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Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Perigrinations

 I remain convinced that this idea of retroactive tax retribution is not only bogus but also potentially damaging to US taxpayers. Bogus because both parties are operating in their special interests rather than calmly calculating what potential failures could arise from this retroactive tax. The demorats jumped quickly, I think, to pretend that they are responsive to the populist outrage. The repuklicans seemed to have voluntarily sacrificed some of their own, but their main thrust is a partisan maneuver to NOT let the demorats claim a fix for the bonus problem and to keep Geithner in focus as an embarrassment to the President. This silly tax will prove damaging to the tax payers because the owners of the contracts may well challenge the tax in courts, and if they win, the court expenses will have to be picked up by the government, your grandkids and mine. I think Geithner chose wisely in assuming the negative legal ramifications of denying the contracts outweighed the downside to paying them. Of course it seems greedy, is greedy, to claim those bonuses; however, they were not performance bonuses, the contracts being drafted to retain knowledgeable employees until their assigned “mess” at AIG could be successfully solved. Who better to unwind the credit default mess than the very folks who designed them? Once their assigned unraveling was done, the employees could leave and were due the bonus for their work. (This idea was lost on the house committee chair, Jankorski who was under the impression that the bonuses were performance based. When Mr. Liddy informed the panel he had communicated his plans to pay the retention bonuses to the Federal Reserve well before they were paid, Jankorski, seeking more mouth time, appeared miffed that Liddy had not communicated with treasury or Jankorski’s office. Liddy was going to get the wrath from congressional mouths no matter how he had run his job. If more citizens were able to observe the utter incompetence and complete stupidity of our national leaders, there would be a public outrage for a return of congressional salaries. Maybe those clown conventions called hearings should, by law, take place after 6 PM when most are home from work and in a foul mood.) By focusing on .00001 percent of the problems we face, we lose, as congress wants, focus on the real culprits, congress and the treasury who failed in their responsibility to make sure the investment and banking industries did not create spurious investment vehicles. Our government failed us; they should pay back the millions in bonuses by taking wage reductions or putting the tax on themselves.
 BTW, axing Mr. Liddy would be a horrendous mistake since he is performing the unwinding of AIG for us. He made a tough call and the media, congress, and we second guessed him all the way to a hearing that few watched. We can’t treat in sordid ways folks who step up patriotically to help,or we face the possibility that no one will step up at all.
 I have absolutely no problem with President Obama appearing on Leno. Of course, some think he should have stayed home and worried about the economy. I have no problem with that opinion either. I do have a problem with the republican mouth who said the President should have stayed in DC to stay on top of the problem but who said McCain should not have come to DC during the campaign when the candidate wanted to head “hone” to help work on the TARP. Obviously that republican hasn’t heard of telephones, lap tops, Blackberries, or staff. I would guess Obama was “out of touch” physically for only the time he sat on that couch next to Leno. I wish everyone would just quit picking at minutia and fix the problems we have. Hell, fix something instead of breaking it. Fix it now, congress, and then go away.
 I had several emails from Delawareans yesterday concerning Markell’s cuts in state wages and benefits. One friend noted that Markell proved that he was a business man in that he applied the cuts at 8 and 2 percents across the board, a classic first solution of business to fix financial problems. I do agree that cutting payrolls is a tough call and necessary. I disagree with a flat 8 percent because I think it will hurt the folks at the bottom of the payrolls more than it will the ones who are making the highest salaries. Additionally, a potential danger in cutting teacher pay is that Delaware might see an exodus of teachers to NJ and PA which pay more anyway. The teachers who are vested deeply in the pension plan will of course be stuck with the cuts and may not have a choice but to hang in there, not good for morale in a business bankrupt of morale already. Furthermore, Markell’s parade around the state to seek advice was a charade; he had planned a cut in wages and his forums were an expense and a political pretense. I am a proponent of a DE sales tax, minimal to keep it considerably below competing states’ sales’ taxes. I think a 3 percent sales tax on non-food and medical products would benefit more than an 8 percent cut that may well disproportionately affect DE workers. I am sure there are more good ideas out there for reducing Delaware’s budget.
 I await an announcement that the federal government is slicing its payroll and increasing its benefit-cost to the federal employees. Can’t wait to see congress do the same. I also hang around waiting for the hinges to the gates of Hell to cool off.
 You know who is absolutely wetting his pants in gleeful bliss? Christopher Cox, former SEC chair who got paid while Wall Street and banks stole the country. Can we get him back or tax, retroactively, him for failing to do his job?
 A tip of my hat to former President Bush refusing to criticize the sitting President’s plans. In this he is much classier than Dick Cheney, the former invisible vice president. Can we do a retroactive, invisibility tax.

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