Democrats & Liberals Archives

Arlen Specter and the tranparency gap

I recently made a phone call to all of my federal elected officials to voice my disdain for all that is A.I.G. and like companies that thumb their nose at the American people. I felt it was my civic duty to voice my opinion to the elected officials of my state; what I didn’t realize is that some elected officials still feel they aren’t working for the American people.

I called three offices: Senator Arlen Spector, Senator Bob Casey and Representative Joe Sestak.

Both Casey and Sestak’s office handled my call, pretty much immediately and answered all my questions, including my inquiry of the current running tally to those calling into the office about this very subject.

Sestak’s office gave me the tally in percentage (99% of all persons calling said that A.I.G. and like companies should be forced to give up their bonuses.).

Casey’s gave me the current running totals, which was almost 100%).

Specter’s office refused.

Yes. Specter’s office refused to give me a tally.

It went ‘something’ like this:

“May I have the current tally of votes?”

“I’m sorry; we can’t give that information to you.”

“Say again?”

“We can’t give that information out. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Why can’t you give me the tally?”

“We aren’t allowed.”

“Geez. I thought that Arlen Specter worked for me. As one of his constituents, as one of the people that vote in his state and as a taxpayer that pays for his lifestyle and that office and even the phone that you’re speaking through. One would think that the tally information is actually public record.”

“Sir, is there anything else I can do for you?”

“Yes. Can you give me the tally of the votes. I did pay for it after all.”

“Sir, I can take your name and contact information and someone from the Senator’s office might contact me about this issue.”

“So they will give me the current tally later on?”

‘I can’t say.”

“Why is that?”

“It’s not our policy to give out results.”

“Ah… Not your policy! I see. I vote. I pay your salary. And you censor what information I may see from my elected officials; so much for transparency.”

“Sir, Is there anything else I may do for you today?”

“You’ve done quite enough.”

I wonder if I were the CEO of A.I.G. and I asked the same question; would I have gotten the tally results?

Posted by john trevisani at March 18, 2009 1:58 PM
Comments
Comment #277902

>I wonder if I were the CEO of A.I.G. and I asked the same question; would I have gotten the tally results?
Posted by john trevisani at March 18, 2009 01:58 PM

john,

No…but, you might have gotten a bonus for asking…

Posted by: Marysdude at March 18, 2009 2:19 PM
Comment #277945

The CEO of AIG is a patriot who is working for $1 a year. He gets no bonus. Maybe he can double his salary. He took over AFTER the trouble started to do a service to his country. Our perfidious congress thanks him for his service by shifting their blame to him.


The Congress specifically took out a provision that would have limited the bonuses. They did this only a couple weeks ago, as Dodd has admitted.

Dodd, Frank, Pelosi and Waters are the gang of four in this debacle. They helped create the crisis a couple years ago and now they are keeping it going. This is a crisis of the political class. In fact, those bellowing loudest are the biggest crooks. I guess they hope to divert the anger by pretending.

Their business as usual approach has been revealed. Now we know why they were in such haste to get that so-called stimulus bill passed before anybody had the chance the study it.

Posted by: Christine at March 18, 2009 7:23 PM
Comment #277950

Christine-
It gets kind of difficult, doesn’t it? I can accept that many of my party members, over the last few years, did some unwise, unsavory things. I’m not aiming to clear them of their wrongdoing. But you know what I can’t do?

I can’t let this rhetorical gambit do it’s dirty work: transferring guilt from a party that pushed the fundamental regulatory underpinnings of this crisis onto one that at worst followed the other party’s lead.

The pundits want to change things back. They want to convince people like you to hate liberals and liberal policy. They want to retain power despite their mismanagement. They’ll throw out the GSEs, cite particular clauses in bill, and very quietly sweep a massive pile of legislation they did to enable the mess under the table.

