Financial Regulatory Reform – HR 4173

July 15, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

Congratulations! To President Barack Obama, Senator Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank and other Congress members from both sides of the aisle for their contribution to the historic victory on the Financial regulations bill.

The United States Senate approved the long overdue financial regulatory reform that was challenged by Wall Street and their representatives since conception.

Not long ago, the global economy faced the possibility of the ‘Great Depression,’ emerging from the deregulated financial markets with extraordinary privileges in the public fund mismanagement and speculative trading showing no regard for the dire consequences, now a harsh reality experienced by the billions around the world.

Wall Street exercising the ‘free market’ power to engage in calculated high-risk ventures especially through derivatives and hedge fund activities led to a near free fall in the absence of any oversight on the reckless involvement.

The U.S. economy would have succumbed to the economic crisis if not for the American Investment Recovery Act passed by the Democrats and isolated republican members in Congress.

President Barack Obama and the lawmakers behind this legislation deserve credit in this regard.

Unfortunately, their actions have not been truly acknowledged for the substantial measures implemented through this stimulus bill aimed at helping citizens across the political spectrum.

The positive results benefiting American life from the economic stimulus subverted for political reasons in the election year.

In a democracy, the most grueling aspect is the legislative process.

It’s even harder with the special interests controlling the legislative course on every issue, further exacerbated by the majority in the opposition pledged to defeat the legislation against national interest.

With respect to HR 4173 – it’s a monumental task to gain unanimous consensus on a broad legislation targeting the most powerful sector in the economy.

As expressed by the Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Chris Dodd, the dissatisfaction from the different political factions are legitimate and reaching an agreement on common grounds is the preliminary step towards consumer protection along with many other important regulations in this bill.

Arguably, it is not perfect as every Senator holds some reservations and distinct views about their support or the lack thereof in the crucial legislation.

The main components of the bill are elaborated in the –

Pros and Cons: The Treasury secretary historically and more relevantly have close ties with Wall Street – going back to several administrations.

Hence, the conflict of interest is a major concern with the Treasury secretary as the head of the 10 member regulatory council – evidenced in the failure to monitor the financial market between 2000 and 2008 that caused the economic meltdown.

Otherwise, the 10-member council of regulators representing the oversight committee is an effective strategy.

Given the facts on the subprime lending and credit card abuses, the consumer protection agency is the hallmark of this legislation.

The contentious derivatives and hedge fund management is subject to rigorous standards underscoring the transparency and accountability factor in this bill.

Opposition claim on the omission of the controversial Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the financial regulation could be clarified to dispel misconceptions about any exemptions to the lender.

The compromise on the $19 billion bank tax to earn the Republican Senator Scott Brown vote whereas not pursuing the Democrat Senator Russ Feingold seeking tougher regulations is an irony in the democrats led legislation.

Nevertheless, the three Republican Senators cooperation is praiseworthy.

Overall, the framework of this legislation encompasses the requirements to avert the financial crisis and the economic downturns barring no Wall Street intrusion in the regulatory mission.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant

The Scapegoat

March 31, 2009

Lately, there has been an unwarranted verbal assault on caring and concerned individuals for their thoughtful views, analysis and significant contribution towards the welfare of the nation and the society in general. There are comments igniting sparks in the backyard as well as the nation’s capital.

Therefore, it is necessary to set the records straight once and for all as silence is often misunderstood for confession and similarly kindness frequently mistaken for weakness.

In a democracy functioning as the convergence of diverse talent, it is not uncommon to be selective in the recognition and acknowledgement of some while others targeted for blame, vilification and partisan political debate. In the past decade, the whistle blowers in the Corporate world brought many camouflaged issues to public focus out of concern for the people. These honorable citizens may or may not have continued employment with the organization they were reporting about; however, the community and society at least heard them through media and other channels. They are also provided protection by law.

There is no such consideration for fresh voices participating in public discourse about the direction the government and corporations are heading in the most trying times in recent history. Contrarily they are continually attacked as miscreants disrupting the business and politics as usual motto in Washington and Wall Street.

