The “Troubled Asset Relief Program” — the bank bailout called “TARP” — is ripe for corruption, and the taxpayers’ interests aren’t being protected according to a new report by a special inspector.
Senate conservatives, led by Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced yesterday a series of amendments to fix many of the problems.
Leading off a press conference yesterday, DeMint said the TARP program “…is not working and the deal for taxpayers is getting worse every day. Sixteen of the nineteen largest recipients of TARP funds made fewer loans in February than they did in October.
“Last week we saw about a million Americans all over the country came out to “Tea Party” rallies. They’re fed up. They’ve had enough of government spending and bailouts and the increased debt that we’re creating.
“Then we hear the startling report from the special inspector yesterday that revealed that the TARP, the way it’s set up, is ripe for fraud and abuse and that the public-private partnerships outlined by President Obama greatly increase the risk to taxpayers.”
The answer offered by DeMint and fellow conservative Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), and David Vitter (R-La.) is a series of amendments that the Senate will vote on today.
They range from DeMint’s — which would prevent the government from further nationalizing banks by buying bank common stock and thus becoming a bank’s owner — to Vitter’s, which would allow banks to repay TARP loans as soon as they are able. Serial tax evader and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has refused repayments by several large regional banks in order to maintain government control of them.
All four amendments would be substantial improvements to TARP. Good luck with the amendments, gentlemen.
Pence and Hillary Mix It Up
Sparks flew at yesterday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing starring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As she walked into the hearing room, Clinton ignored the three Code Pinko protesters who stood up chanting anti-war slogans and raising placards saying, “Don’t Raze the Villages” in protest of the Obama war surge in Afghanistan. When the Pinkos were threatened with arrest, they sat down and the hearing got underway.
Normally this initial hearing would be a review of the administration budget for State Department foreign operations appropriations for the coming year. Committee chair Howard Berman (D-Calif.) informed the packed room that this hearing would forego that duty since it was the start of a new administration. The Democrat committee members gushed (two Democrats actually admitted they couldn’t stop gushing) over Clinton, telling her how darned proud they were of her.
The Republican side of the aisle took the opportunity to question Clinton about policies they could expect from an Obama State Department and the most recent faux pas by this administration.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) asked Clinton about the selective release by the President of previously top-secret legal opinions on interrogation methods — which the media has dubbed torture memos — and if she was “in favor of releasing the documents that Dick Cheney was requesting be released.”
Clinton responded, “It won’t surprise you that I don’t consider him a particularly reliable source of information.”
Rohrabacher shot back, “Madame Secretary, I asked you a specific question. Dick Cheney has asked for specific documents to be unclassified. We’re not asking for your opinion of Dick Cheney but about those documents. You want to maintain your credibility with us. What is your position on the release of those documents?”
Clinton said she would support whatever decision the President made and believed “we should get to the bottom of the entire matter.”
The Secretary of State was repeatedly asked about the behavior of the President and the American delegation toward the brutal Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. At one point Clinton told the committee, “I must say, [Chavez] is very adept at knowing where the cameras are. I have found it somewhat amusing, to be honest.”
House Republican Conference chairman Mike Pence began his round of questioning by informing Clinton, “Madam Secretary, I am not amused.”
Pence pointed out that as a presidential candidate, Clinton made it clear that she thought it naïve to meet with leaders of North Korea, Venezuela or Cuba in the first year and without pre-conditions. Then candidate Clinton had said, “I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes.”
Pence asked, “My question, Madam Secretary, is in light of your previously stated insight, isn’t it true that having the President of the United States be seen on the world stage warmly greeting a virulent, anti-American socialist dictator that, intentionally or unintentionally, that our President was used for propaganda purposes, to borrow the phrase that you used?”
Clinton responded, “I remember virulent anti-American communist dictators threatening our country on a regular basis, and I remember our Presidents meeting with them, shaking their hands, and negotiating. They did not do so without conditions or without strong principles, but they did so.” Clinton went on to explain Obama won the election and her position flip-flop, saying, “I’m going to support my President, because he is committed to doing whatever he can in the time he is given to serve to make this a better, safer, more secure world.”
After his round of questions, I spoke with Pence about Clinton’s comparison of historical meetings with the Soviets and whether there were any pre-conditions for the Obama-Chavez rendezvous.
“I don’t think Ronald Reagan ever went to Reykjavik without conditions,” Pence said. “He didn’t go for a walk in Red Square without conditions. What were the conditions that this administration laid on the table for Venezuela prior to the President’s willingness to be seen repeatedly on camera with this virulent, anti-American socialist dictator? I’m not aware of them.”
Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) queried Clinton about statements she made while Secretary of State in support of Margaret Sanger, a virulent racist, eugenicist and founder of Planned Parenthood. When accepting an award from the abortion provider group in March, Clinton said that she was “in awe of Margaret Sanger” and that “Sanger’s life and leadership was one of the most transformational in the entire history of the human race.”
“Sanger’s work both here and abroad was not done,” Clinton said at the ceremony.
“Madam Secretary, Sanger’s legacy was indeed transformational, but not for the better if one happens to be poor, disenfranchised, weak, disabled, a person of color, an unborn child, or among the many so-called undesirables Sanger would exclude and exterminate from the human race,” Smith said. “Sanger’s prolific writings dripped with contempt for those she considers to be unfit to live. … Sanger once said, ‘Eugenics is the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems.’”
Smith asked Clinton, “As part of Sanger’s work that remains undone, my question: is the Obama administration seeking in any way to weaken or overturn pro-life laws and policies in African and Latin American countries, either directly or through multilateral organizations, including and especially the United Nations, African Union, or the OAS, or by way of funding NGOs like Planned Parenthood?”
Clinton, of course, sidestepped the question of Sanger’s history to inform Smith that the Obama administration would be exporting abortion with vigor worldwide.
“We are now an administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care,” Clinton stated.
After the hearing, I spoke with Rep. Smith about the $50 million given by the Obama administration to the U.N. Population Fund, an organization that works directly with China on their one-child policy.
“I asked her to look into why they gave the U.N. Population Fund a $50 million check in contravention of the Kemp-Kasten non-coercion language which says we will not fund any organization which supports or co-manages a coercive population control program. That is the operative language. The U.N. Population fund for 30 years has had a hand-in-glove relationship with the Chinese government. They have promoted the forced abortion policy even in areas where they enforce the one child per couple policy, and the only way you get that is coercion.”
Kemp-Kasten was first created in 1985, and every year since it has been included as a rider in the State Foreign Operations Appropriation bill to bar the use of American taxpayer dollars for forced abortions and other forms of coercive population control such as forced sterilization.