I don’t mind holding the Democrats accountable for what they do, but we must hold Republicans accountable, too, despite their best efforts to escape that accountability.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2009 8:20 PM
Comment #277951

Stephen

Dodd did it. To his credit, he has finally admitted it. He took postive action to strip out the protections. The Democratic congress last year approved the bill and the Democratic congress now doubled down on the mistake.

And we can hold Democrats accountable now because they are in charge now. They are calling the shots.

What I really don’t like is their posturing. They are advocating what amounts to bills of attainder and outright fascism to claw back bonuses that they have given the green light. This is the danger of their demagoguery.

The bonuses really don’t count for much. It looks like the “greedy” guys will give it back. But we will have to put up with the politician hot air for a long time to come. Dodd, Waters, Pelosi and Frank. You might add Schumer to the list. These are the architects of the screw up.

I don’t hate liberals or liberal policy. I just do not trust powerful men. Politicians are no better (or worse) than business leaders. We have to limit all their power.


Posted by: Christine at March 18, 2009 8:40 PM
Comment #277966

Christine

What government needs is ethics reform and more transparency. Mandated transparency will lead to accountability which will demand that our legislators adhere to a high standard.

In all fairness the past Bush congress is responsible for the follies of AIG which has led to our current economy. In 2000 they created a law change which allowed the sale of derivatives in such a manner that it allowed our economy to progress in an unchecked and unhealthy manner which we are paying the price for today. It was all about greed and playing irresponsibly loose and free with the lives of all. The republicans in usual fashion have yet to accept responsibility. As a party they have not grown ethically or professionally. I can not say if they are fools or just stupid, or perhaps stupid fools. I wonder how long they can continue to dupe the their supporters.

I am not standing up in support of Dodd’s actions. Corruption knows no party when it comes to politics in America. But I am getting very tired of all the republican rhetoric which quite obviously leans very strongly towards shirking all responsibility for bringing us this economic dilemma.

I think we need to give Obama credit for attempting to bring transparency into government. It will not happen overnight. But it is at the least a start. It is something that was not even a coherent thought under Bush.

Posted by: RickIL at March 18, 2009 10:21 PM
Comment #277967

Christine,
TARP, Passed under Bush, who lobbied stridently in it’s favor, contained little or no provisions for how the money was to be spent, or accounted for. And who was it that wrote the bill? (Iknow who sponsored it, I live in R.I., but who wrote it?) Let’s not put all the blame on democrats. Do you absolve AIG of the responsibility to spend our money, well, responsibly? Do they have no culpability here; Accepting $170,000,000,000 because they would have gone belly up otherwise, and then paying BONUSES??!?

Posted by: steve miller at March 18, 2009 10:24 PM
Comment #277979

Steve

The Democrats controlled the Congress - both Senate and House. The president can propose a course of action, but the congress writes the bills. The bills in question passed with a vast majority of Democrat votes, who - to repeat - controlled the congress. Then they doubled down with the stimulus plan when they controlled both houses of congress plus the presidency. And this is the time when Dodd and his helpers stripped out the provisions that would have prevented the AIG bonuses

AIG is culpable too. Of course they are. The congress enabled them.

RickIL

I take your word that the law allowing derivatives was passed in 2000. But you cannot call that a Bush congress. At that time Clinton controlled the regulators. Republicans controlled congress. It was a situation very similar to what we had in reverse in 2007-8. In fact, the only guy not involved was Bush.

It must be hard for Democrats to understand that they are now “the man”. They have had substanial power since 2006 and now they have predominant power. Blaming the Republicans is getting old.

I think that the economic problems are indeed bipartisan. Both parties gleefully took part and credit for the economic growth. ALL the major Democratic players (Dodd, Frank, Schumer, Pelosi) were in on keeping the regulators at bay. All of them.

They are no worse than Republicans, but Democrats are also no better. You cannot trust politicians in general. As Dodd (the leading recipient of AIG money) shows, they work with the money interests even as they bellow about them and give them more money.

Didn’t Maxine Waters’ husband own one of the offending banks?

