Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Man of the Moment: Matt Taibbi (with video and audio)

Democracy Now!--AIG and the Big Takeover: Matt Taibbi on “How Wall Street Insiders Are Using the Bailout to Stage a Revolution”(with audio and video):
In a new article in Rolling Stone Magazine, journalist Matt Tabbi takes an in-depth look at the story behind AIG. “The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d’├ętat,” writes Taibbi. “They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.”
The Obama administration and the Federal Reserve urged Congress yesterday to give the federal government unprecedented new powers to seize control of troubled financial firms beyond banks deemed too big to fail.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke proposed the idea in testimony before the House Financial Service Committee yesterday. Both men pointed to the troubled insurance giant American International Group–or AIG–as a prime example.

The New York Times reports if Congress approves such a measure, it would represent one of the biggest permanent expansions of federal regulatory power in decades.

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke argued in his testimony that if the government had allowed AIG to fail it would have jeopardized the entire financial system.

As Bernanke and Geithner made their pitch for new powers for the federal government, many House committee members grilled them over AIG’s decision to pay out over $165 million dollars in bonuses to executives after receiving a $170 billion taxpayer bailout. Geithner, who has come under fire for not doing enough to block the bonuses, said he shared their anger.

Many view the massive losses at AIG as the result of corporate greed combined with lax government oversight and regulation. But in a new article in Rolling Stone magazine that takes an in-depth look at the AIG story, journalist Matt Taibbi writes the financial crisis and the bailout that followed “cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.” Taibbi goes on to write, “The mistake most people make in looking at the financial crisis is thinking of it in terms of money, a habit that might lead you to look at the unfolding mess as a huge bonus-killing downer for the Wall Street class. But if you look at it in purely Machiavellian terms, what you see is a colossal power grab that threatens to turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — a huge, impenetrable black box filled with self-dealing insiders whose scheme is the securing of individual profits at the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders, previously known as taxpayers.”
Matt Taibbi, contributing editor for Rolling Stone Magazine. His latest article is called is “The Big Takeover.” He is author of a number of books, his most recent is ’The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion."
Howie P.S. Amy Goodman interviews Taibbi who gives us one more opportunity to understand the shit storm we are going through.

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