Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CEO Bailout: Congress Extracts Their Pound of Flesh

Today, 11 FEB 2009, Congress is interrogating the Banking Industry. It is being broadcast live on CNBC and is quite telling of the lack of quality of politicians we have sent to Washington.

The CEO Bailout (TARP) should never have happened in the manner it did. It was a key point in assessing the Campaign to send a Common Sense Citizen to represent the 6th District. Representative Gordon voted for the bill and there was little choice in who to replace him with. The only other person on the ballot in 2008 had received virtually no press in the media.

Things to consider in this are that Banks did not have opportunity to "opt out" of the hostile takeover by Government. I opposed the CEO Bailout privately from the beginning, from the point we discovered the details the House of Representatives first voted on. The Senate only made it worse.

The US Congress decided to force banks to hand over Preferred Shares of their Corporations and take money in return. Preferrred Shares pay dividends but afford no voting rights, no decision making capacity.

Today, one Congressman (I didn't recognize him) demanded that the Common Shareholders of the banks be paid NO dividends until TARP money is returned. Common Shareholders are Americans that have invested their money in the the Corporations. They are the ones taking the risks, the ones that have paid for voting rights, and who have been hurt most in the banking industry downturn.

When Congress demands shareholders be short changed by a lack of dividends, they are removing the money that Retirees count on for their month to month income.

For Congress to chastise any organization for operating in the red, for spending more than they make is pure hypocrisy. The US Government has operated on Debt since Andrew Jackson was President. And while not all debt is bad debt, this Congress and its predecessor have implemented and continue to implement the greatest increase in the history of Our Nation.

The same Congressmen chastising the Banking Industry for a few bad quarters have voted for two quarters of deficits larger than any year EVER in our history. The same Congressmen that demanded banks loan money to unqualified individuals in the 90's and early days of this Century are now demanding to know why more money has not been lent and why those earlier loans went bust.

In the interests of full disclosure, I own common stock in a bank, Regions Financial and previously owned stock in Bank of America. My opinions as a shareholder differ from my opinions as a taxpayer. As a taxpayer, I'm appalled that I was forced into debt by Congress so they could create an Investment firm. As a shareholder, I expect the CEO's salary to reflect his success or failure. I believe in the Lee Iacocca model: if you lose money, you don't get paid as the CEO.

I sold my BoA stock because they were going down the wrong road in my opinion. I neither had as much as did the Clintons, nor did I time the market as perfectly as did they.

As a shareholder, I want banks to act appropriately, to make decisions that will make money and to do so morally. If a corporation is a good corporate citizen, it will make more money. If it treats its employees, its customers, and its suppliers right, it will be successful. Greedy companies will lose in the long run.

I don't want the US Congress running corporations. Their job is to set the rules by which companies run, not to run them. The US Congress has an abysmal record of running things, particularly when it comes to money.

But today, Congress is teaching their Corporate Constituents a lesson: all things come with a price. The banks may not have had opportunity to reject Federal money, but that money came with strings and a bear hug while politicians put that long dagger in the backs of the Banking System.

And Congress has really broke one off in the Banking Industry. They first forced the money (borrowed in your name) on the banks. Then they set penalties if it is returned before three years is up. Now they are demanding billions in dividends be given the Government while at the same time demanding that Roths, IRA's, and Investors be shortchanged of their dividends. Like any other bully, major shareholder, the US Congress is demanding their way.

Unfortunately, Congress is full of lawyers, not businessmen. This is not the time to be selling jets. It's a time to be buying jets from those hurting for cash. Just as the best deals are from those in dire straights by those that have planned for them, so too is now a good time to be getting good deals on jets, construction equipment, and cars.

Meanwhile, the Senate has announced the finalization of the Debt Stimulus bill. I'm proud to say our two Senators voted against it. The Debt Stimulus bill adds another record amount of debt to our Nation. More debt than either of the two quarters of debt, each of which would have been an annual record on its own. I doubt Our Representative, a whipped "Blue Dog Democrat" will vote against it this time, given his record of voting for it previously.

TNTaylor©2009, TennesseeTaylor, all rights reserved.

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