- Special Sections
- Public Notices
At some point there is going to be an accounting of all the money now being spent by our government. Let’s hope that accounting doesn’t come too late.
Congress expressed outrage last week when it became known that insurance giant American International Group — which took billions in bailout money — had paid out millions in bonuses to executives. Should Congress have been surprised? Not if members had bothered reading the $800 billion stimulus plan they had approved earlier this year. That plan included a provision which in essence allowed such bonuses to be paid prior to the passage of the stimulus plan in February.
Just how that provision got into the plan has yet to be clarified. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) after first denying knowledge about the provision later admitted he had added it — stating it was done at the request of the Obama administration. For its part, the administration also expressed outrage over the bonuses. If everybody acts mad, maybe taxpayers won’t figure out who is to blame.
Congress, in fact, was so mad about passing that provision that House members tried to fix it by imposing an unprecedented 90 percent tax on any of the bonus pay accepted by the executives. Forget the fact that it is questionable whether such action is legal, this nation’s taxpayers should shudder (no matter how mad they are about the bonuses) at that type of targeted response by its government.
For his part, Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello applauded the swift passage of the bill that would reclaim bonuses from AIG and other institutions receiving bailout money. “It is past time to stop rewarding failure on Wall Street at Main Street’s expense,” said Perriello. “I hope that this swift and decisive victory for the taxpayers is the start of a new bipartisan call to replace appeasement with accountability. And I am proud that we turned justified outrage into real results quickly.” What Perriello failed to mention is that he was among the members of Congress who had voted in favor of the stimulus package that approved the bonuses to be paid out prior to Feb. 11 in the first place. Perriello has stated that while the stimulus package wasn’t perfect, it would move this nation in the right direction and deserved to be passed. The bonus provision is just one of the imperfections in the plan that was missed, is the thought. We can only wonder how many more such provisions exist in that massive spending plan.
The new administration promised change during its campaign, but all that appears to be happening is more of the same — just at an accelerated pace. Taxpayer money is being spent and no one can say where it’s gone. First there was the $700 billion bailout plan, sponsored by the Bush administration which was followed by the $800 billion stimulus plan under President Obama. Conservative estimates state that plan alone will have 7 percent of the money being lost in fraud or waste. And that’s if the government runs efficiently. The track record of that happening just isn’t there.
In addition, President Obama’s first budget was passed with thousands of earmarks representing billions of dollars. This after the President had promised on the campaign trail to eliminate such wasteful spending.
Now, a $1 trillion plan to buy up toxic assets has been released. And while the initial response by Wall Street was positive, the government’s previous actions are anything but reassuring. In fact President Obama warned that the plan is one in which taxpayers will “share in the upside as well as the downside.”
All of this comes with promises from the President of huge government overhauls looming of this nation’s healthcare and energy policies — both of which are sure to carry heavy price tags.
At some point, this nation’s lawmakers are going to have to step back, take a breath and stop spending. Let’s hope Congress and the President do so before it’s too late.