Bailout Scandal Expands w/ 20 TARP Fraud Probes

Well, now we know the real reasons as to why Bernanke, Summers and Emanuel were all over the Sunday talk shows telling us why they won't be needing any more TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money. It's simple, really. After today's report hits the Hill from Bailout Inspector General Neil Barofsky's office, the administration doesn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of getting another cent.

And, with the announcement that Barofsky's initiating no less than 20 civil and criminial fraud investigations, as well, I'd even go as far as to say that some heads are gonna' roll.

In what may only be described as a scathing, brutal indictment of the Federal Reserve's and the Treasury Department's management of the Wall Street bailout to date,  the New York Times front page for Tuesday tells us how Bailout Inspector General Neil Barofsky's latest report, scheduled for release later today, no less than slams U.S. government bailout efforts, especially with regard to the "public-private investment partnerships," calling them:   "...inherently vulnerable to fraud and should not be started without stronger safeguards."

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Rich Blog, Poor Blog

Last night I was watching NOW, featuring Harvard law professor and TPM guest writer Elizabeth Warren, discussing the rapidly melting down state of consumer credit in a segment entitled, "The Secret History of the Credit Card." And do check out the full Elizabeth Warren interview.

It reminded me of how funny it was, that time when I lost my job a couple months ago and called the company that was 'insuring' my credit card, charging a moderate fraction of the balance so that in the event I lost my job they'd make my payments for me. And they asked how many hours I'd worked a week, but because I was a part-time contractor who only worked 20 hours a week, they wouldn't pay.

Then I called the credit card company, who had marketed this product to me while I was doing part-time contract work to complain, and they said it was too bad, but if I could come up with some money, then a consumer credit counseling service would be able to negotiate a fair deal with my creditors. So I told the nice, not very helpful lady on the phone that it's too bad my creditors wouldn't just give me a fair deal. So hilarious.

In other news ...

- I have a philosophical dilemma that maybe you can help me answer. Certain Democrats who shall remain nameless: are they arthropods or annelids? Both phyla are comprised of spineless organisms, but I lean arthropod (your crustaceans, insects, spiders, etc,) and it's because creatures with jointed exoskeletons can occasionally show a little verve, usually at times when you wish they wouldn't. On the anti-arthropod side, even their tiny brains have better friend or foe recognition than your typical elected Democrat. Annelids (segmented worms like earthworms, leeches, marine tubeworms, etc,) on the other hand, tend to be bottom feeders when not parasitic, and when more classically predatory they usually attack other invertebrates. On the anti-annelid side, earthworm sh*t makes the flowers grow, which is to say that they serve some greater purpose. I'm open to lively debate on the matter.

- These facets of society are features, not bugs.

- This is not the 'business cycle'. This is the whole nation getting bled dry by a bunch of greedy f*in' bastiches.

- What's wrong with 'public' solutions?

- Intriguing. Is climate change an energy problem? The author contends that it isn't, and when he puts it as he does, I must admit that he makes a fine point.

- Facebook fratboys think breastfeeding is obscene, but pasties, not so much. It should be understood as a friend of mine explains: breastfeeding women are performing the public service of calming hungry babies, and is it ever a public service. It's unreasonable to make women choose between giving their children formula at an early age and cloistering themselves in private for what can add up to quite a lot of time. Total *sshattery.

- The Israel/Palestine thing just isn't that hard to understand. Unfortunately, we can't get a better press, so here's a translation guide for reporters. Why Americans can't predict the likely outcome of a powerful nation deciding to dispossess, starve out, financially ruin, institutionally destroy and disproportionately attack a weaker population, I just don't get.

What're you reading these days?

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Elizabeth Warren, Chris Dodd, GAO Agree: Credit Card Fees Are Too High

Hope you don't mind me flogging the subject of the Interchange Fee once again, but the LA Times ran a great story this week on the matter. Here's the lede:

Credit card companies have always taken their cut when a customer uses plastic, part of the cost of doing business electronically.

But a surge in the fees has sparked an intense dispute, with small merchants complaining that the higher charges are forcing them to raise prices and, in some cases, threatening to drive them out of business.

For more of the story, and details on how much this actually costing YOU, follow me below the fold:

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Elizabeth Warren - Obama Stretching a Triple Into a Single

Today's Friday Afternoon News Dump from the White House was the official announcement by President Obama that Elizabeth Warren would not be appointed to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead, Warren was appointed as an assistant to the President and special adviser to Timothy Geithner.

What this means for policy remains to be seen. Yves Smith lays out a strong case that this is the sidelining of Warren:

However, the end game seems obvious: keep her in orbit through mid-terms to prevent a hissy fit from her many fans, then name a more bank friendly permanent director (the argument no doubt being that her effectiveness is compromised by her not being confirmed, and with the odds high that the elections will put more Republicans in Senate seats, the Administration will argue its hands are tied).
While what this means from a policy standpoint remains to be seen, this is very clearly a total loss when it comes to the politics of the matter. Obama ducked a fight where the GOP would have had to defend Wall Street ripping off consumers, just before the election. This was a fight Democrats wanted -- Democrats needed -- yet Obama let the GOP off the hook

Impressions of Elizabeth Warren

By: inoljt,

In 2012, Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts will face a challenge from Massachusetts resident and Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Warren is somebody who has sparked liberal passion unseen since Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. However, people who arouse liberal passions do not always translate well to the wider electorate.

Out of curiosity, I decided to watch a few videos Elizabeth Warren and see for myself how good a politician she is.

The first thing that one notices is how overwhelmingly passionate Warren is about regulating the financial industry. Passion like that cannot be faked. Unlike people such as Mitt Romney, it’s very clear that Warren truly and deeply believes in what she says. You see it in the emotion with which Warren talks about Wall Street. This is not actually that surprising. After all, Warren wants to be a senator not as an end to advance her political career, but as a means to fight Wall Street. Fortunately for Warren, most Americans share her passion.

The main problem with this is that Warren sometimes appears quite angry in the videos, especially those before her campaign began. Anger is something that Americans do not like politicians to show, especially those who happen to be female. This might turn-off a few voters. Warren herself, on the other hand, is probably aware of this potential problem.

Another thing of note is that Warren lacks the feel that comes with most politicians. There’s something very much politician-unlike that comes when she talks. It’s pretty clear that she’s not been a politician all her life. This was actually pretty refreshing for me, and it’s an advantage Warren will have. Ironically, the fact that Warren doesn’t sound like a  politician actually makes her a better politician.

In addition, Warren’s had to work for what she has. Unlike people such as George W. Bush or Mitt Romney, Warren was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. For me, at least, that’s a plus.

Finally, Warren has a way of skillfully articulating a point. In her most famous video Warren talks about how the roads a government builds and the safety it provides are necessary for a factory-owner to succeed. This is a point that liberals often make, but Warren puts it in a really understandable way. I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen a liberal make this argument with the clarity that Warren does in the video.

All in all, Warren does seem to have some pretty decent political skills. At the very least, she’ll give Republican Scott Brown a much more powerful challenge than any of the other Democratic politicians-for-life in Massachusetts.




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