Obama’s strategy is to advance on all fronts. Buoyed by favorable poll numbers, he is moving to jolt the economy with a massive stimulus package, revamp the healthcare system and push the nation toward renewable energy sources.
Archive for the ‘Democratic’ Category
Barack Obama’s newly named Economic Recovery Advisory Board, the real-world Americans being asked to help solve the nation’s financial crisis, includes a union executive who took the Fifth in a federal probe, a billionaire whose failed bank pioneered the subprime mortgage market, and deep-pocket donors who gave or gathered nearly $1.2 million for the president’s campaign.
By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
In all, 11 of the 16 board members donated or raised money for Democrats in the last election, according to a Washington Times review of campaign finance records. They include the president and chief operating officer of the American arm of UBS Investment Bank, the Swiss-based bank now at the center of a widening tax evasion probe by the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
In announcing the board’s creation, Mr. Obama described its members as “distinguished citizens outside the government” who were qualified on the basis of achievement, experience, independence and integrity to “bring a diverse set of perspectives and voices from different parts of the country and different sectors of the economy to bear in the formulation and evaluation of economic policy.”
The board is headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, whose only political contribution last year was $2,300 to Mr. Obama.
“It is distressing to see the president turning to his heavy finance hitters as consultants,” said Craig Holman, legislative director for Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group that tracks political fundraising and its influence on government policy.
The largest one-year increase in government handouts in American history.
A “welfare spendathon.”
The process? Shameful.
A return to rewarding no work with other workers’ hard earned pay. In massive amounts.
And pork. Pork some say Americans don’t care about. But I care about my money going to waste. I hate pork vendors. Which means most Democrats.
And I care about my money going to China. And oil rich emirates where no men work….
It’s the stimulus. The Obama stimulus. The Democrats’ stimulus.
Oh, and three doomed Republican senators. Snowe, Collins and Specter. They joined the welfare Democrats, the Schumer poksters, the “we don’t care,” the idle, the “we don’t pay taxes.” Those that gloat.
Pardon me if I’m angry. I’ve always paid my taxes. Probably overpaid.
Tim Geithner? No. Dashcle? No. Obama? Uncertain.
But we sure raided the Traesury big time this time. Didn’t we?
“If this is going to be bipartisanship, the country’s screwed,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told ABC’s “This Week.” “I know bipartisanship when I see it.”
The president says Air Force One is a “spiffy ride.”
It’s my aircraft and my fuel, pal. I paid and can prove it.
We’ll, he’s living on my money. We both have to get used to it. We don’t have to like it…..
Now I am the schmuck.
How do you feel?
The new administration’s economic stimulus plan may undo reforms that cut the dole queues, critics say
RONALD REAGAN started it, Bill Clinton finished it and last week Barack Obama was accused of engineering its destruction. One of the few undisputed triumphs of American government of the past 20 years – the sweeping welfare reform programme that sent millions of dole claimants back to work – has been plunged into jeopardy by billions of dollars in state handouts included in the president’s controversial economic stimulus package.
As Obama celebrated Valentine’s Day yesterday with a return to his Chicago home for a private weekend with family and friends, his success in piloting a $785 billion (£546 billion) stimulus package through Congress was being overshadowed by warnings that an unprecedented increase in welfare spending would undermine two decades of bipartisan attempts to reduce dependency on government handouts.
Robert Rector, a prominent welfare researcher who was one of the architects of Clinton’s 1996 reform bill, warned last week that Obama’s stimulus plan was a “welfare spendathon” that would amount to the largest one-year increase in government handouts in American history.
Douglas Besharov, author of a big study on welfare reform, said the stimulus bill passed by Congress and the Senate in separate votes on Friday would “unravel” most of the 1996 reforms that led to a 65% reduction in welfare caseloads and prompted the British and several other governments to consider similar measures.
GOP Lawmakers Feel “Screwed”
Luo Ping, a director-general of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, explaining how China feels about having to continue to buy U.S. Treasuries:
“We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion… we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do….
Ping, “whose English tends towards the colloquial,” according to the Financial Times’ Henny Sender, also asked “Except for US Treasuries, what can you hold? Gold? You don’t hold Japanese government bonds or UK bonds. US Treasuries are the safe haven. For everyone, including China, it is the only option.”
So China will keep buying U.S. debt. Somehow this is not entirely reassuring.
Stimulus: “Buy American” Retained; Sure To Anger International Partners
China’s leader Hu Jintao cautioned President Obama about the “buy American” provision in the economic stimulus plan during a phone conversation….but a “Buy American” provision remains in the stimulus as passed….
