News & Comment
Blogs and Opinion
All Fascism is Local by Dylan Brody , smirkingchimp.com | November 24, 2012The Reagan era produced a cultural belief that government is inherently bad and that big government is inherently worse than small government. This sounded like it made sense when it came out in warm, condescending grandfatherly tones from an apple-cheeked old actor-cum-politician but ultimately the fallacy becomes apparent. read more »
Fiscal Cliff Letter: Small Business Owners Urge End Of Bush Tax Cuts by Zach Carter, Huffington Post | November 20, 2012More than 600 small business owners and executives wrote a letter to every member of Congress urging them to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy under any deal brokered to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff." "As businesses owners, none of us hire more employees simply because someone gives us a tax cut. We hire more employees when our customers demand more of what we have to sell," the letter reads. "When a teacher, firefighter, or construction worker building public infrastructure loses his or her job, many of us also lose a customer." The letter also emphasizes that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy do not generally aid small businesses, and suggests that the money could be better spent on infrastructure projects, education, or other efforts to strengthen the economy. read more »
How Vulture Capitalists Killed the Twinkie by Jake Blumgart, alternet.org | November 20, 2012As the final Twinkies, Sno-Balls and those glowing orange cupcakes were stuffed with cream and wrapped in cellophane on Friday, the business world and much of the news media knew who was to blame for this dying American icon. It was the unions. As Hostess moved to end its operations last week — a bankruptcy judge asked the company Monday to try mediation with its unions; those talks are scheduled to begin today — commentators were eager to blame the rigidity of unions. But the story is far more complicated than that — and in some ways, the exact opposite of the tale pushed by those on the right. It’s the story of two bankruptcies, hundreds of millions of givebacks from Hostess unions and hundreds of millions of debt piled onto the company by venture capitalists. It’s a story of management that boosted its own salaries, while failing to make agreed payments into workers’ pension funds. And it’s a story of changing tastes and diets. read more »
- I joined Campaign for America's Future's Richard Eskow to talk about the "fiscal cliff" scare, austerity, Social Security, Medicare and how we WON the election so we really should be talking about jobs instead. This was a GREAT hour, and hold the information you need to arm yourself to win holiday-dinner conversations with your right-wing brother-in-law. read more »
Big Banks vs. Elizabeth Warren: It's On (Again!) by Andy Kroll, Mother Jones | November 19, 2012Not even two weeks have passed since Democrat Elizabeth Warren rode a wave of grassroots support to victory in the US Senate race in Massachusetts, ousting Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Senator-elect Warren has not yet hired her staff. She has not yet moved into her Senate office. But the banking industry is already taking aim at her, scurrying to curb her future clout on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists and trade groups for Wall Street and other major banking players are pressuring lawmakers to deny Warren a seat on the powerful Senate banking committee. Democrats have two spots to fill on the committee before the 113th Congress gavels in next year. Warren has yet said whether she wants to serve on the committee. But she would be a natural: she's a bankruptcy law expert, she served as Congress' lead watchdog overseeing the $700 billion bank bailout from 2008 to 2010, and she conceived of and helped launch the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. read more »
The Twinkie Defense by Robert Kuttner, prospect.org | November 19, 2012You remember the Twinkie Defense? It was a term of ridicule coined by reporters covering the 1979 San Francisco murder trial of county supervisor Dan White. The right-wing White had assassinated both fellow supervisor Harvey Milk, a heroic figure in San Francisco’s gay community, and Mayor George Moscone. Lawyers for White claimed that he overdosed on Twinkies, and was acting under the delusional influence of a sugar high. Now, there is a new Twinkie Defense, and it is equally shameless and delusional. The Twinkie Defense is: the unions made us do it. read more »
Starving the Watchdog: How Budget Cuts Undermine Financial Regulation by David Callahan, policyshop.net | November 16, 2012There are basically two ways to thwart regulatory oversight of Wall Street: One, block new rules or weaken existing rules; and, two, make sure that whatever rules exist are not fully enforced. The finance industry and its allies in Congress are pursuing both strategies. Yet while the campaign against Dodd-Frank has received much attention, less heed has been paid to how a budgetary attack is undermining the two top watchdogs over Wall Street: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC). read more »
