Re-arranging the Deck Chairs

Glub, glub, glub.

The new WH Chief of Staff and Citigroup

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2012 4:58 AM Eastern Standard Time

(T)he 2008 financial crisis is the new Iraq War: it does not matter how prominent a role someone played in enabling it, or how much they profited from it, or how centrally they were part of the corrupted machinery that brought it about. If they have the right ideology and good standing in Washington circles, all is forgiven and they do not suffer any consequences at all, even reputationally. Indeed, not only is it no impediment to their advancement, but it’s actually an asset.

The General Accounting Government Accountability Office this week issued a report criticizing the Treasury Department for incomplete and misleading press releases designed to make the results of the TARP program look better than reality warrants. In particular, “GAO’s analysis of Treasury press releases about specific programs indicate that information about estimated lifetime costs and income are included only when programs are expected to result in lifetime income“; “however, press releases for investments in AIG, a program that is anticipated to result in a lifetime cost to Treasury, did not include program-specific cost information.” In other words, Treasury loudly touts in its Press Releases when it makes money from TARP, but excludes the losses.

For his work at Citigroup, work that included betting on the housing collapse, Lew received a salary of $1.1 million. After Citigroup received its $45 billion taxpayer bailout, Lew – two weeks before joining the Obama administration – received another $900,000 from Citigroup as a bonus. This was revealed only in 2010; in 2009, when Lew first joined the administration as a State Department official, both he and the administration refused to say if he had received a post-bailout bonus from Citigroup (at the time, there was a huge political scandal over Wall Street executives receiving large bonuses despite needing taxpayer bailouts). There’s certainly nothing illegal about betting on a housing market collapse, but it’s quite symbolic that those who made millions of dollars from the crisis are now running government policy.

Lew (like so many key Obama officials) also participated in the orgy of Wall Street de-regulation that took place in the 1990s when he served as Clinton’s OMB head; after leaving Citigroup to join the Obama administration, he unsurprisingly said in response to questioning from Sen. Bernie Sanders that he does not believe deregulation contributed to the financial crisis.  The New York Times today says that Lew “has built a reputation as a pragmatic liberal who believes Democrats must compromise with Republicans on long-term deficits in order to forestall draconian cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.” The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein was a bit more blunt: Lew “has emerged as one of the members of the Obama administration Republicans prefer working with.” Whatever else one might want to say, Lew, a fairly standard-issue Democrat with less of a “centrist” reputation than Daley, is a perfect fit for this administration.

Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology

Pew Research Center

May 4, 2011

(A) growing number of Americans are choosing not to identify with either political party, and the center of the political spectrum is increasingly diverse. Rather than being moderate, many of these independents hold extremely strong ideological positions on issues such as the role of government, immigration, the environment and social issues.

Independents have played a determinative role in the last three national elections. But the three groups in the center of the political typology have very little in common, aside from their avoidance of partisan labels.

Using a statistical procedure called cluster analysis, individuals are assigned to one of the eight core typology groups based on their position on nine scales of social and political values – each of which is determined by responses to two or three survey questions – as well as their party identification. Several different cluster solutions were evaluated for their effectiveness in producing cohesive groups that are distinct from one another, substantively meaningful and large enough in size to be analytically practical. The final solution selected to produce the political typology was judged to be strongest from a statistical point of view and to be most persuasive from a substantive point of view. As in past typologies, a measure of political attentiveness and voting participation was used to extract the “Bystander” group, people who are largely not engaged or involved in politics, before performing the cluster analysis.

Based on your responses, YOU are a…   Solid Liberal!

(h/t Susie Madrak)


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