Politics

Hamilton's Revenge, or, Issa Gets No Respect (Again)

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Aaron Burr, thou art avenged

Does first secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, who held the title of history's greatest monster until Jimmy Carter took it away from him, deserve a second look? Aye, says Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), emotional tinderbox, auto enthusiast and unrequited mastermind of the 2003 California gubernatorial recall.

In the American Spectator, Issa writes that Hamilton "drafted numerous provisions to ensure solvency, transparency and fiscal restraint on the part of the federal government."

 That's in sharp distinction to the current guy, as the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform explains in his jeremiad against the AIG bailout:

An unprecedented power-grab by the Paulson/Geithner Treasury has spent an unparalleled amount of money to purchase a failing financial giant with no accountability, no return on the investment and no end in sight…

Issa cries, and the world cries with him.

In September 2008, Geithner engineered the government's purchase of an 80% share in AIG for the handsome sum of $85 billion, the amount necessary to prevent the company from entering bankruptcy. Losses continued to mount, however, and more federal dollars were needed.

Total cost of AIG's bailout to date? A staggering $185 billion — or roughly $1400 per U.S. taxpayer. Yet today, according to AIG's own numbers, the company is worth less than $6 billion, and this after posting the largest quarterly loss in corporate history. Nevertheless, the problems at AIG extend beyond the balance sheets.

Describing the arsenal of legal protections and self-dealing opportunities packed into the deal, Issa concludes that the AIG bailout leaves "U.S. taxpayers holding a paper company with no market capitalization and drowning in debt — all without any legal recourse."

Sadly, Issa, like Alan Arkin in Glengarry Glen Ross, meets Gestapo tactics everywhere he goes. In the comments to the Spectator piece, readers you'd expect to be sympathetic to a GOP tirade heap nothing but scorn on Issa. Don't let the bastards get you down, Darrell. Keep on raging.