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The AIG Bonus Debacle: Channel Your Anger

In early February here on this blog, I wrote favorably about the somewhat fanciful idea of televising the conference committee on the economic stimulus bill.

If conference committee meetings were televised, members of the conference committee would be constrained to explain what they were doing and why. That would be a good thing.

Well, the conference committee was not televised, members of the conference committee were not constrained to explain what they were doing, and that was a bad thing.

Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson does as good a job as any of explaining what happened to an amendment to limit bonuses from companies that receive bailout money:

Concerns on the broader compensation issue were serious enough to ensure unanimous Senate passage of an amendment to the stimulus bill sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe and Ron Wyden that penalized bailout bonuses in excess of $100,000. But the Snowe-Wyden amendment disappeared into the misty bog of a House-Senate conference committee, only to be trumped by language that grandfathered in AIG’s retention bonuses. At first, this seemed to be an example of immaculate legislation — miraculously fatherless. After explicitly denying responsibility, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd eventually admitted to including the exception under pressure from the administration.

So Congress and the President explicitly permitted these bonus payouts, which they knew were coming, then went berserk with recriminations against AIG and the recipients of the bonuses when they figured out what they had done. On Thursday, the House passed a bill to tax these bonuses to the tune of 90%.

There’s a word more powerful than “hypocrisy” that describes this kind of galloping idiocy. I wish I knew what it was.

All we can do about it is smile that thin smile, accepting that we’ve been robbed fair and square, again.

Or maybe we can take a lesson. . . . Something like: Haste makes waste. Specifically, when Congress acts in haste, Congress wastes. Our money.

And it’s worth noting that right now Congress is laying the groundwork for fouling up the fiscal 2010 spending process. As I wrote here ten days ago, the first two deadlines in that process have already been missed. The endgame of missing deadlines is having to do everything in haste at the last minute. And we have some idea of what happens now, right?

Want to channel your anger in a positive way? Contact your Member of Congress and ask them to get the spending process back on schedule. They won’t barely know what you mean, because half of them probably don’t even know what it is. But you can send them a link to this post if they don’t understand.

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When we consider that the Congress is supposed to be protecting us and promoting our security and ability to pursue happiness, and that they have failed miserably at this job by refusing to maintain the status of out military equipment in an up to date manner, the AIG debacle is minor.

Our F-15, the air superiority fighter that we relied upon for almost double its designed life span is no longer capable of doing the job against the fifth generation fighters that are being introduced by potential enemies, and is falling apart. Its replacement, the F-22 is fully capable of doing the job and restoring our security.

Congress is very capable of complaining about the costs of this aircraft. They also are experts at ignoring the reasons for cost increases and over runs.

From an Air force supporting publication, “The Air Force says it needs the F-22 to replace its aging fleet of fighters, and for its superior speed, weapons, and stealth properties.”

And, “When you look at total cost, this is $1.7 billion more than they expected. Of that $1.7 billion, about $.7 billion is for the four additional aircraft and about a billion dollars is because we’re stretching this out,” said Walker. “You know, this program, depending upon how you want to calculate it, is anywhere from two to 15 years late, and now we’re making it later.”

Compared to the Congressional destruction of out ability to defend ourselves, This whole financial fiasco is only a minor error by the Carter and Clinton Democrats with their “Community Reinvestment act of 1977″ which required these failing mortgages and provided a government guarantee to entice the bankers to make these bad loans.

Procuring the originally requested number of F-22 aircraft would have two benefits. First, it would restore our security. Second, it would provide a good stimulus to the economy very quickly. Military expenditures for equipment that has been designed, and for which the production line is running, have a tendency to place money quickly into the economy.

The members of Congress who created this problem should be deported to Afghanistan or Pakistan without delay.

Spending Done on Time? - The WashingtonWatch.com Blog

[...] When Congress doesn’t get the spending done on time, it has to pass giant bills on the fly and we the public don’t get a look at what they’re doing. It’s a recipe for trouble. [...]

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