President Hu Jintao of China (AFP/File/Louisa Gouliamaki)
By Belinda Cao and Judy Chen
Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) — China should seek guarantees that its $682 billion holdings of U.S. government debt won’t be eroded by “reckless policies,” said Yu Yongding, a former adviser to the central bank.
The U.S. “should make the Chinese feel confident that the value of the assets at least will not be eroded in a significant way,” Yu, who now heads the World Economics and Politics Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in response to e-mailed questions yesterday from Beijing. He declined to elaborate on the assurances needed by China, the biggest foreign holder of U.S. government debt.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields climbed above 3 percent this week on speculation the government will increase borrowing as President Barack Obama pushes his $838 billion stimulus package through Congress. Premier Wen Jiabao said last month his government’s strategy for investing would focus on safeguarding the value of China’s $1.95 trillion foreign reserves.
China may voice its concerns over U.S. government finances and the potential for a weaker dollar when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits China on Feb. 20, according to He Zhicheng, an economist at Agricultural Bank of China, the nation’s third-largest lender by assets. A People’s Bank of China official, who didn’t wish to be identified, declined to comment on the telephone.
“In talks with Clinton, China will ask for a guarantee that the U.S. will support the dollar’s exchange rate and make sure China’s dollar-denominated assets are safe,” said He in Beijing. “That would be one of the prerequisites for more purchases.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday that talks with Clinton would cover bilateral relations, the financial crisis and international affairs, according to the Xinhua news agency.
The dollar fell 0.6 percent to 89.96 yen today on concern that the U.S. government’s bank-rescue plan will fail to revive lending. Treasuries declined as investors prepared to bid for a record $21 billion sale of 10-year notes today. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note rose three basis points to 2.83 percent.
“These comments are some sort of a threat but of course China can never get such a guarantee,” said Thomas Harr, a currency strategist at Standard Chartered Plc in Singapore. The U.S. may assure China that it will clean up the financial system and that it “won’t push for a weaker dollar but they can’t promise not to increase the fiscal deficit,” he said.
U.S. government bonds returned 14 percent last year including price gains and reinvested interest, the most since rallying 18.5 percent in 1995, according to indexes compiled by Merrill Lynch & Co. Concern that the flood of bonds would overwhelm demand caused Treasuries to lose 3.08 percent in January, the steepest drop in almost five years, Merrill data show.
China’s loss of more than $5 billion from investing $10.5 billion of its reserves in New York-based Blackstone Group LP, Morgan Stanley and TPG Inc. since mid-2007 may increase its demand for the relative safety of Treasuries.
“The government will be a net buyer of Treasuries in the short term because there’s no sign they have changed their strategy,” said Zhang Ming, secretary general of the international finance research center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “But personally, I don’t think we should increase holdings because the medium- and long-term risks are quite high.”
Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said on Feb. 5 the Federal Reserve will have to buy Treasuries to curb yields as debt sales increase. Fed officials said Jan. 28 they were “prepared” to buy longer-term Treasuries.
“The biggest concern for China to continue buying U.S. Treasuries is that if Obama’s stimulus doesn’t work out as expected, the Fed may have to print money to cover the deficit,” said Shen Jianguang, a Hong Kong-based economist at China International Capital Corp., partly owned by Morgan Stanley. “That will cause a dollar slump.”
China’s foreign-exchange reserves grew about $40 billion in the fourth quarter, the least since mid-2004, as an end to yuan appreciation since July prompted investors to pull money out.
The world’s third-biggest economy grew 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, the slowest pace in seven years. Policy makers announced a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) economic stimulus plan in November to spur domestic demand.
Yu said China has no plans to channel its reserves toward stimulating its own economy because its trade surplus is sufficient to fund any import needs. China’s trade surplus was $39 billion in January.
China “should diversify its reserves away from U.S. Treasuries if the value of China’s foreign-exchange reserves is in danger of being inflated away by the U.S. government’s pump- priming,” he said.
China may try to link trade and currency policy disputes to its future investment in Treasuries, said Lu Zhengwei, an economist in Shanghai at Industrial Bank Co., a Chinese lender partly owned by a unit of HSBC Holdings Plc.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner accused China on Jan. 22 of “manipulating” the yuan to give an unfair advantage to its exporters. The currency has dropped 0.16 percent this year to 6.8342 per dollar, following a 21 percent gain since a peg against the dollar was abandoned in July 2005.
“China can also use this opportunity to get a promise from the U.S. not to make inappropriate requests on bilateral trade and the Chinese yuan,” Lu said. “We can’t afford more yuan appreciation as the economy is facing a serious slowdown.”
Representative Says Stimulus “Stinks,” Details “Intentionally Hidden from Lawmakers, American Voters”February 13, 2009
“The longer a piece of garbage lays out in the sun the worse it stinks,” said Republican Representative John Culberson (R-TX), referring to the Obama stimulus. “That’s why the bill was hidden and kept off the Internet.”
