Seth Cline of Open Secrets Blog reports some extremely disturbing connections between Congressional leaders and Goldman Sachs. I think it’s time for a law that places congressional investment accounts into a blind trust.
According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, 19 current members of Congress reported holdings in Goldman Sachs during 2010. Whether by coincidence or not, most of these 19 Goldman Sachs investors in Congress are more powerful or more wealthy than their peers, or both.
Nine of them sit on either the most powerful committee in their chamber or committees charged with regulating the Wall Street giant. Moreover, seven of them are among the 25 wealthiest members of their respective chambers, according to the Center’s research.
And of the six lawmakers who fall into neither category, two are the most influential Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
Altogether, the 19 had at least $480,000 and as much as $1.1 million invested in Goldman Sachs in 2010, the most recent year personal finance data are available. That’s an average of about $812,900 for these 19 lawmakers’ holdings combined.
Lawmakers are only required to report their personal assets and liabilities in broad ranges, meaning it’s impossible to know the precise value of these holdings. The Center uses the minimum and maximum values listed on the filings to calculate an average value for each asset and liability.
But these financial interests are not a one-way street: Goldman Sachs employees and its political action committee have contributed about $124,000, combined, to a dozen of the lawmakers who reported holdings in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research. This includes all money given during the 2010 election cycle and thus far in 2011.
So, not only do Boehner and Cantor get donations from Goldman Sachs, they are also stock holders. No wonder they want to get rid of the Volcker Rule. Looks like Paul Ryan is an investor also.
In the leadership category are names such as Boehner and Cantor, each of whom has an average $32,500 invested in Goldman.
Goldman Sachs’ employees, meanwhile, have also contributed heavily to Boehner and Cantor.
Boehner has received $29,500, and Cantor $48,000, from them since 2009, according to the Center’s research.
Other Goldman investors with this kind of power include two members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the debt supercommittee.
The first, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), reported $1,177 invested in Goldman in 2010, and, as minority whip, is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate.
And not only is Kyl a member of the supercommittee and party leadership, he also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which regulates Goldman Sachs and its peers on Wall Street.
Another one of Kyl’s colleagues on the supercommittee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is also a Goldman investor.
Upton had an average of $8,000 invested in the company in 2010, according to the Center’s research.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is another influential Goldman shareholder in Congress.
Ryan reported an average of $8,000 invested in Goldman and has received $5,800 from the company’s employees so far this year after receiving $10,000 from them during the 2010 cycle, according to the Center’s research.
One of Goldman Sachs’ most valuable congressional investors is Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), whose average of $550,000 in investments in the company is far and away the most in Congress.
Additionally Neugebauer sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees Wall Street and the securities and investment industry of which Goldman is a part.
That also helps explain the $9,500 Goldman Sachs employees have contributed to Neugebauer since January 2009 through the company’s political action committee.
Rep. Gary Peters (R-Mich.) is another Goldman Sachs investor on the Financial Services committee. He has an average of $8,000 invested and has received $4,500 from the company this year from its PAC.
There’s a substantial list of Republicans listed that I didn’t include in the list above.. Democrats holding GS stock include Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). The details are on a spreadsheet here.
Can you really believe that they’re acting in our best interest when their wealth is vested in stopping GS from doing suspect things like selling lemons to clients and placing side bets that the lemons lose? I sure don’t. The Volker Rule places trading restrictions on institutions like GS. It controls the types of transactions that GS can do in its proprietary trading like the example I just gave you. They settled fraud charges in the US with the SEC and are under investigation in the UK and some of Europe. You may recall the unit and testimony before congress. The US settlement came in 2010. That’s the same year that these holdings were found by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The FSA opened its investigation into the bank in April after the SEC charged Goldman with misleading investors in a complex mortgage-backed security known as Abacus. The SEC claimed that Goldman had failed to disclose that a hedge fund that was betting against the security had selected some of the mortgage loans included in the portfolio, costing investors as much as $1bn.
The largest fine handed down by the UK regulator came three months ago, when JPMorgan paid a £33.3m for failing to keep client money in separate accounts.
Goldman, the world’s best-known investment bank, has seen its reputation tarnished in recent months as questions continue to swirl over whether it favoured the interests of some clients at the expense of others during the financial crisis.
The bank’s business model is also under pressure amid volatile markets and regulatory reforms that have forced it to shut some of its highly profitable “proprietary” trading operations.
No wonder we don’t see perp walks. These folks have skin in GS. We are so f’d.
Okay, I am going to start this morning’s post with some humor, and end it with something solemn…I am in a melancholy mood. No surprise, right? I swear, the Obama job policy speculations are so depressing. (Yes, I am in complete agreement with the other Sky Dancers, I am not expecting anything Obama pitches will actually help the situation.)
