The Blame Game

20090807-181851-pic-80916081_t756It’s amazing to me that so many people can get so worked up about one mid level bureaucrat in the White House who is a repentant communist and says he accidentally signed a 9-11 truther petition thinking it was just a request for more information on what the White House knew prior to those terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, we have a Secretary Treasury whose taken gifts from banks, underpaid his taxes by more money than I personally see in years, and seems completely captured by Wall Street and unable to draft decent regulation containing their gambling addiction. Then, there is the fact that I continually write about the same people in Wall Street and the Investment Banking community cooking up death derivatives and going about their merry way, subsidized, unpunished, and totally unrepentant over causing the worst financial crisis since 1929.

I just have to scream: WTF is wrong with you people? Why are we punishing some one for his venture into social activism while completely ignoring people that are making off with our national treasure and the lifeblood of our mixed market economy? These are folks that drove your house prices down, ruined your pension plans and your 401k, and are taking bailouts by the billions. Where’s the sense of balance? How does this resemble justice?

Here’s a REALLY good example from today’s NY Times. Written by Gretchen Morgensen, it’s called “Fair Game-They Left Fannie Mae, but we got the Legal Bills.” It’s all about the government having to bail out Fannie Mae because of the extremely bad management practices, and yes, illegal accounting practices that stuck us with a huge mess and an even bigger bill. Morgensen interviews Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, who is one congress critter doing his oversight responsibility while others wallow in the political contributions from their regulatees.

With all the turmoil of the financial crisis, you may have forgotten about the book-cooking that went on at Fannie Mae. Government inquiries found that between 1998 and 2004, senior executives at Fannie manipulated its results to hit earnings targets and generate $115 million in bonus compensation. Fannie had to restate its financial results by $6.3 billion.

Almost two years later, in 2006, Fannie’s regulator concluded an investigation of the accounting with a scathing report. “The conduct of Mr. Raines, chief financial officer J. Timothy Howard, and other members of the inner circle of senior executives at Fannie Mae was inconsistent with the values of responsibility, accountability, and integrity,” it said.

That year, the government sued Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Leanne Spencer, Fannie’s former controller, seeking $100 million in fines and $115 million in restitution from bonuses the government contended were not earned. Without admitting wrongdoing, Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer paid $31.4 million in 2008 to settle the litigation.

When these top executives left Fannie, the company was obligated to cover the legal costs associated with shareholder suits brought against them in the wake of the accounting scandal.

Now those costs are ours. Between Sept. 6, 2008, and July 21, we taxpayers spent $2.43 million to defend Mr. Raines, $1.35 million for Mr. Howard, and $2.52 million to defend Ms. Spencer.

“I cannot see the justification of people who led these organizations into insolvency getting a free ride,” Mr. Grayson said. “It goes right to the heart of what people find most disturbing in this situation — the absolute lack of justice.”

What’s the difference between getting justice and getting retribution? Well, in terms of missing it by light years, compare the treatment between social activist Van Jones and practitioners of accounting malpractice like Raines, Howard and Spencer (or tax dodgers who get gifts from Wall Street Bankers like our SOT). It’s the difference between a slap on the wrist and a slap across the face.

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