I Guarantee You Haven’t Heard This Tasty Morsel Yet!

So, I have a close friend who is one of the unfortunate citizens who was laid off  due to our failing housing market.  This person was laid off over a year ago.  They have dutifully filed for their unemployment insurance religiously and recently all of the benefits from the state were exhausted.  The agency told this person to continue filing as they were expecting the Stimulus Plan to come through with added benefits.  This is where it gets really interesting!

Today, my friend recieved a letter in the mail stating that they were indeed going to be receiving additional benefits through the Stimulus Plan.  (I was quite happy to hear that my tax dollars were going to help someone
I knew!)  The letter they received today stated that they would be receiving a Citi Debit Card.  (Because apparently 45 Billion wasn’t enough?) This card would be funded with the bi-weekly amount from UI and they would be provided with a PIN number to withdraw funds or they were perfectly able to use the card at any retail location that accepted VISA.

All right, so that is the story and now the questions start.  Is Citi the only company getting the opportunity to funnel the taxpayers dollars?  Is this how the government will start funding all of their projects?  Is there an upfront cost to these cards that the government paid to have the cards issued?  So many questions, so little time!

I am really not very upset and I don’t know that I think this is a BAD idea, but once again, I feel like the Washington cronyism is once again hard at work.  How many of these situations were locked up inside this Stimulus Plan that no one got to read?  Every time I turn around, I just keep feeling like Washington is trying to pull a fast one.  Why weren’t things like this announced?  Why does everything seem so covert?  Who is taking care of their buddies under the pretense doing the bidding of “We the people”?  What happened to the idea that the laws passed by our government were supposed to be fair and equitable for all?  Are banks who have not loaned more money than they should have and made good deals with up-standing consumers given the same opportunity or is this more of the “rewarding the bad behavior” mentality?

If I hear any more on this, I will certainly let you know.  What do you think about it?  Do you think there should be disclosure on these things?  Would you like to know what is in this 1.3 Trillion dollar economic pork pot?  I think I would.


27 Responses

  1. Yeah, Pork! I agree, are we like so many sheep led to the slaughter? I think that there should be massive reform in the way our government runs things. For starters, firm term limits. Four years, max. Then you are done in politics, period. Second, full disclosure. A government that claims to be for the people, by the people, should be required to give complete disclosure of all activities. Of course, balance on that is also needed for sensitive issues like national security. (As if our enemies don’t already know it all anyways…) Third, pay cuts for the politicians. How can a poilitician or government official complain about any budget issues without cuting at least $50k annually from their own wages rather than getting pay raises? You raise a valid issue. There are so many more things that can be done right. Too many to list, here. But why not start with actually doing what the “people” want. Great post!

  2. Hurray Scott !!
    I’ve been reading these blogs for hours this morning and you are right on! Lets add to that …they all pay for health care, income taxes,in to SS and don’t take their wages with them when they leave? Oh and one more thing if the haven’t participated in their duties at least 95 % of the time they get fired. I have to have at least 98% attendance or lose my job.
    I love this government that ask’s paople to be accountable but are they? Who ever THEY are.

  3. Could this be an effort to prop up CitiBank in an attempt to avoid nationalization?
    This would make Wall Street more bullish, and result in a bump in the market. BHO and Co. could then attribute Wall Street’s rise to the Stimulus Plan. Doesn’t alleviate the fact that bad behavior continues to be rewarded, but just a thought. And yes, I want to know every gory detail of what’s in that plan and who’s being stroked with taxpayer bucks.

  4. I guess it could be an effort to help Citi get back to a god place. But I see it as a possible first step in the nationalization of the banks. Now we can see a direct thread between government programs and one of the big banks that took bailout money. State owned bank issuing state welfare or UI benefits? Certainly something we need to keep an eye on.

  5. Hey Rev2010: Hope you had a nice weekend.

    The debit card thing evolved out of Katrina then Rita. With everyone yelling about do something fast–gov’t came up with the debit card idea. That replaced Seasonal GS-5’s actually issueing treasury checks, yes I mean signing them, and handing them out to whoever showed up. Of course this was in response to all the Dems screaming for action, and if your recall they then started screaming for hearings on how all this money was wasted.

    You are dead right though on the fact that the mechanisms for this should have been discussed publically. Especially by an Administration espousing “transparency”.

  6. We used to have the politicians vs. the citizens, the politicians vs. business, and the citizens vs. business. Nice little triangle of distrust, leading to checks and balances. Nothing was perfect and never would be, but at least everyone kept a wary eye on things.

    Things are changing. As politicians and big businesses continue their quest to retain power and prominence, they are developing a quite significant ruling class. Don’t be swayed by what you hear about how much politicians hate big business. They know who butters their bread; it’s not the lower-class and middle-class citizens who pay minimal if any taxes. No, it’s the businesses taxed at 36% (or whatever it is today) and the wealthy. As long as you kiss up to the politicians, you will remain viable, even if you shouldn’t.

    That’s why we need to elect third party candidates.

