Bankers Blink at Paulson's Unprecedented Power, Shock and Awe; So Should We!

Come November 5th, when the election is over, Congress has an obligation to protect us from the final days of Bush and Cheney.
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Paulson wields extraordinary power. We all need to think about what further uses it can or may be put to and consider its use and abuse and the Good and Evil We May Soon Face.

Today's Wall Street Journal reports how Henry Paulson summoned the heads of the top banks in America to meet with him on Monday.

On one side of the table sat Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, flanked by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair.

On the other side sat the nation's top bank executives, who had flown in from around the country, lined up in alphabetical order by bank, with Bank of America Corp. at one end of the table and Wells Fargo & Co. at another.

It was Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Treasury headquarters. Messrs. Paulson and Bernanke had called one of the most important gatherings of bankers in American history...

Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke gave this collection of oligarchs a lecture, for an hour, painting a "dire portrait of the U.S. economy and the unfolding financial crisis."

Then Paulson gave them an offer they couldn't refuse -- the US was going to buy billions of dollars worth of shares of their companies. Paulson handed each of them a term sheet that dictated how the government would be dealing with their companies, how the government would define how executive pay and dividend policies would be set.

They agreed, signed the contract, bought the deal-- no dickering, no negotiations. Talk about shock and awe.

This is a very important lesson for the incoming President and congress-- the power that can be wielded, without congressional approval-- to affect the most basic, core operations, philosophies and functions of our economy, our national infrastructure.

Imagine if this kind of huge power, thinking and action was applied to global warming, poverty, universal single healthcare, social justice. In the swipe of a pen a lot of goodness could be accomplished. Corporate polluters could be summoned to the table, handed documents defining the steps they would be taking to clean up their acts. Health care corporations could be instructed to cut executive pay to no more than ten times the highest salary. On the government side, how about instituting a tax of corporate executives and people profiting from sales of investment products-- stocks, derivatives, bonds, etc.-- that is comparable to to time of Roosevelt-- 91% for more than, say, $20 million dollars?

But also, imagine what may lay in store for us in these final days of the Bushadministration. Paulson exercised this power with the authorization and fiat of Bush and the congress. There is SO much potential for this degree of power to make a great difference, but I fear it is also frightening to contemplate what Bush and Cheney, as they too realize what's just been done, start planning their last days of decrees, pardons, crimes, corruptions and thefts.

Funny thing. Just a day or two ago, I was telling an impeachment activist that now is not the time to push for impeachment. But damn, when I think of the damage the criminals in the White House still have the power and potential to do, I take it back. Come November 5th, when the election is over, Congress has an obligation to protect us from the final days of Bush and Cheney. It's never been about holding a trial in the Senate. The house must bring up enough dirt to force the Republicans in the Senate to insist that Bush and Cheney resign and the Democrats must agree to allow the Republicans to appoint historic replacements -- for the short term-- a woman, a Latino or African American -- maybe even Condeleeza Rice-- since it's for such a short term, or Kay Bailey Hutchison. Or go with someone who will never run or president, who's a moderate, like John Warner or Arlen Specter. Give the GOP a chance to do some good and start the healing, and appoint someone who will allow the winner of the election to start appointing replacements immediately, or even better, perhaps best, allow the new president to take office a few months early. America needs this.

Of course, if Obama wins, we can expect a horrendous battle as McCain appeals every close state -- you know, the kind of thing that Gore and Kerry should have engaged in.

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