- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade (November 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547573146
- ISBN-13: 978-0547573144
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Throw Them All Out Hardcover – November 15, 2011
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Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Peter Schweizer
Q:When did you realize that so many insider trading and sweetheart land deals were going on?
A: When I first discovered that members of Congress are exempt from insider trading laws, I didn’t believe it. Then, when I started to look at their stock trades and compare them with what they were doing in office, I was stunned.
Q: What do you mean by the "Permanent Political Class"?
A: I think politics in Washington has become a business opportunity. Republicans and Democrats are not so different as you think. They work together to enrich themselves. They have designed the system to work so that they can make lots of money doing things that would get the rest of us sent to jail.
Q: What do you mean by "honest graft"?
A: When people think of politicians making money in Washington, they think of bribery and other illegal activities. That’s small potatoes. The real money is made by doing stuff that’s legal, including insider trading on the stock market and land deals.
Q: Politicians are exempt from insider trading laws? You’re kidding, right?
A: No. They write the rules, and guess what: the rules that apply to us don’t apply to them. By the way, they are also exempt from whistleblower laws. If you see your boss committing a financial crime, you can report them and you will be protected. You can’t be fired. But if your boss is a congressman? You’re toast. You are not protected.
Q: What’s wrong with politicians who trade stock? Don’t we want them involved in the economy?
A: Yes, but they are doing exactly what corporate insiders get sent to jail for doing. It’s a double standard and it’s unfair. If Martha Stewart had been in the U.S. Senate, she would have been protected.
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Top Customer Reviews
To take some examples, the book examines many of the most recent deals that congressmen and women have gotten away with. For instance, About $16 billion of the $20 billion that the Obama administration has doled out has gone to financial backers of the Obama administration. Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi received 5,000 shares of an almost impossible-to-get credit card stock. And 10 members of the national finance committee received Solyndra-type loans.
Perhaps the scariest is when the bureaucrats are also involved in the actual company's success, what is called "pump-and-dump." The book goes into such trades that Al Gore made in which he and a Silicon Valley investor put in $16 million into a company before a $25 million grant was issued by the federal government, after which Gore's initial investment turned into $89 million.
The real unfortunate thing is that this is just the tip of the iceberg and the kinds of deals that these public officials get away with are so pervasive that it affects almost all that regular citizens do. Everyone knows that the government plays a huge role in the economy and that if a group of government officials wants to make a company succeed, it will do so. And the people who know where that money is going will benefit from it. The problem is that public officials can get away with it, and the rest of us would go to jail for the same action.
In the immortal words of George Orwell, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
This whole process is explained in the similarly excellent Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It by Eric Robert Morse, which also outlines a fantastic history and solution for this problem, which seems to only be getting worse.
This book is organized by methods that elected officials and others connected to them can legally earn more money. I never imagined anything like this, that's how naive I must be.
Schweizer addresses this question: How do some top politicians exit office with millions more than credible based on their salaries and perhaps some patient investing? Nobody that I know of has taken on this question until Throw Them All Out was published.
Many legally enrich themselves through earmarks, real estate deals, securities violations, trading on inside information, self-dealing with stimulus funds and literally every budget item. That's a brief summary. It's not all politicians though.
Crony Capitalism Exposed
Insider trading is illegal -- except for members of Congress. A Wall Street executive who buys or sells stock based on insider information would face a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and quite possibly a federal prosecutor. But senators and congressmen are free to legally trade stock based on nonpublic information they have obtained through their official positions as elected officials -- and they do so on a regular basis.
On Sunday night, CBS News' "60 Minutes" looked into this form of "lawful graft." The "60 Minutes" story exposed, among others, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for participating in a lucrative initial public offering from Visa in 2008 that was not available to the general public, just as a troublesome piece of legislation that would have hurt credit card companies began making its way through the House (the bill never made it to the floor). And it showed how during the 2008 financial crisis, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) -- then-ranking Republican on the House Financial Services Committee -- aggressively bought stock options based on apocalyptic briefings he had received the day before from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.
The report was based on an explosive new book by Peter Schweizer that will hit stores on Tuesday. It's called "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison." (Full disclosure: Schweizer is a close friend, a former White House colleague and my business partner in a speechwriting firm, Oval Office Writers.
The "60 Minutes" story only scratches the surface of what Schweizer has uncovered. For example, Bachus was not the only member of Congress trading on nonpublic information during the financial crisis. On Sept. 16, 2008, Schweizer writes, Paulson and Bernanke held a "terrifying" closed-door meeting with congressional leaders. "The next day Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, a member of the Appropriations Committee, dumped his shares in ninety different companies .'.'. [his] most active trading day of the year."
Rep. Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.) and her husband "dumped between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citigroup stock the day after the briefing," Schweizer writes, and "at least ten U.S. senators, including John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Dick Durbin, traded stock or mutual funds related to the financial industry the following day." Durbin, Schweizer says, "attended that September 16 briefing with Paulson and Bernanke. He sold off $73,715 in stock funds the next day. Following the next terrifying closed-door briefing, on September 18, he dumped another $42,000 in stock. By doing so, Durbin joined some colleagues in saving themselves from the sizable losses that less-connected investors would experience." Some members even made gains on their trades, at a time when ordinary Americans without insider knowledge were seeing their life savings evaporate.
Schweizer also documents numerous examples of how members of Congress of both parties -- including Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former House speaker Dennis Hastert -- have used federal earmarks to enhance the value of their own real estate holdings. They have done so, Schweizer shows, by extending a light-rail mass transit line near their property, expanding an airport, cleaning up a nearby shoreline, building roads and bridges, and beautifying land and neighborhoods nearby -- in each case "substantially increasing values and the net worth of our elected officials, courtesy of taxpayer money."
Perhaps the most disturbing revelations come from Schweizer's investigation into the Obama Energy Department and its infamous "green energy" loan guarantee and grant programs, a program Schweizer calls "the greatest -- and most expensive -- example of crony capitalism in American history." The scandal surrounding Solyndra -- the now-bankrupt, Obama-connected solar power company that received a federally guaranteed loan of $573 million -- is well known. But Solyndra, Schweizer says, is only the tip of the iceberg.
According to his research, at least 10 members of President Obama's campaign finance committee and more than a dozen of his campaign bundlers were big winners in getting tax dollars from these programs. One chart in the book details how the 10 finance committee members collectively raised $457,834, and were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.4 billion -- quite a return on their investment.
In the loan-guarantee program alone, Schweizer writes, "$16.4 billion of the $20.5 billion in loans granted went to companies either run by or primarily owned by Obama financial backers -- individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama's National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party." That is a staggering 71 percent of the loan money.
Schweizer cites example after example of companies that received grants or loans and documents their financial connections to the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party. And he shows how "the [Energy] department's loan and grant programs are run by partisans who were responsible for raising money during the Obama campaign from the same people who later came to seek government loans and grants."
There is much, much more, which means that when Schweizer's book hits stores Tuesday, heads in Washington are going to explode.
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