Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Paulson's late objection to big bonuses

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson finally agrees with average Americans that Wall Street deserves its reputation for greed and arrogance. He now says that the big bonuses paid to Wall Street bankers in the midst of the financial crisis cemented bad feelings about the financial industry and demonstrated "a colossal lack of self-awareness." Those sentiments are welcome coming from a former chief of Goldman Sachs, but they are a little late. Remember that Paulson failed to put tighter strings on the bailout money to protect taxpayers from Wall Street's greed.

Paulson was treasury secretary under President George W. Bush when Wall Street's house of cards collapsed. After Lehman Brothers went bust in September 2008, Paulson took immediate action to prop up failing banks and keep credit moving. His $700 billion taxpayer backstop, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, stabilized the financial sector by providing liquidity to the nation's biggest banks when private sources froze up. Economists generally credit this and other federal intervention with preventing a slide into another depression.

But Paulson didn't do enough at the time to ensure that bankers used all of the TARP funds wisely. The money came with only token compensation limits, such as a bar on golden parachutes for executives. Knowing Wall Street as he did, Paulson should have anticipated that bankers would easily sidestep the rules. During the crisis, bonuses of up to $10 million each were paid to executives at Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and 14 other financial firms that received TARP money, many of which had experienced major losses in late 2008 and early 2009.

It was a betrayal of the help given by American taxpayers. Bankers weren't particularly remorseful for helping to create the Great Recession that put millions of Americans out of work. Yet they still felt entitled to enjoy jackpot-size paydays. It took President Barack Obama to place strict limits on executive compensation for TARP recipients soon after coming to office in 2009.

Paulson has a lame excuse for letting his industry friends continue to enrich themselves. He told the New York Times that the banking industry as a whole would not have participated in TARP had there been strict compensation limits, noting how the banks rushed to repay the U.S. Treasury after Obama's $500,000 limit on compensation. In fact, Paulson missed an opportunity to reform an out-of-control financial sector and bring compensation levels down to earth. He says the bonuses Wall Street awarded itself in the throes of the crisis were a violation of "what was right" and he is more than "disappointed" with them. That's great, but it would have been more helpful if he had taken stronger action to prevent such abuses before they occurred.

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

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Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17