Did you know that the Obama administration owns stock in beleaguered financial giant Citigroup NOT the taxpayers?
You might have gotten that impression from a Washington Post article published Saturday.
Take a look at the second paragraph of David Cho's piece on speculation that there's an imminent stock transaction about to transpire involving Citigroup and the federal government (h/t NBer armyfool1):
Overshadowed in the ObamaCare shenanigans the past few weeks are provisions weaved into the Democratic health bill that would require all federal student loans to originate with the government - the largest overhaul in decades.
On the morning after the House passed the legislation, CNN Newsroom's Kyra Phillips did dedicate just thirty-four seconds to the government take-over of the student loan program.
"The measure also reaches beyond health care to education. Another one of President Obama's top priorities - it will offer new help to needy college students," Phillips stated.
The segment - tagged "Help for College Students" by the CNN Newsroom - promoted all the alleged benefits to students and families.
"It will actually expand direct-lending from the federal government; students would not have to pay fees to the banks that serve as the middleman; the White House says the expanded program will save the government $61 billion over ten years; and much of that savings will be funneled back into Pell grants - the increase will be pretty modest though - from $5,500 now to $5,700 in 2017," Phillips said.
The liberal media's favorite targets - Wall Street "fat cats" - have endured a firestorm of outrage and attack over bonuses since the financial meltdown. As some, like CNBC contributor Rick Santelli pointed out however, part of the screaming is the result of it is Obama and the White House whipping up political outrage.
Now we'll have a chance to see if it's also selective outrage.
Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling uncovered embarrassing and questionable bonuses being received by those charged with keeping an eye on banks - government regulators. But who watches the watchers?
Bolling told FNC's "Happening Now" that even as the economy has struggled, the government was handing out millions of dollars in bonuses to workers - and not even for a job well done.
On CNBC's March 15 "Squawk Box," co-host Joe Kernen raised this point - the Journal with its more pro-Wall Street point of view and the Times with a liberal pro-Democratic Party one.
"You - I like the way you highlighted the Journal's take, ‘Ohh, this thing is ahh, much worse,' but The New York Times - ‘consensus-building,'" Kernen said. "But The New York Times is talking about consensus-building within the Democratic Party, I think, right? I mean, normally that's who they're speaking to, isn't it?"
"He dug into the idiocy and negligence that produced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression," Steve Kroft opened a segment of the March 14 CBS "60 Minutes," featuring author Michael Lewis' latest work - "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine."
If Lewis "dug into the idiocy and negligence," he did so selectively - or that's what viewers could conclude from the long "60 Minutes" report, which concerned itself with how "some of Wall Street's smartest minds managed to destroy $1.75 trillion of wealth in the sub-prime mortgage markets." Somehow, in a 24-minute report about the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, nobody ever said where all the bad loans originated.
Lewis told Kroft that the financial crisis was "a story of mass delusion."
"How can they not look at the numbers?" Kroft asked. "How can Wall Street be selling all these, buying all of these mortgages and repackaging them and not realizing they are not very good mortgages?"
NBC's "Today" gave backhanded praise to Bank of America (BofA) on March 11 because of its decision to stop charging overdraft fees for debit-card transactions.
"This is clearly an effort by Bank of America to repair its battered image," senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers said. "But it's also a meaningful step that will save consumers money and keep families from spending more than they have."
The NBC report maintained the media theme that such fees are "abusive" by including Leslie Parrish of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) who said, "We highly commend Bank of America for getting rid of this abusive practice." CRL is a liberal group funded by far-left wingers like George Soros and Herb and Marion Sandler, according to ActivistCash.
While Myers acknowledged that BofA was "getting ahead" of "new federal rules," she didn't warn viewers about the negative implications of that legislation.
