Wednesday, October 01, 2008

(Updated) Bailout Bill: Pressure Bingaman et al. to Back DeFazio, IPS Proposals

Update: Another good (pdf) has been developed by the Institute for Policy Studies. You can contact members of Congress here about that plan courtesy of PDA.
I'm not surprised, really, that Sen. Jeff Bingaman stated in remarks made to radio reporters that he would have voted for the boondoggle Wall Street bailout bill that failed in the U.S. House. But it still angers me. In fact, I find it appalling.

Bingaman claims he could support it because it was an improvement over the original proposal that made Treasury Secretary Paulson king of the U.S. -- sans any meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability for any of the crooks who got us where we are today. Not to mention there was no help whatsoever for the poor working slobs suffering the aftermath of the fraudulent mortgages and crackpot trading. Well, I guess almost anything could be considered better than the original bill. But that doesn't make the incredibly flawed and inadequate "compromise" bill acceptable to ordinary people. We're sick and sick and tired of huge sums flowing to the top of the pyramid -- while those holding up the bottom are left bereft, virtually without recourse.

Senate Makes "Brilliant" Proposal
The latest developments in the Senate, however, have made voting on the original "compromise" a moot point. The Senate, in all its alleged wisdom, has come up with an even more stupendously craven "solution." Do I have to tell you that it involves -- hallelujah -- more tax cuts and relaxed regulations for financial institutions, along with the $700 billion bailout? Bingo! That'll fix things. Or at least manage to shovel more assets to the cream of the crop speculators and thieves -- to those who devised the most virulent, cancerous form of the greedy organism that's passed as "free market capitalism" for the past couple of decades. Once again, we'd be left waiting for the "trickle down" to reach the bottom of the barrel where we reside. We need to trust them. They have only our welfare in mind.

The AP reports that Sen. Chuck Schumer actually had the nerve to describe this new Senate gambit as "brilliant," predicting that it would "help pick up votes on both sides of the aisle." Who can resist more tax cuts when the deficit is exploding into the trillions and two wars are still sucking up more than $10 billion a month? Who can reject allowing financial institutions and megacorps to return to the system of accounting that permitted them to cook their books during the era of the Enron scandals?

Get this:

The new approach, announced Tuesday night by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would tack large and contentious tax measures to the bailout bill. Senate leaders figure the House will have to approve it because the tax cuts are too appealing to Republicans and the financial rescue plan will still seem essential to most Democrats.

Of course there are a few crumbs being considered as toss-ins for the working people of America, like expanded unemployment insurance benefits or funding for jobs to rebuild the infrastructure. But it's clear that most of the current "compromising" is aimed at gaining Republican support -- not attracting real Democrats, a few of whom actually do still exist.

DeFazio's No BAILOUTS Act
A different approach and one many real Dems are supporting has been proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio and other members of Congress to restore confidence in the financial markets. The new bill, called the "No BAILOUTS Act" (Bringing Accountability, Increased Liquidity, Oversight, and Upholding Taxpayer Security), is being introduced by Rep. DeFazio (OR-04), with Rep. Kaptur (OH-09), Rep. Scott (VA-03), Rep. Cummings (MD-07), Rep. Doggett (TX-25), Rep. Holt (NJ-12), Rep. Edwards (MD-04) and Rep. Hirono (HI-02).

SEIU, among others, has come out in support of this approach. You can read about its basic components here. I don't pretend to understand all of it, but I respect those involved and can get behind the idea that Wall Street should pay via a securities transfer tax. As reported by Investment News:

The proposal includes boosting FDIC insurance limits on bank deposits, changing the Securities and Exchange Commission rules on mark-to-market fair value accounting, launching a net worth certificate program, resurrecting the old security transfer tax and introducing a mechanism to stem to the flood of foreclosures, among other items. ... Among the group’s proposals is a security transfer tax, similar to the one used from 1914 to 1966, which helped fund reconstruction projects during the Great Depression.

He [DeFazio] estimates this tax, at 0.25%, would raise $150 billion a year.

This way, investors will pay for the bailout “in tiny, tiny increments,” Mr. Defazio said. Also, the group believes changing the SEC’s fair value accounting program would go a long way to easing the credit crunch that banks are facing.

What Should We Do?
Anything can happen in the next couple days, of course, and nothing is set in stone yet. I think the best thing we can do at this point is keep the pressure on any and all members of Congress, and make sure they are fully aware of the anger that's out here in the hinterlands about the essential injustice of the approach being pushed by the money monarchs. I think it's a good idea to push for support of the DeFazio proposal and demand any bill include meaningful and significant help for ordinary Americans. Go get 'em: makes it easy to email the people who count on this. Or click here to find phone numbers and other contact info for New Mexico's Congressional delegation.

