April 14th, 2011
09:29 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Fuzzy Math in Budget Deal?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We're one step away from a 2011 federal budget. All that's needed now is President Obama's signature. The Senate passed the compromise deal this evening in an 81-19 vote hours after the House approved the measure, even with opposition from 59 Republicans and 108 Democrats.

What got lawmakers upset is a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office suggesting that the deal stuck last week to keep the government running would save about $352 million, a lot less than the $38.5 billion touted by negotiators on both sides of the aisle.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), one of the architects of the deal, is defending the cuts.

"Certainly it (the CBO report) has caused some confusion, but let's understand we're cutting $38.5 billion of money that has already been authorized and appropriated and anybody who doesn't believe this money wouldn't be spent if we didn't act is kidding themselves, because this is real money and these are real cuts," Boehner told reporters.

We'll check into the reports of fuzzy math and let you be the judge. We're Keeping them Honest.

Also tonight, should Goldman Sachs, the largest investment bank on Wall Street, face criminal prosecution for the financial crisis?

That will be up to the U.S. Justice Department and SEC after a Senate panel released a scathing 639-page report following a two-year bipartisan investigation on the crisis.

What is known for sure is the economic meltdown cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes and wiped out billions of dollars in other investments. Americans on Main Street know all too well the damage done. Yet no one on Wall Street has ever faced criminal prosecution. Is that about to change?

Last summer, you may recall, Goldman paid a $550 million fine to the SEC to settle civil fraud charges. Again that was civil charges – not criminal. Still, the penalty was the highest ever against a Wall Street firm.

A lot of people are wondering if Goldman may now face criminal charges.

In the Senate report, Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claim Goldman Sachs misled clients and Congress about the firm's bets on securities tied to the housing market. The report suggests Goldman was peddling securities to clients based on shaky mortgages. Mortgages they knew were shaky and that traders at the firm were simultaneously betting against.

Goldman has issued this statement:

"While we disagree with many of the conclusions of the report, we take seriously the issues explored by the Subcommittee. We recently issued the results of a comprehensive examination of our business standards and practices and committed to making significant changes that will strengthen relationships with clients, improve transparency and disclosure and enhance standards for the review, approval and suitability of complex instruments."

Other financial institutions were mentioned in the report, including the now-defunct Washington Mutual Bank.

We'll have more with Matt Taibbi, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, who has written extensively on the financial crisis and CNN's Eliot Spitzer, who prosecuted Wall Street tycoons when he was New York's Attorney General from 1999-2006.

We'll also have new developments on Libya. President Obama, along with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron have released an op-ed that will be published in three newspapers tomorrow calling for the removal of Moammar Gadhafi.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET on CNN.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Gayle

    Great show with Matt and Eliot. As long as Wall St./K St. are running the country with their only concern being the profit they, and their CEOs, are banking, we will continue to have problems with environmental issues, job growth, funding social programs and getting adequate health care for everyone. Instead of prosecuting the criminal behavior in the financial system, it's been rewarded with taxpayer bailouts. The administration could halt the continuing downward spiral of our country by correcting the structural problems within the financial system. By finally prosecuting the unlawful activities that have almost ruined America and doing away with tax loopholes, breaks and subsidies for the very wealthy and companies that ship jobs overseas, President Obama will make a clear stand for justice and the mantra for “shared sacrifice” to save the country from ruin won’t sound so hollow and false. Doing away with the secret waivers that are behind the unsustainable rise of oil and gas prices due to speculation, as outlined in Matt’s book “Griftopia, is especially important. Until the “Goldman Sachs tax” is stopped and oil/food prices are brought under control, consumers and businesses will continue to hunker down and keep their spending in check and job growth will remain nonexistent.

    April 15, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  2. Kat

    Put it on paper for the whole US to see and lets vote on it!

    April 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm |