Scroll for updates…Dems’ demagoguery rejected in Senate…
Today, the Democrat-controlled Senate will indulge in poisonous, nationally-televised class warfare demagoguery masquerading as a tax “debate.”
The pretext is the fight over whether current tax rates should be extended for ALL working Americans, or whether the Dems will succeed in punishing America’s wealth producers who earn more than $250,000 a year. There will be two Kabuki votes — one on extending the current tax rates for middle-class workers who make less than $250k, and another that raises the threshold to $1 million per year.
Everyone on Capitol Hill agrees the proposals are dead in the water. But the liberal Senate blowhards and crapweasels want their grandstanding moment in the sun to parallel the House soak-the-rich theater that took place Thursday. We’ll see which Senate Democrat tops House Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley’s gone-to-the-dogs screed comparing all people who earn over $250,000 a year to…convicted tax evader Leona Helmsley and her Maltese heir:
While the class warfare Dems take to the floor to bash “the rich,” here’s a helpful public service reminder of who their “rich” are:
The 50 wealthiest lawmakers were worth almost $1.4 billion in 2009, about $85.1 million more than 12 months earlier, according to The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tops the list for the second year in a row. His minimum net worth was $188.6 million at the end of 2009, up by more than $20 million from 2008, according to his financial disclosure form.
…There were a few other new faces in the Top 50, including Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), who received an inheritance after his late father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), died in 2009. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) also made the list.
Twenty-seven Democrats along with 23 Republicans make up the 50 richest in Congress; 30 House members and 20 senators are on the list.
…Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), with a net worth of $160.1 million, is the second-richest member of Congress under The Hill’s formula, even though his wealth declined by more than $4 million in 2009.
He is followed by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who saw her net wealth leap to $152.3 million, a jump of more than $40 million from a year ago.
The rest of the top 10 are Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), McCaul, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
(Speaking of Kerry, has he paid his yacht taxes yet?)
The Wall Street gamblers that Obama and his wife carped about on the campaign trail were shoveling money to his campaign hand over fist. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, hedge funds and private equity firms donated $2,992,456 to the Obama campaign in the 2008 cycle. Obama, erstwhile critic of the campaign finance practice known as “bundling,” happily accepted more than $200,000 in bundled contributions from billionaire hedge-fund manager James Torrey, more than $100,000 in bundled contributions from billionaire hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones and more than $50,000 in bundled contributions from billionaire hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin, chief executive officer of Citadel Investment Group in Chicago.
No fewer than 100 Obama bundlers are investment CEOs and brokers: nearly two dozen work for financial giants such as Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, or Citigroup.
By comparison, multi-house dweller and Evil Republican Rich Guy John McCain received $1,699,525 from the industry—that’s more than forty percent less than Obama took.
Now, the hedge fund managers, statist bankers, corporate lobbyists, and lax regulators Obama incessantly cursed are the same ones whom he has appointed to “fix” the “system and culture” they created—and from which they all profited greatly.
“We can’t afford eight more years or four more years or one more year of the failed economic policies that George Bush has put in place,” Obama proclaimed on the campaign trail. But just like George Bush, Barack Obama is relying on Goldman Sachs/Wall Street power brokers to engineer massive government interventions to “rescue” failing businesses with the tax dollars of ordinary Americans. Obama had assailed John McCain for being “in cahoots” with CEOs and hedge fund managers. How are the myriad “public-private partnerships” Obama has embraced between government and corporate interests any different?
…In cahoots with Citicorp
By late November 2008, taxpayers came to expect midnight bailouts from feckless feds “in cahoots”—to borrow our president’s words—with Big Business. At 1 a.m. Eastern on November 24, 2008, Citicorp got its share of the bailout pie: $306 billion in government backing and $20 billion from the TARP banking bailout rammed through Congress a month earlier. The Citi “rescue” was the result of intense collaboration between Citigroup board member and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; then Bush Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.; and then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York/Paulson-Rubin protégé/soon-to-be Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
“[I]s it too much to ask Washington to develop a policy that isn’t crafted in a scramble of private phone calls?” an exasperated Wall Street Journal editorial board wondered the next day.
