I’ve just started slogging through the 451-page version of the bailout bill. My first thought was, wow from 3 pages to 451! That’s a lot of ink.
Honestly, I’m having trouble reading through all this and skipped through some of the introductory pages. By the time I got to page 16, I discovered the makeup of the Oversight Board. It includes the following 5 characters:
- The Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Ben Bernanke)
- The Secretary of the Treasury (Henry Paulson)
- The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (James B. Lockhart III)
- The Chairman of the SEC (Christopher Cox, the guy McCain wants to fire)
- The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Steve Preston)
Does this inspire confidence? Not for me. Bernanke, Cox, and Paulson are clearly part of the problem, not the solution. Preston is relatively new in his position, but he is a former investment banker with Lehman Brothers. You should also know that Preston replaced Alphonso Jackson, a Bush loyalist, who was forced to resign for multiple wrongdoings.
As for Lockhart, the FHFA is a new agency created just last summer, in part to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This isn’t so much oversight as it is the foxes guarding the hen house. They couldn’t find at least three independent outsiders to put on this board?
We are truly being played as suckers. I’ll continue digging to see if it gets better or worse. Any bets?
UPDATE: I’m up to page 70 now where I found Sec. 125 which creates a Congressional Oversight Panel. The panel would be comprised of five members as follows:
- 1 person appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives
- 1 person appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives
- 1 person appointed by the Majority Leader of the Senate
- 1 person appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate
- 1 person appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the Senate, after consulting with the Minority Leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate
and will apparently provide regular reports to congress on the current state of the financial markets and the regulatory system.
2nd UPDATE: The insertion of the increase in FDIC insurance from $100,000 to $250,000 begins on page 91. I found it interesting that this is a temporary increase that would expire on December 31, 2009. If you are one of the poor souls who might have more than $250,000 $100,000 in one institution at the end of 2009, you’d better get a calendar right now and put a big red X on December 31 so you remember to divvy up those accounts or risk losing a great deal of money.
Starting on page 115 you’ll find all the other “sweeteners” added to this bill to encourage its passage. The list is mind boggling. It includes extensions of renewable energy credits, the creation of some new clean renewable energy bonds, something to do with a special rule to implement FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and state electric restructuring policy, the expansion and modification of investment credits for coal gasification, a temporary increase in the coal excise tax to help fund a trust account for black lung disease, the creation of a carbon audit of the tax code, an increase in tax credits for biodiesel and renewable diesel, an extension and modification of alternative fuel credit, the creation of a tax credit for the purchase of plug-in electric vehicles, a modification to the energy efficiency credits available for appliances produced after 2007, an extension to the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) Relief bill, extensions of other IRS deductions such as state and and local sales taxes, qualified tuition, expenses for school teachers, and tax-free distributions from IRA accounts to charitable institutions, etc. I’m now at page 275 and I need a break. More later.
3rd UPDATE: Starting on page 270 you’ll find the beginning of the business tax provisions including things like extensions of the research credit, a new markets tax credit, the extensions of some cost recoveries for improvements to restaurants and retail spaces, something that has to do with the amount of excise tax paid to bring rum into this country from Puerto Rico (!), an extension of the economic development credit for American Samoa, an extension of the mine rescue team training credit, an Indian employment credit, a provision for accelerated depreciation for business property on Indian reservations, a 7-year cost recovery period for motorsports racing track facilities, an extension of the work opportunity tax credit for Hurricane Katrina employees, tax incentives for investment in the District of Columbia, an extension and modification of duty suspension on wool products, some provisions related to film and television productions, exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children (I’m serious – it’s on page 300), income averaging for amounts received in connection with the Exxon Valdez litigation, and a modification on the penalties on tax return preparers who understate taxpayers liability.
Starting on page 310 you will find the addition of the “Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenci Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.” By election day I might need to take advantage of this myself.
The mental health portion goes through page 344 where you’ll find something for rural schools followed by something for states that contain federal lands.
Skip ahead to page 394 and you can read about the “Heartland Disaster Tax Relief of 2008” which will provide temporary tax relief for areas damaged by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding during 2008.
And there’s a bunch of other junk in there including something about people who commute on their bicycles.
The only thing I couldn’t find was something for dwarfs. Otherwise I think the senate covered all its bases.
So when your representative votes for this bill do you think he/she was voting to bail out Wall Street or for that provision to exempt excise taxes on wooden arrows?