Thursday, February 05, 2009

"A Joke"

I was going to write a longer post on the pay restrictions announced by Obama yesterday, but this piece sums things up pretty well. Bottom line: not a single firm that's already received public money will be affected by the new restrictions. They will apply only to new firms that need help in the future, and only on the extraordinary scale of Citigroup, AIG, or Bank of America. If anyone has an idea of where such a firm might suddenly pop up after all this time, let me know.

It's obviously early, but as someone who supported Obama during the campaign, I've been disappointed in him so far. The tax issues with multiple nominees really made me wonder what's going on, the stimulus plan has been a mess, and yesterday's spin on executive pay felt like business as usual. On Inauguration Day I wrote, "I reserve the right to turn on a dime." I just reached the front edge of a half-dollar.

31 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff in Texas said...

Pro-Obama bloggers are hyping this as a big deal. It is, clearly, a dishonest and ineffective gimmick, and it is bullshit that the administration is pushing this like it means a goddam thing at the same time they are considering (per WaPo) a "triage" plan whereby the government buys the worst third of bank assets (at what fucking price????) and merely "guarantees" the middle third (in the long run how will that really be different than just buying the crap) and then lets the banks keep the juicy profits from the top "good" third. It's like they expect no one to notice the stocks, stock options, and related workarounds that will make the salary cap utterly beside the point.

I know it's been only a couple of weeks that the man has been in office, but it has been a really shitty couple of weeks. Even Bill Clinton (who I think got kneecapped in what was previously record time) didn't let himself get tripped up this badly this early. And I say Obama is "tripped up," when of course the likelihood is just that he is being revealed to be as full of shit as the rest of them.

2/05/2009 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an Obamiac, I have to agree, with a quizzical WTF? When a Mitch McConnell or a flabby talk show host can throw you off your game, and when three out of four of your own appointees with skeltons have to pull out, one has to wonder: is he a better campaigner for president than a president?

If the answer turns out to be "Yes", then what? He was the best we had, and I believe, like Buffett said, he was the right man in the right job at the right time. Where would that leave us?

What would a McCain/Palin country look like about now? If Obama stumbles on his intellecutalism, like a Woodrow Wilson, or gets sucked into the sewer with the rest of them, then what?

Then, I think, we go the route of all the other empires in the landfill of history. We are getting very close to the tipping point.

2/05/2009 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok here's the deal.

Obama will suck up to Wall St. and other wealthy people.
Obama will bomb foreigners for reasons which are obscure.
Obama will continue to kidnap people in foriegn countries and send them to other foreign countries to be "interrogated."
Obama will blindly support the most arrogant parties in Israel.
Obama will not save health care.
Obama will not do much about global warming (aside from admitting it's true.)

Obama is a man who wanted to be president, so by definition he's a douche-bag.

Hankest

2/05/2009 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, to be fair, this simply demonstrates something I've said to Obama fanatics and Obama haters (I know plenty of both with extreme views): he's just one guy; he can neither do much to help, nor hurt, our ginormous system that we call The US of A.

We have a government spending what is fast approaching $4T, which employs literally millions of people, all of which exists within an economy producing something near $15T per year... not to mention a half dozen other staggering ways you can measure the job.

We have created a monster over the course of 200+ years. It's going to take more than one guy and two weeks to fix it.

2/05/2009 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is that he promised he could do everything, which is why his acolytes are going to be sorely disappointed in him.

I was always amazed by the national outpouring of adoration for the new Messiah. Maybe it's just part of a Christian culture to want to believe in salvation, whether it's spiritual, political or economic.

I personally was never under any delusions that Obama would bring "change" or "hope". The State will continue to do what it has always done: grow bigger, more intrusive and more rapacious.

2/05/2009 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Economic chaos (EC)
Internal/external enemies "trying to destroy us" (IE2)
Highly charasmatic leader (CL)

EC + IE2 + CL = Trouble

2/05/2009 4:28 PM  
Blogger John said...

Whoever thinks that all of the appointees to the Bush administration had their "tax noses" completely clean, raise their hand.

Anybody think Heckuva Job Brownie wouldn't owe any taxes if someone climbed up his rear end?

Some of this stuff is "startup pain", unavoidable.

A lot of the other stuff is in the category of "big stuff that you can't fix in less than three weeks".

2/05/2009 4:33 PM  
Anonymous wfta said...

In Obama's defense, the vetting process kind of requires the vettee to reveal the skeletons before the announcments are made.

