Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Issues with Senate Bill for Bailout

1) Treasury Secretary holds all the power with some perceived oversight, not actual boundaries. This is a huge mistake. Many built in checks are specifically written out of this bill, like the Secretary is able to waive provisions of the federal acquisition regulation. Not only are we giving the secretary a crap load of money, but there are no standards built in around how he can spend it.
2) The few generalized boundaries that exist have no attached consequences written into the language that would actually deter the secretary from overstepping them. If the oversight committees or the GAO or the comptroller find there has been a problem with the administration of the money, then there are no specific actions they can take to stop the money distribution or punish those who have screwed up. Only a DOJ judicial review would have the power to stop or punish transgressions. Congress has no power. Wow. They wrote a bill that gives all the power to the executive branch and nothing to themselves (us). Plus, the DOJ cannot issue injunctions against the secretary unless they have violated the constitution.
3) A security that is bought does not have to be sold once it reaches a profit level. This means that the treasury/fed could possibly become a player on new levels in the market. Very dangerous and a recipe for disaster.
4) The bailout is not limited to housing and commercial foreclosures. The treasury Secretary can buy anything he wants if it is deemed necessary to stabilize the economy. There isn't even a provision to buy up bad mortgages & securities backed by mortgages first. No protocol, just buy whatever the secretary wants.
5) Only executives of companies that participate in direct purchases with the secretary will have their compensation restricted. In other words, if the secretary/fed buys some bad assets directly off of the company, then they will have to limit executive compensation. However, if the secretary/fed helps a company in a different way, say by offering insurance on their bad assets, or by buying a stake in their bad assets, without actually taking over the assets, or if the fed has to auction off their bad assets, then there would be no restriction on compensation for the executives of the company. Also, the executive compensation is only limited to whatever the secretary thinks is appropriate. Wow.
6) Foreign financial authorities qualify for money under the bailout if they hold troubled assets as a result of this situation. Wow. Again, totally at the discretion of the secretary of the treasury. Unbelievable.
7) Sets up an Inspector General whose duties are to provide the information which will make most of this process transparent. Includes daily accounting and publishing on the internet and preparation of reports. Very important function, but if the IG can't get the information he/she is supposed to share with the rest of us, he/she has no recourse. Not authority to force anyone to give them any information. Only recourse is to report the problem to the Congress committees (whom I have mentioned before have no real authority either).
8) The president's office can issue executive orders to keep any information from being disclosed to the public. Amazing.
9) Although the talking heads claim that we might make money form this fiasco, the bill specifically raises the ceiling for the national debt to 11.315 trillion dollars. (from 9.815 trillion) if we are making money, why do we need to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling?
10) pages 113 thru 261 (division B) is energy policy. Incredible.
11) pages 261 thru 451 (division C) is tax policies & land management policies. That's bullshit.

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