  7. I should like to report, that recently, we were forced to apply for food stamps… We have been self employed for 12 years and our business is now failing due to the economy… We are both looking for jobs but the jobs market is thin to say the least…

    After we received our food stamps EBT card, I noticed the card said: For account information go to J.P. Morgan.com

    We found this quite stunning…

  8. I don’t remember where, but I believe that I read somewhere that every time that he card is used the bank charges a fee, sounds like a neat scam if true.

  9. Did anyone here consider that issuing Debit cards one time and administering them electronically and largely automatically is a lot cheaper than having to print, fold, stuff and mail the same number of checks every week or semi-monthly? Sometimes a conspiracy really isn’t a conspiracy. Does this help the banks getting the bailouts? Yes. Is it cheaper to do it this way, hence saving bailout money? Yes. That’s a win-win situation.

  10. TW,

    I don’t think the point is being made to identify a conspiracy. Yes, it is definitely cheaper to do this w/o mail. I’ve led IT projects that eliminate paper, such as this kind of effort. The question is more about which firms were chosen and the fact that this part of the equation did not go public, i.e., get covered by the mainstream media. It’s all smoke and mirrors to prop up certain failing banks. Why JP Morgan and Citi? Why not Chase? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? If not, then you are not looking closely enough at what is occurring.

  11. TW,

    Final thought…why is evolution good when it comes to living beings, but not to business? Darwinism – survival of the fittest – would dictate that these banks should fail as the cost of their organizational mismanagement. Let them fail; some entity (hopefully not government) will fill the void.

  12. I’m not saying these banks shouldn’t fail — but I don’t think the government gave them the job in such a shady way. I’d prefer that they’d run the program through one or two solvent banks that did not receive bail-out funds, but of no course no government anywhere will, on its own, ever do anything to let Darwinism affect the financial sector. Until we change the law so that getting elected to office means total divestment of all assets and elected officials are paid mostly in services rather than cash, no political contributions at all allowed. Then we’d weed out the people who run for office because they lust after money and power. This would kick the legs right out from under all the PACs and special interests and corporations, and make those elected responsive only to we, the People, since we’ll have elected officials who lust after power and fame, their constituents the only source of either.

  13. TW,
    Thanks for the comment. I agree that it is not a bad idea, but I would rather KNOW about it than feel like I have to go hunting around… it makes it seem underhanded. Politicians have for a long time now thought they know better for “We the people” than “we the people” actually do!
    If those are the policies that are going to be in place, do not reward bad behavior as it teaches our children bad values. The fact that Food Stamps are being run through J.P. Morgan is also disturbing.
    This is the same cronyism that is pummeling the country and speaks to the reason for “We the people” to dump both the DP and the RP and let them know that we are not sheep. I have said many times that I am encouraging everyone I know to change their Party Affiliation RIGHT NOW and let them see the numbers start to change.
    It is well before any election and if nothing else it may just scare them straight! My personal bet is on the Libertarian Party. I challenge you to go to the site and read through the platform and see if it doesn’t fit the core American values better than either of the other two. The advantage, they aren’t well connected and have no corporate ties. A lot less capable of being corrupted if you don’t owe your vote to anyone!

  14. Expanded viewpoint based on my above in the link. Honestly, until we change the way the game is played, we’re going to keep getting the same players, over and over…

  15. as to food stamps, and which banks the funds are fed/passed through…
    as i understand, the funds are distributed by the state where one in residence, and in most if not all states, residence does not equal citizenship.

    *(this also brings up the question of eligibility, how much of the allotted foodstamp monies are illegal residents receiving? i do know that border states w/mexico are broke and have been due to state monies/infrastructure (medical costs) going to support illegal populations.)

    the question(s) would them seem to be:

    did the funds originate in state coffers, from local taxes, etc., then distributed?

    or did the funds originate from the fed level, run thru the state, then distributed?

    if state originated, my guess would be that the states are allowed some leeway as to POD (point of distrib) concerning instate banks.

    if fed originated, my guess would be, there are naturally ‘strings attached’ and probably the states are forced/directed to ‘use banks of choice’ by the fed. this situation could very well entail distribution of the monies at a state level thru Regional FED RESERV banks; if that’s the case and there are no regs – as to whom the FED could appoint in such a fiduciary capacity, there may well be an ‘incestuous’ component as to which banks are to receive the ‘business’ for the pass through.

    by business, i mean the charges associated and incurred for processing ea/POS (point of sale) for the cards, although the accounts are not privately held in a local bank/personal account. w/unemployment benefits, where the funds are deposited into the personal bank accounts of the recipients. as to those charges, i understand, the recipient/account holder is charged as if the funds were personal taxable income, no distinction or origin is made.

    * eligibility for illegal residents – states are in dire straights supporting legal residents, why/how are they allowed to support illegal residents?

    if you want to waste your time, ankle-biting your congresscritters, i think that question would be a great place to start.

    as to ‘attached strings’ concerning fed monies – it will be interesting to see how the current ’10th amendment resolutions’ states north/south have passed and are now bringing to their legislatures are impacted. the legislation concerns state sovereignty and at issue is the reversal of the original compact/directive which is now underwater; that the states have become agents of the federal gov., whereas w/its founding the opposite was the case; the federal gov is, and always was… an agent of the sovereign ‘united States’.

