Friday, June 18, 2010

Congressional TARP Fall Out

Yes I'm going to write about TARP again, but not to defend the Banks, but rather to voice my outrage and concern at the fall out that has, and will continue to, hit members of Congress who had the good sense and courage to vote for this extremely effective program.

As a result of demagoguery ( some of it coming from members of the very administration who had promoted the program) and misguided populism, including the demonization of the Banks, members of Congress have lost, and will continue to lose, their jobs by getting voted out of office because they committed the sin of voting for TARP.

My real fear is that next time members of Congress are called upon to do something sensible and courageous like this to save our economy, they will be scared off ,and we all will suffer as the result.

No matter what anyone tells you, TARP has been probably one of the most successful program the government has ever instituted. It was like a smart investor who bought in a down market and made a killing.

Not only did the government support its citizens, by supporting our financial system in a time of panic and need (which is what governments are supposed to do), but it's making a profit doing it to boot. As if saving the financial system that you and I depend on wasn't enough; no we saved it and made money doing it . Where are the kudos to the government?

And what is the reward for our good members of Congress for doing this prudent and ultimately profitable thing -- they're getting their asses voted out of office. What a country.

I'm sure most of you missed it, but there was a piece in Wall St Journal last Friday, and a teeny tiny blurb in the New York Times the same day, announcing that more TARP money had been repaid than had been paid out.

I've written before about how the Banks have paid back all of their TARP loans, plus interest and warrants worth billions of dollars. The only ones who haven't paid the money back, with interest, aren't Banks, but rather are the auto companies and AIG. Recall when I am referring to Banks , I'm talking about just the Big Banks everyone loves to hate. You know the guys they hauled before Congress. Some of those Banks where told by the government that if they didn't agree to take TARP loans they weren't going to be let out of the room they had been summoned to by the government. There were some smaller banks (you know how we all love small banks) who haven't repaid the TARP, but the Big Banks have paid back so much money that the taxpayers got that money back as well. Even AIG and the auto companies appears to be on track to pay back their TARP funds. What will people say if that happens?

Not only didn't the TARP money loaned to the Banks cost the taxpayer a single penny , but we made an handsome profit as well. As I stated in an earlier post,if we had more programs like TARP we could pay off the Deficit!

But no matter; anyone who voted for that $700 Billion given away to the Banks must be voted out of office by those same citizens they saved. Of course it wasn't given to the Bank , it was a loan that has been paid back; and it never exceeded even half the $700 Billion figure that everyone still refers to. The pundits and the protesters refuse to acknowledge the facts and great benefit of TARP. Sadly its detractors, including people in the administration like Elizabeth Warren, perpetuate the myths and refuse to acknowledge the success of this program.

Why, I don't understand. Unless the record is set straight, we will suffer in the long run when another crisis is upon us. I have no illusions that that will ever happen, or that if it does, it will change very many people's minds-- like all Big Lies, this has become too ingrained into the nation's psyche.

How many government programs can you name where the government puts out taxpayer money to help the economy or some others valuable societal purpose and actually gets the money back with interest and other profits? Yes much government spending is needed and beneficial, but how often, if ever, do we actually get the money spent back, with interest? Think Defense, Social Services, Foreign Aid,Health Care, Roads, Education, Environment, Farmers and the many other subsidized Private Industries --- all valuable,and money perhaps well spent; but has the Pentagon or the Farmers paid us back in cash lately?

I know this is starting to sound a little silly, but I'm trying to make a point here that no one wants to hear. Its' bad enough that we are beating up on our financial institutions over this to our continuing detriment (to be discussed in a later post), but if courageous members of Congress are losing their jobs for doing the right thing for our country, next time they won't be so courageous and we all will suffer the consequences.

By the way, what ever happened to that $700 Billion that we aren't out?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Modest Proposal

I have avoided commenting on my blog on Israeli Palestinian matters for several reasons; not the least of which is that I'm not much of an expert (not that that stops most people) on the subject.

I'm quite discouraged about Israel, but my views won't add much except to emphasize the double standard to which Israel is held. However, I would recommend Tony Judt's Op Ed in the NY Times today , which was pretty good for someone who is constantly critical of Israel.

Having recently visited the area, what really hit me was that it's tough when you live in a country where your neighbors want to kill you and most of the rest of the world ( including the Left in the US) hates you. I chose my words carefully and I don't feel they are an exaggeration. I don't think there is a solution on any reasonable time horizon and that is why I am discouraged.

Clearly Israel needs to make a change. Here's a modest proposal--- I think Israel should call Hamas' bluff. Agree to lift the blockade on Gaza in exchange for a simple statement that Israel has the right to exist. Nothing more simple than that. It would be a good start.

Who could object to the right to exist?

If Hamas rejects that , what will the so called "peace activists" say? Of course they won't bat an eye, but at least the rest of the world might see that Hamas doesn't want peace and a two state solution. It's hard to clap with one hand.