Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY: “Fighting Dem”? Or Just Blowing Smoke for the Folks Back Home? (Guess…)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday, it really looked like we had a “Fighting Dem” as Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY went after the SEC over its failure to uncover the Madoff Ponzi scheme, didn’t it?  Ackerman is known for having a gift for making acerbic comments…but how much fight is really there?

First a bit of history on Ackerman. He was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the primaries last year, endorsing her in late January 2008. On June 5, just a couple of days before Clinton suspended her campaign early on June 7, he endorsed Obama. (There were others who waited another day, by the way. Full list of who did what, when here.)

He showed real signs of life during the Caroline Kennedy/NY Senate saga. He was the first to question her qualifications with comments like these:

From the NY Post (December 11, 2008):

Rep. Gary Ackerman of Queens, a 25-year veteran of Congress, declared in a radio interview: “I don’t know what Caroline Kennedy‘s qualifications are.”

“Except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo,” Ackerman continued on Steve Malzberg’s radio show on WOR. “I wouldn’t make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven’t seen them yet.”

He took the obligatory hit at Sarah Palin on Face the Nation as things moved forward (December 22, 2008):

WASHINGTON – A Democratic congressman compared Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin, saying the would-be senator hasn’t proved she has the “guts and the gumption” to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rep. Gary Ackerman of Roslyn Heights said on CBS‘ “Face the Nation” yesterday that the Kennedy legend and connections won’t be enough to make her a successful senator if Gov. David A. Paterson appoints her to the U.S. Senate.

So, the fireworks yesterday at the Madoff hearing seem to be pretty typical of Ackerman’s style. (The video at his website is a shorter version of this clip, without the reference to “dung”):

One thing to be aware of is the fact that a lot of the money that has disappeared once belonged to a lot of folks from Ackerman’s district, so Ackerman’s umbrage will certainly play well at home!

Kanjorski-led panel reviews $50 billion fraud scheme

By MARCY GORDON
Associated Press Writer
Published: Monday, January 05, 2009
Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 6:28 PM EST

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic House members said Monday that the alleged $50 billion fraud involving Wall Street figure Bernard Madoff reflects deep, systemic problems at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SNIP

The SIPC shortfall will only worsen the distrust of investors, already deepened by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. His district encompasses the affluent north shore of Long Island, home to many of Madoff’s alleged victims

(Note the reference to the Great Depression, the party line these days as part of the “fear stimulus” being used to pass the pork-laden “stimulus”  package.)

But beneath the brash, confrontational style that plays well on TV, we see a typical Democrat who’s sticking with the crowd:

From November 19th, 2008:

Think Progress » Rep. Ackerman: Auto Execs’ Private Jet Travel Like Guy At ‘The Soup Kitchen In High Hat And Tuxedo’.

But by December 5, 2008:

Automakers’ fourth-and-long plea

Last Updated: December 5, 2008: 8:06 PM ET

Even Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., who was the first to raise the issue of corporate jets at the earlier hearing, seemed more open to helping the auto industry in his opening comment this go round.

“One does not always have a second chance to make a first impression. Welcome back,” Ackerman said. “The last time you didn’t get it. By coming up with this plan, maybe you do.”

From September 11, 2008:

Mortgage Mess Unleashes Chain Of Lawsuits

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 10:34 AM

Credit agencies, which graded billions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities as safe investments throughout the recent housing boom, are also feeling the heat.

Members of Congress are calling for hearings and oversight, saying the rating agencies are conflicted because they are paid by investment banks that issue the securities the agencies rate. Institutional investors accuse the rating firms of being slow to downgrade securities.

“Essentially, the originators and credit raters shoved enough pigs and laying hens in with the beef herd that investors expecting prime ribs on their silver platter and money in their pocket ended up with pork ribs on their paper plate and egg on their face,” Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said in an opening statement during a Financial Services Committee hearing last week.

Nice, but what was 13 term Congressman Ackerman doing when there were calls for “oversight” when Democrats took charge of Congress a couple of years ago?  I don’t see any mention of a crusade for oversight in Ackerman’s bio and list of accomplishments at his website. I don’t have the time or inclination at this point to see how he voted when the whole business of pushing bad loans was originally put together way back when, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ackerman went along with it all then…(See his new legislation introduced January 27, below.)