Unfortunately every Republican member of the House out-polled Obama in his home district and has no inclination to work across the aisle. The Senate is a body of 100 all of whom think they should be president.

The tax breaks are worthless as stimulus. Infrastructure spending is good even if not immediately stimulative.

Fuck the window dressing. Spend, baby, spend.

2/05/2009 5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't buy the hype that Obama is stumbling out of the gate. Things to consider:

Like his proposed solutions or not, President Obama is fully engaged with the issues. How long has it been since we could say that with a straight face?

The "mess" he has made of the stimulus bill is largely the result of one of this campaign promises: more transparency. The political process is far from pretty, something we have long forgotten in the absence of real governance.

The problems facing are country are weighty, and they are legion. One does not address such colossal problems, and remain the whore of the four-hour news cycle - all at the same time.

I see a president who is much more interested in getting it right than paying homage to some mindless ideological formula. This means we should delay judgment at least until he has a working administration.

2/05/2009 5:50 PM  
Anonymous lahke said...

Bear in mind that Obama is also smart enough to start centrally and let himself be "forced" left. The Senate Democrats are already starting to produce teeth on the compensation issue, for example, and the 2010 Census got yanked away from Commerce by the White House, the minute he nominated Judd Gregg to lead it. We've already got the Lily Ledbetter equal pay act and S-Chip signed into law, and look what's getting cleaned up in the legal/civil rights realm. Salazar also undid that last land auction in the West.

Now imagine where we'd be under McCain/Palin--no stimulus, more war demogoging, and Joe the Plumber speaking at the inauguration. This is 2 weeks in, guys--chill.

2/05/2009 6:03 PM  
Blogger Chris F. said...

I thank my lucky stars we elected Obama. This week he actually used the words: "I screwed up..." and "I am sorry". I barely remember a time when a President actually admitted a mistake right out of the gate, let alone George Bush, who for the last eight years has been self-proclaimed infallible, besides "Bring it on".

So, nothing is going to work out perfectly. Praise America for selecting a man with transparent intent. Obama is clearly a problem solver. All I've heard from the Republicans so far is bitching about how the democrats won't listen to them, when for the last eight years not a soul would take the democrats to heart.

I'm not suggesting it's payback time, only that those who want to accuse Obama of not listening to them simply because he does not institute any of their opinions needs to close their mouths. It reeks of partisanship, combativeness and showmanship.

It clearly has not been a perfect two weeks. But He hit the ground running, and is finding his footing. Soon, it's going to be a beautiful jog.

2/05/2009 6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll agree that this move is more than 50% theatrics. The greed and entitlement of Wall Street is coming under escalating scrutiny and these guys are not popular. Stepping out against them is a political no-brainer.

That said, what else can Obama really do about the money that has *already* been given to the big investment banks. From what I've read, it looks like the government would have to go to court against the banks in order to claw back part of the money.

It really looks to me like the real mistake was shoveling so much cash to the banks with so little oversight and so few conditions in the first place. Giving Sec Paulson responsibility for doling out the cash wasn't such a bright idea either. Some of those mistakes were avoidable, some not -- and Obama certainly bears some responsibility for them too.

Bottom line though -- while I respect your right to criticize Obama, what would you have him do at this point TCR?

-- Medicine Man

2/05/2009 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

He most certainly did not "promise he could do everything." Were you not listening--It's "Yes, *WE* Can", not "Boo! Terrorists! Now go shopping."

The man can't help it if a lot of people think he's the one who is supposed to do all of the work. He told us something entirely different.

2/05/2009 6:51 PM  
Anonymous am4 said...

It's been 2 weeks. Why hasn't Obama cleaned up all the toxic messes left by Bush? He promised change, so why didn't he take out his magic wand and change everything on Day One? I'm a reasonable person. All I demand is moral and ideological purity on all issues, all the time.

2/05/2009 7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope many of the sentiments expressed in these comments prove correct. So far this "stimulus" bill is looking way, way too generous to the very pricks who've done so well by the serial bubbles. I'd be delighted if Obama was positioning himself to be "forced" left.

But I really don't see it. For a start, I never liked how Obama played the "uniter" card. It would've been shrewd politics -- and more, simple justice -- to openly call out the best and most deserving enemy anyone could want: The financial industry, and its many minions. How can he hope to "reform" the health care system without going to war with healt "insurance" industry directly?!?! How can anyone propose giving a dollar to an investment bank, when the states are perfectly suited to really put money to work?!?! It just doesn't add up.