Didn’t Obama promise to put all the bills on the Internet BEFORE he signed them? Did anybody see the stimulus bill on the web before it was signed? Maybe somebody would have noticed Dodd’s little stinkbomb.

Posted by: Christine at March 18, 2009 11:33 PM
Comment #277992

Christine

No matter how you slice it and dice it, it was republican created policy that allowed the eventuality of the AIG scandal and all other subsequent failures in the out of control under regulated financial world. People blame republicans because, well, they are responsible. Plain and simple. I am not excusing all dems by any means. But fact is under Bush dems were allowed very little say in policy of any kind. The dem congress barely had the rule for the last two years but Bush had his veto pen handy at all times along with a devout republican congress. You will find no bigger proponent of reform in government than myself. Until we are able to hold our legislators accountable, in the courts and at the polling booth, there will be little change.

Posted by: RickIL at March 19, 2009 9:32 AM
Comment #277997

What Rick said! Also, it is the height of ridiculousness to state that the Democrats “controlled” the House and Senate when they had a puny majority that could not withstand a veto. And, even worse, an opposition marching in precise lockstep with whatever constitution-shredding nonsense the “great one” dreamed up.

Are you saying Democrats wrote TARP? The Democrats did what they thought was patriotic and right; take some action to fix things, before the entire economy swirled down the drain. How amusing to hear Republicans deride disallowing bonuses. If the shoe were on the other foot…..

Posted by: steve miller at March 19, 2009 10:58 AM
Comment #278007

Thanks to AIG, we are more aware of what these corporations actually do with the government money. This should end the bailouts, the last of the Bush administrations efforts, so maybe we can finally nail that coffin shut.

Posted by: bugger at March 19, 2009 12:06 PM
Comment #278017

Dear Democrats and Liberals,

Let me remind you the October of 2006. Nancy Pelosi said that she couldn’t wait to make the sitting president into a lame duck. What happened?! She got her wish. Democrats have held House and Senate since 2006. As of Jan.1 2009 they have a super majority (Arlen Specter, Olympia Snow and Susan Collins are as conservative as I am astronaut). Republicans lost in 2006 and again in 2008 because they became the party of drunken spending and corruption.

Ok, let’s say for an argument’s sake that republicans were responsible for AIG failing. Did republican’s write spendulus bill which allowed for those bonuses? As much of an idiot Bush Jr. turned out to be in this matter, the bill his administration sent to the Congress in fall of 2008 was 3 pages long, bill that was passed by Senate was 200+ pages. But it’s still Bush’s fault?! By the same logic, bill passed in 2008 and signed into law by then sitting president Clinton which allowed AIG to speculate on securities, would be Clintons responsibility because Bush Jr. didn’t get sworn into the office till January 20th, 2001.

One of the bright liberals here suggested that Bush had a veto power. Read your post again please. Are you suggesting that President Bush would use veto on the bill that he sent to the Congress? I am not the smartest man, so explain to me how does the Presidents ability to Veto a bill passed by the US Congress impact the ability of the US Congress to pass or not to pass a bill sent by the President?

Let’s call things what they are, Bush Jr. isn’t going to be in the top 30 of the best US Presidents, I don’t think anyone can argue with that but the fact still remains that this Democratic Congress has spent trillions and is getting ready to add another 3.5 trillion to the tally. Bush and his party paid price for their mistakes, they were demolished in 2 straight elections, yet Democrats still don’t want to take responsibility for the country. Pelosi was promising end of the war in Iraq in 2006 and 3 years later we are still in Iraq and looks like we will be there for a while. I happened to agree with that policy but let’s be honest, that wasn’t what she was preaching before the elections. Sen. Reid was quick to announce the Americas defeat in Iraq yet he hasn’t done a thing to end the “lost” war. Where is honesty there?! Charles Schumer is probably the only “honest” Senator because he, in so many words, said straight up that the people are to stupid to care what we do, when he debated about porkulus bill. President Obama promised not to raise taxes on 95% of the working Americans but new carbon tax is just that. He promised not to pass any pork and take a pen and veto line by line any pork, but when time came to live up to promises he gave us a lecture how some pork is good.

