1/29/09

Awesome Bill Moyer's Interview About Obama and the Bailout


Bill Moyers




I just finished listening to this fantastic podcast of a Bill Moyers interview around the issue of Obama and the Bailout with two very smart fellows and have decided to post excepts of some of my favorite parts. One of the speakers is historian Thomas Frank who wrote the best-seller "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and "The Wrecking Crew." He is a columnist with the "Wall Street Journal".  The other fellow is David Sirota spent years in electoral politics and now is in political journalism. His column appears in newspapers across the country and he's written two best selling books, "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising".
Excepts: 

David Sirota

DAVID SIROTA: We've gotten all of the bad stuff and none of the good stuff of nationalization. Nationalization in other countries means that the government has control over the banks with that money that they put into the bank.....What we have done is simply handed the money over with no mandate to actually change the behavior, change the structure of the banks, change the management of the banks. 
******

BILL MOYERS: Do either of you see any toughness in Obama as he approaches this issue?

DAVID SIROTA: Unfortunately, I think the actions that he has taken have been ones that are much more towards the status quo.....He has put in place into his administration people who have been either involved in the current bailout — Tim Geithner — or people who have really advocated for lots of the same free market fundamentalism that this bailout really epitomizes.  

*******

Thomas Frank

BILL MOYERS: Tom, you even wrote a column the other day with the headline that said, in the "Wall Street Journal", "Obama should act like he won." Is he doing that?

THOMAS FRANK: You know, it's a funny thing because he — I love Obama. I voted for him many times. He was my state senator back in Chicago. I've, you know, followed this guy's career for ages. I think he's the greatest thing in the world. I don't understand why a man that just won a sweeping victory over the other party — you know, won a landslide in the electoral college and the other party, you know, is crawling off with its tail between its legs, you know, horribly discredited, everything they believe in ruins.

And he goes to that party and says, you know — he wanted a majority of the Republican votes in the Senate for his stimulus package as well as, of course, the Democrats. And I read that, I was, like, well, why? You just gave them a whooping that they're not going to forget in a long time, you know? You are in charge.

Let them, you know, why go to them? Let them come to you. And I think — you know what I think is going to happen is that he's going to discover very quickly what Bill Clinton discovered but then Bill Clinton never — you know, that these guys are implacable, you know? That they are not going to come around, that they don't have his best interests at heart. And they don't even have the nation's best interests at heart. I'm sorry. I'm very partisan.

********


BILL MOYERS: Well we'll find out what this means as President Obama confronts one of his first big challenges — the bankers and the bailout.

Usually it's the bandits robbing the banks. But now it's getting hard to tell the bankers from the bandits. Where have they stashed the loot — that 350 billion dollars of our money that the Bush Administration lavished on them to jump-start our failing economy?

For a story in last Sunday's "New York Times", largely overlooked in all the pre-inaugural hoopla, reporter Mike Mcintire reviewed investor presentations and conference calls to see how bankers talk when they think the rest of us aren't listening.

This from Boston Private Wealth Management, a healthy bank that was handed $154 million:

"With that capital in hand [...] we'll be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves once this recession is sorted out."

Once this recession is sorted out? Those funds are supposed to generate loans for people and small businesses in trouble — not to help banks ride out the recession on a cushion of cash.

Then there's this bit of Simon Legree mustache-twirling from the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans. They've received 300 million dollars in bailout boodle:

"Make more loans?" he asked. "We're not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans."

I'm not making this up — Flushing Financial crowed that it was newly flush enough to use the bailout bucks to raise the ante and buy new companies:

"We can get $70 million in capital," their CEO said. "So, I would say the price of poker, so to speak, has gone up." And, so to speak, he's playing with our chips!

REP. JESSE JACKSON, JR.:The joint resolution is passed.

You can download the entire interview on Itunes, or Bill Moyer's site. 

Would love to hear your comments on this interview. 

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