updated “My guess is that musty folders on reconciliation got dusted off this morning…” – Podesta prediction: Senate Dems pass health bill Through anonymous sources, it’s being reported that Pres. Obama wants to simply get[...]
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Paul Krugman today gives an impassioned refresher on how deregulation of the banking industry led to the Great Depression, notes the Republicans' complete denial of the need for present-day regulation:
Given this history, you might have expected the emergence of a national consensus in favor of restoring more-effective financial regulation, so as to avoid a repeat performance. But you would have been wrong.
Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It?s a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It?s a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question.
Oh, and conservatives simply ignore the catastrophe in commercial real estate: in their universe the only bad loans were those made to poor people and members of minority groups, because bad loans to developers of shopping malls and office towers don?t fit the narrative.
In part, the prevalence of this narrative reflects the principle enunciated by Upton Sinclair: ?It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.? As Democrats have pointed out, three days before the House vote on banking reform, Republican leaders met with more than 100 financial-industry lobbyists to coordinate strategies. But it also reflects the extent to which the modern Republican Party is committed to a bankrupt ideology, one that won?t let it face up to the reality of what happened to the U.S. economy.
So it?s up to the Democrats ? and more specifically, since the House has passed its bill, it?s up to ?centrist? Democrats in the Senate. Are they willing to learn something from the disaster that has overtaken the U.S. economy, and get behind financial reform?
Let?s hope so. For one thing is clear: if politicians refuse to learn from the history of the recent financial crisis, they will condemn all of us to repeat it.
Today President Obama will meet with the nation’s top bank executives in the President’s “latest push for lenders to take greater responsibility as the nation combats an economic crisis that began on Wall Street.” “The president is looking forward…[to discussing] the need to increase small business lending and the Administration’s plans for financial reform,” a White House spokesperson said.
This morning on NBC’s Today, RNC chair Michael Steele said that in order for banks to start lending to small businesses, the federal government should reduce the unemployment tax:
STEELE: Well, I think, first off, he should recognize that banks aren’t going to lend money to people who can’t pay them back. … So there’s — there’s this whole cycle of not understanding exactly how the economy works with respect to small-business owners. Take that pressure off of them. Let’s — let’s eliminate the capital gains tax. Let’s reduce the unemployment tax.
The unemployment tax is a tax levied on employers in order to provide payments of unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs. Unemployment insurance provides a vital lifeline to more than 10 million Americans currently looking for work in an environment where jobs are scarce. Moreover, the benefits also provide fiscal stimulus as they are almost certain to be spent and put back into the economy quickly. Economists estimate that one dollar put towards unemployment benefits contributes about $2.15 to economic growth.
So Steele’s solution to fixing the economy is to take away benefits from those who have lost their jobs. If these taxes are reduced, who will pay? Rather than raid unemployment benefits, the Obama administration is proposing to assist small businesses through funding from the TARP program, which Republicans also oppose.
This isn’t the first time Republicans have sought to limit funds to unemployed Americans. Before the Senate passed its jobless benefits package last month, Senate Republicans held up the bill for four weeks, which prevented more than 200,000 Americans from receiving the benefits.
Politico is reporting, and a source familiar with the Senate Gang of Ten negotiations has confirmed for me, that the White House has told Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman.
The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and eliminate the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.
But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill, and first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.
"There is a weariness and a lot of frustration that one person is holding up the will of 59 others," the official said. "There is still too much anger and confusion at one particular senator’s reversal."
Remember that Reid invited Lieberman to be a part of those Gang of Ten negotiations, and that Lieberman punked Reid by telling him that he was open to a Medicare buy-in. What's more, according to my source, Lieberman had staff in the Gang of 10 negotiations and they never raised objections on the part of their boss to the compromise.
White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer denies the report, but TPM has also received confirmation of it:
As Politico first reported, the White House is pressuring a reluctant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to keep the prospects for health care reform legislation alive, a keyed in aide confirms....
The White House denies the charge. Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tells TPMDC, "The report is inaccurate. The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was less responsive. "The President is anxious to see progress and will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans and independents and everyone in between."
