FUBAR

Bankers set to defend their actions

Bankers are set to appear before Congress today to defend a bailout package.

If Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could get an earful of skepticism over the government’s financial bailout plans, the nation’s top bankers can expect no less when they make their maiden voyage to Congress as recipients of the widely criticized funds.

Eight chief executives will slip behind a witness table in the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday morning to face a battery of questions about how they have used more than $160 billion in taxpayers’ money.

Is Geithner up to the job?

It was a tough sell for Timothy Geithner, and he looked it.

The new treasury secretary read from the teleprompter on his right. Then the one on his left. He hardly stood still or looked at his audience for more than a few moments during his big announcement on Tuesday.

Full throttle on economic woes

After fits and starts, the White House and Congress are moving on parallel tracks toward a new round of heavy intervention in the U.S. economy to try to brake a downturn President Barack Obama says has now grown into "a full-blown crisis."

Honest Abe and today’s pols

The Tom Daschle episode has this peculiar capacity: it manages to shock us, but not to surprise us. The shock is only momentary. How could a seasoned public official or his accountant — surely Daschle doesn’t do his own taxes — overlook owed taxes in an amount that represents several years’ pay for most of us?

Choosing between two Americas

Six years ago I wrote a book called "Uncle Sam’s Plantation." I wrote the book to tell my own story of what I saw living inside the welfare state and my own transformation out of it.

I said in that book that indeed there are two Americas. A poor America on socialism and a wealthy America on capitalism.

I talked about government programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS), Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF), Section 8 Housing, and Food Stamps.

Bush paid too much for bailout

The Bush administration overpaid tens of billions of dollars for stocks and other assets in its massive bailout last year of Wall Street banks and financial institutions, a new study by a government watchdog says.

The Congressional Oversight Panel, in a report released Friday, said last year’s overpayments amounted to a taxpayer-financed $78 billion subsidy of the firms.

Taxing problems in Washington

Congress likes to talk about simplifying the tax code — which, bear in mind, is solely its own creation — but never does. Perhaps the tax problems of three of President Obama’s nominees to top posts will prompt it to act.

Stimulus cost keeps going up

Historically huge to begin with, economic stimulus legislation is growing larger by the day in the Senate, where the addition of a new tax break for homebuyers sent the price tag well past $900 billion.

"It is time to fix housing first," Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said Wednesday night as the Senate agreed without controversy to add the new tax break to the stimulus measure, at an estimated cost of nearly $19 billion.

Good politics, lousy economics

In 1930, as the Great Depression tightened its grip on the country, Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Act, erecting a high and onerous tariff wall around the U.S. economy. The lawmakers thought they were helping American workers; instead, they greatly lengthened and deepened the Great Depression, here and worldwide.

What the Congress is considering doesn’t rise to the level of Smoot-Hawley but "Buy American" is protectionism and protectionist measures tend to feed on themselves. We enact them, our trading partners retaliate and on it goes in a downward spiral.

Revoking Blackwater’s license to kill

The government of Iraq has announced that the private security firm Blackwater will be banned from that country.

The news that the company’s license to kill will not be renewed has been accompanied by the triple assassinations in Iraq of three Sunni candidates in the upcoming elections, providing grim headlines. Blackwater spokesmen have immediately exploited the situation by stressing that their efficient enterprise could easily withdraw from the country, but that American security would suffer greatly as a result.