Obama Trying to Pry Gregg For Commerce; Filibuster-proof Senate
Gregg seems willing to accept only if he is replaced by another Republican.
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In June a former Countrywide loan officer charged that Mr. Dodd received preferential rates and had fees waived on those loans as part of a VIP program the company had for "friends" of the company's then-CEO Angelo Mozilo. Mr. Dodd first issued a denial and then, days later, acknowledged that he was a "VIP" with Countrywide but said he thought it was "more of a courtesy." In late June he pledged to make all pertinent documents public "at some point." We're still waiting.
...[Countrywide] loan officer Robert Feinberg, who oversaw Countrywide's VIP program, says Mr. Dodd knew he was getting favors from Mr. Mozilo. Mr. Feinberg says his job was to remind beneficiaries at every step of the process that they were getting a special deal because they were "Friends of Angelo."
“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said. “That’s not leadership.
That’s not going to happen,” he added.
“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
It seems a lifetime ago, but it's only been six months since the Congressional Budget Office put a $25 billion price tag on the legislation to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
So much for that. In the past few days Fannie and Freddie have requested a combined $51 billion from the Treasury to compensate for losses in their loan portfolios. This comes on top of the $13.8 billion that Freddie needed in November.
The latest requests take the tab to $70 billion or so -- but that's not the end of the story by a long shot. Earlier this month, CBO released its biannual budget outlook. And largely ignored underneath the $1.2 trillion deficit estimate for fiscal 2009 was the little matter of a $238 billion charge for rescuing Fan and Fred. To put that in perspective, $238 billion is more than the entire federal budget deficit in fiscal 2007.
The bigger picture here is that politicians like Mr. Frank have been telling us for years that Fannie and Freddie's federal subsidy was a free lunch. We are now slowly, and painfully, learning the price of Mr. Frank's famous desire to "roll the dice" with Fan and Fred. Keep that in mind the next time you hear a politician propose a taxpayer guarantee. The only sure thing is that the taxpayers will pay.
The U.S. had made mistakes in the past, but the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that.
Mine is a genuine compromise. So let's look at how the vote came out, shall we? Fifty-three percent of voters in this country -- we'll say, for the sake of this proposal, 53% of Americans -- voted for Obama. Forty-six percent voted for Senator McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Let's give the remaining 1% to President Obama, so let's say that 54% voted for President Obama and 46% voted for Senator McCain. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats. The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me.
These tax cuts will consist primarily of capital gains tax cuts and corporate tax rate cuts. So Obama gets $540 billion to spend his way. The other people of this country who did not vote for his way get $460 billion spent the way they would like it spent. This is bipartisanship! This is how bipartisanship really works. Okay, Obama wins by a 54-46 majority, so he gets 54% of the trillion bucks. Spend it his way. We get 46% of the trillion bucks to spend our way, and then we compare. Then we see which stimulus actually works and works the fastest, and I will guarantee you that if this plan is adopted, just the announcement that $460 billion will go toward paying for tax cuts, capital gains, and corporate tax rates -- we could throw in some personal income tax rate reduction in order to make sure that the voters don't think it's all about helping the big guys.
Start with this: You are better off than you were four years ago. After adjusting for inflation, the average American earns about $2500 a year more today than on the day of W's second inaugural. That same average American now spends a little less time at the office or on the assembly line, and a little more time on vacation or on the couch. He or she shops online for products that were unimaginable just four years ago. (How many of you read this morning's paper on your Kindle or iPhone?) The air is cleaner than it was a decade ago and life expectancy is up.
To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.
"The new CBO report does not take into account the fastest spending provisions in the bill, leaving the false impression that the overall spend-out rates are slower than they actually are," said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "These provisions will go out quickly to give the economy a jolt while others will represent down payments on crucial priorities for our economic future -- investments in clean energy, health care, education and repairing our nation's infrastructure."
We're referring to the 1931 law that requires contractors on all federal projects to pay a "prevailing wage." In practice, this means paying the highest union wage in every part of the country. Over the years nearly every analysis -- by the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office and Office of Management and Budget -- has concluded that Davis-Bacon tangles projects in red tape and inflates federal construction costs.
A 2008 study by Suffolk University and the Beacon Hill Institute examined local wage data for construction workers and found that the Department of Labor estimates for the "prevailing wage" in cities are about 22% above the actual wages paid in these cities. It estimates that Davis-Bacon adds slightly less than 10% to federal building costs, or $8.4 billion a year.
Rahm Emanuel, who will be chief of staff in the new White House, said: "We need that culture of responsibility, not just to be asked of the American people, but its leaders must also lead by example."
Maloney, whose firm specializes in aviation issues, said city and Port Authority officials want to clear the area surrounding LaGuardia Airport of birds, but environmentalists don't want the birds, mostly seagulls and Canada geese, disturbed from their nesting grounds.
Here are some of the details on the "stimulus" bill. It is a huge welfare/pork bill. See anything you like - or anything that would remotely stimulate the economy?
Tax Relief for Individuals
“Making Work Pay Credit”
Expand Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Increase in child tax credit, $0 floor
Simplification of education credits w/ $2,500 credit for first four years of higher education expenses (increase income limitations), with credit partially-refundable (40% refundable)
Remove repayment requirement on $7,500 first-time home buyer credit for homes purchased after 2008 and before termination of credit (June 30, 2009)
Coordination provisions with new grant program for low-income housing being designed by the Financial Services Committee
5-year carryback of net operating losses (excluding companies receiving TARP benefits, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac)
Extension of increased small business expensing
Expand work opportunity tax credit for disconnected youth and unemployed, recently-discharged veterans
Prospectively repeal Treasury Section 382 ruling
State and Local Governments
Allow financial institutions to purchase State and local bonds and other changes
Repeal AMT limits on new private activity bonds
Taxable bond option for governmental bonds
School construction bonds
One year deferral of withholding tax on government contractors
Provide tax exempt bonds and tax credit bonds to “recovery zones.” These tax exempt bonds and tax credit bonds can be used for a wide array of purposes to stimulate economic development, including job training and education. A “recovery zone” would be an area within a State, city or county that has exhibited high unemployment, foreclosures or poverty. These bonds would be allocated automatically to States and large municipal governments based on the number of unemployed individuals within that area.
Energy Tax Incentives
Long-term extension of renewable energy production tax credit
Temporary election to claim the investment tax credit in lieu of the production tax credit
Coordination provisions with new grant program for renewable energy projects being designed by the Energy and Commerce Committee (sections 45 and 48 projects)
Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”)
Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds
Energy efficiency and conservation tax incentives under sections 25C, 25D and 48
Smart energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy R&D credit
Refueling property credit expansions
Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)
Updates, modernizes and expands TAA to cover service workers, and substantially improves and extends coverage to manufacturing workers
Triples funds for job training
Unemployment Insurance (UI)
Encourage UI Modernization
Continue the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program
Increase UI checks by $25/week
Additional Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Provide additional TANF Contingency Funds to serve needy families
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Provide a one-time additional SSI Payment to Low-Income elderly and disabled recipients
Child Support Enforcement Funding
Restore federal funding for Child Support Enforcement for 2 years
COBRA Healthcare for the Unemployed
Provides temporary subsidies for health insurance coverage to those who have lost their jobs.
Extends the availability of unsubsidized COBRA coverage for older and tenured workers beyond the 18 months provided under current law
Health Information Technology (HIT)
Establishes standards, payment incentives and privacy protections to encourage the widespread adoption of health information technology
By 1996, 70 percent of inmates in state juvenile detention centers serving long-term sentences were raised by single mothers. Seventy percent of teenage births, dropouts, suicides, runaways, juvenile delinquents and child murderers involve children raised by single mothers. Girls raised without fathers are more sexually promiscuous and more likely to end up divorced.
A 1990 study by the left-wing Progressive Policy Institute showed that, after controlling for single motherhood, the difference in black and white crime disappeared.
Any "stimulus" applied by government has less to do with creating the recovery than letting politicians take credit when the recovery happens.
Until Washington embraced the politics of housing panic, even sensible Democrats recognized that allowing such mortgage "cramdowns" was a terrible idea, sure to punish future borrowers with higher rates as lenders calculate the increased risk. The Congressional Budget Office warned in January 2008 that such a change could result in higher interest rates for homeowners and bigger caseloads in bankruptcy courts. In 2007, 16 House Democrats signed a letter opposing similar legislation.
Having spent the past year committing taxpayer trillions to support American banks, Washington now seems not to mind at all if its latest bailout drives up bank losses on mortgages, credit cards and other loans. The Senate could soon make Paulie [from Goodfellas] look like a reasonable business partner.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to re-write House rules today to ensure that the Republican minority is unable to have any influence on legislation. Pelosi’s proposals are so draconian, and will so polarize the Capitol, that any thought President-elect Obama has of bipartisan cooperation will be rendered impossible before he even takes office.
“Being that the Marine Corps can be sent anywhere in the world with the snap of his fingers, nobody has confidence in this guy as commander in chief,” said one lance corporal who asked not to be identified.