Saturday, May 08, 2010

quote of the day

Today was the day in Utah when two long-time, public-popular incumbents of both political parties were rebuked by their parties delegates. Sen. Bob Bennett, as was expected, was drummed out of office, failing to make it past the second ballot. Rep. Jim Matheson, in a bit of a surprised, was forced into the first primary of his political career, which has spanned a decade.
"I get it," Matheson told the crowd, not long after dozens of them had chanted "Wright for Utah!" and hoisted his opponent's signs. "You're angry about some of my votes," he said, drawing some ironic applause. "But I'm a Democrat and I'm here to tell you I don't run from that label because it's in my blood."
Three little words that incumbents all around the country need to say and mean it...or they risk becoming the next Bob Bennett or Jim Matheson.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hatch looking out of the poor mega banks

While his colleague is getting drummed out of office for voting for the TARP and co-sponsoring bills with Democrats, Sen. Orin Hatch is looking out for his constituents donors, the big banks.
"It isn't fair to everyone," Hatch, R-Utah, told Geithner in a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

That tax-writing committee has been considering an Obama administration proposal to assess a fee of 0.15 percent on the liabilities (other than deposits and certain required capital holdings) of financial institutions that have more than $50 billion in assets.

"Is it fair to apply this tax not only to companies that have repaid TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) with interest, but also to companies that did not take TARP money at all?" Hatch asked.
Yes it is fair. Because these mega financial institutions created many of the financial instruments that caused the financial disaster that we are still trying to recover from. I spent all of last year on a case against a mega bank for "loan" that they collateralized and sold to hedge funds because they systematically overleveraged the borrowers to make their fees. There have been other cases of other big banking institutions doing similarly destructive things.

In fact, a resent study reported that bankers destroy 7 times as much wealth as they create in the economy.

Hatch's other questions to Gietner were why don't you tax companies Republicans don't like and blame for the Great Recession--Fannie Mae, Freddy Mac, GM, Chrysler, etc. This just reveals that Hatch appearant concerns about fairness are really about partisanship. Newsflash: McCain lost the 2008 election in a landslide, in part because he said "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

People are really angry about big banks, and rightfully so. Those institutions made stupid products and made everyone else pay for them while they walked away with big bonuses for their overpaid executives. It is only fair that big banks, which make our financial system inherantly unstable pay into a fund to protect us against future bailouts.

Perhaps such a law would just make every firm fiddle with their balance sheets so that they have 1 cent less that $80 billion in assets. Afterall, those big banks have plenty of experience with fudging balance sheets.

Monday, May 03, 2010

oops they did it again on purpose

Today in the mail, Ms. Oldenburg got this:
Through the power of technology, I have redacted our address and name. [here are the full contents from another otherwise identical mailer from Talking Points Memo]

Do you notice that the envelope says it is an "OFFICIAL DOCUMENT" and the paper inside, made visible via the enormous "window" says "Census Document Registered To: [name redacted]"? But guess what? This was not sent out by the U.S. Census Bureau, but the Republican National Committee. This is deceptive, which is why Congress passed a law making mailings that are designed to trick recipients into thinking they are from the Census illegal. The law's exact words however, only made it illegal to have the word "Census" placed on the envelope itself. So the RNC moved that information into the "window," and voila! legal again.
"I can't help it that the Democrats wrote a bad bill," [RNC Chairman Michael Steele] said. "The reality of it is we complied to what the law required and the mailer went out."

Well, not so fast. This perhaps technically legal mailer you see above pissed off not one but two House Republicans, and one of them goes by the name of Jason Chaffetz (UT-03).
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), a co-sponsor of the legislation passed last month, told The PlumLine's Greg Sargent that the mailer is intended to "deceive people," and added that he and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) will send a letter to RNC chair Michael Steele urging him to put a stop to the missives.

"They're trying to be deceptive, and it outrages me," Chaffetz said. "The reason they're using the word census is they're trying to deceive people. I think that's wrong. Even though it's my own party I've got to call this out for what it is."
So the U.S. House passed another bill 416-0 closing the Michael Steele loophole. Of course, who knows when the U.S. Senate will get off its duff. It takes 60 votes for Harry Reid to tie his shoes you know.

Why would the RNC continue to make such mailers when they are obviously flouting the spirit of the law? Especially to the neighboring district of Rep. Chaffetz, one of two Republicans in the House to write Michael Steele a nasty-gram about this tactic?
[GOP Consultant Walter] Lukens estimated to TPMmuckraker that his firm had sent out 100 million such mailers over the last decade. He said his firm had come up with the original idea around 2000, and despite some initial concerns, the RNC had ultimately green-lighted the concept. "One of the things that the RNC is very good about is letting creative people do their thing."

The mailer's apparent high rate of return suggests why Michael Steele and co. may be unwilling to stop using it.
Apparently, if people knew who really sent the letter, they would throw it away much more often. I am sorry but if this was say a credit card company instead of a political party, we could all agree that this kind of crap should be outlawed. Good for Chaffetz for calling his party to the mat when they did a dumb thing.