Latest Posts

  • Neil Barofsky's "Bailout": Tim Geithner Is Sweaty, Dismissive

    Neil Barofsky Bailout book coverNeil Barofsky, former Special Inspector General in charge of oversight of TARP, has written a juicy new book about the bailout and how it was handled–mishandled, rather, which is where the juicy parts come in.

    We got an advance copy of Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street, hitting shelves July 24. So what have we learned about the little (not little) bailout that could (or couldn't)?

    Neil Barofsky is kind of a dick. Barofsky's former boss, U.S. Attorney Mike Garcia, had this to say about his employee's appointment as SIGTARP: "You can be kind of a dick sometimes, and they needed someone who could be kind of a dick."

    Tim Geithner is a dick. Here is a partial list of words and phrases Barofsky uses to describe Tim Geithner and/or Tim Geithner's actions: "brusque," "bizarre," "sweaty," "twitchy," "utterly dismissive." Alas, the world may never know how Neil Barofsky really feels about Tim Geithner.

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    Tags: Banks, Books, Chuck Grassley, Economy, Elizabeth Warren, Indecision Book Club, Neil Barofsky, Obama Administration, TARP, Timothy Geithner
  • Rick Santorum Gave Commie Handouts to Steel Industry

    Quasi-frontrunner Rick Santorum has painted himself as a fierce free-market conservative, railing against TARP, the auto bailout, welfare and basically all government handouts.

    I guess nobody told him about his congressional record

    [A]s a congressman and then a senator from Pennsylvania, his record often defied those principles when it came to defending the interests of a political and economic powerhouse in his state: the steel industry.

    Again and again, as Big Steel faced crippling competition from abroad during the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Santorum joined Democratic and Republican lawmakers from steel-producing states to seek special protection in Washington for the industry, including direct subsidies, trade tariffs and import quotas…

    [C]ritics, including free-market advocates, said that it was difficult to reconcile the policies Mr. Santorum pursued in Congress with the campaign-trail stance he has taken against government meddling in the marketplace.


    But hey, even invisible hands of the free market is one thing have palms that you can grease with a little government cash every now and then.

    Speaking of greased skin, doesn't Rick Santorum know what goes on in steel mills? For a guy who hates gays and sex of any kind, Rick Santorum has done more than any other politician to promote Flashdancing.

    Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Auto Industry, Communism, Economy, Pennsylvania, Primaries, Rick Santorum, Senate, TARP, Welfare
  • GOP Candidates Use Debate to Attack President (Bush)

    The GOP debates have given candidates an opportunity to energize voters against the current Democratic regime. So it makes sense that they'd use their screen time to attack the President.

    But at last night's debate, they picked the wrong one

    While Bush wasn’t directly invoked during the debate, almost everything the candidates were arguing about last night (No Child Left Behind, the 2004 Specter-Toomey primary, the debt-ceiling votes, TARP, the 2001 airline bailout, the 2002 steel bailout, the “Bridge to Nowhere”, the 2001 earmark for the Olympic games) all took place during the Bush years.

    So, in that respect, the Republican presidential candidates ended up criticizing Bush as much as they criticized President Obama.

    The candidates oppose TARP, No Child Left Behind and the Bridge to Nowhere, but where do they stand on the Teapot Dome scandal? And what about the Sherman Antitrust Act? Why has no candidate taken a firm stance on the Spanish-American War or any policy from the 1800s. The Republicans' views on women are stuck in the 19th century, why not their attacks?

    By focusing on Obama and Bush, Republicans are missing out on the chance to attack 42 other presidents. Come on, guys, Chester A. Arthur and his Gilded Age mutton chops have had it coming for a while now.

    Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

    Tags: Debates, Education, George W. Bush, Republicans, TARP
  • Meet Rich Lowrie, Herman Cain's Mystery Economic Adviser

    Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan has all the value you'd expect from a former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, plus the uncompromising taste of contemporary conservative economic policy.

    The plan would set corporate and personal tax rates at a flat 9% and establish a 9% national sales tax, while eliminating  payroll, estate and capital gains taxation. Who helped Cain cook up this delicious dough of massive tax cuts for corporations coupled with regressive tax increases for low-income Americans? In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Cain said the 9-9-9 recipe was developed with the help of "some of the best economists in this country." But as The Wall Street Journal notes, Herman Cain is not a snitch…

    Mr. Cain repeatedly refused to name those bright minds when pressed by the show's host, Chris Wallace.

    "The chairman of my economic advisers is a gentleman by the name of Rich Lowery of Cleveland, Ohio. He worked with a couple of other people quite frankly that are well known that I’m not at liberty to mention their names," Mr. Cain said.

    "Why not?" asked Mr. Wallace.

    "Because they have their own independent businesses and I don't want to compromise their confidentiality at this point. When they tell me it is OK to mention their names publicly, I will mention it. But I — trust me, it was a couple of people that you know very well."

    Who is this "Rich Lowery?" Is he an Economics Nobel Laureate? A former high-ranking Federal Reserve official, like Herman Cain himself? Actually, the crack news team at the Spencer Daily Reporter of Spencer, Iowa reveals him to be Rich Lowrie, a wealth management adviser with an accounting degree.

    Lowrie, who has affiliations with the American Conservative Union and Americans for Prosperity, was a donor to Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign efforts, but has since drunk the pizza-sauce-flavored Kool-Aid — excuse me, the "pure rocket fuel" — of Cain's economic policies. Of course, as an employee of a division of Wells Fargo, a firm that received $25 billion in TARP funds, Lowrie may not be the best spokesman for Cain's free-market oriented policies. There's another lesson Cain learned in the chain pizza biz: don't let the diners get a close look at the sous-chefs.

    Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Economy, Herman Cain, TARP, Taxes, Wells Fargo
  • Why Is Everyone Making a Big Deal About John Boehner Crying?

    Okay, so the guy got a little weepy during his speech after learning that he would be the next Speaker of the House. It was an emotional moment. The guy obviously really cares about his country. He obviously has real convictions.

    Just look at the earnestness in his face when he starts breaking into tears…

    Whoops! My mistake. That wasn't John Boehner from two days ago, during election returns, getting teary-eyed while celebrating his party's regained control of the House. That was John Boehner from two years ago, during the Bush presidency, getting teary-eyed while begging his fellow congresspeople to vote for the Wall Street bailout that he just spent the past two years blaming on Barack Obama.

    I'm so sorry. I won't let this happen again.

    Tags: Economy, House of Representatives, John Boehner, TARP, Wall Street