And he’s right in line with all the rest on other aspects of current economic issues (Also, seee voting pattern, below):

LI House delegation to back $700B bailout

“We, the taxpayers, will get back our investment,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights). “Any shortfall where we don’t get our money back is going to be paid for by Wall Street.”

Really???

Ackerman Running for Re-election to Congress

Manhasset Press  October 24, 2008

Following his interview with the Great Neck Record, Congressman Ackerman was to head to Washington to vote on the “bailout.” With the financial crisis at the forefront, he was quick to note: “We have to correct the errors of the past.” He emphasized that the country must “restore confidence and put liquidity in the market” so that “people can pay for education, pay bills, pay mortgages, run businesses …”

With his background on financial service committees, the congressman emphasized that the country “must come up with solutions even before a crisis.”

Congressman Ackerman told how he had put in financial legislation even before this current financial crisis came to a head. His bill calls for credit agencies to be required to put like loans in a package, and prohibiting them from “rating what is not ratable.” And he emphasized that “We must hold credit agencies responsible for what they do.”

Congressman Ackerman termed this “common sense regulation.”

Blah, blah, blah…”correct the errors of the past”…Not without oversight, I’m afraid.

And in the run-up to the now “Bad Bank” which is in the works, we saw how Ackerman was already on board:

Rep. Steve LaTourette seeks help from President Bush to stop National City sale

Posted by Sabrina Eaton, Stephen Koff and Teresa Dixon Murray/ Plain Dealer Reporters November 18, 2008 09:51AM

Other committee members grilled Paulson on his failure to use money in the $700 billion bailout package to reduce mortgage foreclosures. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the committee, put in the hearing record a letter from Rep. Dennis Kucinich in which the Cleveland Democrat urged Congress to withhold more TARP money from the Treasury Department because of its failure to act on foreclosures.

New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman called the Treasury Department’s decision to avoid buying troubled mortgages from banks, as it originally promised, “the second-largest bait-and-switch scheme that history has ever seen, second only to the reasons given us to vote for the invasion of Iraq.”

Paulson said that the money had to be used to prevent a collapse in the financial system and that the Treasury Department is still looking for ways to reduce foreclosures.

Rep. Ackerman can display all the “righteous anger” that he wants for the TV cameras and the folks back home, but I have to ask–isn’t he really just part of “diversion” along with all the huffing and puffing about capping executive salaries?  The Madoff  issue is important, of course, but Ackerman’s brash style seems to be only style when it comes to many economic issues and, like others,  late to the party with his protests.

Eleven Democrats in the House voted against the stimulus bill…you won’t find Ackerman’s name among them.

***

ADDENDA

Rep. Gary Ackerman’s Official Website biography

According to GovTrack.us, Ackerman is a “rank and file” Democrat; OpenCongress cites a 98% record of voting with party (Votes most often with Ellen Tauscher, D-CA)

Rep. Ackerman introduced this bill on January 27, 2009 Source: GovTrack.us

H. R. 710

To secure additional Tier I capital for the United States banking system from parties other than the Federal Government by providing authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to guaranty certain new preferred stock investments made by public pensions acting in a collective fashion, and for other purposes.

If you have a public pension, watch this bill:

(2) INSTITUTION ELIGIBLE FOR INVESTMENTS- Only an investment in preferred stock that meets the requirements of subsection (e) and has been issued by a financial institution which meets the definition of a qualifying financial institution under the TARP Capital Purchase Program established under the authority of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 may be treated as an eligible investment for purposes of this Act.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-710

Empowered or Powerless? Hillary in the Box…

~~By kenosha Marge

Being a Hillary Clinton supporter I was not happy about Senator Clinton taking the position as Secretary of State. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe she would do the job well. Hillary Clinton is a competent and smart woman who works hard and would do any job well. But this was a position where she would be subordinate to a man I dislike and distrust. I thought she should stay in the Senate where she would be a free agent and able to pursue the things she found important.

An article in the New York Times on January 31st entitled “And Now Let the Jockeying Begin” confirmed all my worst fears. I expected any NYT article to portray Hillary Clinton as a power grasping harridan. What I didn’t expect was for it to point out quite so clearly how she has been boxed in.

She is Secretary of State. And for all the silliness of some of her supporters suggesting that she will do all the work and Obama will take all the credit that isn’t how it works. High-profile Secretary’s of State, especially those hyped by the media as successful,  get credit for what they do. They also take the blame for what goes wrong. That will be especially true for Secretary of State Clinton because the media hates her and never holds Obama to account for anything.

