Chris's Rants

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is anyone paying attention?

Here's the draft legislation for the bailout. One thing that has caught a few eyes is the following section, entitled "Review":
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
The Secretary can do whatever the f*** he wants and there is no review or recourse should he go off the reservation.

Here's the previous provision that essentially says that he can do some pretty incredible things, bypassing normal laws and regulations:
(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.
He can hire who he wants and pay them what he wants, and direct the resources at his discretion. He is given SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS and there is no oversight WHATSOEVER.

Where have we seen that kind of authority before? Of course, that was a paultry sum when compared to SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS.

In case you were wondering, that is a 7 with 11 - count 'em, eleven - zeros after it. $700,000,000,000.

A) Holy crap!!!!
B) You have GOT to be kidding me... no pesky rules and regulations, no review, no legal recourse for the potential to misappropriate SEVEN HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS, no oversight?!
C) I guess we can be thankful that Bush did not submit 11,000 pages of legislation that no one could possibly read and slip in a provision that invoked emergency powers to suspend the upcoming election until things settle down.

Still, am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?


Update: Glen Greenwald also thinks this idea is nuts in its current form:
Put another way, this authorizes Hank Paulson to transfer $700 billion of taxpayer money to private industry in his sole discretion, and nobody has the right or ability to review or challenge any decision he makes.

Update II: Krugman says "No Deal", too.


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