Friday, April 03, 2009

Jane Harman is on the Side of the Banksters

Jane Harman is once again proving she's on the side of the rich and powerful, not you. From Jane Hamsher:
Melissa Bean proved she's a worthy successor to Ellen Tauscher as head of the Wall Street-friendly New Democrat Coalition when she led the effort to insert a huge loophole in a bill that would have forced TARP recipients to stop paying "retention bonuses" as long as they were being supported by taxpayer dollars.

The bill, called the Pay Performance Act, passed the House on Wednesday. In its original form, it required all TARP recipients to make all bonuses performance based, and sought to put an end to the $1 billion in retention bonuses still to be paid out in July and September this year by AIG per an agreement they reached with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In other words, AIG could only pay out bonuses if the company actually did well, and couldn't be doling them out while the company was losing money and on taxpayer life support.


It looked like it was going to be smooth sailing, but then Melissa Bean decided to give the Republicans a hand. Her New Democrat Coalition has an Executive Director, Adam Pase, who is a former bank lobbyist for predatory lenders and their members brag about their Wall Street backgrounds and their close ties to the banks. The banks didn't want the bill to pass, and it looked like the Republicans wouldn't be able to stop it. So, Bean offered up an amendment which allowed TARP recipients to get out from under the bill's limitations if they had started paying their loans back.

Brad Sherman, known for being a genuinely fiscally responsible member of the House, objected (see YouTube). He said "it would allow a large number of companies to escape the effect of the bill without doing much more than making a few monthly payments of a very small amount." (His own bill, which would have capped executive compensation for TARP recipients at a million dollars, was never allowed on the floor.)

Bean's amendment initially failed on a voice vote, but she called for a roll call vote -- which allowed bank lobbyists to see exactly who did and didn't vote for the bill. This time, the New Democrats and the Blue Dogs made good on their threats to join with Republicans to pass legislation. Sixty-three Democrats joined with 165 Republicans to pass the Bean amendment.

Score one for the banks
Jane Harman was one of those 63 Democrats voting to eviscerate the bill. Disgusting.

By the way, you noticed I said Jane Harman was proving once again that she's proving she's on the side of the rich and powerful, and not you.

One prime example is how she voted in favor of aristocracy in 2001 when she voted to eliminate the estate tax. Howie Klein recalls:
One glaring example was how Bush and the Republicans-- with help from reactionary Blue Dogs-- put so much of their early energy into skewering the tax system against the middle class. One of Bush's first initiatives after stealing the election bore fruit on April 4, 2001 when the House passed a bill to eliminate the inheritance tax on multimillionaire estates. All but three Republicans-- moderates Mike Castle (DE), Amo Houghton (NY) and Connie Morella (MD)-- voted for it. That is hardly surprising. What is more noteworthy is that of 208 Democrats voting, 58 crossed the aisle to vote for plutocracy and aristocracy instead of for their own constituents' interests.


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