Mar 302010
The Healing of America
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr

In reference to the 13 states attorneys general who have filed suit against the recent healthcare bill:
“So this is how the attorneys general who have instituted suit, the Tea Party and the Republicans view aiding the public and protecting the Constitution.”
Judge H. Lee Sarokin

Is there any end to the impasse that is the political conversation in the United States? Liberals argue on principle that we need to provide medical coverage for all Americans. This is an ethical question that needs to be posed outside of the conversation of how we pay for it. I’m confident that set in such context, the vast majority will acknowledge the need. With that established, the natural procession would be to then discuss how best to make that happen. True conservatives would push for a fiscally responsible solution, and all sane people would again agree. But this isn’t the way such important issues are addressed in 21st Century America.

Instead, we have the Democratic Congress pushing through legislation that answers the ethical question without paying due diligence to the fiscal impact. If you actually read the CBO report, the very report touted to “reduce the deficit,” you’ll see the shaky ground on which that assertion rests. And the Republican response, instead of being founded in legitimate conservative principles, amounts to little more than a continuance of the empty rhetoric and heated talking points they’ve found so effective in whooping up support in the far-right extreme.

America is in a heap of trouble right now, with issues on many fronts. Healthcare is but one. With this much heat and broken government surrounding this issue, what will happen when we address financial reform, jobs, immigration, energy, and the environment? How about meaningful campaign reform, or the most avoided topic of all — taxes and how we’re going to pay for everything? We are in desperate need of real leadership, and we’re not currently getting any from our elected officials on either side of the aisle.

Wake up America!

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Mar 252010
Christopher Dodd, U.S. Senator.
Image via Wikipedia

“Once you understand that the resolution authority is an illusion, you begin to understand that the Dodd legislation would achieve nothing on the systemic risk and too big to fail front.”
Simon Johnson, MIT Professor, co-author of 13 Bankers

People need to take notice of what’s going on here. Senator Dodd’s bill absolutely needs to be sunshined and debated. This is not sound financial system reform and regulation, and all Americans need to be concerned. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t understand all the aspects of cross-border financial institutions, but I do appreciate some regulation issues, especially where the detection component of resolution authority is involved. It just opens up an additional layer of confusion with tracking derivatives and off balance sheet transactions. Wasn’t that a big part of what was behind Lehman and Repo105?

Financial reform must definitely be high on our list of priorities, but we need to do it right. Our nation can ill afford another round like the recent meltdown. The government itself is unlikely to have the resources to put things back together next time.

I’m nowhere close to being an economist, but even I can see that Chris Dodd has put together a gift to the banking industry. Relying on resolution authority is one thing, but putting the CFPA inside the Fed and allowing the FSOC to veto its decisions . . . it’s like putting the hen in the fox house! And then leaving everything to the discretion of an agency that can be overruled, rather than setting the guidelines it will enforce into law — it’s slight of hand, and Dodd, the conman, will be gone before we find out we were ripped off.

The bill needs to have measures in place that will force the Fed’s hand, otherwise what are the chances they’ll have the nerve to test the system and pull the trigger? Real reform will have hard caps on size and leverage ratios, derivative reform, and definitive remediation requirements. It will also have a fully independent CFPA that’s not subject to FSOC control, and does have control over non-bank entities, like auto dealers.  As is, this will be a mess, but I’m still hopeful that real reformers like Ted Kaufman will stop Dodd from launching his lobbyist career on this watered down smoke-screen excuse for financial reform.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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Mar 242010
John McCain official photo portrait.
Image via Wikipedia

The Republican whining over the passage of the Healthcare bill looks to be straight out of a Michael Moore documentary. It couldn’t be any more ridiculous if it were scripted. After a year of debate, a bill that’s stripped of a public option is finally passed after an eleventh-hour deal with anti-abortion Democrats, and the conservatives still scream “foul!” The only outcome that would have been acceptable to the Republican camp was to pass nothing. That didn’t happen, so now we have to put up with another round of their juvenile temper tantrums.

Senator John McCain is the conservative “Brat-in-Chief.” Threatening that, “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year,” the former presidential candidate is taking his ball and going home. Now, if crazy John had actually been playing in the game, somebody might care. But we all know that he’s still not recovered from his ’08 Championship loss. He’s been pouting on the sidelines ever since. Will anyone even notice he’s gone?

Parents of other conservative leaders must have been too sparing with their time-outs as well. Several, including Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, have decided to just “go tell mommy.” In the political equivalent to “They can’t make me play,” McCollum joins a pack of conservative leaders who will challenge the legislation at the state level. And you almost feel sorry for poor Gov. Pawlenty — he doesn’t want to play either, but since Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is a separately elected official, he could only ask her to “pretty please” review the bill.

Juvenile brats or not, at least all of these conservatives are trying to play within established rules. Sadly, this is not the case for others. By now, everyone’s heard about Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s indiscrete outburst. But while name calling is obviously very childish, and Bart Stupak justified in scolding Neugebauer, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) needs to have her mouth washed out with soap. I’m sure that Rep. Bachmann’s parents taught her not to lie, but she evidently didn’t learn the lesson: I mean, come on Michele, the health care bill is going to raise abortion by 30 percent?

So go the games on the Republican playground. It’s a sorry state of affairs, but it’s so constant that we’re all getting used to it. At some point you have to just say, “Let them be babies — there’s work that needs to be done — I guess we’ll have to do it ourselves.”

But then, just when you think you’ve found a way to ignore all the juvenile antics, they take a turn toward the dangerous. When gun-slinging former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin starts identifying “targets,” we need to take notice. If her recent Facebook post addressing the health care bill contained only her normal mish-mash of tired talking points, you could just turn the other cheek. But when she takes to whipping up the crazies with talk about “taking aim,” and she actually provides a “target” list for the “first salvo” in a “fight,” to “reclaim the power of the people from those who disregarded the will of the people” . . . well, it’s time to duck and run for cover!

And like those kids in school who came from everywhere at the mention of a fight, the conservative talking heads are eagerly fanning the flame. Adept at using everything in the right-wing toy box, be it tantrums, tattling, name calling, lying, or fighting, the Republican Party’s number one playground bully, Rush Limbaugh, is loudly shouting his battle cry. Always so eloquent, Limbaugh says, “We need to defeat these bastards” — “We need to wipe them out. Defeat the Democrats every one of them that voted for this bill.” Then, making sure he whips things to a frenzy, he pulls some tried and true fear mongering from his bright red toy chest, the bill means “leftist radicals will now be making your health care decisions, instead of your doctor” . . . “America is hanging by a thread.”

Not to be outdone, fellow right-wing barking dog, Glen Beck was quick to jump on the bandwagon. Appealing to the Marty McFly contingent of the GOP — “Are you an American or are you a mouse?” Beck taunted. And just in case they didn’t respond to being called “chicken,” Beck followed with a shot at that good old sense of American superiority, “Are you an American or a European?” Now, I’m all for free speech, but you’ve got to wonder at what point this type of incendiary emotional instigation should be considered, “yelling fire in a theater.” Does somebody actually have to die?

One tantrum after another, it could be in a soap opera, like “As the Teeter Totters.” It would all be funny, if it wasn’t so disruptive, destructive and potentially dangerous. With America in its most dire times since the Great Depression, we’re in desperate need of real solutions. There’s no shortcut back to prosperity, no quick fixes. Only one path leads back to American greatness, and that path requires an open and honest dialog of what ails our Country. It’s time for all true patriots to demand an end to the childish bickering and insist that the dialog begin.

It’s time that We the People demand these conservative leaders grow the f@&# up!

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