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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/18/09

Who Is Elizabeth Warren, and Why Doesn't Corporate Government Care?

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"As Treasury is putting money into the banks, it describes it as "this is an investment" and Secretary Paulson said in a letter to me, in effect, for every $100 that the government is putting in to these financial institutions, they're getting back $100 worth of stock and warrants. Now, we could have stopped there, because frankly that sounds like a pretty fair deal, but we decided to do an independent valuation of the transactions, crunched a bunch of numbers, did all the fancy equations, put it all together, and basically what it showed was for every $100 of taxpayer money that went into these financial institutions, we got back on that day about $66 worth of stock and warrants. Now do that enough times, and it adds up to about $78 billion dollars that were just subsidies, just given away. That's not talking about how the market has fallen since then, it's talking about on the day, the transaction was structured to give away about one in every three dollars that went into the banks."__Elizabeth Warren, from Bloomberg TV InterviewÂ

Elizabeth Warren chairs the five-person Congressional Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Born to Depression-era parents in Oklahoma, she prides herself with her reputation of being a natural-born contrarian. In the early eighties, this law professor undertook an in depth study of families entering bankruptcy, certain her findings would prove these families to be nothing but "a bunch of cheaters." Instead, Warren found hardworking middle-class families, not scofflaws, financially destroyed by job losses, illness, divorce and without options other than bankruptcy. She, subsequently, served as a researcher/advisor in 1994 to a Congressional committee on bankruptcy. In a 2007Â interview at the University of California at Berkley, Warren said about that Clinton-era bankruptcy committee:

"So, they would make these assertions about who these people were, and at first I believed these were assertions made out of ignorance because frankly, I'd made the same assertions ten years earlier, before I'd studied, before I'd worked on this. And so, I'd come in with the data and say, "Well, actually, let me show you how this works," and "Here's a random sample of 1,250 families and here's how they were chosen and here's what we know about them, and look at what happened to them." And people just didn't want to hear it.

Finally, it was senators themselves who said, "Professor, you don't understand. So-and-so over here has taken $300,000 from credit card companies and financial services industry over the last so many years and this is something that industry wants, they hire lobbyists, I see two lobbyists in here a day from the financial services industry to make this happen.

And so, the reality of these families' lives had to be" reshaped to tell a politically acceptable story. "We need to pass this legislation." All the arrows run the wrong way. Right? It's that the credit card companies wanted a piece of legislation to cut their losses and boost their profits. And so, the story had to be told that this is the fault of these families who are in financial trouble. And you know, I wish that story were true, but the data are not just close on this question, the data are just overwhelming on this question, that that is just simply not the truth."Â

Of the Bankruptcy Reform Act that finally was passed in 2005, Warren said: "The lobbyists wrote the bill, the credit industry paid for it, the campaign contributionsthen paved the highway for the bill to get passed, and ordinary families just lost out."

[author's note: when a United States Senator, Vice-President Joe ("for the little-guy") Biden was the supervisor for that highway paving]

On March 31, 2009, Warren told the Senate Finance Committee on TARP that the Treasury Department has not cooperated with her oversight of TARP funds. Warren testified:

"We do not seem to be a priority for the Treasury Department.

So, Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly demonstrated her devotion to facts and that she will tell on those who corrupt the people's government with bribes. She, again, proves her "contrariness" in the Bloomberg interview, by outing Treasury Secretary Geithner's rotten math that tries to convince subtraction takes nothing from a sum.    And she admitted on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart April 15, 2009 that her oversight of TARP funds amounts to little more than being able to talk about what she knows and what her conclusions are. Here are some of them:

(1)Â nobody knows how much TARP money was "invested" in the banks-not the banks nor the United States Treasury. Warren thinks the figure may be around $590 billion.

(2)Â The banks are not supposed to be keeping track of the money, Treasury is. [author's note to himself: if the banks can be so diligent in keeping track of the money they've lent me, why not so with the money I and millions of others have lent or "invested" with them? Can I trust a bank that cannot do both with my savings and checking accounts?]

(3)Â Bush era Treasury Secretary Paulson decided $350 billion in stock (claimed, then, to be an even swap of one dollar for a dollar's worth of stock) that, actually, returned $66 for every $100 was a good "investment" position for the new millions of stockholders: the American people.

(4)Â So, the American people bought $350 billion worth of stock, get $66 back per every $100 "invested", and pay the banks, therefore, $78 billion just for the sheer joy of being screwed by them.

(5)Â Since then, the return on the original "investment" has declined from $66 back per every $100 buy due to the value of those stocks dropping over time. Warren provided Stewart not even a guess at the real present negative value.

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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