November 19, 2009

From Democracy Now, Robert Sheer weighs in on how difficult it is to cover Wall Street during a discussion about Wall Street's massive profits and bonuses while the economy for most Americans continues to deteriorate. The one bright spot here is that tonight the House Financial Services Committee approved Ron Paul and Alan Grayson's amendment to audit the Fed.

Robert Sheer's latest article at Truthdig is Who Are You and What Have You Done With the Community Organizer We Elected President?

AMY GOODMAN: What about this new government report that’s found Goldman Sachs could have suffered dramatic losses if the federal government hadn’t intervened to bail out AIG, American International Group, the report by the special inspector general for the government bailout program raising doubts about Goldman’s previous claims that it was hedged against potential AIG losses?

ROBERT SCHEER: Yes, well, first of all, this has been—

AMY GOODMAN: What does all that mean?

ROBERT SCHEER: This is the big lie from Goldman, is that, you know, we didn’t—look, look what happened. Lehman was Goldman’s competitor, was allowed to go belly up, OK? The Secretary of the Treasury was a former head of Goldman Sachs. I don’t want to get into conspiracy theories here, but Robert Rubin was a head of Goldman Sachs, OK? And Paulson was a head of Goldman Sachs. They decide not to—you know, and Rubin was involved in these discussions, Lawrence Summers, Paulson and so forth. Timothy Geithner, who is our Secretary of Treasury, was head of the New York Fed for five years while all this was going on. So they say, “Let Lehman go, you know, down the tubes,” which is great for Goldman Sachs, because now you have basically two investment houses that are getting all the business. “But on the other hand, we’ll put all this money into AIG,” which was backing these junkie derivatives, these mysterious packages, “and it will be a pass through. People won’t notice, because we’re giving it to AIG.” $180 billion of our taxpayer money, we taxpayers get nothing in return, AIG is still in the toilet, but Goldman got its money. You know, it got upwards of $20 billion, that they don’t have to pay back. They make a big thing about “We’re going to pay back some of the TARP funds” and everything. And by the way, they were allowed to become a bank. No hearings, no judicial proceedings and so forth. You know, the very thing Lehman was asking for—“Let us become a bank so we can get some of this TARP funds and everything”—that was granted to Goldman Sachs.

You know, Ron Paul, by the way, who has been trying to go after the Fed, and he has an accountability piece of legislation that the Democrats have gutted, and said, “Let’s have an audit of the Fed. Let’s find out what does the Federal Reserve do. What are the deals they made? Where did the money go?” We don’t have that. And the inspector general of the Treasury Department, the inspector general, you know, Elizabeth Warren, all of these people have pointed—from the Congressional Oversight Panel—all of these people point out, “We don’t have the facts. We don’t know where the trillions are going.” We know trillions have been committed. We know all of these huge pools—Bank of America’s $300 billion of toxic assets have been backed up. But there’s no accountability.

I have covered the CIA, I’ve covered national security, and I’ve covered banking. I did it for the LA Times in one way or another for thirty years, OK? It is more difficult to cover Wall Street, in terms of secrecy and classification and their protection, than it is to cover the CIA and the Pentagon. That much I’ll tell you. You know, you get greater claim on the truth covering the Pentagon, as I did in my last book, than I’m having in my current book called The Great American Stick-Up that Nation Books is publishing. And, you know, these people go, “No, it’s proprietary. It’s our business. It has nothing to do with you.” And that goes for the Fed, which is supposed to be a government agency.

And so, for Chris Dodd to say, “No, we have to take power away from the Fed. We have to create a new independent agency to supervise these too big to fail institutions to make sure that they don’t go belly up and we taxpayers pay for them again,” he’s absolutely right. And people watching this, if there’s one thing they should demand from the Obama administration, is get behind the Dodd bill on taking power from the Fed and creating a new publicly accountable agency. That’s absolutely critical. Without that, we’re not going to get out of this mess, and we’re not going to prevent a future one.

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