However, before she has done much of anything other than settle in and get her staff ready she’s had much of her turf taken away to re-sod someone else’s place.

“In her first days as America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found the Middle East portfolio handed off to a special envoy.”

Is not the most important issue the Secretary of State expected to deal with the Middle East? Isn’t this diluting her power a great deal before she’s even begun? But wait, that’s not all.

Afghanistan and Pakistan were assigned to a special representative. And administration officials expect another special envoy to be tapped soon to deal with Iran.

When I was uneasy with Hillary Clinton giving up her Senate seat and becoming a part of the Obama Administration I was told by some of her supporters that I was wrong. She was smart enough and knew politics well enough not to get bamboozled by Obama. She knew what she was doing and that meant that she would have more power as Secretary of State. Some even suggested that she taking the position to protect the world from Obama’s lack of experience. “Drivel,” I said, “She’s making the best career choice for herself she can at this point in time. And, I repeated, I think she’s wrong! So there”

However I thought that she must have had some kind of assurances before she swung her support to his Oliness. “She’s too canny a politician not to do that,”  I told myself. Hillary Clinton has been around politics most of her life and thus knows that it’s about as smart to pet a cobra as it is to trust another politician. She’s got the knife scars in her back to prove it.

The NYT acticle continues with more good news. Good news if you have CDS (Clinton Derangement Syndrome) or are a member of our Misogynistic Media.

So with much of her turf already parceled off, Mrs. Clinton made a bid to take over the China file, which in recent years has been primarily the responsibility of the Treasury Department since the major issues with Beijing tend to be economic. Mrs. Clinton said the administration needed “a more comprehensive approach.” The only trick is Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has no intention of giving that up.

So where, I am asking myself, does that leave Secretary of State Clinton? Who will deal with all the problems around the world? Will she have to be content with just being a high-profile “figure head? The Secretary of State to Europe?

I confess that I don’t know. All I know is that her “job” is suddenly much smaller than her predecessor’s. Special this and special that jobs are being created faster than you can say “gotcha.”

Obama seems to have a fondness for creating “Czar” positions to take over the jobs of people who would normally be doing the job (See the full article for the details on all the “czars” now in D.C.)

More than any president in years, Mr. Obama came into office creating new White House czars and special envoys to supervise various hot-button issues at home and abroad, overlaying an additional set of actors upon a bureaucracy already scratchy about “who’s in charge”.

Mr. Obama concluded that new high-powered figures were needed to force change but they pose a delicate management challenge for a president with no real management experience beyond his presidential campaign.

Personally I was always for shrinking the bureaucracy not expanding it. I think too many cooks do spoil the broth.

I also believe that maybe, just maybe, in this instance, Hillary Clinton, for all her intelligence was hoodwinked. Even smart people get deceived if they allow themselves to believe that the deceiver will negotiate in good faith.

We don’t know, and probably never will know exactly what the Clinton/Obama deal was. We don’t know if he kept his word while playing her for a sucker with an intent to handcuff her to an empty position.

Politics is a dirty, nasty game to these folks. That’s why they can call each other names, impugn each other’s character, intellect and intent and then hug each other and work together. Some say it’s necessary to get the country’s work done that they be that type. Some people who certainly have a lack of character themselves excuse this behavior as politicians being politicians as if having people with a lack of integrity running our country is an acceptable thing.

What is acceptable to these people, this subset of humanity,  is not always tolerable to the rest of us. Those of us that think that integrity and honesty are kinda good things to have in our leaders. Not pie-in-the-sky phony-baloney rhetoric like most of them treat us to so often. The kind of rock-bottom honesty we once honored and respected in this country. The kind of rock-bottom honesty we now only give lip-service.

I think Hillary Clinton got duped. Or she deluded herself into believing that either A. She could trust Obama. Or B. That she could handle Obama. Either way, to me it looks as if she was wrong.

I think she’s been effectively boxed in and will have very little power or say in what does on. That’s a loss for all of us. A smart man would have used her considerable talents for the benefit of all. A petty little man like Obama boxes her in and makes her powerless.

I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m only reading the situation through my dislike and distrust of his Oliness.

***

Related post from December 6, 2008 by IA-GRL discussing MESH — Middle East Study at Harvard:

Will Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State Be Undermined by the Appointment of a Middle East Envoy? See What MESH Thinks…