Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm all stimulated and stuff

So, the House passed the $800 billion stimulus package tonight. I'm pumped about the $13 billion or so that will be going to science and hopefully funding my research at some point and I think that a lot of good things (investment in energy, infrastructure, etc.) will come out of it but I'm also a little more skeptical than I was before based on what I've been reading about the billions that went to the banks late last year.

This is a post that's been rattling around in my mind for a little while but Maureen Dowd of the NY Times kind of owned the issue before I could.

Citigroup lost nearly $38 billion in the last year plus, received $345 billion in government loans and guarantees on their bad assets and decided now would be a good time to go ahead and buy that $50 million private jet.

As Merrill Lynch is going down the shitter and the government is orchestrating their buyout they decide it's a good time to hand out FOUR BILLION DOLLARS IN BONUSES. Who exactly deserves a bonus after hemorrhaging $15 billion in three months? As if the bonuses weren't enough their chief executive decided it would be a great time to renovate his office to the tune of $1 million. What was so pressing?
“Well — his office was very different — than — the — the general décor of — Merrill’s offices,” Thain replied. “It really would have been — very difficult — for — me to use it in the form that it was in.”
Yeah, a real fucking tragedy. While millions of Americans are losing their jobs, including many in his own company, he's spending money on $40,000 chairs.

AIG receives an $85 billion dollar loan and decides there's no need to cancel the hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated for the executives to take their retreat to the spa. It's been a stressful year, y'know?

I could go on: banks using their money to fight laws that would help unions, refusals to loan the money to struggling small businesses, wealthy shareholders freaking out that they won't get paid back before the government even though they'd have nothing without this bailout, auto companies threatening to sue over increased fuel efficiency standards. These people don't fucking get it. We're saving their ass with out hard earned money and children's future and these assholes just want to make sure they're not going to have to leave the country club. The prospects of the entire financial system seemed pretty dire but I guess if these guys aren't really concerned about it then maybe I shouldn't be either? Sometimes I wonder how much of this needs to happen before the American people decide to storm their own Bastille.

After that rant it may seem kind of odd that I'm still actually in favor of the use of federal money to do these things. However, it's just completely idiotic if we don't make sure that our interests are protected, that we get something in return, that this isn't just another looting of the federal treasury by those that have too much already.

The Republicans have shown that they have no interest in any of this. They bitched and moaned about tax cuts, funding for birth control, and any other issue that could water down this package from my perspective and they got a lot of it. What did Obama get in return? Not a single Republican vote. They know they're not going to get any credit if it succeeds and they know they know they'll get killed by the far right no matter what so there's no upside for them. Even with the compromises all Obama is going to get is a "fuck you." So why even kowtow to their demands? Make it clear that you're making overtures to them in the interest of bipartisanship but they won't do anything in return and then pass the bill you want. The bill that will actually fix some of this mess and protect the interests of the average person that is really truly hurting.

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