Now they are going to impose 100% tax on the bonuses for the select group of people, no matter how greedy these people may be. Forget the fact that it’s not constitutional, forget the fact that you can’t make the law retroactive, forget anything you have ever known about the US Constitution and the bill of rights, this group of idiots really thinks that they are end all be all and they will do what ever they want when ever they want it. The scary thing is, they are right and no one can stop them from doing just that.

I will remind you a very important passage from our nations founding document:

“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

They are taking this country to the brink of catastrophe. We already have “tea parties” braking out across the country. They are not populous yet but it won’t take much for their numbers to grow fast. Blaming Republicans will last for only so long.

Posted by: Crusader at March 19, 2009 1:29 PM
Comment #278021

If the nation’s voters and the general opinion of the nation is that bonuses are innapropiate, and the nation holds an 80% stake in the corporation, rather than facism, I think that amounts to a stockholder revolt.

Being that this issue is mostly about appearances, much like the auto industry private jets, or Warren Buffets private jet named “indefensible”, I make a point not to get too apoplectic about the whole thing. I’m glad it’s out there. I’m glad Dodd and the treasury got embarrassed. I’m fine with taxing inappropriate bonuses. That would be a fine value for a tax system to address.

I’m mostly happy that Obama and the Fed are ignoring the stampede of Republican led belt tightening advice from recalcitrant Hooverites.

Appearances are important, and values are important. Sane economic policy is even more important. What was looking like the 2nd major depression, is beginning to look more like a serious stumble. Like multitasker Obama, I am more concerned with a future looking budget that addresses longer term issues, like healthcare, and entitlements. Damn sure is nice to have a competent man on the job. I sleep easier at night.

Posted by: gergle at March 19, 2009 2:04 PM
Comment #278022

Crusader,
I did not suggest that Bush would veto his own bill. It was the opposite I was suggesting. That Bush could veto (and torpedo) any bill the Democrats passed with their eeny-weeny majority. Pretty easy to understand.
The bill the Bush administration sent to the house was a total give-away to the corporations. No oversight, no control…..just pass it right now! Or else!
Oh, and just who, exactly was it that authored that bill, which Clinton did sign (after all the Republicans “controlled” everything back then)?
And thanks for noticing my “brightness” I was feeling a little unappreciated today:)

Posted by: steve miller at March 19, 2009 2:12 PM
Comment #278105

“They are taking this country to the brink of catastrophe.”
Crusader where have you been the past 20+ years? We are on the brink of catastrophe due mostly to repub/conservative ideology. The dems whether they get it right or wrong seem to be the only chance we have to back away from the brink. To keep pouring fuel on the flames as we would have done with McCain and the repubs in charge seems to be rather foolish. Their response to everything is cut taxes, and let Corporate America do as they will. Do you remember the repubs running on smaller government,and fiscal responsibility? You see where they got us to and yet you seem to be wanting more of the same. Why?

“We already have “tea parties” braking out across the country. They are not populous yet but it won’t take much for their numbers to grow fast.”

These Santelli inspired tea parties “breaking out all over” seem to be more “Alice in Wonderland” then “taxation without representation” doesn’t it? Afterall those that got us into the mess are now up in arms over the people electing Obama to fix the problem. Those inspired by this guy should remember the publicity he is getting does him well but his ideology is what has led us to the brink. Seems President Lincoln was right when he said “You can fool some of the people all of the time”.


Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2009 2:04 PM
Comment #278256

j2t2,

Brash Lamebrain does that Lincoln thing too…Annie, Hanny, Billy, Cramey and the crew-cut-wonderboy…Jeez, does it never end? That bunch should be thrown into the barrel with the likes of Jim & Tammy, Haggard, Schuler, Madoff, et al. All of them fool enough people to make them dangerous to the rest of us.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 22, 2009 9:20 AM
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