Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gregory, Geithner, and McCain

from "Meet The Press"

MR. GREGORY: And to that point, are you this morning providing a guarantee to those investors that the rules of the games will not change? If they make money in these transactions, that Congress won't try to go get their gains and change the rules?

And to that point, are you this morning providing a guarantee to those investors that the rules of the games will not change? If they make money in these transactions, that Congress won't try to go get their gains and change the rules?

SEC'Y GEITHNER: We have to do that or they won't come. And it's a simple proposition. Again, for these, all these programs to work, all these programs to work...

MR. GREGORY: So the rules of this, of this program won't change?

SEC'Y GEITHNER: No, they cannot change.

I don't know what to think about this passage. Yes. Rules cannot be changed mid-stream so David Gregory's concern is valid a valid one but I really wonder where his sympathies lie. Note the bold-faced portions:

SEC'Y GEITHNER: David, how could people not be angry with this? With the challenges we're facing now as a country in part because of risks our financial sector took on, how could people not be angry? But our obligation and our deep obligation responsibility is, again, to try to fix this problem so that the trauma in the financial system is not causing more damage to the lives and fortunes of Americans and businesses across the country. That's the most important thing we do. Everything we do has to be judged by the test of whether we're getting the economy going again and recover...

MR. GREGORY: Well, and that's all fair. But if you were so outraged, why didn't you say that then? Instead, you said, "I was outraged and we should try to get this money back." The government knew about these bonuses several months ago.

SEC'Y GEITHNER: Look, we had no good choices in that context, David. These were contracts written before the government got involved, before Ed Liddy became CEO of AIG.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

SEC'Y GEITHNER: We're a nation of laws. We cannot get the economy going again if there's an expectation the government's going to come in and break contracts. Just not a tenable thing to do. But what we did is--and we had no good choices, David--was when, when I was informed about the details of those provisions, we moved very quickly to ask that they--those that could be renegotiated get renegotiated, the government get those--or reduce those payments going forward. And we're going to use the authority we have to go recoup those payments where we have a good legal basis for doing that. And you've already--we're seeing a lot of those payments returned. But the important thing is going forward that we establish clear conditions, clear rules of the game, prevent this kind of compensation practice in the future from coming back and putting our system at risk. And we want to make sure that where the government is putting up assistance for these, for these banks, that that assistance is going to get lending going again...


SEC'Y GEITHNER: ...not to enrich the people that helped get us in this mess.

MR. GREGORY: But, but my question is, is this: If you thought this was so outrageous at the time, why didn't you put this on the agenda then? And if you felt that you didn't have any good choices, that you really couldn't dissolve those contracts, then when it came to light, why didn't you and the president stand up and say, "This populist anger is understandable, but you have to understand it has to be put in context and it has to stop"?

SEC'Y GEITHNER: Well, that--but that's what the president did say. And again, we're trying to make sure that people understand...

MR. GREGORY: The president said, "We shouldn't govern in anger," and then he said, "Yes, I'm angry, too. I don't want to quell the anger." You said this was outrageous.


MR. GREGORY: Did anybody stand up and say, "Let's put this in context. We didn't have good choices. This is not worth getting so upset about"?

I swear, something is wrong with him. He didn't even remind Geitner of the pressure Congress put on Chrysler and General Motors to renegotiate contracts there before they got a bail out.

Then Gregory failed to correct the record or at the very least, challenge SEnator John McCain's (R-Arizona) assertion that Obama would not talk with the Republicans:

"There was never any serious negotiations over the stimulus package, over the omnibus spending bill. Now there doesn't seem to be any on the budget. Those are all party line votes. There's not the negotiations. And I--look, I'll take blame on our side for maybe not being more forthcoming, but really the president does beat the drum and sets the pace. And so far there has not been not an instance where they sat down across the table and said, "OK, what do you want? What are you demanding here? What do you think is best?" And including some of those concerns as we come--as we move forward with really large, encompassing packages about the future of this country."

Did not Obama invite the Republicans to the White House to talk about the stimulus package?

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