Saturday, March 29, 2008



This could be your life if McCain wins in November

This morning when I woke up, one of the CNN announcers who normally does cookie recipes and interviews firemen who rescue kittens stuck in trees was explaining how Bush was going to reform the federal regulatory system and make America a wonderful and fairer place where everyone will have de-licious cookies, and kittens will all get rescued fast by big, strong firemen who don't sweat.

Asking Bush-- or any Republican-- to reform the regulatory system would be like asking a convocation of Wahabi religious leaders to help reform the state of Israel. The GOP fought against every regulation that ever kept Big Business from poisoning our drinking water, selling us contaminated meat, protecting employees, defrauding us out of our bank deposits and investments, etc. They have wet dreams just imagining weakening and doing away with regulations that protect consumers and workers. The regulatory agencies that have allowed the U.S. to transform itself into a stable middle class society impinge on the right of the rich and powerful to prey on the weak-- ergo, the mortgage crisis (for which McBush is willing to bail out the culprits, greedy and reckless speculators, but not their victims, homeowners the GOP is labeling as "irresponsible" and somehow morally inferior).

The "regulations"-- or the press release from the White House that announced them-- that the cookie recipe lady was all gushy over are also explained, kinda, sorta, in today's NY Times, although I expect that Paul Krugman will do them more justice next week. Basically, the fanatically anti-regulation Bush Regime says it is asking Congress to "give the Federal Reserve broad new authority to oversee financial market stability" which they envision as "part of a sweeping blueprint to overhaul the nation’s hodgepodge of financial regulatory agencies, which many experts say failed to recognize rampant excesses in mortgage lending until after they set off what is now the worst financial calamity in decades."

I expect Blue Dogs and DLC hacks to erect statues in town squares in honor of Bush, but the proposal is 99.8% cosmetic and window dressing and accomplishes next to nothing-- or, in some cases, makes it easier for corporations to victimize consumers. Even the Repugs admit that there is no inclusion in this pathetic proposal of anything that would even mildly regulate crooked or irresponsible Wall Street wheeler-dealers.
The plan would not rein in practices that have been linked to the housing and mortgage crisis, like packaging risky subprime mortgages into securities carrying the highest ratings.

The plan would give the Fed some authority over Wall Street firms, but only when an investment bank’s practices threatened the entire financial system.

And the plan does not recommend tighter rules over the vast and largely unregulated markets for risk sharing and hedging, like credit default swaps, which are supposed to insure lenders against loss but became a speculative instrument themselves and gave many institutions a false sense of security.

Parts of the plan could reduce the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is charged with maintaining orderly stock and bond markets and protecting investors. The plan would merge the S.E.C. with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates exchange-traded futures for oil, grains, currencies and the like.

The blueprint also suggests several areas where the S.E.C. should take a lighter approach to its oversight. Among them are allowing stock exchanges greater leeway to regulate themselves and streamlining the approval of new products, even allowing automatic approval of securities products that are being traded in foreign markets.

Sounds familiar? Straight from the McCain campaign-- but, of course, the members of his economic team were former Bush Regime insiders anyway. Fortunately-- if Pelosi can exert some control over the Blue Dogs (a big "if")-- this Coolidge-like approach is D.O.A. and Democrats will get down to the serious business of modernizing the regulatory system that has been destroyed by the GOP and DLC-- hopefully along the lines that were advocated by Barack Obama earlier in the week.


I hope residents of districts represented by Blue Dogs like Leonard Boswell (IA), Melissa Bean (IL), Nick Lampson (TX), Heath Shuler (NC), Chris Carney (PA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Mike Ross (AR), Collin Peterson (MN), David Scott GA), Tim Mahoney (FL), Brad Ellsworth (IN), Baron Hill (IN), John Barrow (GA) and Joe Baca (CA) realize that the culprits in this aren't just reactionary Republicans but that Blue Dog Democrats are just as guilty-- and just as deserving of defeat at the polls, especially where there are primary opponents like in the case of Baron Hill, Leonard Boswell and Joe Baca. Tomorrow's NY Times focuses in on right-wing Republicans who have pushed the legislation that enabled the predatory practices that have wreaked havoc on the economy. And like Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart in Florida, they were handsomely paid off by their campaign donors for their votes and will now have to face angry constituents at the polls. The Diaz-Balart Brothers are in one of the top 10 areas for foreclosures in the whole U.S. and their voting records and lists of their campaign donors prove direct complicity. Each is being challenged by a Democrat who backs real legislative proposals to help ameliorate the problems and prevent them from coming back in the future. The Times explains why Lincoln Diaz-Balart is stuck in a bind, a bind he shares with the vast majority of GOP congressmen.
On one side, Democrats emboldened by the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the collapse of Bear Stearns are demanding help for “everyday Americans.” On the other, Republicans including Senator John McCain, the party’s presumptive nominee, are urging restraint, reluctant to commit taxpayer funds to what they say is simply a bailout for greedy lenders and reckless buyers.

It is a bind shared by other Republicans, especially from high-foreclosure states like Arizona, California, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a list of 18 districts where it plans to highlight high foreclosure rates in its effort to oust Republican incumbents this year.

Even someone as extreme as arch-reactionary Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is shaking in his boots-- and he isn't even up for re-election in November, like his hapless colleague Saxby Chambliss. Isakson: "The two things you hear most about from people are the price of gasoline and the housing problem. I don’t think we could get away with not addressing it forthrightly, and hopefully we will."

Aside from the Diaz-Balart Brothers, other House members who could well lose their seats over this issue are Ric Keller and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also in Florida, John Shadegg in Arizona, Tim Walberg (R-MI), Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Jon Porter (R-NV), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Gary Miller (R-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH), and Patrick Tiberi (R-OH).

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At 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every single agency that was designed to protect the public has been prevented from doing so by the Bush Adminstration:FDA,USDA,FTC,FCC,CPSC,SEC,and the FED. I could go on and list more but you get the idea.

The dire circumstance created by corporate shills in these agencies have put us where we are today. We must get back to protecting public interest over private gain. The FED is one of the least capable agencies to do this.
Leslie Byrne, former Director US Consumer Agency and Candidate for Congress-Va.11th

At 9:34 AM, Anonymous IludiumPhosdex said...

And you'll never guess what the GOP propaganda masheen will love to cite as among the reasons for "complete, final and binding regulatory relief:" None other than that phantom 26,911-word regulation on the sale and marketing of cabbages, for one.

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