With his appointments, and the "stimulus" provisions, all I'm seeing is a guy every bit as in thrall to the top 1% as his unlamented predecessor. And by the way, why the hell **are** we being so coy about investigations and prosecutions of the Bush-Cheney gangster syndicate?
-- sglover

2/05/2009 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it.

The government is too big so let's slash it's payroll when 600,000 people per month are losing their jobs.

Let's curtail government spending when GNP is diminishing at 2% per quarter.

If you conservatives really wanted to make government smaller, you would have reduced it during the 'boom years' of the Bush Administration.

Your all a bunch of 'borrow and spend' losers who lack the introspective and decency to own up to it.

Who fucking cares what Obama does. You guys really shit bricks for 8 years.

2/06/2009 12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Key words: IT'S EARLY.

2/06/2009 1:35 AM  
Anonymous DanC said...

I say give Obama time.

He is one man surrounded by an extremely corrupt, entrenched fascist operation.

All I want is for Timothy Geithner to step down as Secy of Treasury.

He is a huge embarassment.

Annually, he applied for and got the damn money from the IMF to pay the "employee's share of U.S. Social Security taxes." and he kept the money!

It was not an honest mistake. It was theft and tax evasion.

He has no moral authority to oversee the organization which includes the IRS.

2/06/2009 2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People's expectations should have been a bit more realistic. No one gets elected president in this country without passing the smell test of the powers that be. Anyone who expects big change is naive.

2/06/2009 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From above, this pretty much sums it up, doesn't it ;-): EC + IE2 + CL = Trouble

Prez Obama has a difficult task. 28 years of bad policies and divisive politics. That can't be undone overnight. But it takes more than 1 person to make a Party. The question is: does the Democratic Party have the depth (of good character) to support Obama?

I've been dying to hear what you have to say about the tax situation of some of these nominee's: Pulitzer Winners Jim Steele and Don Barlett: Geithner Tax Troubles Far More Egregious Than Daschle’s

This was a pretty good PR statement from that story: “It’s easy for the other side to advocate for higher taxes. Because you know what? They don’t pay them.”

Was the Republican vetting machine not as good, when they were vetting Republicans? We all know Republicans love Republicans, and can do no wrong in each other's eyes. Or, are the Republicans better at hiding the money, offshore, in corporations, amongst friends.

One question I'd what to ask every politician is: Do you do your own taxes? CAN YOU do your own taxes? If not, why do you promote this system! Stop all the talk and fix it! If top folks, and especially those that made/make the law, can't get it right, how in the world do they expect the rest of us to get it right.

I realize things do happen, and I'm trying hard to consider the sources when looking at these situations. The TV, radio and other media that goes to the far right, make big things out of little, and they are two-faced (okay if a Republican does it, but not okay if a Democrat does it. Wrong is Wrong.). I don't want to play their game. Guess we'll have to work harder to find credible media sources. :-(

2/06/2009 3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But to the original post about the pay restrictions...

Surely Obama deserves heat for doing anything short of implementing outright asset seize? Otherwise what exactly is so outrageous about the pay restrictions, even if they are merely political. If a move is irrelevant, then the move is irrelevant.

What exactly is the man supposed to do, if not simply seize assets as it suits the best interests of the fisc? In the cases of these large "bailout" firms that are exempt, are we forgetting that the transfers were negotiated under a prior executive? So, should Obama not only seize assets and mandate salary schedules for the private sector, but seize and mandate them retroactively by fiat, like an invincible giant emperor bureaucrat price-fixing dictator pope?

This idea of Obama as being some kind of "messiah" or "savior" has always been more a projection of pent-up right-wing paranoia than anything Obama's supporters actually believe. At every turn, whether through the election or even today, the right's most painful disappointments with Obama seem to be that he is not the radical socialist revolutionary they want him to be.

So, does the right actually want a radical socialist revolutionary who persecutes bankers and absentee owners, or does the right just need one to complain about? In either case, it should already be a foregone conclusion that the Obama era will be one of constant disappointment.

2/06/2009 3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Krugman's blog reminded me of this entry:

What all but 5 Republicans support
"Thirty-six out of 41 Republican Senators voted for the proposed DeMint amendment to the stimulus bill — a massive package of permanent tax cuts that would create a huge hole in the budget, while doing very little to help the economy."

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains
"2001: Republican Dick Armey throws a fit over Congressional Republicans being compared to the Taliban.

