Congressional Democrats careened between the circular firing squad and the three-ring circus Tuesday as they struggled with their new reality: playing defense on the economy.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blamed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for letting bailed-out insurance giant American International Group pay $165 million in bonuses to its employees, saying he wrote a letter to Geithner two weeks ago warning him of just such a possibility.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), tagged by Republican aides for sponsoring an amendment to the stimulus bill that allowed the bonuses, shifted the blame to the Treasury Department and “the bill conferees,” saying he had no idea that the AIG bonuses were coming.
Congress should identify banks or other financial institutions that have become so large their failure poses a systemic risk and should put them under federal supervision, according to the Independent Community Bankers of America.
"Excessive concentration has led to systemic risk and the banking crisis that we now face," C.R. Cloutier, president of MidSouth Bank in Louisiana, told the U.S. House of Representatives antitrust subcommittee on Tuesday.
The Obama administration says it's trying to put strict limits on the next $30 billion installment in taxpayers' money for insurance giant AIG amid questions about whether it responded fiercely enough to executive bonus payments.
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley (left) suggested that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.
The Republican lawmaker's harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT on Monday. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.
The only real difference between Bernie Madoff and the management of AIG is that when Bernie Madoff got caught, he pleaded guilty. When AIG got caught, it asked the government for $170 billion.
And it got it. Now the American International Group is going to pay $165 million to its executives as a reward for the fine job they did in duping everybody.Read More
If AIG were in the public relations business instead of insurance, it surely would have gone broke years ago.
Take the reaction to its decision to go ahead with $450 million in bonus payments, including $165 billion paid out over this last weekend, to executives of the business unit whose recklessness almost wrecked the company. Also over the weekend the firm disclosed that had to sue $34 billion in bailout money to make good on credit default swaps the unit has written that had gone bad.
Trust in government -- essential to a democracy -- depends greatly on whether citizens believe the government's dealings are conducted honestly and above board. In the United States, the means of verifying that is the Freedom of Information Act, a law laying the ground rules for access to federal records, passed in 1967 and strengthened twice since then.
As the nation seems to be marching inexorably toward universal health care, did you ever wonder why medical costs have grown beyond all other goods and services? Why is it that this nation ranks only 20th in the quality of its care despite those 12 percent annual increases that have been routine since the advent of Medicare?
Factory jobs disappeared. Inflation soared. Unemployment climbed to alarming levels. The hungry lined up at soup kitchens.
It wasn't the Great Depression. It was the 1981-82 recession, widely considered America's worst since the depression.
That painful time during Ronald Reagan's presidency is a grim marker of how bad things can get. Yet the current recession could slice deeper into the U.S. economy.
The new Obama administration has been forthright in redirecting primary attention in the war on terrorist groups to Afghanistan, where the Taliban -- a vital al Qaeda ally -- is becoming stronger.
Following initial policy review, a decision has been made to increase United States forces in the mountainous sparsely populated country by 17,000, to a total of 55,000. Pressures on our already thinly stretched military will be eased by reductions in forces in occupied Iraq.