"Ah, the sound of angry white guys wafting its way through the airwaves," Moore said. "Obviously that was a pivotal moment for that, but if you notice what he's railing against is he's blaming the whole mortgage crisis on the little guy who took out a mortgage he shouldn't have taken out, living beyond his means, having a home with too many bathrooms, when in fact - as my movie points out - the FBI of all people, have stated clearly through their own investigation that 80 percent of this mortgage crisis that we've gone through has been caused by the banks and lending institutions, by the fraud committed by the banks and the lending institutions - not by the person who's living beyond their means."
Back on Christmas Eve of 2009, Obama's Treasury Dept. said it would lift the limits on what the federal government could provide in "emergency aid" to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - without seeking Congressional permission.
Very few reporters noticed, except for The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb who reported the story on Christmas Day and CNBC CME Group reporter and tea party inspiration Rick Santelli, who later pleaded for the public to take notice. With that occurrence in mind, Santelli scoffed at Sen. Chris Dodd's, D-Conn., legislative proposal of financial system reform that did not include reforms on both Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).
"You know, I can't believe, first of all - you said, may not be included. They are not going to be included," Santelli said on "Fast Money" March 12. "And I think to put a moniker of reform on something that doesn't include Freddie and Fannie is very disingenuous. And I think that to pass something - what I heard Mr. Dodd say, Sen. Dodd, was, you know, it's the 101st senator. In other words, you know, we'll pass anything we have to show that we're doing something, no matter if it's the right thing or not, you know, I'm not buying that again."
It's been proven time and again in over two hundred years of recorded American history, but some people still don't get it - the government is not the most efficient spender of money.
On CNBC's March 4 "Squawk Box," in the midst of reporting jobless claims and productivity data, the network's senior economics reporter Steve Liesman offered the suggestion that since some banks were increasing their stock dividend, more lending might be on the way. That could be a sign the economy is coming around, but "Squawk Box" co-host warned it could also mean banks want to pay out dividends before the taxes went up on them:
LIESMAN: Isn't right before the banks start to lend, they're going to increase their dividends first. That's the way they're most likely - KERNEN: They better increase their dividends because when the dividend tax goes back up - when does that go back up? WILBUR ROSS (Chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co LLC): Next year. KERNEN: Next year, after taxes, they won't have the same after-tax return. If you like the wealth effect of stocks rising, it would be nice not to have to just match your after-tax returns --
Oliver Stone's latest attack on American capitalism - "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" is finally hitting theaters April 2010, twenty-three years after its predecessor. According to Michael Lewis, who interviewed the moviemaker for his latest Vanity Fair piece, Stone's biggest problem with the sequel was making a movie based on helplessly diabolical bankers, actually watchable.
Lewis wrote that Stone - an ardent left-wing ideologue, friendly acquaintance to Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, a moral relativist concerning Hitler and Stalin, and director of "W" and "Platoon" - felt an obligation to reverse the societal damage and unintended consequences of the first installment.
"As a vehicle of change ... the movie was a catastrophe," Lewis wrote. It apparently inspired, rather than deterred, a generation of young men to enter the field and become the next Gordon Gekko (the "diabolical money manager" played by Michael Douglas).
In a segment on the banking industry on CBS's Sunday Morning, fill-in anchor Anthony Mason cited the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" and wondered: "Who would you say is today's equivalent of the movie's villain, the dastardly Mister Potter?" His answer: "If you ask the Huffington Post's web mistress Arianna Huffington, it's these guys." Footage rolled of big bank CEOs.
Mason touted Huffington's class warfare against the banks: "Are you angry at banks that are supposedly too big to fail....Well, an internet provocateur has some advice....Huffington has launched a campaign that drives the point home with a sledge hammer....The 'Move Your Money' campaign urges customers to move their money out of the big banks and into smaller community oriented ones."
A clip was played of Huffington arguing: "JP Morgan, Citi, Bank of America, Wells Fargo. These banks that received taxpayer money...have not really done their job of helping small businesses at lending." At no point in the segment did Mason refer to Huffington as liberal or point out the government's role in creating the financial crisis.