Let's hope that's the case, because it would be insane for anyone, including the big brains in the White House, to trust Lieberman now to agree to just cutting out Medicare buy-in (and the public option, because Joe wouldn't strike a deal with that)? He's only going to ratchet up his demands. Yesterday he included the CLASS Act in his list of demands. Tomorrow it's going to be Medicaid expansion. Lieberman's demands can't reasonably be met because he'll just keep moving the goalposts.
UPDATE: Markos calls on Twitter for bill to be killed:
@markos Insurance companies win. Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate.Washington Post:
Senate Democrats emerged from a special caucus meeting Monday night determined to pass a health-care bill by Christmas -- but without the Medicare buy-in plan that liberals had sought as an alternative to a government insurance option....Oh honey, the good left the barn of this administration and this congress so long ago you wouldn't even recognize it.
"To use an old cliche, the general consensus was we shouldn't make the perfect the enemy of the good," Bayh said.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Meg White
As the venerable comedic institution of Second City turns fifty years old this week, we at BuzzFlash are once again reminded of how much we love calling Chicago home. Not only did Second City bring a new art form to the highest echelons of comedy, but it brought a down-home, Midwestern audience to the theater. And it's not easy to make Midwesterners laugh.
As part of a festival celebrating its "Fifty Years of Funny," the institution which has grown to take in $30 million in annual ticket sales thanks to theaters in two cities, 11 touring groups and cruise ships shows, Second City closed with a look at its humble beginnings. A panel titled "Second City in the Sixties" at their main stage theater this past Sunday brought together heavy hitters from co-founder Bernie Sahlins to renowned comedic actors Fred Willard and Robert Klein to talk about the early days.
Sahlins said they never even intended on putting on a show.
"We were all out of work, and we decided to build a coffee shop, because that's what one did in the Beat Generation. We needed a place to hang out," he said. They rehabbed a building that recently had been home to a laundry, and Sahlins recalled former customers coming back, coupons in hand, to pick up their shirts for months.
A member of the House Progressive Caucus staked his reputation on restoring funding for a canceled Pentagon program and managed to secure $100 million for Lockheed Martin to keep the defunct and unwanted VH-71 presidential helicopter program[...]
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With the news that a group of teabaggers are planning a "die-in" tomorrow to protest health care reform:
Tea Party organizer Mark Meckler writes on his site: "The intention is to go inside the Senate offices and hallways, and play out the role of patients waiting for treatment in government controlled medical facilities. As the day goes on some of us will pretend to die from our untreated illnesses and collapse on the floor. Many of us plan to stay there until they force us to leave."
"We know it's a sacrifice to do this right before Christmas," Meckler writes. "But throughout history American Patriots have made far greater sacrifices than this to protect our liberty. Now the burden (and the honor) falls on us."
Yes, the burden and honor of skipping the blue light special at Walmart is almost like dying for your country.
I'm going to attempt to start a new feature that I've seen on a number of blogs, and have liked. And you've seen me do it sporadically, especially today. Monday to Friday at 6pm Eastern, or so, I'll try to put up a post linking to a number of the day's stories that we never got to, but are still worth checking out. They may be big news we didn't get to, or small news that simply didn't deserve a full post by itself. But all will be, from our perspective, interesting, and worth a look. I think it's a useful form of posting, so we'll see if folks like it.
22 million Bush White House emails suddenly found. Imagine that.
Lieberman stabs health care in the back.
In other news, adultery is still a crime in NH, after 200 years.
Sam Stein at Huffington Post:
The simplest explanation for Lieberman's pirouette is that he is in the pocket of the insurance industry. He has been criticized along those lines since his days as attorney general of Connecticut. Back in 1988, he was dogged for accepting campaign donations from the insurance company Advest Inc. one month after Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Peter W. Gillies had requested an opinion from his office in a case involving the company. Over the course of his career in the Senate, meanwhile, Lieberman has taken more than $1.04 million in campaign contributions from insurance companies, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.The religious right extremists at the bigoted American Family Association want Obama's Nobel.
New RNC radio ad: Yeah, ok, fine, we Republicans are stonewalling health care reform [...]
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