolina was the only Democrat to support the bill. So just looking at current members of the Senate who were voting that day in 1999, we have 21 Republicans who should be help very accountable: Robert Bennett (UT-$1,915,892), Kit Bond (MO, retiring- $3,308,038), Sam Brownback (KS, who is about to retire from the Senate and run for governor- $1,350,769), Jim Bunning (KY- $2,447,635), Thad Cochran (MS- $662,934), Susan Collins (ME- $2,239,863), Mike Crapo (ID- $1,397,092), Mike Enzi (WY- $1,089,594), Chuck Grassley (IA- $2,223,630), Judd Gregg (NH, retiring- $1,077,949), Orrin Hatch (UT- $2,366,143), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX, retring from the Senate to run for governor- $4,685,238), Jon Kyl (AZ- $3,708,608), Dick Lugar (IN- $2,484,279), John McCain (AZ- $32,423,813), Miss McConnell (KY- $5,013,778), Pat Roberts (KS- $1,602,886), Jeff Sessions (AL- $2,138,385), Dick Shelby (AL- $4,384,492), Olympia Snowe (ME- $1,676,167), and Arlen Specter (PA- $5,753,310). I've added in the amount of bribes each one has taken from the finance/insurance/real estate sector and I've bolded the names of the criminal co-conspirators who will have to face the voters next year.

In way of comparison, the still-serving Democrats who voted against this travesty of a rip-off in 1999 are Dan Akaka (HI), Max Baucus (MT), Evan Bayh (IN), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Barbara Boxer (CA), Robert Byrd (WV), Kent Conrad (ND), Chris Dodd (CT), Byron Dorgan (ND), Dick Durbin (IL), Russ Feingold (WI), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Tom Harkin (IA), Dan Inouye (HI), Tim Johnson (SD), Ted Kennedy (MA), John Kerry (MA), Herb Kohl (WI), Mary Landrieu (LA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Pat Leahy (VT), Carl Levin (MI), Joe Lieberman (then a Democrat- CT), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Patty Murray (WA), Jack Reed (RI), Harry Reid (NV), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Chuck Schumer (NY), and Ron Wyden (OR). So even the most conservative pro-corporate Democrats like Bayh, Landrieu and Baucus voted against the bill, along with the Democrats who were sucking up the biggest donations from Wall Street and the banksters, Chuck Schumer ($12,834,746), Joe Lieberman ($9,981,924) and Chris Dodd ($13,238,806). Every one of the Republicans listed above should be defeated for selling out the country.

The House version was introduced by James Leach and co-sponsored by a batch of the most corrupt Republicans the House has ever seen, many of whom are gone from government now, although only one, Bob Ney, ever found his way into a prison cell. The co-sponsors still hanging on to their seats are Spencer Bachus (AL- $3,789,474), Michael Castle (DE- $2,448,112), Peter King (NY- $1,385,668), and Steve LaTourette (OH- $1,271,387). These Republicans are all on the House Financial Services Committee, all have been paid off far, far grander than your average House member-- senators get over a million; few House members do) and all were loud defenders of A.I.G. and the banksters last week at the hearings-- and each, of course, voted against taxing the bonuses. The final bill itself passed the House 343-86, 69 Democrats and 16 Republicans voting no. Boehner, of course, voted in favor of passage-- as did virtually all the senior leadership of the GOP: Tom DeLay (TX), Denny Hastert (IL), Roy Blunt (MO), David Dreier (CA), Jerry Lewis (CA), John Shadegg (AZ), Spencer Bachus (AL), Paul Ryan (WI), as well as greedy and avaricious backbenchers happy to go along and sell out their constituents for the loot the banksters were happy to send their way, like Mary Bono (CA), Ken Calvert (CA), Frank Wolf (VA), Brian Bilbray (CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL), Duke Cunningham (currently in a federal penitentiary on unrelated corruption charges), Zach Wamp (TN), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Richard Burr (NC- now a senator but still selling out working families at every opportunity, just like then House members/current senators Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham, David Diapers Vitter, Roger Wicker, Johnny Isakson, Susan Collins and Saxby Chambliss) and current embedded GOP propagandist for MSNBC, Joe Scarborough (FL).

Among the House members who voted "no" to this biggest con-gressional heist ever were progressive Democrats Barney Frank (MA), Henry Waxman (CA), Jesse Jackson (IL), Bernie Sanders (VT), Maxine Waters (CA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Sherrod Brown (OH), George Miller (CA), Lynn Woolsey (CA), John Lewis (GA), Jerry Nadler (NY), Dave Obey (WI), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Jan Schakowsky (IL). Very few Republicans realized how disastrous this bill would be but, credit where credit is due, Ron Paul (TX), Tom Tancredo (CO) and Ray LaHood (IL) went up against the Republican leadership and voted against it. (Nancy Pelosi didn't vote that day and Hoyer voted yes.)

So... that said, back to Pandit and his fellow banksters. He and the crook running Bank of America, Kenneth Lewis, "both issued memos to employees criticizing a tax that would make it hard to retain workers. And J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon reassured his 200 top executives in a conference call that the bank is actively engaging Washington on the matter."
At BofA, Mr. Lewis said his "first concern is about basic fairness to our associates." He said the Charlotte-based bank is "part of the solution for the financial crisis" through its acquisitions of distressed Countrywide Financial and Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Lewis called the proposed bonus tax "terribly unfair." Many employees, he said, "had nothing to do with creating today's problems," and "I am concerned about our ability to retain some of out most valuable" employees. The bank is in the process of eliminating 30,000 to 35,000 positions across the company. "None of you," he told employees, "deserve to have even more compensation taken away."

"Terribly unfair?" To make the taxpayers pay them hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses because the banks they worked out failed us in the pursuit of unconscionable avarice and a general feeling of entitlement? Piano wire might not have been such a terrible idea after all (metaphorically speaking).

Until we have real campaign finance reform, we have this instead. And it costs American taxpayers FAR MORE than if we paid for our own elections directly:

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