  16. I was recently laid off and applied for unemployment. New York State also offers the option to pay benefits on a debit card that is issued by Chase. You are allowed two withdrawals per month before you are assessed a fee. You are charged a fee if you withdraw money from the wrong ATM. You are charged if you call customer service and complain about this setup (no pun intended).

    You can receive a debit card, or you can have your money direct-deposited into a bank of your choice. You do not, however, have the option to receive a check from the state.

    I suspect a sweetheart deal with the bailed-out banks to funnel them business to help paper over their insolvency. But that’s just me.

  17. You know those cards will have tons of hidden fees…
    Ugh. They’re just fleecing us.

  18. The Stimulus Plan, like quite a few other bills over the past decade, may look like it was rushed through Congress, without much opportunity for law makers to properly review it – but these things are hatched out amongst congress members well in advance, and they know very well WHAT is contained in these bills. The less public discusssion on the details of a given bill, the better, they reason. But if there is too much public dissatisfaction about a bill (after the bill has passed and has been put into effect), congress members can always resort to claiming that they weren’t given enough time to fully read and discuss the implementations of the bill – this strategy has become a new trend with Congress, I’ve noticed.

  19. Well spotted Hank…

    Another example is how they try to make it appear that there is disagreement or dissension between the two parties, dems. and reps., yet they never seem to have any problem getting people from either side to cross the aisle to support the agenda…

    It’s a one party system.

  20. I think it makes sense not to issue paper checks since they will save in payment to someone to print and mail the checks, along with the savings of postage.

    My question, however is why Citibank? How much will Citibank receive in payment for the printing of the Debit cards, handling the transactions and/or are they paid at all, if the government now owns a percentage maybe 40%? is money being exchanged at all now that they have a debt to the government?

    Or is this a further tracking system to see how John or Jane Doe spends his or her money. My Mother thought that banks were tracking where you spent your money. Maybe, she was right.

    Not positive, but I believe Chase is linked to JP Morgan.

    In regard to the Stimulus or lack thereof, would you sign a legal document before reading it? Of all the stupid things I have heard, this probably beats all! I don’t care how fast the new Pres wanted it done, somebody could have taken the time to read the 1000+ pages just to see if he or she thought this was a good idea or are the Congress people and Senate now the cows in line to be slaughtered next. If you see no one is coming back from the line, GET OUT OF THE LINE!

    I heard Governor Schwartzeneger (sorry if spelling is wrong, I never saw any of his movies) say one of the governors did not want the stimulus for his state. Schwartzeneger said he would take it for California. You be a PIG YO! He has already said that what he is getting for California will not be enough and he will continue to ask for more. So goes the majority of the people/states/countries and heads of whatever. WHAT IS ENOUGH AND ON WHOSE BACK?

    I am hoping that enough people realize that it is all so out of control that people will stop using charge cards and stop overextending and go back to farming-growing their own vegetables, cooking at home, couponing, refunding, bartering, etc. to not spend money we don’t have. Maybe, people could stop playing games and grow a garden!

    I remember my Mother talking about buying a coat on layaway and paying $2.00 a week until it was paid for. Some of the stores are allowing layaway again.

    Do you really need the 60″ TV? Do your children really need the label clothes or are their egoes so fragile, they would fall behind their peers if they didn’t have them? Whatever happened to making friends by the way they treat us and not judging how they dress? When I hear that someone has been killed for their starter jacket, I know labels are not the answer. Can you live with one income in a marriage?

    The Libertarian party is looking better every minute. At least, it would make a statement!

  21. […] 23, 2009 in Barack some interesting questions: Is Citi the only company getting the opportunity to funnel the taxpayers dollars?  Is this how the government will start […]

  22. I don’t know why the gov’t chooses the specific banks it does, but I can tell you that the debit card as means of UI payment has been done here (PA) at least since early ’08, which dates it well before the “stimulus” package and bailout fiascos.

  23. Trox,
    Good to know. I am wondering what banks they were using then to produce the Debit Cards and if that has changed since the Citizens Bank of America took over. Any idea?

  24. […] I Guarentee You Haven’t Heard This Tasty Morsel Yet! So, I have a close friend who is one of the unfortunate citizens who was laid off  due to our failing housing […] […]

  25. Hank,

    I have heard some suggestions for a law that would require each Representative and Senator to read a bill in its entirety prior to voting. There is no way that everyone (or even anyone) read the stimulus bill in its entirety in the short amount of time from its introduction to its vote.

    I think that would be a reasonable law…

  26. Total price tag so far: $7.2 trillion in investment and loans. That puts a lot of taxpayer money at risk. Now comes President-elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, some details of which were made public on Monday. The tally is getting awfully close to $8 trillion.

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