Well, let’s get this party started…
Mike Luckovich has a new cartoon, this time he jokes about Mother Nature. Personally, I think Luckovich is one of the best political cartoonists around. You be the judge on this one:
Dakinikat wrote about this news out of the swamp, Boehner, Cantor Want to Meet With Obama Before Speech – Billy House – NationalJournal.com
She went with the Peanuts analogy of Lucy and the Football…I am going to take it a bit further…as you will see after this quote:
The two top House GOP leaders are asking President Obama to call a “bipartisan, bicameral” meeting with House and Senate leaders before his speech to Congress on Thursday to discuss cooperation on jobs legislation and other items to spur the economy.
In a letter dated Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., note their request comes amid reports that Obama intends to unveil his own “jobs” agenda.
They suggest there may be several potential areas for “common ground,” even as they complain that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has refused to allow many of the jobs-related measures passed by the House to come up for a Senate vote.
The two also reiterate in their letter that House Republicans have themselves already announced a legislative calendar for the fall with a heavy focus on the repeal of regulations, and that they will continue to push to reduce those that are “hampering job growth in our country.”
They write that they “appreciate” Obama’s announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards. But they say it is “critical” that such actions not stop there and hope that Obama, prior to his scheduled address to a joint session of the Senate and House on Thursday night, will “disclose the cost estimates” for what they say are 212 other regulatory actions still in the works by his administration.
I don’t know why, but reading about this possible meeting of the three stooges, before the Obama jobs speech makes me think of that scene in Naked Gun 2 and a half….The Blue Note. Where you see all those disaster pictures in frames along the wall, as the camera scans the depressed clientele.
I think that photograph of Dukakis needs to be updated with a photo of Obama… No word yet on if Obama will concede to a meeting with the Tangerine and his little buddy…and yes, I am conjuring up images of the Skipper and Gilligan.
To continue the train wreck, I mean this morning’s post, I give you this article from Scarecrow over at FDL: Pelosi’s Picks for Super Committee Embrace Tea-GOP Economics and Budget Gibberish | MyFDL
If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.
Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:
Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].
“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .
Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.
“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”
Where do they come up with these absurd notions?The answer is: from the White House, where the President told them and the American people that the debt deal would “create room” for doing some useful things. That’s beyond wrong, beyond stupid.
Dakinikat has written so many posts about how ridiculous these kinds of cuts are…so this next bit should not be a surprise to you… That these “Democrats” are buying into the Cantor Crap, you know, the Offsets bullshit.
So they have to cut back on other government spending or let the jobless remain jobless. Didn’t need that for wars, or for multiple tax cuts or this fiscal year’s budget; it’s a new thing. Even the simple notion that it makes sense to borrow at zero real interest rates now, spend it on whatever the country needs now, and pay it back/raise taxes later, seems to be beyond their understanding.
Even if Pelosi’s picks get their way, we’re likely to get the same results Congress and FDR achieved in 1937, when the federal government contracted and imposed a balanced budget on an economy still struggling to get out of the depression: they’ll rekindle a recession and put lots more people out of work.
Pelosi has greased the wheels for the jump onto the austerity bandwagon. Just like Obama has buttered us up for his next Republican-like jobs policy, to go with all the other Republican policies that this Democrat…cough…president has kept alive. But, back to the Scarecrow post…
Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,” so why not choose mindless austerians to punish the nation? But there’s nothing requiring elected officials to accept that ignorant belief, because it’s nuts. Daily headlines from Europe are virtually screaming how disastrous austerity is when nations are on the verge of financial collapse.
We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party. The age we live in demands just the opposite of the austerity delusions the Democratic leaders and the President have ignorantly, recklessly embraced. And come 2012, voters will have every reason to show them all what the phrase “you’re fired” means.
Next, I have a couple of World news links for you.
The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has suspended its transfer of detainees to Afghan prisons following allegations by the UN that prisoners are being tortured.
The allegations were leaked on Tuesday ahead of a UN report that claims prisoners have been beaten with rubber hoses, threatened with sexual assault and given electric shocks.
A NATO official said that transfers have been suspended pending an investigation by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).
The suspension affects detention centres run by the Afghan police and intelligence service in Herat, Khost, Lagman, Kapisa and Takhar.
Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told Al Jazeera that it shared its findings with the Afghan government, including the national directorate of security.
“We understand they are taking the findings very seriously and are proposing a series of remedial actions,” McNorton said.
“Our findings indicate that the mistreatment of detainees is not an institutional or government policy of the Government of Afghanistan.”
The article goes on to say that this can further complicate the inevitable withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
“The NATO nations are members of the convention against torture,” he said. “Article III requires that if they have reason to believe that a person if turned over to another government would be tortured, they’re not permitted to turn them over. So the decision that was taken today is exactly what is required of them.”
I guess we will hear more about this after the jobs speech is over and done with.
