It’s hard to know whether to be outraged or yawn at the revelations that Henry Paulson with Bush’s Treasury talked constantly on the phone with the head of Goldman Sachs, probably in violation of every ethics rule on the books, during those bailout days. These rules are made to somehow clean up government and establish a ridiculously naive ideal that government can and must be constantly impartial in the pursuit of scientific public policy. Anyone schooled by the Nock-Rothbard perspective finds that point of view laughable, and revelations of the sort now reported by the New York Times to be commonplace. Discovering conflict of interest in government and this sort of grafty log-rolling is merely a matter of looking a bit beneath the surface.
I also find it fascinating how these revelations always seem to pertain to the last administration while the current administration always claims to have fixed the problem so that we can continue to move onward and upward into the light of perfect democracy. So far as I can tell, this endless game of pretending to improve stretches back to the 18th century.
Anyway, the goods that the NYT got are precious:
On the morning of Sept. 16, 2008, the day the A.I.G. rescue was announced, Mr. Paulson’s calendars show that he took a call from Mr. Blankfein at 9:40 a.m. Mr. Paulson received the ethics waiver regarding contacts with Goldman between 2:30 and 3 the next afternoon. According to his calendar, he called Mr. Blankfein five times that day. The first call was placed at 9:10 a.m.; the second at 12:15 p.m.; and there were two more calls later that day. That evening, after taking a call from President Bush, Mr. Paulson called Mr. Blankfein again.
When the Treasury secretary reached his office the next day, on Sept. 18, his first call, at 6:55 a.m., went to Mr. Blankfein. That was followed by a call from Mr. Blankfein. All told, from Sept. 16 to Sept. 21, 2008, Mr. Paulson and Mr. Blankfein spoke 24 times.
At the height of the financial crisis, Mr. Paulson spoke far more often with Mr. Blankfein than any other executive, according to entries in his calendars.
Are we supposed to believe that no one with Obama or Congress spoke with anyone in the car industry before “Cash for Clunkers?”