After the closing bell on Friday, just in time for everyone to stop paying close attention, mortgage behemoth and ward of the state Fannie Mae ("Fan") released its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results. Its press release (PDF) informs us that its $74.4 billion loss in 2009 (inclusive of dividends paid to the government) followed a $58.8 billion loss in 2008.
Oh, by the way, Fan also told us yesterday that it will need another $15.3 billion in cash by the end of March. That would bring the total of Uncle Sam's combined Fan-Fred cash infusions to $126 billion.
These outrageous results are made even more maddening by Zibel's kid-glove treatment of the problems at the two entities in paragraphs 8 through 10 of his report:
It's been almost three weeks since Sarah Palin addressed the Tea Party convention. More than two weeks since Andrea Mitchell did her taunting little imitation of Palin's hand notes. But there was Norah O'Donnell today, still milking the moment to mock Palin.
O'Donnell worked her hand-note reference into a discussion on today's Morning Joe of Scott Brown's vote for the "jobs bill."
Later, on a different subject, after criticizing socialism, Norah wryly observed "I sound like I'm on another network." See Bonus Coverage, below.
On Thursday's Morning Joe on MSNBC, CNBC's Maria Bartiromo appeared as a guest and recounted some of President Obama's anti-business, anti-wealthy stands as she informed host Joe Scarborough and the panel why some see Obama as anti-business despite his support of bailouts on Wall Street. Responding to Scarborough's declaration that "there has been a redistribution of wealth since Barack Obama has ... been President, it’s the largest redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind, but it’s gone from main street to Wall Street. If I were a Wall Street banker, I’d love this guy," Bartiromo responded:
No, I mean, I don’t see it that way. ... I think that at the end of the day, there has been a feeling out there that he’s anti-business, that there are higher taxes on business and they’re coming, even higher taxes are coming on business and on the wealthiest individuals and the highest earners, so that hasn’t changed.
Just one day after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the U.S. wouldn't lose its "top-notch" credit rating, one CNBC guest said that ‘"all governments" will default - it's only a matter of time.
When asked by "Power Lunch" co-anchor Sue Herera if he would buy Greek debt, Marc Faber said: "No, I'm not interested in government or sovereign debts because I think that all governments will eventually default, including the U.S."
Shocked, Herera replied, "What! Whoa, whoa, whoa." Co-anchor Dennis Kneale asked for clarification, "All governments?"
"Mhmm. All governments," Faber, editor of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, explained. "Some like Singapore that have basically no government debt and have huge reserves ... in general the problem is the emerging economies today are financially much sounder in terms of debt to GDP than the developed world, including the U.S., Western Europe, the U.K. and so forth.
There are at least two schools of thought in economics. One of them - Keynesian economics - suggests that consumption is the most important element and therefore spending is the way to restore a faltering economy.
This is the theory that's been adopted by the spendthrift Obama administration and often the news media that have argued in favor of moregovernment and personal spending.
But according to former treasury secretary Henry (Hank) Paulson, Jr. overspending was a "root cause" of the financial crisis.
Paulson told CNN's Christine Romans on Feb. 10, "One of the root causes of the crisis were the structural economic imbalances that really result from the proclivity of not just our nation, but Americans to save too little, to invest too little, to borrow to much, to spend too much."
On Monday’s Morning Joe show on MSNBC, during a discussion of President Obama’s recent suggestions that he would be willing to talk with Republicans about health care reform, co-host Mika Brzezinski recounted Obama’s initial refusal to include the GOP, and claimed that Republicans "ARE the ones, you could argue, who wrecked the economy," which set off co-host Joe Scarborough. After Brzezinski claimed that "The last administration put us in the position that we are in," Scarborough denounced Democrats for pushing Republicans to support lending more money to people who could not pay back their mortgages.