In January 2009, the Obama administration flexed its faux populist muscle in demanding that Citigroup drop its plans to spend $50 million for a luxury French jet. The same month Rubin resigned from the company—walking away from the wreckage with $150 million after 10 years at the company. Behind the scenes, more Citi men were sitting in the catbird’s seat. They included Jacob Lew, former chief financial officer of Citigroup Alternative Investments, who was appointed Obama’s No. 2 at the Department of State and will oversee interagency economic policy matters, and Michael Froman, another former CFO in the same division, who is now deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. Obama and the bonus-bashers refrained from demagoguing Lew’s $1.1 million-plus salary and bonus and Froman’s $7.4 million-plus salary and 2008 year-end bonus of $2.25 million.
Both Lew and Froman now work closely with Wall Street crony and former Robert Rubin co-worker Larry Summers at the National Economic Council. National Journal connected more Rubin/Citi dots: “Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag, and Summers’ deputy, Jason Furman, both served as directors of the Hamilton Project, a Brookings Institution initiative the produces research and policy positions on economic issues, where Rubin was a founding member of the advisory council. If that isn’t enough, Froman served as Rubin’s chief of staff during Rubin’s stint as Secretary of Treasury.” Three months after the Bush-Obama team engineered the first Citi bailout in November 2008, the Obama administration announced it was raising its stake in the failing company from 8 percent to 38 percent.
“We need a President who will look out for the interests of hardworking families, not just their big campaign donors and corporate allies,” candidate Barack Obama insisted in the halcyon days of his campaign. Still waiting. He promised Hope, but his Wall Street friends and backers got the Change—billions and billions of dollars worth of change.
The Subprime Gang
Former Fannie Mae corruptocrats Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines may not have official positions with the administration, but other subprime crisis-connected beneficiaries do.
…Obama’s close hometown crony, campaign finance chief, and senior adviser Penny Pritzker was head of Superior Bank of Chicago, a subprime specialist that went bust in 2001, leaving more than 1,400 people stripped of their savings after bank officials falsified profit reports.
Pritzer’s lawyer at O’Melveny & Myers, Tom Donilon, is now deputy national security adviser. He earned just shy of $4 million representing her and other high-profile meltdown clients including, yep, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs…
David Axelrod, the president’s top political advisor, reported in his form that he will get $3 million over the next five years from the sale of his two media consulting firms, ASK Public Strategies, LLC and AKP&D Message and Media. In addition, Mr. Axelrod took a salary of $896,776 last year from AKP&D and reported $651,914 in partnership income from the two companies.
In total, Mr. Axelrod reported assets valued between $6.9 million and $9.5 million. Mr. Axelrod’s clients were mostly political campaigns, including those of Rep. Patrick Kennedy, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. He also reported receiving money from large corporations such as AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and the nuclear energy company Exelon Corp…
…Valerie Jarrett, assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs, lists a $300,000 salary and $550,000 in deferred compensation from The Habitat Executive Services, Inc., in Chicago.
Ms. Jarrett also disclosed payments of more than $346,000 for service on boards of directors that reflect her political ties, and work in Chicago real estate and community development.
She was paid $76,000 last year for service as a director of Navigant Consulting, Inc. a Chicago-based global consulting group with governmental clients. She received $146,600 for service on the board of USG Corporation, a building materials manufacturer, and $58,000 to serve on the board of Rreef American REIT II, a real estate investment trust based in San Francisco. The Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., paid her $34,444 to serve on its board.
…Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, disclosed earnings of between $1 million and $5 million from lobbying firm Downey McGrath Group, Inc., where her husband, Thomas Downey, is a principal. She states $450,000 in “member distribution” income, plus retirement and other benefits from The Albright Group, a lobbying firm whose principals include former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Democrat class-warfare demagogues believe that wealthy liberals who don’t want to pay higher taxes deserve high public office, while everyone else with means deserves public excoriation.
Can’t wait ’til more of them are thrown out of office.
Update: As expected, both of the Dems’ screw-the-wealth-producers’ proposals went down in the Senate:
Senate Republicans blocked legislation Saturday to let upper-income tax cuts expire on Jan. 1, a showdown scripted by Democrats eager to showcase GOP lawmakers as defenders of millionaires.
“Do we want to extend those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires at a time of huge deficits. I would argue vociferously we shouldn’t,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shortly before the votes.
Republicans countered that no taxes should be raised at a time the economy is recovering from a recession. “It is the most astounding theory I have ever seen, raise taxes to create jobs,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.