A need-to-know basis

  • Follow Editorials

Trivia question: What is the greatest money mistake ever made? The not-so-trivial answer: Congress' no-strings-attached multibillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of the nation's largest financial institutions -- with the emphasis being on no strings attached.

The bailout itself was a necessary effort to rescue the industry -- and the faltering economy -- by restoring credit liquidity. However, no sooner was the first half of the $700 billion doled out than reports surfaced that distressed banks' top executives were going on expensive junkets, flying around the country on corporate jets and handing out lucrative bonuses to themselves and their corporate cronies.

Despite the hammering Congress gave auto executives for their use of private jets, not a word of criticism was leveled at financial firms' CEOs for doing the same thing. Yet an Associated Press review of Security and Exchange Commission filings and Federal Aviation Administration records show that six financial companies that received billions in bailout dollars still maintain fleets of jets to fly executives not only on company business -- which in some instances might be justified as a money saver -- but also on personal and vacation trips, which in no way can be justified.

Such abuse of taxpayers' money is unconscionable. But now the story gets even worse.

Secrecy surrounds use of the aid money. When AP asked four questions of 21 banks that received at least $1 billion on how they were using taxpayers' money, not one could or would answer.

The questions were simple enough: How much of the money has been spent? What was it spent on? How much have you saved? And what's the plan for spending the rest? Many of the banks wouldn't even discuss these issues, while others stonewalled or gave meaningless answers.

Said Thomas Kelly, spokesman for J.P. Morgan & Co., recipient of $25 billion: "We've lent some of it. We've not lent some of it. We're not giving any accounting of 'Here's how we're doing it.'"

Not giving any accounting? The arrogance is appalling -- taking taxpayers' money and then refusing to be accountable for it.

Who are these guys accountable to, anyway?

Apparently no one, because in their haste, lawmakers made no accountability demands on the industry -- didn't even ask how the billions would be spent, although the banks knew they were ostensibly being given the money to provide credit liquidity, not to hoard it, buy other banks with it, or spend it on junkets.

Elizabeth Warren is Congress' watchdog overseeing banks' use of rescue money, but she has been given no clout to require answers or to enforce her will. She just seems to be there for show.

Yes, big banks' secrecy is inexcusable, but blame Congress for letting it happen. Private companies receiving taxpayer dollars cannot get out of line if Congress puts them on a short leash.

Handing out taxpayer dollars without demanding accountability must never be allowed to happen again.

Comments (13) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
patriciathomas
44
Points
patriciathomas 12/26/08 - 08:23 am
0
0
To blame congress, the voters

To blame congress, the voters would have to take responsibility for who is in congress. That won't be done. Must be Bush's fault. Life goes on.

factchecker
0
Points
factchecker 12/26/08 - 08:34 am
0
0
PT - Didn't you know?

PT - Didn't you know? Anything that happens through the rest of history will be Bush's fault.

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 12/26/08 - 09:06 am
0
0
Want to make them

Want to make them accountable? Learn who they are and don't do business with them. Smaller banks will greatly appreciate your business.

donnymack
1
Points
donnymack 12/26/08 - 09:30 am
0
0
Bush is the real Messiah,He

Bush is the real Messiah,He did no wrong in his dictatorship. Give me a break,why is it only the Dems who screw up? I believe that Repukes don't know how or refuse to take responsibility for anything that their party does.

jeelmy
0
Points
jeelmy 12/26/08 - 10:03 am
0
0
The elites of banking, big

The elites of banking, big corporations, and big media (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News) have been dividing us for a very long time. If we were to really check this out we'd find that the problem is with both of the 2 main parties. Our elected, and the elites they invite in as advisers are the problem; it is a conflict of interest to have as Treasury Secretary one who is with big banking or Wall Street. It is most difficult to realize that our hopes on the 2 main parties we keep electing into office will have the taxpayers at heart. They have not for over a generation. This issue is really that we the tax payers have kept to the notion that our choice of party will save us, when history points to that they are protecting the elites instead. Both parties! We will never come together to educate one another if we keep to this doomed mode of action. We need to listen to one another and keep our political bias out of the equation in order to understand what has been happening for so long. Both of the 2 main parties have demonstrated that they care little for our preferences; they can simply extort the money from us, and for 60 years both have.

jeelmy
0
Points
jeelmy 12/26/08 - 10:05 am
0
0
Read William Greider.

Read William Greider.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 12/26/08 - 10:07 am
0
0
With the approval rating of

With the approval rating of congress at less than 9%, soon that rating will also be in a deficit at -0%. Then, in less than two years from now, most of them will be reelected by an apathetic public to do it all over again.

onehotdog
0
Points
onehotdog 12/26/08 - 10:59 am
0
0
They should have given the

They should have given the tax payers the money. This would have brought the economy back up. We would have all went out and spent some of the money they gave us.

Bizarro
13
Points
Bizarro 12/26/08 - 11:51 am
0
0
These actions will be the

These actions will be the seed of discontent that will surface as violence and revolution. When the public realizes how the govt and certain institutions has scammed them and milked them dry with this bail out, then there will be revolution. Nothing wrong with our form of govt or how it is orgnanized but it is just filled with corrupt people. D.C. and all in it will likely be burned to the ground so we can reinstall our govt like it is suppose to be. Wouldn't that be kuHL. Well maybe there will be a civil war and then the govt be reestablished. Now wouldn't that be KUhl.

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 12/26/08 - 12:06 pm
0
0
Today, I am moving both

Today, I am moving both personal and business banking from Bank of America to Queensborough. I am sick of supporting businesses that don't reside locally, I am sick of patronizing a bank that does NOTHING to help those who need it, even when they got billions of OUR tax $$. Join me folks: support our local financial institutions. Help our own.

jack
12
Points
jack 12/26/08 - 01:12 pm
0
0
Donnymack, you are as full of

Donnymack, you are as full of [filtered word] as usual. We Conservatives beat hell out of Bush and the Republican Congress daily. You have a short or selective memory which is typical of DIMocRATS..

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 12/26/08 - 02:37 pm
0
0
Definitely the fault of Bush

Definitely the fault of Bush AND BOTH Congresses. Bush didn't want the paper trail, I believe, and Congress, Dems and Repubs, were either too stupid or complicit with this scam. The bailout truly is beginning to look as if it may be bigger than Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scam.The Democrat party has an opportunity, and it had better step up to the plate, otherwise, as bizarro says, there could be a huge public uprising. I have a friend who suggeststhat this is giving the Fed the opportunity to flood the market with newly printed dollars, then when it's devalued to the point of being worthless, announce that it's switching to the Amero. now, I thought it was dead, anyone else know?

alf
0
Points
alf 12/26/08 - 06:05 pm
0
0
I blame it on the big W.

I blame it on the big W. Only 25 days, 13 hours, 55 minutes and 5 seconds before we actually have some leadership....but who's counting?

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Lumpkin Road car crash results in serious injuries

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is investigating an accident which seriously injured one person Tuesday evening on the 2300 block of Lumpkin Road.
Search Augusta jobs