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October 1, 2008 at 11:39 AM in Business, Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism, Government | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

McCain: For Deregulation Before He Was Against It

The "Straight Talk Express" hits another roadblock. It should be clear by now that the "honorable" Mr. McCain will say almost anything to try and get elected -- even if it completely contradicts what he's said before. Does McCain have a shred of credibility left after his careening performance during this financial crisis? Oddly, after the faux-suspension of his campaign and the bragging about his success in gaining support for the bailout bill -- only to have it fail -- McCain is again making noises about "suspending his campaign" to insert himself into the process. What's more, he and Palin are rapidly becoming cartoon caricatures in the popular culture -- a phenomenon that can be hard to defuse once it gains momentum.

This truly is a campaign grasping at straws and lurching from misstep to misstep without any apparent overriding strategy. One wonders what he will attempt next to try and convince people what he's saying is truthful or relevant -- or to distract voters from the record he's built up over the years on the issues.

Meanwhile, Obama continues to surge. According to an early look at the Diageo/Hotline tracking poll by Political Wire:

Among registered voters surveyed in Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Nevada, Obama tops McCain 50 to 40%. Just a week ago, Obama led 45% to 42%. Nationwide, Obama leads 47% to 41%.

Research 2000 has Obama 51, McCain 41; Rasmussen has Obama ahead 51-45%. Here's the Real Clear Politics poll summary and FiveThirtyEight's projections. All looking very good indeed.

As the McCain campaign continues to flounder, and the polls keep trending towards Obama, it will be fascinating to see what kinds of desperate measures he'll employ. This could get even more surreal as we head into the last month before the election and McCain pulls out all the stops. I'm especially interested in seeing whether we get another Theater of the Absurd performance by Palin in Thursday's VP debate.

September 30, 2008 at 10:58 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Business, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, John McCain, Polling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

NM-Sen: Udall Explains His No Vote on Bailout Bill

The campaign of Dem Senate candidate Tom Udall layed out the reasons for his no vote today on the bailout bill in a
diary on Daily Kos, (where you can weigh in on your views):

Tom Udall wanted me to get you this statement as quickly as possible, now that the bailout bill has gone to a vote:

I cannot in good conscience vote for a rushed $700 billion taxpayer funded bailout to shore up Wall Street while ignoring our middle class and the nation's underlying economic flaws that caused this crisis in the first place. I will, however, continue fighting to do what's right and fix our financial markets to prevent similar crises from occurring again.

Tom Udall laid out his priorities for any bailout bill that he could support last week:

"The Administration's proposal, as it has been presented to Congress, needs significant changes. First, any plan that puts taxpayer money at risk must ensure that taxpayers get paid back before shareholders, bondholders or executives—so that corporate CEOs do not get a golden parachute while taxpayers are left to pay the bill.
“Additionally, Congress should act further to keep Americans in their homes by addressing the crisis in the mortgage industry as well as the one in the financial sector. Any economic package that allows tens of thousands of Americans to lose their homes is simply inadequate.

“Finally, there must be accountability. If we invest taxpayer dollars to protect our financial markets, we should make sure that money is spent effectively and efficiently, with proper oversight and accountability. No administration should be given unlimited authority over the spending of $700 billion or more of taxpayers’ dollars. Any bailout plan needs to ensure that those managing the bailout are responsible to Congress and the American people.”

Tom has carefully considered the current version of the bailout bill, and has decided that it falls short. It does not meet the principles he laid out at the time this bailout was proposed, and does not address those who are hurt the most by this crisis. Tom Udall knows that we can do better.

September 29, 2008 at 06:08 PM in 2008 NM Senate Race, Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism | Permalink | Comments (2)

(Updated) Bailout Vote Fails in House

Here we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.


Final Vote: 205 Ayes, 228 Noes

Heather Wilson votes aye; Tom Udall and Steve Pearce no. Democrats: 140 ayes, 95 noes. Republicans: 65 ayes, 133 noes.

I caught a nasty cold/flu this weekend and I'm nursing it today so I got on the couch, got me some tea and watched the chaos descend on the TV pundits (in between naps). Largest point drop ever in Dow, by 777. Rs blaming Pelosi for giving a "partisan" speech today and upsetting Rs who then voted no. Spare me. McCain looks like an idiot given his bragging about getting the Rs in line for this. Obama says, "get it done."