It appears that certain members assert their entitlement to the “Bill of Rights” while depriving others of the same rights particularly with reference to the first amendment. Any suggestion for fairness whether it relates to Proposition 8 where the gay community is singled out against same-sex marriage or the overhauling of the corrupt prison system in California, the critics otherwise the hypocrites in the society distort the content and disseminate the message out of context to suit their ideology.

A word of caution. This blogpost might well be an epic as it is time to clarify and clear the static in the air due to contaminants and pollution.

It is important to reiterate the Bill of Rights for better understanding.


Bill of Rights

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


redress v. 1. To set right, remedy or rectify. 2. To make amends for. n. 1. Satisfaction for wrong done; reparation. 2. Correction. [

When the government in the state of California failed to balance the budget on time and the state workers and other employees were subject to furloughs (forced to take time off without pay) along with several community services being shut down,

The following proposal was made on this website titled Balancing California Budget, February 12, 2009 that included a segment:

“Costs Reduction:

Criminal Justice System:

A thorough examination of the Criminal Justice system is necessary from the analysis and news reports.

The State must devise a mechanism to reduce prison population through major social reforms at all levels beginning with the juvenile detention center.

Further, the parole system, three strikes law and other misdemeanor charges reassessed and offenders deployed in monitored community services rather than crowding prisons is the ideal strategy to cutback spending.”

This was later confirmed by Public Policy Institute in California as one of the effective social reforms and cost saving strategy in dealing with the economic and budget crisis.

According to local news and cable networks, recently there has been a horrific incident in the Bay Area involving the slaying of four white police officers by an African American gunman with a long criminal history. The news agencies reported that the gunman was a convicted felon with several murder and rape charges against him and was let out on parole.

Any incident involving loss of innocent lives is a huge human tragedy regardless of the source of violence — war, terrorism or domestic homicide. As the past contributor towards San Jose Police Officers’ family fund and National Law Enforcement Officers Protection Fund, it was intriguing to note a local resident’s outburst unfairly aiming at “The liberal bleeding hearts in California” for not expressing remorse on this particular incident and accused of being responsible for the occurrence. The need for parole system review stated as the reason behind such senseless violence.

First of all, in this blogpost ‘Balancing California Budget,’ many ideas and practical solutions to the various issues confronting the State of California and the nation were earnestly made to help resolve the prolonged budget crisis and several matter relevant to the national economy. In fact, those who are fair minded should observe that many were adapted into the national and a state policy even though, the personal experience thus far…credit is never attributed where credit is due.

Nevertheless, the rapid finger pointing on an incident that is absolutely unrelated to the content is nothing but trash politics.

The parole system review was recommended only for minor traffic and other offenses that sometimes results in misdemeanor charges and not intended to lobby for convicted felons with criminal history involving rape, murder and serial killings.

It reinforces the message on the blogpost for a thorough investigation of the parole board obviously lacking in prudence, diligence and judgment in the handling of criminal and non-criminal activities. Furthermore, at no point in time there was any advice to let the inmates out on the loose with assault weapons in their possession preying on police officers and civilians, when it was clearly indicated that the eligible paroles (non-criminal offenders) be monitored and deployed in community projects as opposed to overcrowding the prison systems.

It is no secret that the congested penitentiaries across the state of California costing the taxpayers’ horrendously and has been a major cause of revenue divestment for the state economy.

Of course, the NRA and the requirement to ban assault weapons is off limit despite the fact that the local newspaper reported several homicides by new offenders to join the herd, (reference to the manner the inmates are held) i.e. the prison population in California and elsewhere.

Wonder why the critics have not demanded such reaction from prominent members with fancy titles in Washington!

Yet, another incident in the past week is attention worthy.

A celebrity and a confirmed democrat opponent visiting the White House to promote personal agenda appeared on a major cable news network during prime time and asserted the following:
“Defending the President against critics;

The President has a mandate but he does not have a mandate from the left wing of the Democratic Party.

The celebrity’s message was “layoff and mind your own business.”

