Late last year, two councilmen from Staten Island earned some publicity for themselves for proposing that the Mets change their stadium's name from Citi Field to Taxpayer Field after Citigroup took public funds to help survive the economic downturn. Now two members of the House of Representatives are jumping in and demanding that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "dissolve" the contract between the Mets and Citigroup.
"Absent this outcome, we feel strongly that you should compel Citigroup to return immediately all federal money received to date, as well as cancel all loan guarantees," the letter, from Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and Ted Poe, stated.
Kucinich and Poe are sure to score points with those who are dismayed that their taxes were used to help a company that's paying $400 million to put their name on a baseball stadium. Who wouldn't get upset about something like that? Thing is, that boneheaded use of corporate money is exactly the kind of bad decision that the government absolved Citigroup and other companies of when they put the bailout into action.
Citigroup and the Mets entered into their agreement in 2006, well before any public money was being used. Citigroup was buying mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps at the same time, at least they got their names on a stadium as a result of the Mets deal. How do you decide which bad deals are covered by your bailout and which aren't?
That's why Kucinich and Poe's action is sure to fail, because Congress never fails to miss an opportunity to prove they don't know how to handle the financial storm. They should be focused on improving business practices, oversight and regulation to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. Kicking an easy target, albeit one which deserves to be kicked, isn't going to make any measurable change for the economy or the citizens they're supposed to represent.