On January 13th, Bush told Larry King that he doesn't know if our economic decline has eroded his wealth. Because his assets are in a Blind Trust, he said he would not know until January 21st (the day after inauguration).
My ears pricked up at this comment because how Bush's Blind Trust money has fared is something I've been waiting to hear about for 8-yrs. I thought this would be made public very quickly. I was wrong.
I waited all day Wednesday, January 21st. Nothing. Then I thought for sure it would be included in the Friday news dump, January 23rd. Nope. This past week, I was too involved in my own dramas to take much notice, but thought once again, surely Bush's Blind Trust would make the Friday news dump of January 30th.
Well (sigh), I guess it's up to me. I just can't let January end without a stab at it, as best as I can piece it together...
First let me note: a blind trust is a financial arrangement utilized by many public officials. The official decides which of his assets to put into the blind trust. He meets with the blind trust fiduciaries to review, among other things, what investment risk level he is comfortable with. The blind trust takes that information to heart as their directive of how to invest the official's assets. At the point that the assets are invested in the blind trust, the official becomes a client of the blind trust. While the client receives no information on exactly what their assets are invested in and cannot direct the management of their blind trust assets, they do receive quarterly reports on the total value of their investment. The wise client monitors these reports because he is not a prisoner of the blind trust. He can always cash his assets out or move them into another blind trust. So I guess Bush was just joshing about having no idea of the value of his blind trust until January 21st because he would've received a report of the total value as late as December 31, 2008 (gee, what a surprise that he would lie).
In 2000, when Bush decided he would become President, he entered into a blind trust arrangement with Northern Trust Co. (his daddy had used Bessemer Trust, a blueblood firm, but their avg account is $22million and Georgie may not have wanted to admit he was that rich). At that time, Bush put $5million into the blind trust. His other assets, including Crawford Ranch, were excluded from trust investment management. What were those "other assets"? ....
At the trust inception in 2000, Bush reportedly held at least $15million outside the blind trust, for a total of at least $20million in assets. This amount was mostly accumulated through his investments in Harken Energy, Texas Rangers, and Carlyle Group connections.
The $20million is probably a gross underestimate, because like most GOP bigwigs, Bush subscribes to "corporate socialism". He helped himself to public-sector capital while lecturing the rest of us on the virtues of hard work and self-reliance. The plundering of public assets (like the University of Texas) for private gain was and is his business model.
As those links imply, there is really no telling exactly what the value of Bush's "other assets" were in 2000. That is important, because the question of what his blind trust is worth now does not even take into consideration all the assets NOT placed in the blind trust ... assets that could've directly profited from his presidency, like investments in defense war stocks, etc.
But let us, for the sake of conservative estimate, consider that Bush's total assets at the beginning of his presidency were the $20million reported ($5million in a blind trust and $15million held outside the blind trust). What might those assets be worth now, after engineering the Iraq War?
To get at that answer requires knowlege of what Bush has been investing his assets in during the past 8-yrs. Does anyone believe that his blind trust assets as well as his non-blind assets were not heavily invested in Halliburton, ExxonMobil, and Blackwater suppliers? These three are the most notorious of the no-bid war profiteers, earning billions from captive US taxpayers, not to mention the blood of US soldiers. And don't forget, these firms also profited from Katrina, so add the misery of that drowned city into their profits.
Finally, the problem of trying to put a dollar amount on Bush's total investment value requires knowing when his financial advisors advised he get out of the market. Halliburton peaked in June 2008; ExxonMobil in Sept 2008; Blackwater figures are not available as it is a close corporation, but can be extrapolated from these other two.
If Bush's investments were competently handled, with the benefit of a little inside information (nod, nudge, wink), the estimated profit over 8-yrs might be a whopping 3,281%!!!
Yes, while your personal investments may have lost 30-40% over the last 8-yrs, Bush could've been earning 3,281%!
So, Bush's original $20million could be worth as much as $676million by now, if he played his cards right. Does anyone think he would not haved scrupled to personally benefit from his "Iraq War-by-Design"?
And let's not forget Cheney! He makes Bush look positively bush-league. Ignoring all his other assets, Cheney's Halliburton stock holdings alone could be worth $1.2billion today. Yup, those Bushes and Cheneys, they sure know how to bleed a country dry!
And where are their assets? Swiss bank accounts? Offshore shell banks? Convoluted diversionary holding companies? Billions are missing from Iraq. Did some of that missing money end up with Bush? Will we ever really know, or are we doomed to blindness?