Tag Archives: TARP

Stewart Bill Targets TARP Takers

State Rep. Mike Stewart has filed legislation that would prohibit state-level political contributions by large financial institutions that received federal bailout funds and loosen some rules on filing lawsuits against them in Tennessee courts.
The Nashville Democrat said the “Main Street Recovery and Wall Street Accountability Act of 2012” targets “too-big-to-fail” institutions — those that received federal aid through the Troubled Asset Relief Program and have assets of more than $100 billion. That would include corporations such as Citigroup and Bank of America, but not smaller banks, he said at a news conference last week atop the Legislative Plaza with “Occupy Nashville” protesters encamped behind him.
While oversight of such mammoth financial institutions is primarily a federal matter, he said, there are things that state legislatures can do and his bill is a starting point. The measure — HB2224 — also calls for a study committee to consider other possibilities, including whether Wall Street executives could be prosecuted in state courts for actions impacting Tennessee investments and whether the state could impose new regulations on such institutions.
Stewart said TARP allowed the “too-big-to-fail” banks to “socialize the risk” from their bad investment practices and, at the same time, “privatize the profits.”
The ban on political donations by such companies, through political action committees or directly as allowed by state law, is appropriate, he said. Otherwise, he said, the institutions will effectively “take bailout money and use it to influence the political system.”
The bill also extends the period that Tennesseans can file lawsuits for recovery of funds lost through the institutions’ actions rather than have them cut off by the “statute of limitations.” The institutions financial maneuvering were so complicated that extra time is needed to figure them out and file lawsuits, he said.
“Banks shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind the complexity of these financial transactions,” he said.
Stewart said he is hopeful that some Republicans will join him in pushing the legislation, since TARP meant that they are “not working in the free market system” that many Republicans support.
“Thanks to citizen protests like the Occupy Wall Street movement, people are focused on the continuing threat to our economy posted by financial institutions that are so large that they can reap profits from risky investments when things go well, yet expect to be bailed out again and again by the taxpayers whenever things go poorly,” Stewart said

TN News & Opinion Notes, 3/5/11

Theme Park Developer Dodged Past Debts?
A company that is leading efforts to build a $750 million theme park in Spring Hill was at the center of an eviction lawsuit less than a year ago in Palm Beach County, Fla., reports the Columbia Daily Herald.
Landlord Floyd Maxson said Dennis W. Peterson, CEO of Big International Group of Entertainment Inc., left Florida this past year owing him money that has yet to be paid.

”He destroyed my place, too,” he said. “When he moved in he had a deposit so I used some of that money to clean it up, but it wasn’t enough.”
Despite facing eviction in Florida just months ago, Peterson is promising the company has the financial backing to build an entertainment complex on 1,500 acres off Interstate 65 in northeastern Maury County.

Peterson has not returned multiple messages seeking comment.

Roe & Cutting Complaints
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe tells Hank Hayes that he’s ready to restore federal funding to local police for cleaning up meth labs and has heard constituent complaints about possible closure of the national Fish Hatchery at Erwin and cutting funding to public broadcasting.
He’s not as clear on what to do about the latter.
“Is it fair to ask your grandchildren 10, 15, 20 years from now to pay for what we are listening to now?” Roe asked. “This spending spree we are on cannot continue. … The Obama administration thinks that if Republicans take this on, we will be punished in the 2012 elections. And they may be right. But the right thing to do is take it on. I didn’t come up here to worry about being re-elected.”
Twenty-four Tennessee-based banks still haven’t repaid more than $400 million in taxpayer funds they received under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, some more than two years after they were granted the help, says The Tennessean.
But the program, derided by many as a “bailout” when it took effect, may pay off for taxpayers and communities around the country. The extra funds stabilized local banks and allowed them to lend more, and the banks continue to pay interest on what they received. Some experts predict that the Capital Purchase Program, the part of TARP that provided help to banks, will end up in the black.
…. At the same time, some banks — including three in Tennessee — have missed dividend and interest payments to the federal government.

