A Republican to Save Us

You probably don't know much about Sheila
Bair, but she is looking out for you, and that is why the big guys on
Wall Street and their allies in the Obama administration are out to get

Bair is the Republican whom President
Obama reappointed to head the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but she
is protecting the interest of taxpayers as no Democrat has in this
administration, and she needs your support. Huge financial decisions
are being made by this government, involving trillions in future
obligations of U.S. taxpayers, and Bair has been a rare effective voice
for the interests of ordinary folk.

Once an aide to then-Sen. Robert Dole
(R-Kan.), Bair was appointed by the first President Bush to the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission and reappointed by President
Clinton. Later she was named head of the FDIC by President George W.
Bush. Throughout her public service she has proved to be a vigilant
protector of consumer interests.

Bair angered people on both sides of the
political aisle by repeatedly raising questions about the radical
deregulation policies that unfettered Wall Street's greed. She has been
a great watchdog of the public's interest. That was acknowledged
recently when she and former CFTC Chair Brooksley Born, the prescient
hero who warned most clearly of the coming debacle, each won a John F.
Kennedy Library "Profile in Courage" Award.

Bair has continued to show courage in her
work. As The Wall Street Journal noted: "The FDIC's influence has grown
in the past year because of Ms. Bair's willingness to challenge her
peers, as well as her agency's central role responding to the financial
crisis. Ms. Bair warned about the housing crisis before many of her

The current point of conflict between Bair
and the hacks who got us into this mess-and who have resurfaced as the
key players running the bailout-is financial industry accountability.
She started demanding that accountability last fall when the Bush
administration began the TARP bailout and she continues to do so under
Obama. Throughout, her nemesis has been Timothy Geithner, former head
of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and now secretary of the treasury.

The most glaring example of this conflict
has been the battle over the management of Citigroup, the "too big to
fail" banking conglomerate that became the largest in the world thanks
to changes in the law advocated by Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert
Rubin. Rubin then left the government to become chairman of the
executive committee at Citigroup, a post he occupied as it made risky
bets on derivatives and incurred record losses. Citigroup was saved
from oblivion by a plan engineered by Geithner, whom Rubin had
successfully pushed for the top job at the New York Fed.

That plan, endorsed by the Bush
administration, left the U.S. government pumping $50 billion into
Citigroup and guaranteeing an additional $300 billion of its "toxic"
holdings. In return, we taxpayers were to receive preferred stock with
the promise of significant interest payments, but now the terms have
been changed. Thanks to Geithner's intervention, Citigroup will be
allowed to convert half of the government's preferred stock into almost
worthless common stock.

Enter Bair, who has been insisting, over
Geithner's objection, that major changes occur in the leadership of
Citigroup to give the taxpayers a better chance to get some of that
money back. She has an obligation to make that demand because the FDIC
is a part guarantor not only of Citigroup banking deposits but also of
the $300 billion toxic assets package.

In her role of protecting the taxpayer
interest, she has been pressing for replacing Citigroup CEO Vikram
Pandit or at least more fully overseeing his performance. He took over
Citigroup in December 2007, and while he now claims to be committed to
reforming his bank's operation, as The Wall Street Journal concluded,
"For his first year on the job, Mr. Pandit insisted Citigroup's
business model was basically sound."

Bair didn't believe that the model was
sound, and she has doubts about the ability of Pandit and other top
banking executives to change their high-roller ways. As David Weidner
put it on MarketWatch, "By threatening the things most precious to bank
executives-their pay and jobs-she has sent a clear message to the
industry: Your bailout is not without a price. We expect results."

But, he added ominously: "Bair's hardball
tactics aren't just irritating bankers, though. She's also making
enemies of career bureaucrats and Wall Street sympathizers. Treasury
Secretary Timothy Geithner ... reportedly tried to push out Bair before
he took office in December."

Rest assured, if Bair loses out and
Geithner has his way, Citigroup's CEO and the other Wall Street moguls
will be thrilled. But the public will have lost its most effective

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