Thursday, March 19, 2009



Limbaugh shatters GOP cohesion-- Repug caucus splits in two

With Republicans trying every maneuver they can to prevent a vote, both the House and the Senate moved forward to pass taxes on the bonus money corporate executives are taking from taxpayers. The House bill imposes a 90% income tax on bonuses of $250,000 and more for companies subsidized with taxpayer money. The Senate is also aiming at recovering 90% of the bonuses and the Justice Department is working on the same goal.

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has been very tough on Tim Geithner, but he's not falling into the Republican trap that seeks to blame Obama and the Democrats for a situation created primarily by Bush, the Republican rubber stamps in Congress and the right-wing ideology that drives the Party of Greed and Selfishness. As he points out, virtually every single Republican-- including, of course, those currently screaming the loudest, have been harsh critics of every effort to limit executive compensation for companies taking TARP money. He points to a story in the Post by Ryan Grim last month:
President Obama has proposed capping compensation for executives at banks that take taxpayer bailout money at $500,000. Republicans hate the idea-- a position puts them uncomfortably on the side of people currently about as popular as child-porn producers and subprime mortgage brokers.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) blamed the "tone deaf" bankers for creating the political environment that allows Obama to call for a cap.

"Because of their excesses, very bad things begin to happen, like the United States government telling a company what it can pay its employees. That's not a good thing in America," Kyl told the Huffington Post.

"What executives have done is troubling, but it's equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives," said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL). [Because of Republican opposition, shareholders do NOT set executive compensation-- another reform Democrats tried to institute. Instead management does, sometimes "overseen" by laughably in the pocket boards of directors.]

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that he is "one of the chief defenders of Obama on the Republican side" for the president's efforts to reach across the aisle. But, said Inhofe, "as I was listening to him make those statements I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?"

Glenn points out that the debate is emblematic of a greater battle the Republican Party is having with reality and with the American people: "That's the Republican Party:  vehemently advocate positions that result in great harm, and then, once political controversy erupts, once the destruction becomes transparent, shamelessly pretend to have opposed the policies in the first place."

As we suggested earlier this morning, the real issue here is that we allow special interests-- primarily corporate money-- to finance our entire political system. The $6 billion in legalized bribes and lobbying Big Finance spent since 1990 to "influence" politicians is at the root of the collapse not just of AIG but of the whole economy. Chris Dodd was the #1 recipient ($281,000) of the $9 million AIG handed out to politicians. When Chris Matthews asked him about it, Dodd had a good-- but ultimately meaningless-- answer: "If I could write the law myself, we’d have public financing of campaigns instead of having to go out and raise the money. But, candidly, in the absence of that, in order to run for office, Democrat and Republicans, you raise money." Leadership would call for reform, not excuses.

Rather than let the Republican obstructionists use the debate over AIG bonuses to play their partisan games, the Democrats called a vote on an up or down-- no amendments-- vote that requires two-thirds to pass. Democrats were wary about the shrill clamor from the far right peanut gallery and from the out of whack Republican Party media dictators. When the vote on the rule came up at noon, all 172 Republicans voted no, 242 Democrats voted for it-- and 8 conservative Democrats, all but 3 reactionary Blue Dogs, joined the GOP. The Democrats voting as Republicans today:

John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)
Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL)
Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS)
Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL)
Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID)
Harry Mitchell (D-AZ)
Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA)

When the vote on the bill itself came, it passed overwhelmingly, 328-93. Boehner voted no and Cantor (his #2) voted yes. 85 Republicans voted for it, 87 against it; the worst split the party has had in decades, the ones voting against it too scared to oppose Limbaugh and the kooks on the far end of the political spectrum. Nancy Pelosi explains the bill, and why it was needed, on her website.

Among the Republicans (87) and Democrats (6) voting against their constituents and for corporate exploitation of the taxpayers were many of the worst Big Business shills in Congress:
Todd Akin (R-MO)
Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
Gresham Barrett (R-SC)
Melissa Bean (Blue Dog-IL)
Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Paul Broun (R-GA)
Mike Coffman (R-CO)
David Dreier (R-CA)
Scott Garrett (R-NJ)
Peter King (R-NY)
Steve King (R-IA)
Steve LaTourette (R-OH)
Dan Lungren (R-CA)
Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI)
Patty McHenry (R-NC)
Buck McKeon (R-CA)
Walt Minnick (Blue Dog-ID)
Erik Paulsen (R-MN)
Mike Pence (R-IN)
John Shadegg (R-AZ)
Lynn Westermorland (R-GA)
Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Looks like somebody scared Republican rubber stamp Paul Ryan away. Although he's considered one of Big Business' half dozen most acquiescent handmaidens in Congress, he actually found the guts to oppose them-- for the first time ever-- and vote against Boehner's pro-bonus stance.


Larry was a Blue America candidate last year (and in 2006). He's 100% dedicated to the aspirations and well being of working families. So I was shocked today to see he was one of the six Democrats who voted with Boehner and the other corporately owned Republicans against the bill to take back the bonuses. So I asked what's up. Short version: Larry doesn't want them to keep the bonuses, of course but, like many progressives, he doesn't think this bill will actually be enacted. He worries it is unconstitutional and then the folks who did this will get off without penalty-- particularly all the non-Americans who were given bonuses (with our tax dollars). Larry:
“Tax penalties should be used to go after those who violate tax laws,” Kissell said. “AIG and its executives should be severely penalized, but arbitrary and retroactive manipulation of the tax code is not the right way to do it. Rather than be taxed at 90 percent, AIG executives-- in America and abroad-- should be forced to repay at 100 percent the money they received as part of this bonus package. The American taxpayer is the majority owner of AIG, and we demand a 100 percent refund of these shameful and ridiculous bonuses. That is why I signed on to the bi-partisan Paulsen bill... Passing a 90 percent, retroactive tax sets a dangerous precedent from which no industry, business or person may be safe in the future. Egregious taxation is not the answer to our nation's ills, even those as blatant and shameful as the ones committed by AIG. The department of the Treasury has the responsibility to regulate these matters and they should do so. We must not always turn to tax hikes to solve every problem presented to us in Congress.

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At 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did Larry Kissell vote "NO" on taxing AIG bonuses? There has to be a good reason he voted with Mitchell and Bean, arguably two of the most pro-corporate members of the house (on either side of the aisle).

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW....some of these these "NO" voters aren't exactly in what you'd call a safe seat:

David Dreier
Thaddeus McCotter
Erik Paulsen
Scott Garrett (although he'll probably be drawn out of his district by time 2012 rolls around)
Dan Lungren
Michele Bachmann (unless 2008 was a one-time deal...she's bound to do something crazier between now and then)

hit 'em hard on this in 2010.

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melissa Bean will be Toast...

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is a diary that has Larry Kissell and Fraud in the title over at DKos.

Suggest that you cross-post. There is a link to you in the comments, but it will not be noticed.


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