He also brought up campaign contributions President Obama received from mortgage companies. Scarborough: "And, by the way, while I was being critical of the Republican party for allowing people to get mortgages they couldn't afford to repay, Democrats were calling Republicans racists. Barney Frank calling them racists for not giving even more mortgages they couldn't afford to pay. ... Barack Obama, the guy that got more money from Fannie and Freddie executives than anybody else on Capitol Hill doesn't exactly have clean hands here."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, February 8, Morning Joe, on MSNBC, from about 8:09 a.m., with critical portions in bold:
Rick Santelli is the star of perhaps the most politically consequential online video, viral to the extreme, of the past year (right). On February 19, 2009 he let loose on the Obama administration's economic policies on CNBC's "Squawk Box", calling for a "tea party", and inspiring millions of Americans to speak out against what he and many others see as collectivist economics policies pursued by the President and Congress..
“That was spontaneous, absolutely,” he said in an interview with the Daily Caller. “It was also from the heart, and I had no idea of the direction it would take or the response it would get.”
Almost a year later, Santelli is widely seen as the godfather of a large political coalition that, according to some polls, rivals the two major parties in popularity. The Tea Party protesters staged 48 simultaneous protests on tax day last year, a rally on the lawn of the Capitol with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of attendees, and will hold its own convention this week, with Sarah Palin giving the keynote address.
As the old cliché goes, you don't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but according to Rick Santelli, that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration is doing terms of financial regulation and fiscal discipline.
On CNBC's Feb. 2 broadcast of "Fast Money," host Melissa Lee proposed that taxing the wealthy is not the path to "economic prosperity and fiscal stability." Santelli, the network's CME Group floor reporter, agreed.
"Well, you're right," Santelli said. "But I also think you're going to see when the Bush tax cuts expire, a lot of middle class write-offs and exemptions and various tax benefits will also fall by the wayside. Not the least of which to mention, I have so many friends that work for the financial industry. And they've learned from the government, even if you only make $25,000 to $125,000 a year, one firm says if you leave to go into another job or whatever, anything outside retirement, they're going to keep 10-to-20 percent of the stock they took from you following the government's directives."
Update - 2/4, 11:46 AM | Lachlan Markay: CBS News President Sean McManus has denied that the network will cut Couric's pay. Details below.
Katie Couric may be getting a taste of her own populist medicine. When the Dow hit 10,000 last October, she (and other network news personalities) used the opportunity to bemoan massive payments to Wall Street bankers. But now the populist sentiment has turned on her. She faces dramatic pay cuts as CBS News downsizes.
Couric, shown in a, er, file photo at right, "makes enough to pay 200 news reporters $75,000 a year! It's complete insanity," one CBS News insider told the Drudge Report. "We report with great enthusiasm how much bankers are making, how it is out of step with reality during a recession. Well look at Katie!"
The employee was referring to Couric's roughly $14 million annual salary, the highest in network news. That salary may be cut dramatically in the face of massive layoffs at CBS News branches in Washington, San Francisco, Miami, London, Los Angeles and Moscow.
It was initially thought the election of President Barack Obama was just going to hit your pocketbook in the form of higher taxes. But if the past several days are any indication, the president has found another way to hit it - by attacking your stock portfolio.
On CNBC's Jan. 25 "Mad Money," host Jim Cramer advised his viewers to be aware of this and to strategically position their stock portfolio with an eye on Obama and Washington's expanded role in the private economy.
"In the last week the world of investing has been turned upside down by Washington," Cramer said. "We can no longer afford to look at stocks the same way we did before the GOP upset in Massachusetts. With the Obama administration now on an anti-shareholder rampage, we now have to factor in political risk when we evaluate different sectors. And the risk may be higher than anytime since Jimmy Carter, who truly hated profits, especially if they were big. In the midst of earnings season, suddenly politics has become just as important as revenue growth or market share gains or earnings' beats. So we need a new prism for valuing stocks."
Is the luster finally wearing off the love affair between the White House press corps and President Barack Obama? It is, if CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid's analysis of President Barack Obama's latest Wall Street proposals is anything to go by.