Sherrod Brown Reelected Voicing Middle-Class Populism And Class-War Campaigning by Dave Johnson, OurFuture.org | November 15, 2012Ohio Senator Sherror Brown won reelection by "waging class warfare" using middle-class populism. Here is how. read more »
Reforming the 401(k) by Robert Hiltonsmith, policyshop.net | November 15, 2012In 2008 alone, the securities industry lost over $2 trillion in workers’ hard-earned 401(k) and IRA savings. This loss was problematic enough for the millions of American families who watched their balances plunge in horror, but the number that really drives home the need for reform is the more than $120 billion that the industry took home in compensation and commissions the same year it lost $2 trillion in savers’ wealth. Clearly, there must be something wrong with the rules and incentives for the securities industry for it to be able to pay itself so much while simultaneously performing so poorly. There are, however, several relatively simple rules that could be implemented to insure that the industry responsible for millions of Americans’ retirement works to help them retire comfortably -- as opposed to simply lining its own pockets at their expense. read more »
The Crisis Of The Deficit Crisis Mongers by Dean Baker, aljazeera.com | November 14, 2012The gang for gutting Social Security and Medicare (aka "The Campaign to Fix the Debt") are running in high gear. During the long election campaign they gathered dollars, corporate CEOs and washed up politicians for a full-fledged push in the final months of the year. They are hoping that the hype around the budget standoff (aka "fiscal cliff") can be used for a grand bargain that eviscerates the country's two most important social programmes, Social Security and Medicare. They made a point of keeping this plan out of election year politics because they know it is a huge loser with the electorate. People across the political and ideological spectrums strongly support these programmes and are opposed to cuts [PDF]. Politicians who advocated cuts would have been likely losers on Election Day. But now that the voters are out of the way, the Wall Street gang and the CEOs see their opportunity. read more »
Citigroup Says It Didn't Use 'Robo-Signers,' Still Faces Increased Risk Due to Sour Mortgages, Huffington Post | October 19, 2010
Top Citigroup executives sought to assure investors and the public Monday that the firm's foreclosure process and its handling of key documents in securitizing home mortgages is "sound," despite growing concerns over how lenders may have skirted the law when bundling home mortgages, selling them and kicking delinquent borrowers out of their home.
Don't Believe The Bank Lobby: Foreclosure Fraud Is Bad For Homeowners And The Economy, ourfuture.org | October 19, 2010
The bank lobby is spreading a host of silly myths about the foreclosure fraud outbreak in an effort to downplay the scandal and minimize concerns over potential bank losses that have emerged in the blogosphere. Housing Wire’s Paul Jackson spouts most of them in his post today. more »
The Feds New Bubble (Masquerading As A Jobs Program), tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com | October 19, 2010
Wall Street Money Flows to GOP, blogs.wsj.com | August 11, 2010
Republicans candidates collected about 70% of the political donations from the employees and political accounts of financial services firms in June, the most recent month in which records are available, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a reversal from March, when Democrats collected 70% of the donations from Wall Street.
The AIG Bailout Scandal , The Nation | August 10, 2010
The government’s $182 billion bailout of insurance giant AIG should be seen as the Rosetta Stone for understanding the financial crisis and its costly aftermath. more »
Democrats Seek Allies in U.S. Consumer Agency Debate, Reuters | August 10, 2010
Nominees Will be Crucial in Enactment of New Wall Street Law, thehill.com | August 10, 2010
President Obama will have the opportunity over the next year to dramatically remake the leadership at the nation’s financial regulators. The president’s appointments on bank regulation, insurance rules and consumer financial protection will have broad power to carry out the 2,300-page financial overhaul enacted by Obama last month.
Basel Capital Rules May Prompt Banks to Shrink Trading, OCC's Dugan Says, bloomberg.com | August 5, 2010
The new rules being negotiated by regulators in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision would have a greater impact on the firms’ so-called trading books, which include stocks, bonds and other securities, Dugan said in an interview. Loans and other debt held until maturity in their banking books would be less affected.
Bank Failures Up 5 More to 108; Florida’s Tally at 20, ecreditdaily.com | August 3, 2010
Dodd, Frank Plan Congressional Hearings on Basel Bank-Capital Regulations, bloomberg.com | July 29, 2010
Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank, authors of the U.S. financial overhaul, plan hearings on the status of global talks to revise bank-capital standards amid worries that proposed rules are being watered down. more »