Treasury Secretary as Absolute Monarch?


throne twn.jpgA loyal TWN reader highlighted this part of the Bush administration’s bail-out proposal to Congress:

Sec. 8. 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.

To quote Paul Krugman in an email he sent recently, “words fail me. . .”
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: Thanks to LB in Berlin for directing me to this item.


11 comments on “Treasury Secretary as Absolute Monarch?

  1. RonK, Seattle says:

    Follow-up: Closest analogs to this language in US Code are provisions involving response to biowarfare attack.
    Operative principle: If it gives you the shits, you must submit.


  2. DonS says:

    Driving home from work last night I heard a clip of Paulson from the weekend: “It pains me. It reeealy pains me to have taxpayers, blah blah blah”. I din’t know whether to laugh or cry. I had just conducted a therapy grop for clients, many of whom have drug use and legal histories, and can hardly get a job or meet expenses. So their tax dollars should go to bail out the rich and powerful. Right.


  3. pauline says:

    Paulson is such an elitist, and he is now personally worth over 700 million, mostly due to his days at Goldman Sachs.
    Of course, he’s going to back his investment banker buddies who have gouged an unregulated system to the max. He’s one of them.
    This whole bushwacker $700 billion bailout sounds eerily similar to the rush to pass the Patriot Act.
    Henry, did you just start noticing all these unregulated investment banking issues yesterday?
    One last random thought — this bailout is really socialism for the investment industry. Phil and Wendy Gramm belong in prison where the keys are thrown away forever.


  4. pauline says:

    POA, I posted this elsewhere, but everyone with even half a brain needs to read this until they’ve memorized it.
    “Bush’s Legacy Of Squandering Taxpayer Money”
    Bush is demanding unprecedented control over billions of dollars — with no oversight. His history of mismanaging taxpayer dollars should make Americans skeptical of his buyout plan:
    -$142 million wasted on reconstruction projects that were either terminated or canceled. [Special Inspector General for Iraq, 7/28/08]
    -“Significant” amount of U.S. funds for Iraq funneled to Sunni and Shiite militias. [GAO Comptroller, 3/11/08]
    -$180 million payed to construction company Bechtel for projects it never finished. [Federal audit, 7/25/07]
    -$5.1 billion in expenses for Iraq reconstruction charged without documentation. [Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report, 3/19/07]
    -$10 billion in spending on Iraq reconstruction was wasteful or poorly tracked. [GAO, 2/15/07]
    -Halliburton overcharged the government $100 million for one day’s work in 2004. [Project on Government Oversight, 10/8/04]
    -Millions wasted on four no-bid contracts, including paying $20 million for an unusable camp for evacuees. [Homeland Security Department Inspector General, 9/10/08]
    -$2.4 billion in contracts doled out by FEMA that guaranteed profits for big companies. [Center for Public Integrity investigation, 6/25/07]
    -An estimated $2 billion in fraud and waste — nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as of mid-June. [New York Times tally, 6/27/06]
    -“Widespread” waste and mismanagement on millions for Katrina recovery, including at least $3 million for 4,000 beds that were never used. [GAO, 3/16/06]
    -A $50 million Air Force contract awarded to a company with close ties to senior Air Force officers, in a process “fraught with improper influence, irregular procedures, glaring conflicts of interest.” [Project on Government Oversight, 4/18/08]
    -$1.7 billion in excessive fees and waste paid by the Pentagon to the Interior Department to manage federal lands. [Defense Department and Interior Department Inspectors General audit, 12/25/06]
    -$1 trillion unaccounted for by the Pentagon, including 56 airplanes, 32 tanks, and 36 Javelin missile command launch-units. [GAO, 5/18/03]
    Given Bush’s history of gross fiscal mismanagement — including an unprecedented number of no-bid contracts and Bush’s resistance to closing fraud loopholes or increasing oversight of contracts — why should Americans trust another $700 billion to his care? Paul Krugman writes, “Let’s not be railroaded into accepting an enormously expensive plan that doesn’t seem to address the real problem.”
    see 9/21/08 —


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This partisan bickering and finger pointing has brought this nation to its knees. These inept corrupt cowardly sons of bitches on both sides of the aisle are no longer capable of responsible bipartisanship in times of crisis.
    We are truly in deep shit, people.
    And 700 billion ain’t going to scratch the surface.
    Maybe we oughta start waterboarding these bastards, and demanding to know where the two trillion that Zakhiem “misplaced” went.
    Or lets start confinscating assets, starting with this garbage George Bush, and working our way downwards, through EVERY ONE OF THESE PIECES OF SHIT THAT SUPPORTED GOING INTO IRAQ.
    Theres three trillion right there.


  6. DonS says:

    Heavy stuff. Perhaps all congresscritters should be strapped down and made to listen:


  7. JohnH says:

    Bill Clinton stood up for working people! NAFTA, PNTR for China. Keep dreaming, Wigwag. Clinton totally sold out to the finance industry and to a few others as well. His signing of Gramm-Leach-Bliley a month before Hillary announced her run for Senator from Wall Street was no coincidence. With Democrats like Clinton who needs Republicans?


  8. WigWag says:

    To John H
    Jim Leach you say, John H. Would that be the same Jim Leach who is the proud co-chair of Republicans for Obama? Is it the same Jim Leech who will almost undoubtedly be given a senior economic position in an Obama Administration?
    Both parties are responsible for this mess. Bill Clinton shares in the blame and so does Hillary (who voted for the terrible bankruptcy bill after all). And of course Barack Obama has more Wall Street contributions than McCain does by far.
    My belief about Bill Clinton is that he was President at a time when the Republican free market, antiregulation ideology was still ascendant. Without Clinton, things would have been much worse. Had a weakling like Obama been President at the time, he never would have had the guts to stand up to Newt Gingrich and his Republican buddies. Bill Clinton did plenty of bad things, but he fought for working people and their lives improved alot while he was President.
    Whether Obama cares about working people remains to be seen. All we really know is that he likes to call them names like “bitter.” I hope he does care. But one thing is self evident; he is as tied into Wall Street as the Clintons are.


  9. RonK, Seattle says:

    One pregnant question: Where did this language come from?
    Is it boilerplate? I don’t readily recognize it as such. What’s the original context, and what is it presumed to mean?
    Is it de novo? If so, somebody put in a lot of effort crafting this odd phrasing in mid-crisis. (And what is that supposed to mean?)


  10. JohnH says:

    Well, Hillary would have been almost as bad as Phil Gramm. Let’s not forget that it was Bill Clinton who gladly signed the CFTC and Gramm-Leach-Bliley that did away with Depression era protections.
    Hillary has never repudiated Bill’s foolish ways, so she’s clearly a big part of the problem. Right, Wigwag?


  11. WigWag says:

    Paul Krugman also made the interesting point that if we cede absolute power to the Secretary of the Treasury, a few short months from now, that Secretary won’t be Hank Paulson. Like him or hate him, Paulson is smart and competent. If McCain wins the next Secretary of the Treasury could be Phil Gramm. Phil Gramm is as responsible as anyone (except for Alan Greenspan) for the fix we currently find ourselves in.
    Gramm as Treasury Secretary is another reason for Democrats who can’t stand Obama to vote for him anyway. Treasury Secretary Gramm is to horrible a thought to contemplate.
    Can you imagine Sarah Palin as Vice President and Phil Gramm as Treasury Secretary? It’s hard to believe that in light of everything that has happened in the past few days, that this is even possible.


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