Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
What do I think Democrats should ask for?
First, I agree with Fernholz's last suggestion, the debt ceiling — although what I'd suggest is what Ezra Klein has argued for some time now, that they should just toss it into the agreement now, rather than just get some positive public statements. I wouldn't be surprised if that couldn't get done; from what John Boehner has said I don't think he's looking forward to a debt ceiling fight with a caucus he probably can't control on that issue, and I've argued that it's quite dangerous to his position as Speaker.
Second, I think the Democrats should bargain for whatever they can get on other, unrelated legislation — for example, allowing the food safety bill to get through whatever parliamentary fix is necessary for it to advance to the president. Ideally, that would include the three big remaining items on Barack Obama's lame duck agenda — DADT repeal, DREAM, and New START (and yes, that's a lot of all-caps items). I'm not sure whether there's any bargaining room in there at all, but remember that for the most part Democrats wouldn't be asking for Republicans to vote yes; they're just asking for less obstruction. If, as is likely, there's no give on those, at least perhaps Democrats could bargain for the Senate to clear some lower-level, less controversial measures, with food safety probably at the front of the line.
Third, there are still quite a few uncontroversial executive branch and judicial branch nominations pending. There's no way that conservatives are going to clear liberal Goodwin Liu for the 9th Circuit as part of this deal. But there are nominees for Under Secretary of Management at Homeland Security, Under Secretary of Export Administration at Commerce, Deputy US Trade Representative, General Counsel to the Army, and many others that as far as I know just didn't happen yet, and probably won't without Republican cooperation.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
And If I Say I Really Loved You
And Was Glad You Came Along.
If You Were Here Today.
Ooh- Ooh- Ooh- For You Were In My Song.
Ooh- Ooh- Ooh- Here To - Day.- Paul McCartney "Here Today"
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
While David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP, says his members fully support efforts to rein in federal spending, he adds that upping the age for Social Security eligibility isn't the right way to go about it. Raising the wage cap, currently $106,800, would be better, he says.
Monday, December 06, 2010
What have we learned so far from the disclosure of more than 21,000 transactions? We have learned that <b>the $700 billion Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush</b> turned out to be pocket change compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars in near-zero interest loans and other financial arrangements the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution in this country. Among those are Goldman Sachs, which received nearly $600 billion; Morgan Stanley, which received nearly $2 trillion; Citigroup, which received $1.8 trillion; Bear Stearns, which received nearly $1 trillion, and Merrill Lynch, which received some $1.5 trillion in short term loans from the Fed.
We also learned that the Fed's multi-trillion bailout was not limited to Wall Street and big banks, but that some of the largest corporations in this country also received a very substantial bailout. Among those are General Electric, McDonald's, Caterpillar, Harley Davidson, Toyota and Verizon.
Perhaps most surprising is the huge sum that went to bail out foreign private banks and corporations including two European megabanks -- Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse -- which were the largest beneficiaries of the Fed's purchase of mortgage-backed securities.
Deutsche Bank, a German lender, sold the Fed more than $290 billion worth of mortgage securities. Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank, sold the Fed more than $287 billion in mortgage bonds.
Has the Federal Reserve of the United States become the central bank of the world?
(ed. note: emphasis added for the yahoos who read this blog and blame Obama for the bailout)
OK, so not only banks got bailouts, but solid American companies like Harley-Davidson, McDonald's, Caterpillar, Verizon and General Electric did.
Aside from Harley (full disclosure: I own an insignificant number of shares of HOG) which is perennially on the ropes, do any of these companies sound like they're in any financial difficulty?
And Toyota? Deutsche Bank? Credit Suisse? Why aren't Japan, Germany and Switzerland taking care of their own? Did Germany help us bailout GM?
Here's the kicker: as Sanders points out, that bailout money went to businesses that, for the most part, are doing rather nicely now, thank you. Meanwhile, we quibble over extending unemployment benefits of less than $33 billion becomes "class warfare".
Companies no longer rely on nations for their financial health so why should we be bailing them out at all?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the Republican whip, told different interviewers that they expect Congress to vote for the tax cuts, which have been in effect for almost a decade, to continue unaltered for at least several years in exchange for an agreement to extend an emergency unemployment program that expired last week for millions of people.
"Obviously, the president won't sign a permanent extension of the current tax rates. So we're going to have some kind of extension. I'd like one as long as possible," McConnell told host David Gregory on NBC's "Meet the Press." Moments later, he added: "I think we will extend unemployment compensation. . . . We're working on that package. . . . I think we're going to get there."
We are trading the long-term benefits of a tax increase on those who are doing quite nicely in the current economy, thank you, for a few weeks' extension of benefits.
We can do better. I think if we tied the unemployment benefits to a jobs creation bill (and there has to be at least one in the hopper now), it sends a far better message that Congress, this Democratic Congress, has the interests of the working and middle classes at heart, and then let the tax cuts die just to prove it.
We're going to have to restructure taxes next session anyway, and the Democrats, curiously, will have a bigger say in that, since they don't have to wrangle 60 votes in the Senate.
Weird to say, huh? They had a 60 vote minority, and the influence of asshats from sparsely populated states like Nebraska and Arkansas was grossly overstated because of it. Now, we can basically tell the Nelsons and Lincolns of the Congress to fuck off (I know, Lincoln lost. Good riddance). Your "services" are no longer required.
We'll fight this fight on ideology now.