I say, let's take some time and do something meaningful that will move capital from the bottom up rather than following the defrocked theory of top down, tickle down. However, I have a strong feeling that no matter what we do or don't do now, we'll end up in the same place -- economically destroyed for years to come.

This is a situation conceived in Reaganomics that has continued in fits and starts to this place of no return. The bottom line: if a nation doesn't make and sell anything of value, there is no real value in its so-called assets. They're just paper, and their value is subject to whims, fakery and fraud. Especially when appointed regulators are into looking the other way on even basic oversight, and most meaningful regulations have been watered down or removed completely. We're seeing the myth of the magic hand of the market completely unmasked for what it really is without proper regulation -- unbridled greed and thievery.

September 29, 2008 at 12:03 PM in Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism, Government | Permalink | Comments (4)

Bailout Can Still Be Defeated: Call or Email Now

It's still up in the air whether the bailout bill has the votes to pass. I'm sure most of you reading this have seen and heard many convincing arguments against this fraudulent giveaway. Here are some more by David Sirota that provide useful summaries you can tap when contacting your members of Congress. It's not often we can see ourselves on the same side as the rightwing Republicans, but this is one of those times, isn't it?

Joshua Holland at Alternet provides a glimpse of what a progressive bailout would look like. Why aren't more Dems pushing for this kind of solution? They're certainly feeling pressured by Wall Street's clever extortion plot, but let's hope enough of them see through this ploy and vote for the interests of their constituents. We have to apply some pressure in the opposite direction if there's any hope for defeating this boondoggle. makes it easy to email the people who count on this. Or click here to find phone numbers and other contact info for New Mexico's Congressional delegation.

September 29, 2008 at 09:31 AM in Business, Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism, Government | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama's New Ad: Zero

Why didn't McCain mention the middle class a single time in last night's debate? Why was his main suggestion for the bailout plan that we should cut the capital gains tax? Why won't he admit that we got into this financial mess because of the damaging and deluded economic philosophy he and his party have been pushing for decades?

One of the best debate analyses I've read comes from the almost always on-target Nate Silver at You really should read the whole thing, so I won't provide any excerpts here. Trust me. Unlike many of the "pundits," Nate looks at how Obama did on matters that are most important to the voters, as demonstrated by some post-debate polls. Hey Nate, stop making sense!

September 27, 2008 at 10:12 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Economy, Populism, John McCain | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stunt Over: McCain to Debate Tonight (After Saving the World As We Know It)

Details on . As Chris Cillizza of the WaPo puts it, McCain Blinks.

Now the campaign that never really "suspended" will be unsuspended. Or something. McCain, in a pompous and abrupt move, set himself up as the one necessary ingredient for a bailout deal, and then pushed his way into the White House meeting yesterday -- convincing Bush to "invite" Obama into the mix. Oddly, McCain's only reported contribution at the meeting took the form of a few vague statements at meeting's end. His melodramatic insertion of himself into the process was viewed by many in the Congress as a distraction and an impediment. Remember, this is a guy who admitted on camera that he doesn't know much about economics. It showed. McCain reportedly has revealed absolutely nothing specific about what he thinks should go into the bailout plan. He just wants it to be fair to the taxpayers. Well. Our hero!

I guess McCain's now convinced himself that he's righted the process enough to fly to Oxford, Mississippi today to participate in the 90-minute debate with Obama. Johnny's hubris over the past few days has been monumental, hasn't it? His financial and tactical smarts? Not so much.

Onward. I hope Obama creams him tonight with the facts and his special brand of cool, steely reason. Toss in a few well-aimed button-pushers, and McCain may well discombobulate into something resembling that green jellowy backdrop he's used so ineffectively in the past. That's 7:00 PM Mountain time tonight.

September 26, 2008 at 11:30 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism, John McCain | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NM-02: Dem Party to Hold 'Change for Change' Lunch in Las Cruces to Benefit Tinsley's Poorly Paid Employees

Tinsley backs tax breaks for the rich but is against a living wage for workers

What are you doing Friday? One idea: Come on down to the "Change for Change" K-Bob Employee Fundraiser!

