Pay Czar Cuts Financial Salaries

The White House Pay Czar late yesterday set pay levels of private citizens in the financial industry at companies receiving TARP funding.  In most instances, executive compensation packages would be cut in half while in one instance the pay cut is 90 percent — which will virtually guarantee a brain drain at companies where taxpayers are on the hook for billions of dollars.

The seven companies are AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors Co., GMAC Inc., Chrysler Group LLC and Chrysler Financial.

Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, denounced the unprecedented government intrusion into private industry and the fundamental changes to our free market system.

“Where does this inane government intervention end?” Price asked. “This move, along with the original decision to bailout these companies, contradicts the fundamental principles that have provided us unparalleled prosperity. When the government can create powers out of thin air and set arbitrary pay standards for private citizens, we have told the world that politicians now drive the American economy, not people and markets.”

“This issue strikes at a fundamental question of the role of government,” Price continued.  “While history and principle have long proven that private markets are where prices are most efficiently set, this administration has decided that there is no question which bureaucrats cannot answer.”

“Executives who violate the trust of their shareholders and make reckless decisions should face the consequences of their actions,” Price said.  “Yet the unprecedented bailouts and interventions into private companies that we have witnessed over the last year have removed all consequences for putting short-term gain over long-term stability. Rather than perpetuating political control over the economy, we must restore the free market forces that keep companies honest.”

“This action today should concern every single American, as the administration moves ever further down a very slippery slope,” Price concluded.  “While it is bailed out firms today, it could be any industry that falls out of political favor next. Our focus should be on removing the claws of the federal government and taxpayer dollars from these private companies, not settling in for the long haul. We cannot restore the robust economic system we seek until we remember that markets, not government, are what hold our economy together.”

Intelligence Vice Chairman Slams White House on Afghanistan

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, yesterday ratcheted up the pressure on President Obama for his disastrous indecision over strategy in Afghanistan.  Bond gave a blistering floor speech, perfectly framing the issues, taking the administration to task for playing politics at the expense of our troops and the stability of the region.

Bond gets to the very heart of the destruction of American credibility by a seemingly uninterested administration that, by all appearances, either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the consequences of their inaction.

From the speech:

“Amidst this indecision, the Afghan people, our NATO, ISAF and regional allies, and our own troops wait.  The Afghans wait to hear if the United States will continue to stand beside them in spite of the growing threats of insurgent violence and resurgent Taliban control.  Our allies wait to see if they were wrong to put trust and confidence in U.S. leadership in the region.  Our military forces and brave civilians who serve in Afghanistan under constant stress and mortal danger wait to see if their sacrifices, and those of their fallen comrades, will have been in vain.

“We have heard excuse after excuse, constant attempts to justify delay.  Over the past week, another red herring was floated by Administration officials — we have to wait until the disputes surrounding the Afghan elections are resolved.  

“This red herring — and those peddling it as an excuse — have missed a truth that is even more applicable to the mountains and villages in Afghanistan than our towns and cities here in America — all politics is local.  

“While we would all like to see a pristine election in Afghanistan — something we still haven’t accomplished 100 percent in our own nation — the Taliban is not waiting for election results to continue to kill our troops and attack the people of Afghanistan.  Security in Afghanistan will not come from Kabul — it has to be built village by village and valley by valley.

“Even if the naysayers continue to ignore this important truth about security in Afghanistan, yesterday’s announcement that a run-off election will now be held on November 7th has made that red herring of an excuse come and gone.  

“In light of this electoral progress in Afghanistan, what are we hearing from the White House?  As though it is something to be applauded, the Administration continues to proclaim its indecision.  [Yesterday], the White House press secretary said its ‘possible,’ but there are no guarantees, that a decision may be made before the election.  Seventeen long days from now.

“Yet it remains a simple question.  Will we support General McChrystal, or not?

“I have heard some pundits opine that delaying a few more weeks won’t make much of a difference because it will take some time for the troops to get there anyway.  Using that logic, no decision needs to be made for months.  But I think it’s pretty clear that postponing any decision simply postpones the date of actual engagement — and even the right strategy won’t work if it’s not implemented on time.  It certainly won’t work if it is never even acknowledged as our strategy.  

“Defense Secretary Gates waved a red flag recently, noting that the United States cannot wait for questions surrounding the legitimacy of the Afghan government to be resolved before a decision on General McChrystal’s troop request is made.  He understands what I believe is a simple truth — the longer we wait, the stronger and more determined the enemy gets.  

 “In a war where winning hearts and minds is critical, delay in Washington is a public diplomacy disaster in Afghanistan and abroad.  It advertises our lack of resolve to our allies and the people of Afghanistan.  The Afghan people need to know with certainty that the United States will not abandon them in this fight against terrorism.  Our allies, who at this very moment are being urged by the Secretary of Defense to contribute to the Afghan campaign, need to know that we will remain by their sides to defeat this enemy together.   

“Instead, the message we are sending is one of absurdity.  Imagine this diplomatic sales job — ‘Friends in Afghanistan, we’d like you to keep fighting the good fight against these terrorists and insurgents, but we haven’t yet decided how strong our commitment is.’  And to our allies around the world — ‘We’d really like for you to contribute more troops and more resources to this fight, but we need a few more weeks to decide what our own contribution will be.’  

“I strongly doubt this new brand of public diplomacy will sell for much in the streets of Kabul or the villages in Nangarhar.  What this message does sell to the people of Afghanistan — to the key Shura leaders across the country is don’t trust the Americans and instead look to the Taliban as the most likely long-term force for the future.       

“Perhaps even more troubling is the message this wavering sends to our terrorist enemies:  if they simply wait us out, we will go home in defeat.  While the Administration dithers, these enemies have honed their own message of hatred and extremism.  Radical Islamic terrorists have staged suicide attacks for maximum publicity, propagandized their message on the internet, and convinced their fellow terrorists-at-arms that they will defeat the international community.”

You can find this October 21 “Floor Speech on Afghanistan” in its entirety on the senator’s website in the Multimedia listing.  

Thank you for standing up for our troops, Senator Bond.