Remember when Doris Kearns Goodwin and the rest of the elite media socialites took to the studios of Charlie Rose's show to portray the opponents of the bailout as wild-eyed leftists? Seems there's some serious bipartisan pushback going on (h/t Atrios):
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Saturday that Congress was not told the truth about the bailout of the nation's financial system and should take back what is left of the $700 billion "blank check'' it gave the Bush administration.
"It is just outrageous that the American people don't know that Congress doesn't know how much money he (Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson) has given away to anyone,'' the Oklahoma Republican told the Tulsa World.
"It could be to his friends. It could be to anybody else. We don't know. There is no way of knowing.''
Inhofe, who on issues like global warming is something of a know-nothing, is nonetheless absolutely correct on this one. Bailoutsleuth.com has been reporting how Paulson has tried to shroud bailout expenditures in secrecy, while Bloomberg News recently reported that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is refusing to release the names of the recipients of about $2 trillion in taxpayer-funded loans.
Inhofe will likely find an ally in Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who issued this press release this morning:
WASHINGTON, November 17 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he will introduce legislation to stop the release of a $350-billion second round of the Wall Street bailout.
Sanders, who voted against the $700-billion package Congress approved in October, said he has serious concerns about how the Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson are spending the bailout money that was already released. He also said it was unacceptable that the oversight provisions in the bill were ignored.
When the bailout originally passed over bipartisan objections, many voices began demanding Paulson refrain from buying bad mortgages, and instead buy voting stock in banks on terms that force banks to make loans off the new capital, restrict bank salaries/dividends and protect taxpayers' investment. Paulson partially buckled to that pressure, first a few weeks ago, then again late last week. Indeed, he discarded his original proposal (which would have been a straight-up giveaway) and began buying stakes in banks. The problem is he opted to buy non-voting stock on bad terms that do not protect taxpayers and allow bank executives to continue paying bonuses.
Now, with bipartisan congressional anger mounting, we may see a forceful legislative campaign to take back what remaining money Paulson wants to give away to his friends on Wall Street. The guy is working overtime to shovel out as much taxpayer money - our money - to his buddies before January 20th comes and he's out of a job. It's time to stop the kleptocracy, take back the money and spend it on a major economic stimulus to bolster the real economy here in "real America" where real people work real jobs - not simply give it away to a few financial industry fat cats in Manhattan.
UPDATE: Check this out from the Financial Times:
A senior Republican senator is seeking an investigation into potential conflicts of interest among former Goldman Sachs executives serving at the US Treasury and whether any officials exceeded their authority by implementing a controversial tax change without the approval of Congress.
Chuck Grassley, the most senior Republican on the Senate finance committee, asked Eric Thorson, inspector-general of the Treasury, to investigate the "independence" of several Treasury officials who formerly worked at Goldman Sachs and serve as advisers to Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, the former chief executive of the Wall Street bank.