The conflicting message from the celebrity is noteworthy. The complaint is, "The President does not have the mandate from the left wing party, i.e. the liberals," in the same breath delivering the contradictory statement – “layoff and mind your own business.”

Synonymously, the instruction is once you cast the ballot, the voters hurting the most from economic and other catastrophes become puppets and disenfranchised for obvious purpose. Each and every one of them will be appropriately remembered during electoral process.

It is gratifying to see that all the hard work and chronic sleep deprivation during the historic Presidential campaign paid off with the bipartisanship overflowing in Washington and visitors from elsewhere. Interestingly enough, these defenders were conspicuously missing in action (MIA) when the President, the then Senator was fighting the most tenacious and contentious battle in recent Presidential history.

It is worth traveling down the memory lane since the event was not that long ago. Having short or selective memory is the trend nowadays for it benefits the individuals to maintain the balance to fit in with the personality.

The Illinois Senator Barack Obama enters the Presidential race 2008. Comments and rhetoric flying across all available mass communication channels ranging from;

“He is not Black enough, hence not considered an African American”

“The Senator is a rookie democrat”,

“Senator John McCain and I are abundantly qualified to be the Commander in Chief, whereas Senator Barack Obama is not… due to his lack of experience”,

It was not short of a somber moment when the assassination of former Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Sr. was revisited as a subtle reminder that life is full of surprises and anything could happen to anyone.

This one is from the immediate beneficiary – “With a name like Obama, it was conclusive that he had no chance of winning the nomination leave alone the Presidency,”

When the Presidential campaign progressed to general election, the rhetoric gotten worse with vitriolic attacks like –

“Terrorist, Socialist and Marxist”

Where were all the current saviors within and across the aisle during that time?

Perhaps, minding their business, whatever that was!

Alternatively, gathered with the crowd on the shores betting whether the then Senator caught in the whirlpool would drown or stay afloat. When the Senator made a heroic comeback, the courageous team parked on the shores was delighted and jubilant for their prosperous future.

A guest during his appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live remarked that “President Obama’s name is substituted for Lord Jesus” in certain African American churches.

The local newspaper reported in the business section that some business leaders in the Silicon Valley think of President Obama as a “Kindred Spirit” in the White House.

It is truly heartwarming to view all these selfless well wishers now united as one big happy family and cheer leaders for the President in whom they had no confidence then but now having secured their respective positions will not tolerate any genuine concerns viewed otherwise as opposition from anyone representing themselves or certain members of the community or society.

In their defense, such stance is presented as respect for the office of “Presidency.”

Again, when the same office of Presidency was subject to a mockery and ridicule in rich vocabulary by them during the Presidential battle.

Time is truly the essence for everything.

It is no surprise that the talking points safeguarding their interests in Washington, believe it is appropriate for them to chide those representing the forlorn segment in the society. Little they realize that White House doors flare open for people in Tux with a partner in flowing evening gowns predominantly for easy and privileged access to share their grievances and ideas alike.

Meanwhile, those whose lives are affected by policy decisions or the lack thereof by Washington and Wall Street do not have the luxury to mind their own business. If they could, they would as nothing more matter to an average citizen than living their life and letting others live in peace.

The only available avenue to vent their frustration is cyberspace or public protests in the streets of Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco where such emotional display is routinely tolerated regardless of reasons.

Moving forward with other events where citizens are told to hold on to their thoughts and views for family kitchen table conversations only and reminded that they are not helpful to the leaders in Washington and Wall Street because they are completely disruptive to their creative thinking process and careful planning to rescue the nation from the pit.

In the wake of disproportionate AIG bonuses, there were more rebukes against citizens for their legitimate views and comments from different quarters such as:

“It is not proper to demonize private entrepreneurs seeking profit as this nation is built upon wealth amassment.”

“If the vilifying of the government/public officials continues, it would hurt their morale because they are struggling hard to pull this economy out of crisis and further it will discourage others from enlisting in government jobs.”

Fair enough! Then, why are these reports on the surface and not discussed by all mainstream media and print press?

So, who is responsible for the painful, agonizing economic slump? Is it the entire fault of none other than the overstretching, spendthrift, day dreaming average citizens?

