American Elephants

TARP Inspector General Blasts TARP! by The Elephant's Child
February 1, 2010, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Taxes | Tags: , ,

The government’s Special Inspector General for TARP yesterday blasted the bailout program in an unusually harsh report. (224 pages, but the executive summary is short and interesting).

TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was designed as a vitally important part of the Federal Government’s response to the economic crisis.  It was supposed to deal with all those packages of sub-prime mortgages that caused the financial crisis.  Neil Barofsky, the Inspector General, is the watchdog who oversees that moneys are spent as they should be and that the program is performing as it was designed to do.

Early TARP funds  invested huge sums in banks, and most of the largest banks have repaid their TARP funds, so in some cases the Treasury— and thus the taxpayer —  has turned a profit. [These are the same banks that Obama now wants to tax as a reward for paying back the loans!]

But, Mr. Barofsky charges,  TARP has not only failed to meet it goals, but that — unless there is change, it may have made things worse.  The market, because of the bailouts, is “more convinced than ever that the Government will step in as necessary to save  significant — Too Big To Fail — institutions.”  This creates a moral hazard through what he calls a “heads I win, tails, the Government bails me out,” mentality. The extension of TARP for another year reinforces that moral hazard, by “permitting Treasury to maintain a war chest of potential rescue funding.”

The IG also expressed concern about the housing market, stating that the federal government’s concerted efforts to support home prices risks re-inflating the housing bubble.  The answer is to make failure a more feasible option for all institutions, forcing them to bear the cost of their own actions.  Bankruptcy and Capital Standards should be amended to cope with financial institutions that are “too big to fail.”

The thing to remember is that the federal government’s Inspectors General are on our side, helping to make  bureaucracies do what they are supposed to do.  The bureaucracies don’t always like that, and Congress doesn’t always like the reports of Inspectors General.

Marie Antoinette Pelosi. Let them Eat Cake! by The Elephant's Child

We thought it was out-of-line when Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded military jets assigned to her for her personal transportation.  We thought it was out-of-line when the Democrats took a very expensive junket on three 747s to the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

Now it appears that Pelosi’s children and grandchildren are using military jets as a cross-country shuttle service from San Francisco so they don’t have to mix with ordinary folk.

Military flights cost between $5.000 and $20,000 an hour to operate.  The Speaker and her passengers routinely reimburse the Air Force $120 to $400 for each flight.

She appears to have requisitioned flights for the use of her children, grandchildren and  in-laws for their routine travel needs.  Doug Ross sums up the evidence as is known so far, with manifests and travel requests.

I don’t believe in an imperial Congress.  Nancy Pelosi is simply the Speaker of the House of Representatives, not some kind of royalty.  The Founders would be horrified at the goodies the members of Congress have claimed for themselves.  If regular air travel is crowded and inconvenient — that’s what the rest of us have to put up with too.

They have arranged automatic pay increases.  The barber shop, the medical clinic and all sorts of services are arranged so that they do not have to mix with the public.  Yet the most frequent complaint about Congress is that they are out-of-touch with their constituents.

The American people have made it clear that they do not want the government-run health care program that the Democratic Congress is pushing.  The Los Angeles Times reports:

But in the coming weeks, Pelosi and Reid hope to rally House Democrats behind the healthcare bill passed by the Senate while simultaneously trying persuade Senate Democrats to approve a series of changes to the legislation using budget procedures that bar filibusters.

Almost all of the proponents of a healthcare overhaul are desperate to avoid a repeat of the contentious public debate and deal-making that consumed Capitol Hill last year.

“In a 24-hour news cycle, with the Internet and bloggers and cable news, sometimes a lot more can be accomplished, especially with healthcare, when it happens behind closed doors,” said Drew Altman, a healthcare policy expert who heads the nonprofit Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

A lot more can be accomplished in secret behind closed doors.  Don’t want any “contentious” public debate.  Can’t have the rubes interfering by offering their opinions.

This is America.  We are supposed to have contentious public debate! The actions of the representatives of the people are supposed to take place in public.  Congressional Democrats and their Speaker are not only out-of-touch, but have forgotten their place.  We will have to remind them.

So What Do We Do With a Terrorist? by The Elephant's Child
February 1, 2010, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Islam, Law, Military, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

The problem of treating a terrorist as a common criminal to be tried in open federal court is poorly understood, and confusing.

Andy McCarthy, author of Willful Blindness — an account of the trial of the first World Trade Center bombing in which he was a prosecutor, highly recommends this article by General Mike Hayden, former CIA Director, in Sunday’s Washington Post.  General Hayden gets a lot into a short essay.

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