Weekly Immigration Wire: `Systematic Failures' in U.S. Detention Healthcare

by Nezua TMC MediaWire Blogger

This week, two comprehensive reports on the health of immigrant detainees were released by Human Rights Watch and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. As Public News Service reports, "Immigrants are, literally, dying for decent care."

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Democrats Not Ceding Populist Mantle To Republicans

David Sirota is correct, of course the right is trying to "outflank Democrats with a populist economic message and tar-and-feather Democrats for their ties to Wall Street." One need only look at the rightwing media trope of the day about Sen. Chris Dodd supposedly using the stimulus package to exempt bonuses agreed to prior to Feb. 11th from limitations. The false story first ran on Fox Business then was picked up by Michelle Malkin, Drudge and Limbaugh, all without any proof or sourcing beyond the Fox Business report. Media Matters debunks it all HERE.

But try as the Republicans might, Democrats are ceding nothing. Nancy Pelosi released this statement today on the measures House Democrats are pursuing to recoup the AIG bonus payments:

The House committees are considering several actions to recoup taxpayer dollars, such as:

· Authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to recover prior and future excessive compensation payments made by companies, such as AIG, that received federal financial assistance;

· Prohibiting abuse of retention bonuses by companies receiving capital infusions from Treasury; and

· Recouping a substantial portion of the bonuses through special taxation legislation.

In addition, Harry Reid sent the a letter signed by 11 Senate Democrats to AIG Chairman Edward Liddy threatening action if they don't voluntarily renegotiate contracts:

If these contracts are not renegotiated immediately, we will take action to make American taxpayers whole by recouping all of the bonuses that AIG has paid out to its financial products unit, which, by all accounts, is primarily responsible for the near-failure of the company and the devastating impact on the global financial markets. [...]

We insist that you immediately renegotiate these contracts in order to recoup these payments and make the American taxpayer whole. We stand ready to take the difficult, but necessary step of working to enact legislation that would allow the government to recoup these bonus payments, perhaps by imposing a steep tax-- as high as 91 percent--that will have the effect of recovering nearly all of the bonuses that have been paid out since AIG turned to taxpayers for help.

Sen. Jeff Merkley was among the signatories to that letter and released this statement (via e-mail):

Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley today demanded American International Group (AIG) immediately renegotiate bonuses for employees or face legislation from Congress that would recoup the funds through taxation.  In comments at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, he also called for robust regulation of the credit default swaps that led AIG and our financial markets to the brink of ruin.

"The individuals who are receiving these bonuses were the very same ones who trafficked in financial machinations that drove AIG into the ground.  It is unfathomable to me and many Oregonians that they should be rewarded for leading their company to disaster," said Merkley.  "I will do everything I can to make sure these executives are not rewarded for abetting the financial crisis at the very moment thousands of Oregonians are losing their homes, jobs and retirement savings."

Sen. Claire McCaskill has been tweeting up a storm about AIG and wrote this on her new blog at Tumblr:

Legislation wil be introduced in the next 48 hours or so that will tax these companies and the bonus recipients. The tax will be aimed at executives at companies that have recieved significant taxpayer assistance through the TARP funds and will recover almost all of these funds for taxpayers.  The Finance Committee is drafting the legislation with the assistance of a number of Senators.

I feel better. We are taking action. It's time we right this wrong on behalf of hard working Americans everywhere.

So far these are mere words (and a sternly worded letter) but assuming the promised action follows Republicans will fail at casting themselves as the true populists. Especially now that they're the ones defending AIG's bonuses.

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"Unconscionable"

Nancy Pelosi strikes the right tone in this statement posted at The Gavel suggesting possible congressional action against AIG.

While American workers see their wages decline and face record job losses, it is unconscionable that AIG, which is receiving more than $170 billion in government assistance, would permit such extravagant executive compensation practices without any accountability to the taxpayer.

I have asked Chairman Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee to examine options that are legally available to recover taxpayer funds of companies that abuse the privilege of taxpayer assistance.

I call upon the executives at AIG to right the wrong they have done to American taxpayers, who are footing the bill for the most expensive government rescue in history. They should renounce the bonuses and refuse the excessive retention pay they previously agreed to.

Congress, working with the Obama Administration, has put in place tough executive compensation and responsibility measures to ensure that taxpayers are protected and we will continue to take all action necessary to ensure transparency and accountability.

The administration's impotence in the face of AIG's outrageous bonus announcement is disappointing to say the least. Pelosi here is suggesting that Congress can make AIG pay, showing that Pelosi has a sharp ear for the mood of the country, which can be summed up with two words: "pitchforks" and "torches." But can they actually do something about it. Let's hope so.

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Weekly Immigration Wire: Congress Signals Change for Immigration Policies

by Nezua TMC MediaWire Blogger

Since the Obama administration came into power, the absence of movement on immigration issues has made activists on both sides of the debate anxious. Most reasoned that there was so much on the new President's agenda, critical issues would have to wait for their turn.

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Jack Cafferty Thinks Republicans Are Cool Again

Cross posted at MotleyMoose

I've always been skeptical of Jack Cafferty. I always felt like the guy made a living out of being outraged that sometimes he forgets what he's outraged about.
I skimmed CNN.com today and what I found was the latest commentary from Mr Outrage. My jaw dropped;

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