Will Obama, McCain, Dodd Return Contributions From AIG Employees?

AIG Gave More Than $630,000 During the 2008 Political Cycle
By JONATHAN KARL, March 18, 2009

AIG employees kept doling out donations to politicians, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, after getting bailed out with federal funds last year, raising the question of whether those politicians will now return the money.

Will politicians who received AIG cash during the 2008 political cycle give the money back?
(ABC News Photo Illustration)

AIG executives gave more than $630,000 during the 2008 political cycle even as the company was falling apart

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance reports, more than $120,000 of that money was donated after AIG received its first $85 billion in federal bailout funds in September. The company has since received a total of $170 billion in taxpayer cash to prevent its collapse.

Their generosity included more than $23,000 to Obama’s campaign.

Both Obama and Republican presidential candidate John McCain raked in much larger sums from AIG earlier in the year. Obama collected a total of $130,000 from AIG in 2008, while McCain accepted a total of $59,499.

WATCH: AIG Too Big to Fail?

This raises two key questions: Was any bailout money used to make political contributions? And will the politicians who received AIG cash give the money back?

ABC News has asked the question of the big recipients of AIG cash on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the guy chairing today’s AIG hearing. Kanjorski received $12,000 in AIG contributions during the 2008 political cycle.

AIG’s CEO Edward Liddy said he imposed new rules when he took over the struggling insurance giant six months ago, banning further lobbying of politicians and ending political donations from AIG’s two political action committees.

Records indicate that AIG’s PACs stopped making donations, but contributions from AIG executives continued right up to the presidential election.

One suggestion: Perhaps the money could be paid back not to AIG but to the U.S. Treasury.

Here’s the list of top AIG recipients for the 2008 campaign:
1. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., $103,100
2. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., $101,332
3. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., $59,499
4. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., $35,965
5. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., $24,750
6. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, (R) Pres $20,850
7. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., $19,975
8. Rep. John Larson, D-Conn, $19,750
9. Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., $18,500
10. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R) Pres $13,200
11. Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., $12,000
12. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., $11,000”

Latest Development: On March 30, 2009, the Fox news channel reported during their late night show that Sen. Chris Dodd has decided to donate any money received from TARP funds through AIG executives to charities.
Just prior to the Presidential Inauguration, the following email arrived.

“Your call to service

Michelle Obama

View Monday, January 12, 2009 2:27:38 PM

To: Padmini Arhant

Monday, January 19th, is also Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Dr. King taught us to live a life of service, and he led by example. He once said:

"If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But, recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness."

Barack and I will be volunteering in Washington, D.C., our new home. I hope you’ll join us by taking part in this national call to service in your community:”

Face the Truth:

As mentioned earlier in the blogpost titled Bailout Debacle the narcissistic culture is widespread and will not miraculously disappear anytime soon.

Ironically, anything offered free is not respected, honored, cherished and regularly taken for granted. The demand for freely available resources increases as a sense of entitlement rather than appreciation for its quality. It is analogous to clean air and water that were once abundantly available on planet earth. The importance and value of this gift from nature was never recognized up until such time when these natural elements became scarce forcing environmental awareness a priority for humans. The end result of such behavior is one has to pay for a bottle of spring water presently and clean air through carbon tax in the immediate future.

At the same time, those who offer advice, ideas and consultancy work with a premium price tag are treated with prestige, praise and due credit irrespective of the substance.

The famous line in “The Dark Knight” “If you are good at something, never offer for free.” aptly describes the subject matter.

Typically, there are two types of people in the world:

One who lives for others and the one who lives of others. Unfortunately, the majority belongs to the latter and those making true sacrifices for their own people and others in the society tagged ‘The Scapegoat.’ They are conveniently associated with doom and failures and alienated from boom and success.

Having said that, there are unsung geniuses in remote corners of the world making phenomenal differences to the people and environment. They are the true heroes and remain so in the eyes of the ultimate authority of the universe.

What really matters in life is,

What you give to others and not what you gain from them?

Human beings best legacy is their virtues and not material value.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant