Republicans To America: Stop Your Whining, Stop Your Exaggerating And Get To Work
I've been house-hunting with my friend Roland. There are a lot of houses on the market and an awful lot of them are either owned by banks (foreclosures) or are being offered as "short sales" (a pre-foreclosure sale by an owner with the bank agreeing to take a loss). And these sales are in every price range and in every neighborhood. One broker told us that one in nine houses in America has been foreclosed or is in the process of being foreclosed on. I was shocked; I still am. I wonder if he's exaggerating, something I want to come back to in a moment.
Last week my financial advisor-- a senior vice president at the biggest bank in America (and I think the world)-- told me every cent I have in banks needs to be insured by FDIC, no two ways about it. She also told me what she expected to happen this weekend on Wall Street. Her prediction was dismal. Reality was worse. I guess everyone already knew Lehman Bros was on the verge of collapse. Merrill Lynch was a shock.
In one the most extraordinary days in Wall Street’s in history, Merrill Lynch is near an 11th-hour deal with Bank of America to avert a deepening financial crisis while another storied securities firm, Lehman Brothers, hurtled toward liquidation, according to people briefed on the deal.
Bank of America has offered $50 billion or $29 a share for Merrill Lynch, people briefed on the negotiations said. Merrill shares closed at $17.05 on Friday.
The dramatic turn of events was prompted by the cataclysm of losses that has shaken the American financial industry over the last 14 months.
The moves came after a weekend of frantic negotiations between federal officials and Wall Street executives over how to avert a downward spiral in the markets. Questions still remain about how the market will react and whether other firms may still falter like A.I.G., the large insurer, and Washington Mutual, both of whose stocks fell precipitously last week.
Coming just a week after the government took control of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the magnitude of the industry’s reshaping is staggering: two of the most powerful firms on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch and Lehman, will disappear.
The weekend’s once unthinkable outcome came after a series of emergency meetings at the Federal Reserve building in downtown Manhattan in which the fate of Lehman hung in the balance. In the meeting Federal Reserve officials and the leaders of major financial institutions were trying to complete a plan to rescue the stricken investment bank.
But as the weekend unfolded, Barclays and Bank of America, which had both considered buying all or part of Lehman, decided that they could not reach a deal without financial support from the federal government or other banks.
As a result, people briefed on the matter said late Sunday that Lehman Brothers would file for bankruptcy protection, in the largest failure of an investment bank since the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert 18 years ago.
Most people who know of Donald Luskin's work know him as a purveyor of the GOP tenets of extreme Greed and Selfishness in Republican Party media outlets like National Review and on Larry Kudlow's CNBC propaganda program. A shady hedge fund predator, Luskin has made himself a darling of reactionaries by distorting economic news and attacking Paul Krugman's NY Times columns. Needless to say Luskin is also part of the McCain economic team.
So weren't we surprised yesterday to see him in a legitimate newspaper, the Washington Post which didn't bother warning readers that they were reading a distorted McCain advertisement disguised as journalism? His piece, reminiscent of his-- and McCain's-- pal Phil Gramm's "Nation of Whiners" screed, was called A Nation of Exaggerators: Quit Doling Out That Bad-Economy Line. Although many see the comparisons between the 1929 Wall Street meltdown that presaged the Great Depression and today's activities on Wall Street, Luskin, like Gramm, thinks it's all just psychological. This is where McCain, who admits he is clueless about economics and "out of touch" with the day to day lives of normal Americans-- other than the dozens of servants who work in his innumerable homes-- gets his economic policies from. Most people say blame for the economic collapse can be spread out evenly throughout the GOP (and the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- Blue Dogs and such corporately bought trash) but others think Gramm deserves a larger share of the blame than many others.
Like Palin, Phil Gramm-- who got a time out a few weeks ago, has been back in the saddle on the Double Talk Express-- is another example of McCain's horrendous judgment. Luskin, a notorious delusional wingnut, is singing "Happy Days Are Here Again."
Things today just aren't that bad. Sure, there are trouble spots in the economy, as the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jitters about Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers, amply demonstrate. And unemployment figures are up a bit, too. None of this, however, is cause for depression-- or exaggerated Depression comparisons.
Overall, the pessimists are up against an insurmountable reality: In the last reported quarter, the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent, adjusted for inflation. That's virtually the same as the 3.4 percent average growth rate since-- yes-- the Great Depression.
Why, then, does the public appear to agree with the media? A recent Zogby poll shows that 66 percent of likely voters believe that "the entire world is either now locked in a global economic recession or soon will be." Actually, that's a major clue to what started this thought-contagion about everything being the worst it has been "since the Great Depression": Politics.
He then, in the mode of the entire McCain campaign, goes on to blame Obama. Anyone who votes for McCain deserves four more years of the Bush Economic Miracle. Unfortunately, if there are enough of them, we all get that deadly virus. And while McCain's blowhards are denying everything, claiming Americans are bellyachers and whiners and that we don't work hard enough, Paul Krugman is trying to school ideologically-driven mental midgets like Gramm and Luskin and Kudlow. In their psychotic mania to destroy the federal regulatory controls that FDR and Democrats put in place to protect consumers and workers from another economic collapse caused by unregulated predatory capitalism, the Republican extremists have severely damaged the entire system. Right about now thank your lucky stars that Bush and McCain lost their battle to wreck Social Security through "privatization."
Early this morning Joe Biden spoke to voters in St Clair Shores, Michigan, reminding them that in movieland, "the sequel is always worse than the original."
If we forget this history, we're going to be doomed to repeat it -- with four more just like the last eight, or worse.
If you're ready for four more years of George Bush, John McCain is your man. Just as George Herbert Walker Bush was nicknamed "Bush 41" and his son is known as "Bush 43," John McCain could easily become known as "Bush 44."
The campaign a person runs says everything about the way they'll govern. John McCain has decided to bet the house on the politics perfected by Karl Rove.
Those tactics may be good at squeaking by in an election but they are bad if you want to lead one nation, indivisible.
...Take a hard look at the positions John has taken for the past 26 years, on the economy, on health care, on foreign policy… and you'll see why I say that John McCain is just four more years of George Bush.
On the issues that you talk about around the kitchen table, Mary's tuition, the cost of the MRI, heating the home this winter-- John McCain is profoundly out of touch.
...John McCain stands with George Bush firmly in the corner of the wealthy and well-connected.
He stands with the oil company CEOs who swore to me, under penalty of perjury, that they didn't need tax breaks to explore for oil.
John McCain is so firmly in their corner he'd hand the Exxon-Mobils of the world another $4 billion dollars a year.
He stands in the corner of the wealthiest Americans by extending tax cuts for people making over a quarter million dollars a year, and then adding more than $300 billion on top of that for corporations and the wealthy.
There is simply no daylight-- at least none I can see-- between John McCain and George Bush. On every major challenge we face, from the economy, to health care, to education and Iraq, you can barely tell them apart.
UPDATE: McCAIN DEMONSTRATES ONCE AGAIN THAT HE KNOWS NOTHING WHATSOEVER ABOUT THE ECONOMY
Despite the McCain campaign's claims that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" and that "we've made great progress economically during the Bush years," most Americans know well that the economic problems go beyond Wall Street. No one other than McCain would be surprised to hear that industrial output plunged by over 1% in August.