What We Should Get For $700 Billion
This is purported to be from a member of Congress, regarding the TARP authorization. I cannot independently verify that, but like Fox Mulder I want to believe:
Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. [Frank expletive]. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those [serious obscenity].
Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few [adjectival exuberance] bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible.
Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this. Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that. That's a real possibility.
We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn't budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill. There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week.
I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.
I'm open to other ideas, and I am looking for volunteers who want to hold the [colorful noun] so I can beat the crap out of them.
I've been an advocate ofbankruptcy cram-downs for ages, so no argument there. What I really really like is the idea of subjecting CEOs to the same petty humiliation everyone else gets treated to. I suggest that for every separate asset these CEOs sell to the government, they be required to write a Hardship Letter over a 1010 warning (that's a reference to the statute forbidding lying in order to get a loan) explaining why they acquired or originated this asset to begin with, what's really wrong with it in detail, what they have learned from this experience, and what steps they are taking to make sure it never happens again. Furthermore, the Treasury Department will empanel a committee of the oldest, most traditional, and bitterest mortgage loan underwriters--preferably those downsized to make way for automated underwriting systems--to review these letters and opine on their acceptability.
I'm sure you all will have other suggestions.
I like Tanta's suggestions. Do go see the comment thread. Some of their suggestions are very funny. For my comment thread, who do you think said this?
But it points to the very serious divide in the Congressional Democrats, where some are very clear that this is a political opportunity to be used to the max (as in the above letter), while others *cough*Dodd*cough*Schumer*cough* are committed to defending the interests of their most important constituents, and screw both the party and the country.
This is why my focus on this blog is on the party. Unless the Democratic Party decides to stand for the ordinary citizen, then they are simply being Republican enablers. The focus cannot be a specific candidate (no matter how much I (heart) Hillary), it has to be on reforming the party.
In the coming week, anyone seriously concerned with party reform needs to keep close track on which Democrats oppose the Paulson wealth-grab and which enable it. Will Obama even come back to the Senate, or will he use the campaign to not go on record as for or against?
We get something, or they get nothing.