• Since a commenter just above you in this thread claimed Lawrence Tribe was maintaining the Constitutionality of the AIG bonus tax, I googled  him and AIG, and this first result was...


    I just got off the phone with Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, who advised Obama during the campaign, and he says he's leaning towards seeing the new House bill to tax back all the AIG bonuses as unconstitutional.

    Tribe says the problem with the bill is that the Constitution forbids Congress from enacting a "bill of attainder," which would essentially "legislate punishment of an identifiable class," as he put it. Tribe noted that the Supreme Court had used that clause to slap down other laws.

    Tribe says the main problem is that it's hard to make the case that the law isn't "punitive."

    "Its punitive intent is increasingly transparent," Tribe says. "when you have Chuck Grassley calling on [executives] to commit suicide, and people responding to pitch fork sentiment, it's hard to argue that this isn't an attempt to punish an identifiable set of individuals who are the subject of understandable outrage."

    The whole point of opposing bills of attainder, Tribe says, is to prevent what some have called "trial by legislature." Tribe concludes:

    "That's the primary vulnerability."

    But Tribe can be wrong, and so can I, a fortiori.

    Anyway, thanks for your intelligent discussion of this issue. I posted this diary on five sites, an unusually large number for me, in the hope of generating some thoughtful debate, and you were the best debater on any of them.

    My bet is that this thing never makes it out of the Senate, without fundamental changes, but if it does, I'll return to MyDD and eat (virtual) crow.

  • I took your helpful suggestion, and googled "Lawrence Tribe AIG."

    The first result says...

    I just got off the phone with Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, who advised Obama during the campaign, and he says he's leaning towards seeing the new House bill to tax back all the AIG bonuses as unconstitutional.

  • Very few laws are overturned as bills of attainder because legislatures are full of lawyers who actually read the Constitution, once upon a time, and don't stand in front of cameras proclaiming their intention to seize property from "easily ascertainable members of a group."

    The fact that the bill also looks forward can't conceal its fundamentally backward intention,  and that's what Clause 3 is all about... punishing "crimes" that weren't crimes when committed, and seizing property that was lawfully acquired at the time of its acquisition.

    As you say, "many taxes are targeted at certain groups within society," and all criminal law only targets a certain class of persons...the criminal class! But this is just word-play, and when the legislature has blatantly intended a tax as confiscation of particular property, belonging to particular, "easily ascertainable," individuals, it's a bill of attainder, or there's no such thing, and Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the Constitution is void.

    No federal court will uphold the obvious abrogation of a clause in the Constitution, without much more extraordinary cover than some bonuses for bankers.

  • Who knew?

  • comment on a post The AIG Bonus Tax is a Bill of Attainder over 5 years ago

    There must be flying pigs all over the sky!

    Anyway, it's commendable that you can get past our diametric opposition on almost every political issue (or, at least, everything about Obama), when the right occasion comes along!

  • It's also worth noticing that most of the arguments against classifying the bonus tax as a bill of attainder merely allege the rarity of laws overturned as bills of attainder, rather than arguing that the bill doesn't fit the language of Cummings v. Missouri.

  • I also attached your links to the LA Times and Journal in a comment on this diary on another couple of sites where it's posted.

  • Thanks for your intelligent comment on my diary, however much you may disagree with my thesis.

    You may have noticed that nobody replied to by original comment, which you linked. I wanted to see a little real debate on this question, so I turned it into a diary.

    Even in the links you posted, opinion is not unanimous; for example, in your link to the LA Times...

    "Courts sometimes look to the motivation of the legislature, and this looks like an intention to punish," said Steve Johnson, a former IRS lawyer who teaches tax law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "It could also be viewed as government confiscation."

    For me, the most salient feature of the AIG bonus tax is its clear intention to target "individuals" and "easily ascertainable members of a group."

    No reasonable person will deny that the House was aiming at AIG personnel, in response to public outrage, and in my opinion, clear intention removes the ambiguity that makes bills of attainder much harder to identify, in other instances.