Chattanooga Argument: Taxes for the Poor
The $3 million in public funds that Erlanger Health System has received each year for decades could be in jeopardy this spring, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
A 45-year-old sales tax agreement between Hamilton County, Chattanooga and smaller municipalities is about to expire. The agreement guarantees $3 million a year to Erlanger to treat indigent county residents. Now city and county officials are at odds over what the loss of that agreement would mean for Erlanger’s funding.
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield argues that the legislative act that created Erlanger, formally called the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority, makes clear that paying for indigent care is the county’s responsibility. The sales tax agreement transfers some sales tax revenue to the county to help fund civic and social service agencies. If it expires, the obligation to fund Erlanger falls on the county, Littlefield said.

New Jobs Bill: Commercial ‘Hunting’
in his latest column, Frank Cagle promotes the idea of allowing commercial hunting for domesticated deer raised on Tennessee farms. He’s talking about a bill pending in the Legislature, entitled the White-tailed Deer Breeding and Farming Act.
We need to remove barriers to the development of commercial hunting preserves. Finding a use for huge tracts of timberland also reduces the pressure to deforest the countryside or dig for coal.
The TWRA needs to continue to selling hunting licenses and manage wildlife areas and promote wildlife. But they need to be barred from regulating the operation of private hunting preserves.
Hey, you Republican legislators who have just discovered you do not have a jobs package? Here it is.

Gutting the Teachers Union
From a Robert Houck column:
In truth, the push by Ramsey and others to end collective bargaining is a thinly (and I do mean thinly) veiled effort to gut the teachers’ union. Republicans are now firmly in control of the governor’s office and both houses of the General Assembly, and it’s time for payback for all those years the TEA backed Democrats (and the occasional rogue Republican who dared to stray from the party line) in state elections.
Some Republicans were thought to be wavering on ending collective bargaining, including two members of the Senate Education Committee, where the anti-TEA bills would be considered.
…(Sen. Rusty) Crowe said last week the vote was one of the “hardest” he has ever had to cast. He told me he could see both “the good and bad” in collective bargaining, but in the end he decided it was best for teachers to meet with their local school boards “as a family without an outside force” possibly complicating matters.
“I’ve probably lost all my support from the TEA,” Crowe said.
He has, and Crowe has also come under criticism from local members of the TEA who say the senator is “naive” if he believes teachers will be allowed to sit down and talk to their local school boards about pay and workplace issues if collective bargaining is outlawed.
“He (Crowe) is living in a fantasy land,” said Deidre Wilkes Brown, a teacher and chief negotiator for the Johnson City Education Association
Conservative Teachers’ PET
In his latest column, Greg Johnson promotes the Professional Educators of Tennessee (PET), which now claims 5,000 members, as the conservative alternative to the “left-wing” Tennessee Education Association, which now claims 52,000 members.
By joining the Tennessee Education Association, teachers give tacit, if not implicit, approval to TEA’s political agenda. Last year, TEA chose – with concerted aforethought – to give almost 93 percent of its political contributions to Democrats. TEA fired the first political shot. Now TEA feigns shock when politics doesn’t go its way.
….But Tennessee teachers have a choice. They don’t have to join TEA and NEA. Teachers seeking representation can choose Professional Educators of Tennessee.
Executive Director J.C. Bowman, who served as chief education policy analyst for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told me in an interview PET does not make political contributions. “If they’re noneducational issues, we’re not involved,” Bowman said. “When you walk into a school, you’re not a Republican or a Democrat. You’re a teacher.”
…Bowman touted PET’s dues, which are $149 per year compared to more than $500 for TEA. “We don’t have to send any dollars up to a national organization,” Bowman said. “All (dues) dollars stay in the state.” Noting a chief concern of educators, Bowman said, “We offer great liability (insurance) protection for teachers.”

…. “We’d like to see collective bargaining rolled back, if not completely done away with,” Bowman said. “We support collaborative bargaining with every side at the table.”