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Monday, December 15, 2008

They really are stuffing their pockets on their way out the door
Posted by Jill | 4:54 AM
In case you had any doubts that George W. Bush is going to make sure his base, the haves and the have-mores, are taken care of before he leaves office, here you go:
Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules.

But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.

Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives.

So here's how it shakes out, and this is so-called conservative economic policy in a nutshell: executives who run their companies into the ground can get huge golden parachutes using Federal bailout money. Auto workers in unions are told by United States Senators that they have to be sacrificed for wingnut anti-union ideology.

For all that my own experience with unions hasn't made me inclined to support them, or at least not the way unions are configured today, the difference between conservatives and me is that they have always been about union busting and about corporate power. Conservative ideology does not hold for the rights of workers. When we look at how U.S. manufacturing has been outsourced to low-wage countries with no worker protections, and on the rare occasions that we hear about overseas sweatshops in which women and children work long hours for little pay and are subject to the most horrific exploitation, we know that this is the conservative dream for America -- a race to the bottom in which a few people hold all the marbles and the rest scramble for scraps. I think about the women who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire nearly a century ago and I know how close we are to a return to these kinds of working conditions in a country with a shrinking job base in which ever more workers are competing for ever fewer jobs.

It may very well be that the Big Three will fold no matter what we do. And if the Republicans had only pointed out this reality -- that any bailout is only to get the workers through Christmas -- I might even see their point. But no, it isn't about reality, it's about mean-spirited corporatism. It's about putting millions of people out of work for ideology and opportunism. And that is about as reprehensible a motive as I've ever seen out of a bunch of people who've forgotten that as "public servants", working people, including auto workers, are part of that public.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Amen, Jill -- I heard this news on MSNBC somewhere today (Rachel Maddow, maybe) and was just outraged. Over the past couple months there have been subdued murmurs of this 'outrage' from Pelosi, Dodd, Frank, etc. but no real action to hold anyone accountable. The Democrats have complained about the blue collar/white collar bailout appeals ... and the lack of any real action to assist homeowners and stanch the flow of home foreclosures. But so far, seems like all it's been is grousing and no call for action.

It's so infuriating to not have anyone really fighting for us, We the People, up there on the Hill!

I enjoy your posts a lot and regularly check in to see what else you are posting about. Keep it up!