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March 23, 2009

The Real Headlines While You Were Watching the AIG Bonus Sideshow


While you were watching the AIG Bonuses Melodrama, you missed some more important headlines that should have been aired in the media. We were all victims of congressional theatrics and media frenzy at its best.


The melodrama has produced a “Bully Bill” passed by the House, and under consideration in the Senate, to place a surtax of 90 percent on those evil undeserved bonuses.


The Bully Bill is just another example of how Congress can use the insanely complicated and unfair tax code to reward or punish people they like or dislike.


Sen. Chuck “The Bully” Schumer (D-NY) set the tone when he said, “Let the recipients of these large and unseemly bonuses be warned: If you don’t return it on your own we’ll do it for you.” 


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) went for the throat and said, “Come before the American people and take that deep bow and say ‘I’m sorry’ and then do one of two things – resign or go commit suicide.”


Folks, I hope I do not have to explain to you that this was not about the less than 0.1 percent of the bailout money to AIG used for contractual obligations. This was and is all about deflecting the blame from Congress and the administration for allowing this to happen.


My North Star Writers Group colleague Candace Talmadge described the blame game beautifully in her recent article, AIG Bonuses: Feigned Outrage Fools No One, as well as the missed opportunity to prevent this sideshow from happening.


Remember what President Obama and Nancy Pelosi said: “We won, so we wrote the bill”. Yes you did, and some of us don’t just look the other way.


While the media had people preoccupied with Octo-mom and the bonuses melodrama, Congress introduced the deceptive Card Check legislation (a.k.a. the Employee Free Choice Act) in both the House and the Senate on March 10, 2009.


A small article buried inside Section A of the Wall Street Journal on March 20, 2009 should have been a big story (“Democrats Angle for Health-Care Edge” by Weisman and McKinnon). It reported that the Democratic leaders in Congress were likely to use a parliamentary procedure to win passage this year of a national health insurance program. They would change the 60-vote requirement to end a filibuster in the Senate to a simple majority of 51 votes.


The big story should have been called “Bi-partisanship takes another body blow!”


Just last Saturday, on March 21, 2009, when a lot of people had taken a day off from reading the news headlines, there was an astonishing story written by Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press: Audit Finds Dire Deficits in Obama Budget.


There were at least 10 big stories in that article. Here are three excerpts that should have been headlines:

1)“President Barack Obama’s budget would produce more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush’s presidency”

      2) “The new Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) audit predicted a deficit $2.3 trillion worse than last month.”

      3) “White House budget chief Peter Orszag acknowledged that if the CBO projections prove accurate, Obama’s budget would produce deficits that could not be sustained.”


The other seven headlines embedded in the story are equally astonishing. Or maybe it’s just me.


Candace opened her article with the question “How stupid do they think we are?” The unfortunate answer is that they think we are real stupid.


Fortunately, some of us are not so stupid, and some of us are not watching the side shows.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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