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Steve Lunetta: AIG and the Dodd loophole

Posted: March 23, 2009 1:31 a.m.
Updated: March 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
My Uncle Earl has got to be one of the crustiest fellows I've ever seen. From his thinning mouse-gray hair to his weathered western cowboy boots, Earl's features speak to a life of difficult lessons and hard-earned wisdom. Earl's time in the Marine Corps taught him to be tough under fire and not mince words. He also knows the price that men have paid to make us all free.

When Uncle Earl speaks, I tend to listen since the words he uses are tempered by experience and truth. They may not be popular with today's populace but they will be once again. And soon.

I went over to Earl's and asked him what he thought about the current Chris Dodd (D-CT) flap in the United States Senate.

Earl: You mean the chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs? Oh, yeah, I've heard of him. He's that Democratic senator from Connecticut who sold us out in this AIG bailout mess.

Me: What do you mean?

Earl: Quite simple, my boy. And contrary to what President Obama says, the details are important.

In the recent bailout legislation, a single line item was inserted into the bill that declared that all bonuses paid out before Feb. 11, 2009 were exempt from the restrictions on bonus payouts.

In other words, the rules were not retroactive and only applied on bonus payments going forward.

Me: So, what does Dodd have to do with all of this?

Earl: A couple days ago, Dodd was interviewed on national television and he denied any knowledge of the provision.

Sounded a lot like Clinton's "I have no recollection of those events" defense. Then, it came to light that the line item was a last-minute insertion by a prominent senate member.

Me: Dodd?

Earl: Now you're catching on, son! When Dodd was interviewed again about the item, he bumbled and stumbled through his explanation, at first claiming that his staffers did it, then maybe the Treasury department, and then little green men from Mars.

Me: He lied about being the source of the exemption? But, why would he do that?

Earl: I'll answer your question with a question. Can you guess who is the top all-time recipient of AIG political contributions?

Most Americans would guess some Republican with all of the anti-conservative media bias today. But they would be wrong.

Me: Dodd again?

Earl: Correct, sir! According to the Wall Street Journal (March 19, 2009), Dodd has received $280,000 from AIG's employee and fund-raising organization since 1990.

He also gobbled up $104,000 last year during his failed presidential campaign. Senator Christopher Dodd is a bought man.

Me: That is amazing. But, wouldn't our wonderful new president stop him?

Earl: I'll answer your question with another question. Can you guess who tied Dodd in campaign contributions last year?

Me: Don't tell me - Obama?

Earl: Your eyes are opening, my boy! While Obama claimed he was "shocked" about the AIG bonus payouts, it makes it very difficult to believe that his administration had no knowledge of the issue and no influence over the insertion of this "Dodd Loophole."

Remember, Obama is a Chicago machine politician. Graft and corruption is a way of life in Chicago. Obama is now in his fourth or fifth scandal while being only three months into his presidency!

Me: Well, didn't Dodd get any support from his fellow Democrats?

Earl: Amazingly, most of them smelled a rat, too. While most Democrats are very naïve, they are also good and honest Americans. It's only a few bad apples that spoil the barrel.

Why, even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ducked the whole issue. Dodd is left alone, holding the bag.

Me: It sounds like Senator Dodd needs to go.

Earl: I couldn't agree more! There is currently discussion of impeachment proceedings against the senator.

But, we all know that won't happen in a Democratic Senate. There is a far better chance of him simply losing his seat in the next election.

Early polling in his home state shows the Republican, ex-congressman Rob Simmons, holds a 43 percent to 42 percent lead over Dodd.

Me: It's amazing that something like this could happen.

Earl: Why, its not surprising at all! Dodd first won election to the senate in 1974. Since then, he has never lost an election by less than a 20 percent margin.

The good folks in Connecticut got complacent and comfortable. Without taking a good, hard look at a politician and who "owns" them, a terrible injustice like this can occur.

This was not a "mistake," as Dodd will no doubt later claim. This was an arrogant act by a man who was not held accountable by his constituency.

Me: I suppose that is a good lesson for the people of California as well.

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.

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