Barely a month after a teenager was terrorised by an intruder with a fake collar bomb, Sydney was the scene of another bomb drama yesterday, this time involving a man who locked himself in a barristers’ chambers with his daughter and a backpack he claimed contained explosives.
After an 11-hour stand-off, police stormed the building last night and arrested the man. His 12-year-daughter was said to be distressed but unharmed. With explosives experts still examining the backpack, it was not clear if the bomb threat was genuine.
Last month, an intruder broke into the home of a wealthy Sydney family and strapped what turned out to be a fake collar bomb to the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver. An Australian banker, Paul Peters, was arrested in Kentucky a fortnight later, and faces extradition.
Geez, what the hell is going on in this world?
I swear, people are acting crazy. Violence and desperation seems to be truly taking hold. Yesterday a man killed 3 people and wounded six in Nevada.
Which reminds me, talk about going “postal.” White House to Propose Plan to Help Postal Service – NYTimes.com
The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it would seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.
I guess the offset cut will have to come from somewhere, unless it is just another carrot Obama is dangling before us….
Mr. Berry said the Obama administration would push for legislation to allow a three-month delay in the $5.5 billion payment. But he stopped short of endorsing a far-reaching proposal, backed by the postal service, to allow the agency to claw back more than $50 billion that two independent actuaries have said the post office has overpaid into a major federal pension plan. Postal Service officials say such a move would go far to alleviate the agency’s financial problems.
Mr. Berry said the administration was studying the proposal, but not endorsing or opposing it at this point.
He said the administration would release a more comprehensive proposal in coming weeks “to ensure a sustainable future for the postal service,” one that would be part of the broader $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package that the President Obama has promised to send to Congress.
Oh, wait…Obama is pushing the Postal Problem on the Super Committee…so I guess the postal workers are up shit creek, and we all will have to find some other way to send those Mother’s Day and Christmas cards.
I want to end with this small article from Democracy Now. It is about Father Mychal Judge, the NYFD’s Cathoic chaplain, who was killed on September 11th, 2001. Amy Goodman: 9/11 Victim 0001: Father Mychal’s Message – Truthdig
The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.
Goodman goes on to discuss Father Mychal’s journal that was given by his twin sister to journalist Michael Daly. More particularly, the admission in those diaries.
Father Mychal was well known to the poor and afflicted of New York City and New Jersey. He helped the homeless, and people with HIV/AIDS. As a member of the Franciscan order, he would often wear the traditional brown robe and sandals. But there was a half-known secret about him: He was gay. In his private diaries, the revered Catholic priest wrote, “I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully.”
Brendan Fay is a longtime Irish-American gay activist who was a friend of Judge’s….[says] “He was one of the priests at Dignity New York, an organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. … He ministered to [us] during the AIDS crisis, when there were few priests available to our community.”
I remember a few seconds of the documentary film 9/11, by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Father Mychal is seen praying while you can hear the sound of jumpers as they fall on the plaza.
Many remember the iconic photo of Father Mychal being carried from the rubble of the WTC, taken by photographer, Shannon Stapleton. But when I think of Father Judge, the image from the film 9/11, his look of worry and his mouth moving in prayer is what comes to mind. I think it is fitting that Amy Goodwin ends her post with this quote from Brendan Fay.
“On 9/11, the one thing we can take from Mychal Judge is, in the midst of this hell and war and evil and violence, here is this man who directs us to another possible path as human beings: We can choose the path of compassion and nonviolence and reconciliation. Mychal Judge had a heart as big as New York. There was room for everybody. And I think that’s the lesson.”
That is all I have for you today, what are you reading and watching today? Anything good? Please be sure to share some links below…
I think it’s safe to say that no one likes paying taxes. However, every one likes roads without pot holes, functional national defense, public safety and justice systems, and modern infrastructure that supports commerce, travel, and trade. How can Republicans justify their just say no new taxes position when they themselves continually run up government spending for their own pet projects? Well, that’s where they’ve decided to lie and say that decreased taxes means more revenues. That’s also why our deficit has been spinning out of control since the Dubya Bush tax cuts. Unfortunately, they seem to want to continue this disingenuous game rather than tell the Grover Norquists in their base to take the delusion elsewhere.
Today, the last Republican walked away from VP Biden’s bipartisan task force to find a compromise solution to the budget. Again, the issue was the lack of Republican will to pay for anything and to stop paying for anything that the majority of the nation demands. This has gone beyond ridiculous to dangerous. Let me point you to the Bloomberg coverage and I’ll bold the important part.
President Barack Obama likely will step into the final stages of talks to break a deadlock over a plan to cut budget deficits, his spokesman said after two Republicans dropped out of talks led by Vice President Joe Biden.