"Well, you know, it's really the same as it's all been," Reid said. "That there's some unease about both of them, but the President has been satisfied with the jobs they've done. Behind the scenes, they both still have a lot of control. They lost this battle to Volcker, but now they're on board on this new plan for Wall Street, although it really sounds more like politics than a real plan because it's hard to believe it would get through."
It's amazing how Bernard Condon and Tim Paradis of the Associated Press managed to hang the same label on totally opposite political positions in their report on the situation in the stock market late this afternoon.
According to the AP pair, Scott Brown's U.S. Senate win in Massachusetts was due to a "wave of populism," at the same time as President Obama is supposedly planning to use "populist attacks" to save his party's congressional majority in the fall elections. One of those employments of "populism" has to be wrong.
Additionally, they write that it's Scott Brown's type of populism that caused investors to sell heavily in the middle of last week, but that it's Barack Obama's type of populism that caused it to plunge even further during its remainder.
Look at the bright side: As you'll see, the wire service at least got the headline right.
Rush Limbaugh is so reviled by the left, that even when he agrees with liberals and issues facts supporting their arguments, they criticize him and demand an apology.
The latest such group to deride Limbaugh for supposedly offensive comments that they themselves have supported is the Anti-Defamation League. The ADL has called on Limbaugh to apologize for suggesting that the Obama Administration's anti-banker populism has troubling anti-Semitic undertones. He did not suggest that Obama is an anti-Semite, nor that is policies specifically single out or target Jews. He did suggest that Jews who voted for Obama may be feeling "buyer's remorse" now that the administration is using language that has so often--historically--been used to demean and discriminate against the Jewish community.
Here is the quote in question: "To some people, banker is a code word for Jewish; and guess who Obama is assaulting? He's assaulting bankers. He's assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's - if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there."
The news media have often taken President Barack Obama's side against banks, portraying bankers as the villains. But that was not the case on "American Morning" Jan. 22.
Business correspondent Christine Romans surprisingly blamed the previous day's stock market slide on "tough new rules" proposed by Obama the same day. According to CNN, Obama wants to limit the size of banks, separate commercial and investment banks, implement trading restrictions and "curb risk-taking."
"That's why the Dow is down 213 points," Romans concluded before supplying the perspective from Wall Street:
"But there's a feeling among many who work on Wall Street, many people who analyze and study Wall Street that this might be going a little bit too far," Romans said. "And remember, it might not do anything to help the banks start lending more, which is the whole problem."
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
But according to "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, efforts to spin this in a positive way are futile. Wallace appeared on the Fox Business Network's Jan. 21 "Imus in the Morning" program to explain their efforts to alter the news coverage to a favorable tone in the wake of this news is not the proper course of action.
"I think it means a big deal and I have to laugh, you know, somebody was saying yesterday, there's some events that are just un-spinable," Wallace said. "They're just too big, too dramatic, too obvious - you can't spin them and yet the White House clearly is trying to spin this."
"These bank bonuses, I would say, are a sin of Biblical proportions," Wallis said. "But to pick on the banks alone misses the point. It's a symptom, I think of a real erosion of societal values because new maxims have taken us over - ‘greed is good,' ‘it's all about me and I want it now.'"
Last week, in his "analysis" of Barack Obama's proposed "bank responsibility fee," the Associated Press's Jim Kuhnhenn got one important thing right and two others very wrong.
The part he got right was describing the proposed fee as a "tax." The first thing he got wrong was identifying the proposed move as a legitimate form of "populism." The second is his claim that the idea is "straight out of 'It's a Wonderful Life,'" the classic Christmas movie.
Here are Kuhnhenn's first five paragraphs:
It's not just about bad banking.
President Barack Obama's biting criticism of big banks frames the problem as a struggle between jobless, suffering Americans and banks making big profits and paying "obscene" bonuses.
It's populism straight out of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," and it aims to score political points in the midst of a weak economic recovery that is fueling public doubts about the president's own economic policies.