  • From Open Secrets...

    5. Securities & Investment: $14,442,282.00              

  • Obama's ongoing support for Tim Geithner has to feel like a bucket of cold water for progressive bloggers who still hope that they can push Obama to the left, or back to reality, or somewhere, and I guess the only hope remaining is that Obama didn't know exactly what he was doing, when he appointed his economic team.

    But how much of a surprise can it possibly be for Obama that Larry Summers is a take-no-prisoners deregulator of financial services, when exactly the same guy was the point man for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which gave banks the critical permission to leverage deposits into incomprehensible garbage?

    Larry Summers was obviously Larry Summers when Obama made him his chief in-house economic advisor, and Tim Geithner was the same Tim Geithner who smiled down upon the looting from the Federal Reserve in New York.

    I can't believe that Obama is really shocked, shocked to learn that Geithner and Summers are weasels, because they were famous weasels even before he appointed them.

  • I really just don't know.

    Maybe Monkey Business has a whole class of operatives in mind whose existence is impenetrably obscure to the rest of us... guys with decades of experience with risk estimates, and their own proprietary paradigms for structuring them, actually irreplaceable at least in the short- or medium-term, until new cadres invent their own techniques.

    While they learn on the job, everything could go kabluey! ...if there's anything left that hasn't already gone kabluey, and there is.

  • MonkeyBusiness is asking what happens if the few really hard-to-replace people at Freddie and Fannie depart (for where?), and $15 trillion in sound mortgages is in the wind. Maybe we should pay those guys some kind of retention bonuses, even though the very words "retention bonus" now enrage almost everybody.

    I sort of agree, but unless those mortgages are leveraged into higher-order packages, then a few hundredths of a point in erroneous estmates by the not-so-wonderful replacements wouldn't be a catastrophic problem.

    What I can't understand is how much incorporation into higher-order packages is inexpungeably built into Freddie and Fannie, and if the answer is "a lot," then I agree with Monkey Business, but if the answer is "not so much," then I don't.

  • comment on a post Obama: Corruption We Can Believe In over 5 years ago

    If you never, ever thought you could understand financial concepts like "convexity risk," a good place for a beautiful introduction to the higher econ is MonkeyBusinessBlog, which is currently running a round-about and surprisingly comprehensible discussion of nuts and bolts at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    Another thing that this whole AIG retention bonus affair has messed with is the whole idea of retention bonuses in the first place.  Things are not made any easier when "heavyweights" like Andrew Sorkin of the New York Times go on the Jim Lehrer News Hour and defend AIG's retention of key personnel because they need rocket scientists to unwind the Financial Products Group portfolio.  Sorkin said something like;

    "Look, I consider myself to be an intelligent person and I consider people at the News Hour to be very intelligent.  However, this is SO complex over at AIG that it takes people with very special skills."

    As our friend Banzai Bill told me the other day, "We need a few paralegals, a bunch of guys to hit F9 on the key board and a guy to call the counterparty to make an unwind bid to the counterparties."

    Anyway, while they don't need rocket scientists over at AIG they really might need them over at Freddie and Fannie.  Here is something I wrote back in July 2008....and this was BEFORE the government made Freddie and Fannie the repository for mortgages that go bump in the night!

    When Fannie & Freddie Are Nationalized, Who is Going to Watch Their "Other" Nuclear Arsenal?

    It's gets wonkier after this gentle intro, but everything is explained step by step, and a lot of it is actually funny!

  • There's obviously no attack on Michelle Obama in this diary, and QTG is just another lying, semi-literate shit-head who only understands 2 or 3 bits of info in any given diary, and makes up the rest out of his own perverted little shit-pile of a soul.

  • There's absolutely nothing negative about Michelle Obama in this diary.

    Oh, wait...

    You weren't making a serious comment.

    You're just another stupid fucking clown who shits on every diary that isn't foaming with adulation for the Obamas.

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