The move caught Democrats by surprise and raised the prospect that the Biden-led talks could collapse over taxes. Republicans insist on major spending cuts, and no tax increases, before they will agree to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. The Treasury Department says the limit must be raised by Aug. 2 or the U.S. will risk defaulting on its obligations.
“It has always been the case that these talks would proceed to a point where the remaining areas of disagreement would be addressed by leaders and the president,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. He said the Biden talks “may or may not resume” and that he had nothing to announce on the next steps.
My guess is that Republicans want Obama to “step into the final stages” for several reasons. First, the President’s direct involvement in talks will allow them to take political advantage of any suggestions they perceive as worth exploiting. Second, every time Obama’s come to the bargaining table, he’s caved in or basically agreed to Republican demands. Obama agreed to extend the Dubya tax cuts to the richest of the rich violating his own promise and stepping way over his line in the sand. Obama also took every last Democratic policy out of Health Care Reform to the point there is virtually no difference between the 1990s plan American Heritage Institute plan first introduced by then Republican Senator John Chafee and later championed by Republican Senator Bob Dole. We don’t have Obamney Care. We have the old Dolecare. So, the Republicans have been fairly good at getting Republican policy passed without taking any of the blame. Why would they do any thing differently?
Cantor has the credibility with the Tea Party that Boehner lacks. But that’s why Cantor won’t cut the deal. The Tea Party-types support him because he’s the guy who won’t cut the deal. He can’t sign off on tax increases without losing his power base. But if he’s able to throw it back to Boehner, and Boehner cuts the deal, that’s all good for Cantor: Boehner becomes weaker and he becomes stronger. Which is why Boehner will also have trouble making this deal. It’ll mean he made the concessions that Cantor, the true conservative, didn’t. That’s not how he holds onto the gavel in this Republican Party.
One analysis of the House GOP right now is that there are two players in the GOP who can cut a budget deal: Eric Cantor and John Boehner (and, on some of the other budget issues, Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers). One of them is going to have to do it. Which means one of them is going to lose his job. The optimistic take is that what we’re seeing right now is a game of musical chairs over which one of them it’ll be.
But the pessimistic analysis is that if you had to write a plausible scenario for how America defaults on its debt, or at least seriously spooks the market, this is how it would start. After insisting on using the debt limit as leverage for a budget deal, the Republican leadership finds they can’t actually strike a deficit-reduction deal, but nor can they go back on their promise to vote against any increase in the debt limit that isn’t accompanied by a deficit-reduction deal. What follows is a lot of jockeying and fingerpointing, a short-term increase or two, and eventually, a market panic.
Cantor is putting personal power before country here, and in a very dangerous way.
ABC News explains that Senator Kyl has dropped out for similar reasons. None of the Republicans want to be the one’s to have signed the Read My Lips, No New Taxes Pledge, then sign on to new taxes.
A Senior Democratic aide says, “Cantor and Kyl just threw Boehner and McConnell under the bus. This move is an admission that there will be a need for revenues and Cantor and Kyl don’t want to be the ones to make that deal.”
I still think that the Republicans would rather go mano-y-mano with the President than nearly any other Democrat. The hapless Senator from Nebraska–Ben Nelson–is probably the only other spineless critter that would be somewhat attractive. The only difference is that he’s got no pull within the party.
In a joint statement with the chief Senate Republican negotiator, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, McConnell followed up by portraying Obama as a champion of higher taxes at the expense of “a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. He can’t have both. But we need to hear from him.”
Cantor had sent mixed signals earlier this week, first saying that he wanted greater involvement by the president and then insisting that he remained committed to the talks led by Vice President Joe Biden. His decision now appeared to catch some in the GOP leadership, including his fellow negotiator Kyl, by surprise. And it came just as Cantor has been on the defensive in the talks over Democratic demands for greater cuts from defense spending.
Adding to the intrigue was the almost Washington novel orchestration of the announcement. The Wall Street Journal was called in to get the news Thursday morning — the editorial pages of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper are famous for their anti-tax orthodoxy. And Cantor made his move just hours after a Wednesday night meeting at the White House between his sometimes rival, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Obama, who are slated to take over the talks once the Biden negotiations have run their course.
I still can’t figure out how the Republicans can be so successful at painting the President as being something completely at odds with reality but they continue to do so successfully. My guess is they will get the President to step in and they will get what they want. Then, look out. The incredibly low taxes will continue to do nothing but drain the Treasury. The incredibly high spending cuts will do nothing but tank the economy. The dithering around the debt ceiling increase will drive market interest rates up. In short, the current situation will deteriorate. Then, some one completely bat shit crazy like Michelle Bachmann will continue to spin the alternate reality and the opposite of truth and facts. To be even short, we are going to be incredibly f’d.
This feels a lot like watching a high school graduate do an appendectomy on your best friend. The people that know what they’re doing have left the building a long time ago.