Past time for Geithner to go

UPDATE: Cenk Uygur asks and answers a very good question: Why is Fox News leaving Geithner alone?

Let’s hope the latest scandalous revelation about Timothy Geithner will bring a rapid end to his service as Treasury secretary:

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, then led by Timothy Geithner, told American International Group Inc. to withhold details from the public about the bailed-out insurer’s payments to banks during the depths of the financial crisis, e-mails between the company and its regulator show.

AIG said in a draft of a regulatory filing that the insurer paid banks, which included Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Societe Generale SA, 100 cents on the dollar for credit-default swaps they bought from the firm. The New York Fed crossed out the reference, according to the e-mails, and AIG excluded the language when the filing was made public on Dec. 24, 2008. The e-mails were obtained by Representative Darrell Issa, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The New York Fed took over negotiations between AIG and the banks in November 2008 as losses on the swaps, which were contracts tied to subprime home loans, threatened to swamp the insurer weeks after its taxpayer-funded rescue. The regulator decided that Goldman Sachs and more than a dozen banks would be fully repaid for $62.1 billion of the swaps, prompting lawmakers to call the AIG rescue a “backdoor bailout” of financial firms.

“It appears that the New York Fed deliberately pressured AIG to restrict and delay the disclosure of important information,” said Issa, a California Republican. Taxpayers “deserve full and complete disclosure under our nation’s securities laws, not the withholding of politically inconvenient information.” […]

Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the e-mail exchanges were “troubling” and that he supports holding congressional hearings to review them.

I’ve been hoping for the last year that President Obama would ditch Geithner sooner rather than later. President Obama didn’t react publicly to the November report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which slammed Geithner’s conduct during the AIG bailout. But it’s clear that Geithner wasn’t looking out for the public interest in his last job and never should have been promoted to his current position.  

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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Here's how much Sen. Grassley took from AIG

According to opensecrets.org, per election cycle:

2008: $26,250
2006: $26,500
2004: $19,750
It's no wonder Grassley's outrageous comments criticizing AIG are too little, too late.  Grassley's only concern is winning his 2010 election…  JOHN DEETH's PREDICTION: (one more term for Chuck so he can pave the way for his grandson who is currently to young to run for the U.S. Senate).  If so, let's ruin his grand plan.  Why didn't Grassley speak out against the executive bonuses?  He could have drawn attention to their excesses and at least tried to change the legislation in the original TARP bill under Bush and the stimulus package under Obama.  Call on Grassley to give back his campaign contributions… bonus pay out.  Hypocrite!
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Grassley news roundup

I haven’t written anything yet about Senator Chuck Grassley’s comments on the AIG bonuses. The whole episode was such an empty populist gesture. First he said the AIG no-goodniks should act like the Japanese and either offer a humble apology or kill themselves. Then he walked back his comments and said they should offer a sincere apology. That’s all? I’d like to see more strings attached to the Wall Street bailout program, which Grassley voted for.

The Twitterer for the Daily Iowan Opinion page had the best response to Grassley I’ve seen so far. After the senator explained that “I do want an attitude in corporate American that’s similar to what they have in corporate Japan,” DIOpinions commented, “Making failed American executives more like their Japanese counterparts would require massive pay cuts.” Don’t hold your breath until Grassley gets behind that.

Anyway, we’ll find out how much Grassley cares about getting taxpayers’ money back from AIG when the Senate votes on the bill the House of Representatives passed yesterday.

Follow me after the jump to read about Grassley’s recent comments on medical marijuana and health care reform.

Also, I can confirm that at least one Democrat is stepping forward to challenge Iowa’s senior senator in 2010. Details are below.

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How Iowans voted on the bonus tax for bailout recipients

The U.S. House of Representatives approved by 328 to 93 a bill that would put a 90 percent tax on bonuses over $250,000 that any financial institution receiving bailout money pays to employees. The bill is not limited to AIG, which sparked public outcry by paying at least 73 employees bonuses of more than $1 million.

Here is the roll call. All three Democrats representing Iowa in the U.S. House (Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack, and Leonard Boswell) voted yes on retrieving most of the taxpayer dollars being squandered on excessive Wall Street bonuses.

Steve King was among the 87 House Republicans who voted no. It would be interesting to hear his reasoning. House Republican leader John Boehner claimed to be against the bill because the excessive bonuses were to be taxed at 90 percent rather than 100 percent. Riiiight.

Tom Latham, who voted against the Wall Street bailouts last fall, was one of 85 Republicans who joined the Democratic majority in voting yes today. I am curious to know when Latham cast his vote. According to Chris Bowers, “Republicans were running 2-1 against the bill for a while, but are now changing their votes in the face of overwhelming passage.”

UPDATE: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put out a press release slamming King for this vote. I’ve posted it after the jump.

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