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State bruised by bailout plans

November 13, 2008

Re "Banks' tax breaks could cost the state $2 billion," Nov. 11

I suppose it should come as no surprise that in the waning days of the Bush administration, the Treasury Department has pushed through an estimated $140-billion tax break for big banks without the consent of Congress. After all, it has been a hallmark of this White House and its Republican congressional supporters to favor financial and regulatory giveaways to big business at the expense of average citizens. But it was stunning, even for this bunch, when a Treasury spokesperson admitted on the record that the government had not factored the cost to federal and state governments into its decision.

Now California lawmakers have to decide whether to eliminate a corresponding $2-billion state tax break for banks, foisted on the state by Treasury's ruling. This comes at a time when we are facing cuts to schools, healthcare and law enforcement as well as likely tax hikes.

As they ponder this decision, Republicans in the Legislature would do well to consider the results of the recent election, in which polls showed that voters overwhelmingly trusted Democrats to handle the current economic crisis in a way that put their interests first. A Republican decision to side with the Bush administration and big business will only confirm these beliefs.

Andrew Hindes

Los Angeles

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Re "Firm urged hedge against state bonds it helped sell," Nov. 11

The recent Times article on Goldman Sachs' blatant conflict of interest when it was the agent for California's bonds -- telling clients to bet against those same bonds -- has riled me more than anything else that Wall Street has done. I am nearly speechless with anger. How can anybody ever trust Goldman Sachs with their money ever again?

The fact that such an act is not illegal is not the worst of it, in my mind. This is: The former CEO of Goldman Sachs -- even though he apparently was no longer CEO when this conflict of interest occurred -- is now our Treasury secretary.

He shares responsibility for the culture of his old firm, and he is now responsible for overseeing the $700-billion bailout to "save" our economy. How can he be trusted with taxpayers' money when his old firm can no longer be trusted by its clients?

Pierre G. Basmaji

San Diego

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Re "Bailout funds going quickly," Nov. 11

How about this: The president lands on the carrier again, but this time he wears a "banker" suit!

Tom Allard

Glendale

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