Republican governor is a hypocrite

February 23, 2009

How do you spell hypocrite?

Try Mark Sanford.

The South Carolina governor has been an outspoken opponent of President Obama’s economic stimulus program, calling it wasteful and a ticket for higher taxes in the future.

But funny thing is Sanford has no trouble taking the money.

According to Associated Press, Sanford has decided to take stimulus money to increase weekly unemployment checks by $25.

Sanford’s decision came over the weekend after he determined that every other state would be taking the extra benefit money, said spokesman Joel Sawyer. “Every other governor in the country had signed off on the request as well,” Sawyer said.

Sanford, the head of the Republican Governors Association, has been a harsh critic of the stimulus package signed into law last week and other federal bailouts. Other Republican governors have been critical of the stimulus program but they too have agreed to take the money. I think that used to be called talking out of both sides of your mouth.

According to Associated Press, the stimulus bill calls for using $145 million to increase South Carolina’s unemployment benefits. The average unemployed worker now gets $243.94 weekly; the maximum benefit is $326.

The stimulus money brings the first increase in state jobless benefits in at least two years, Employment Security Commissioner Becky Richardson said. Sanford’s decision to use the money came Saturday. The next day he was on “Fox News Sunday” with other governors in an appearance where he refused to rule out a 2012 presidential bid.

 South Carolina posted a 9.5 percent unemployment rate in December, the nation’s third highest. The state’s fund that pays benefits to the jobless has been depending for months on hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans to stay solvent.

While he is accepting money for the increase, the governor will not likely go along with part of the stimulus plan that extends unemployment benefits to part-time workers, Sawyer said. “That’s something that’s a near certainty that we will not be taking,” he said.

Sawyer said expanding benefits to part-time workers would ultimately add more expenses to the state’s unemployment trust fund and increase the taxes businesses pay into the fund. But one thing’s for certain at this point. If Sanford can get the Obama administration to pay for it, he’ll gladly take it. And then he undoubtedly will continue to bash Obama. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Advertisements

Bush mishandled meltdown

February 6, 2009

I guess it should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention the last eight years but apparently the Bush administration severly mishandledlast fall’s meltdown of the financial industry.

According to Associated Press the governement overpaid tens of billions of dollars for stocks and other assets in its massive bailout last year of Wall Street banks and financial institutions.

AP said the Congressional Oversight Panel, a government watchdog, reported Friday last year’s overpayments amounted to a taxpayer-financed $78 billion subsidy of the firms.

AP also reported that the findings added to the frustrations of lawmakers already wary of the $700 billion rescue plan, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Congress approved the plan last fall, but members of both parties criticized spending decisions by the Bush administration and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said the overpayment was sure to “raise eyebrows.

” “I can understand some gap,” he said. “No one is expecting perfection between the price you pay and what you think you’re getting. But that’s a pretty large disparity.”

No kidding. It renews suspicion that the swiftness of the action last fall  was designed to help financial institutions more than taxpayers. After all consider that financially ailing insurance giant American International Group, which the Treasury Department deemed to be too big to be allowed to fail, received $40 billion from the Treasury for assets valued at $14.8 billion, the oversight panel found.

In December, in response to questions from the oversight panel, Paulson wrote that the value of preferred stock purchased by the government was “at or near par,” meaning Treasury paid $1 for every $1 dollar of asset.

 “The way the Treasury secretary described it does not fit with the numbers that were produced in our much more extensive valuation analysis,” panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren told reporters Friday. “The secretary of the Treasury described it in December that these were par transaction and that is not supported by the numbers.”

 So, once again the business as usual practices followed by the Bush administration are taking a hit. Everyone should agree that more oversight was needed then and more will needed in the future.

New Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is expected to announce Monday a sweeping new framework for helping banks, loosening credit and helping reduce foreclosures.

Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker said in a statement: “Treasury’s efforts since the fall prevented a systemwide collapse, but more needs to be done to stabilize the financial sector, increase lending and protect taxpayer dollars.”

He said the plan Geithner will announce aims to free up credit, “while strengthening transparency and accountability measures so that taxpayers know where and how their money is being spent and whether it’s achieving real results.”

Let’s hope the new system works for both financial institutions and taxpayers. It’s another example, though, of the massive ineptitude of George W. Bush.


Obama doing the right thing

February 4, 2009

President Barack Obama is getting off to a good start. According to Associated Press, Obama announced Wednesday that he’s imposing $500,000 caps on senior executive pay for the most distressed financial institutions receiving federal bailout money, saying Americans are upset with “executives being rewarded for failure.”

It’s certainly about time that someone spoke up for the taxpayers on this issue. After all, if you’re going to get some taxpayer money then there should be certain things you agree to live with.

According to AP, Obama announced the dramatic new government intervention into corporate America at the White House, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side. The president said the executive-pay limits are a first step, to be followed by the unveiling next week of a sweeping new framework for spending what remains of the $700 billion financial industry bailout that Congress created last year. The executive-pay move comes amid a national outcry over huge bonuses to executives heading companies seeking taxpayer dollars to remain afloat. The demand for limits was reinforced by revelations that Wall Street firms paid more than $18 billion in bonuses in 2008 even amid the economic downturn and the massive infusion of taxpayer dollars.

“This is America. We don’t disparage wealth. We don’t begrudge anybody for achieving success,” Obama said. “But what gets people upset _ and rightfully so _ are executives being rewarded for failure. Especially when those rewards are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.” “It’s not a government takeover,” Obama stressed in an interview Tuesday with CNN. “Private enterprise will still be taking place. But people will be accountable and responsible.”

Even some Republicans, angered by company decisions to pay bonuses and buy airplanes while receiving government help, have few qualms about restrictions. “In ordinary situations where the taxpayers’ money is not involved, we shouldn’t set executive pay,” said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. “But where you’ve got federal money involved, taxpayers’ money involved, TARP money involved, and the way they have spent it, with no accountability, is getting close to being criminal.”

Wow, there you have it! A Republican agreeing with Obama. Maybe there’s hope for this country after all.