2009: Republican Pete Sessions proudly compares Congressional Republicans to the Taliban."

The Republican Party taking pointers from the Taliban. Man ol'live, how does anything get done.

2/06/2009 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Lol. I reserve the right to tell you I told you so TCR. And you will see the light eventually. I can see the future too! As you become more critical of Obama...all these liberal bloggers will fall away that post. You attracted them by being critical of republicans so they decided to adopt you as one of their own during the Bush years. But now you are slandering the messiah!!!! lol. Me? I'm still buying gold and silver bullion and laughing at the circus unfolding. The funny thing about the liberals is there firm belief that we can run an economy on government spending!!! I tell you what guys...we are going to find out! It is not going to be pretty. Everybody wants the banks to start lending. The only thing saving us from the horrors of inflation is the fact we haven't!

2/06/2009 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goldwhatsit, if your assessment of the readership's browsing habits is an example of your uncanny prognostication skills, I reckon we can expect a steep drop in the price of gold.
-- sglover

2/07/2009 12:35 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I usually with you TCR, but I believe you're throwing BHO under the bus way too soon.

What's the gripe about executive pay? That deal was signed and sealed in December, so how can he take that bonus away now? Blame the previous administration.

The tax things are a little unnerving, but I think it's mainly because he was looking for "experienced" folks and not realizing that anyone with Washington experience is by definition a little daffy, or corrupt. Daschle's a tool. Geithner by all accts is smart, but Larry Summers probably would have been a better pick if not for those sensitive feminists.

Give him some time, the errors he has made are a) recognized by his own admission, and b) small on any scale you wish to use.

No executive in the history of the world is required to work in such a fishbowl where every detail of every decision is scrutinized.

2/07/2009 2:38 AM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...

ALOHA !!

I blame THE MONEY and those at the US FED! As I have stated many times before we need to eliminate the US FED and all the private banks that operate in its universe.

Obama aside its not about ONE GUY changing things. ONE GUY promising CHANGE is meaningless in this monetary system of corruption. There can be NO "REAL" CHANGE until this monetary system collapses. This is the US EMPIRE unwinding along with its MONEY!

I'll say it again ...

ITS THE MONEY STUPID!!!

Its been the MONEY ever since 1913!! Its all been downhill ever since in terms of the US Dollar's purchasing power. Many here have been alive long enough to see it coming for decades now.

2/07/2009 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but had the ruling been retroactive what kind of postings would I be reading tonight.

Within a couple weeks of becoming President, Obama says that new money will have some restrictions.

Can you imagine W having imposed ANY restrictions?

Can you imagine any president saying "Oh, by the way, if you got money in the last administration, your salaries are capped."

Get a grip folks. We haven't had a president since November, and this guy just got started a couple weeks ago.

2/07/2009 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but had the ruling been retroactive what kind of postings would I be reading tonight.

Within a couple weeks of becoming President, Obama says that new money will have some restrictions.

Can you imagine W having imposed ANY restrictions?

Can you imagine any president saying "Oh, by the way, if you got money in the last administration, your salaries are capped."

Get a grip folks. We haven't had a president since November, and this guy just got started a couple weeks ago.

2/07/2009 10:22 PM  
Blogger Mr. Hedley Bowes said...

One recalls all of the ethical and other violations of previous GOP nominees who somehow withstood the heat and gained the confirmation. There's a huge double standard operating here and, perhaps, it is self imposed by Dems who actually expect that they'll live up to their advertised ethical standards, whereas the GOP seems to be adept at floating a whole lot of moral fiber that turns out to be pure bullshit (long after the fact, of course).

Anyone on this blog who hasn't had a tax issue that would ding their credibility with employers, clients or the U.S. Senate raise your hand.

For the last 8 years we've had people in positions of power that have hoodwinked, philandered and skimmed confidence in a multitude of dimensions: some in the Billions and Trillions of dollars. You people are complaining about Obama? Get a clue. Don't be a sheep.

2/07/2009 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Goldholder said...

Lol...Hedley. The tax parasites refuse to pay taxes themselves! Hillarious! It is one thing for me to not pay my taxes since I don't believe in any of this collectivist bs but it is another for somebody like Daschele. Who only made his millions from being a lobbyist because of his ties to congress. This is just proof to me that I am correct. These democrats don't believe in this collectivist crap either. They just sell that line to the gullible and get their fill at the goverment trough.

2/09/2009 12:43 PM  
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