Oh, sweet music to my ears.
The quote used as the headline for this piece was spoken by Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), as reported here by Ryan Grimm on HuffPo today.
The context in which Rep. Kilroy is talking about transparency—and the need for more transparency—is what the U.S. Treasury has been doing lately, but I believe her statement applies across the board. I certainly hope it is the case that people in this age will demand far more transparency in government than we have (perhaps ever) seen before.
The situation that Rep. Kilroy is on about is that Tim Geithner has apparently been cutting deals with some of the banks that received bail-out funds and which are now posting significant profits. That level of recovery is great news–their profits are up, which means taxpayers’ investment should be receiving a nice return, yes? Um, not so much. Treasury has been allowing some banks to buy back their debt at 66% of current market value.
This hasn’t happened much, yet. That’s why Kilroy has offered legislation, cleverly named the PROFIT Act, that would require public, totally transparent auctions of the financial institutions’ warrants (essentially, the shares owned by taxpayers). There may well be other investors–gosh, maybe even the banks themselves?!?–who would be willing to pay a lot more than 66% of what the warrants are worth if they were offered in open auctions. “Open auctions” can be read also as “open market.” Isn’t that what the banks and big corporations usually say they want–free, open markets? So why not give it a go in this case, and let the market determine how much the warrants will go for. And for once, taxpayers would benefit instead of being screwed.
The question that comes to mind for me is, why doesn’t Treasury want to get every penny’s worth back for the taxpayers’ investment? The only answer that makes any sense whatsoever is that Geithner is cutting deals with his buddies. And by “his buddies” I don’t mean necessarily people he hangs with or has even done business with before. I mean the club of people who work in the financial products industry who have developed a gargantuan sense of entitlement, of what they believe they deserve, and hang the consequences to anyone else. That’s what bureaucrats can get away with when there’s no transparency or accountability.
If only Obama would require the same standard of empathy for every-day Americans from his Treasury Secretary as he did from his Supreme Court nominee.