As Vice President Dick Cheney prepares for his high-dollar fundraiser for Ed Tinsley in Hobbs, the Democratic Party of New Mexico will be holding a "Change for Change" fundraiser in Las Cruces. They'll be asking guests to give what they can, even change, to benefit Ed Tinsley's employees, who work for low wages without benefits at Tinsley's K-Bob's Steakhouse:

WHAT: Democratic Party of New Mexico will be holding a "Change for Change" Lunch to benefit Ed Tinsley's employees at K-Bob's Steakhouse. They'll be serving K-Bob's food and donating the money raised in the form of a tip for the hardworking men and women who work at K-Bob's Steakhouse.

WHO: Mayor Miyagishima and other special guests will stop by

WHERE: Young Park, 1905 Nevada Ave., Las Cruces

WHEN: Friday, September 26th at 12:00 Noon

Might also be a good idea to donate some time and/or money to the Dem Congressional candidate in NM-02. Harry Teague believes in treating workers right, including those he employs at his local businesses. We can't let someone like Scrooge Tinsley get anywhere near the Congress, now can we? Especially at a time like this.

September 25, 2008 at 04:27 PM in Economy, Populism, NM-02 Congressional Race 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Let's Play "Wall Street Bailout" (Not)

Must See: The truly Democratic and democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio speaks truth to power on the absurd bailout bill, and suggests a better plan.

Note that the Sunlight Foundation has counted so far this year sponsored by the financial services sector for (or featuring) lawmakers considering the bailout bill. Gee, I wonder why that is.

Go to to express yourself via email. You can also call our Congressional delegation:

Domenici's office: 505 346-6791
Bingaman's office: 505 346-6601
Wilson's office: 505 346-6781
Udall's office: (505) 984-8950
Pearce's office: (505) 522-2219

Oh, and have you seen this one yet? Yes, it's a spoof but, sadly, it's so close to reality it hurts:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had a crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transacting is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Ministry of Treasury Paulson

(h/t to Terry Riley and TH)

September 25, 2008 at 12:43 PM in Business, Corporatism, Crime, Economy, Populism, Government, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Refuses to Delay Debate, SUSA Says Americans Agree


I like The Nation's take: McCain Cuts and Runs. Excerpt:

After calling for debates all summer, John McCain is cutting and running from the first one.

In one of the weirder political ploys of a long campaign season, McCain says he will "suspend" his campaign on Thursday. He is also pushing for a postponement of the first presidential debate. McCain says he is taking these dramatic steps because he wants to focus on congressional negotiations over the bailout. It's not clear how a national presidential debate -- the ultimate bully pulpit in this political season -- would detract from any effort to build national consensus on solutions for the economic crisis.

I wonder why McCain didn't come to this conclusion last weekend, or Monday, or Tuesday. Today it finally hit him, I guess, when he realized just how far his polling numbers were falling and how persuasive the hearings in Washington are in convincing people that Bush-McCain-style deregulation is the main culprit in this tragedy. Sure seems like a panic move to me.

Obama Isn't Biting
Here's what he said at a previously scheduled press conference this afternoon in Florida, where he's preparing for the debate:

"I believe that we should continue to have the debate," Obama said. "It's my belief that this is exact time when the American people need to hear form the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsibly for dealing with this mess and I think that it is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once."
Obama said that unlike McCain, he will not suspend ads, or campaign events scheduled between now and Friday's debate.

"I think it's very important that the American people see the people who potentially could be in charge of this problem within the next couple of months and so my attitude is that we need to be focused on solving the problems, as I have been," Obama said. "It's also important that we communicate where we need to go in getting us out of the situation."

Obama said he will stay in Florida for the time being and will not return to Washington unless asked by Congressional leadership.

"I've told the leadership in Congress is that if I can be helpful then I am prepared to be anywhere at anytime," he said.

New Poll Shows Americans Agree with Obama
SurveyUSA just released a new poll that shows that most people agree with Obama:

SurveyUSA. 9/24. Adults. MoE 3.2%

The first debate between John McCain and Barack Obama is scheduled to take place in two days. Should the debate be held as scheduled? Should the debate be held, but the format changed to focus on the economy? Or, should the debate be postponed?

Hold as scheduled 50
Hold with focus on economy 36
Postpone 10

Is the right response to the turmoil on Wall Street to suspend the campaigns for president? To continue the campaigns as though there is no crisis? Or, to re-focus the campaigns with a unique emphasis on the turmoil on Wall Street?

Suspend 14
Continue 31
Refocus the campaign 48

If Friday's presidential debate does not take place, would that be good for America? Bad for America? Or would it make no difference?

Good for America 14
Bad for America 46
No difference 35

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September 24, 2008 at 04:02 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Economy, Populism, John McCain | Permalink | Comments (0)