John McCaslin

So how did we get into this mess?

It was exactly one year ago that the Federal Reserve took the unprecedented step of loaning $29 billion to JP Morgan Chase after the financial services giant acquired Bear Stearns, the once mighty global investment bank and brokerage firm that virtually collapsed overnight.

That's when the plug got pulled from the dam.

"Today is the anniversary when you might say a lot of this started," Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican and member of House Financial Committee, told Inside the Beltway late Monday. "It laid the groundwork for the federal government bailing out AIG [American International Group] and the other entities that occurred after that."

Now, the congresswoman pointed out, about 80 percent of AIG is owned by the federal government.

"So you might as well say it has been nationalized," she said. "A lot has happened over this last year."

She said while it is "egregious" that $160 million in bonuses were set aside for AIG employees, that's only one issue: "To me the bigger issue is what AIG has done with this $170 billion [in federal loans]. Nobody really knows. That's really where the conversation needs to be."

Mrs. Bachmann faulted the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, and the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, for still not seeing to "reforms" of the financial industry.

"That's the outrage that we need to focus on," she said. "The American taxpayer is paying a high price for the sin of government - the fact that government ... has yet to reform itself ... We still haven't seen a full examination of how we got into this mess."


"Obama is boring," insists MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "He's kind of a nerd."

Addressing the Institute of Internal Auditors' 30th General Audit Management Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on Tuesday, the cable TV host added on second thought that labeling President Obama a nerd was perhaps a bit strong.

A big fan and cheerleader for Mr. Obama, Mr. Matthews called him "serious-minded" and "ambitious," having set out to imitate three models: Abraham Lincoln; Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan; and Chicago's political machine.

Like Lincoln, he said, Mr. Obama for reasons other than "love" assembled in his Cabinet a team of rivals, not the least being Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He explained that when you own a name like "Barack Hussein Obama," one way to cut a deal between Israel and the Middle East is to bring leaders like Mrs. Clinton into the fold.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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