Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama Seeks Expanded Power to Seize Firms






“I keep thinking we should include something in the  Constitution in case the people elect a friggin moron.”

The Obama administration is asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.
The administration plans to send legislation to Capitol Hill this week.  Sources cautioned that the details, including the Treasury's role, are still in flux.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is set to argue for the new powers at a hearing today on Capitol Hill about the furor over bonuses paid to executives at American International Group, which the government has propped up with about $180 billion in federal aid.  Administration officials have said that the proposed authority would have allowed them to seize AIG last fall and wind down its operations at less cost to taxpayers.

Besides seizing a company outright, the document states, the Treasury Secretary could use a range of tools to prevent its collapse, such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake.  Such authority also would allow the government to break contracts, such as the agreements to pay $165 million in bonuses to employees of AIG's most troubled unit.
The authority to seize non-bank financial firms has emerged as a priority for the administration...

Cross Posted from The Obama File “Latest.”