“This is a crime of deceit put upon the American people,” he said.
“This bill was intentionally hidden from lawmakers and the public.”
“This is one of the largest outrages ever committed,” Culberson said.
“Nobody read this bill before it was passed,” he said.
There should be a law against that.
“We are borrowing this money from Arab oil states and the Chinese,” said a Democratic congressman who voted againt the president’s stimulus.
The House of Representatives passed the Obama stimulus today.
China gets rich. Obama gets lucky. And taxpayers and their children and grandchildren get fu****.
Culberson made the following statement:
Today I voted against the largest spending bill in the history of the United States Congress. This bill violated House rules, was crafted in secret by unelected Democrat staff, and gave the American people only 15 hours to read nearly 1,500 pages. All so Speaker Pelosi could make her trip to Italy.
This bill is also full of pet projects and wasteful spending. How does $300 million for golf carts help stimulate the economy? Economists from around the country have said this bill will do nothing to stimulate the economy and it’s easy to see why.
In just 18 legislative days, this Congress has spent over $1.1 trillion dollars and vastly expanded the federal government. For the rest of the 111th Congress, I will continue fighting to protect the American economy and your hard earned tax dollars from the free-spending Democrat majority.
“I think (doing) nothing would have been better,” said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who’s usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy newspapers.
Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) said of the stimulus today: “This is an oink oink bill.”
“What Barack Obama should have done….” That’s how Obama supporter and true believer Geraldo Rivera started today during his TV commentary.
It’s tragic, really, when people speak about the President of the United States in the past tense after only a few weeks time.
Like he’s finished or irrelevant. Like he’s already made the biggest mistake of his life. The biggest mistake of his presidency.
The stimulus is already a national joke. People not only fail to believe it will work: they are disgusted by the conduct of their elected representatives.
Al Sharpton is angry on the left. And Al D’Amato is angry on the right.
It takes a lot to unite these two.
Between those two poles we, the average voters, are left without recourse or hope, in large measure.
People are already saying the good living they enjoyed in America most of their lives may be a thing of the past.
Mike Huckabee, former Republican governor of Arkansas, sitting with Geraldo Rivera this morning, wondered if his children and grand children will enjoy the America of his youth again. Or maybe it is now lost forever….
Nice going, Barack and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Who would have thought this was possible?
By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.(AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)
By Kevin Hall
The compromise economic stimulus plan agreed to by negotiators from the House of Representatives and the Senate is short on incentives to get consumers spending again and long on social goals that won’t stimulate economic activity, according to a range of respected economists.
“I think (doing) nothing would have been better,” said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who’s usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy. He argued that the plan fails to provide the right incentives to spur spending.
“It’s unfocused. That is my problem. It is a lot of money for a lot of nickel-and- dime programs. I would have rather had a lot of money for (promoting purchase of) housing and autos . . . . Most of this plan is really, I think, aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping people get through the recession, rather than getting us out of the recession. They are actually providing less short-term stimulus by cutting back, from what I understand, some of the tax credits.”
House and Senate negotiators this week narrowed the differences between their competing stimulus plans….
Read the rest:
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has decided today to engineer a public flogging of top bankers: call it the “banking Spanking.”
But Franks also wants the bad guys to cooperate and behave.
“I urge you going forward to be ungrudgingly cooperative. There has to be a sense of the American people that you understand their anger … and that you’re willing to make some sacrifices to get this working, ” Franks said.
Franks also said he was angry that the TARP wasn’t executed better by the bankers.
But wasn’t he there in the Financial Services Committee, crafting the provisions of the TARP?
Franks also said the administration was taking “too much time” developing a foreclosure plan and called on companies that hold or service mortgages to suspend foreclosure proceedings until it is released.
He took shots at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s bank bailout plan along the way.
Franks has criticism for everyone all around but hasn’t taken any responsibility himself….
John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
Related from the AP:
Bankers Vow To Work Toward Financial Reform
The stimulus is a “bling fling” of tossing around the goodies for the sake of pleasure.
But what do we get for sure? Debt and spending.
The experts can’t agree on the rest. Some say it will create a million jobs. Some say 4 million. Some say in two years. Some say four.
Some say its temporary. Some say it is purely an effort to make communities and people dependent upon the public trough.
And the media has been fawning over Barack Obama for many months.
Obama’s “positive” rating is now some 67%. The stimulus? Only half the voters like it.
Given all of this, will the right questions be asked by the media tonight? Probably not. But Politico’s Jon Martin did a great job explaining what the questions should be.
If I was a Republican lawmaker I’d vote against the stimulus. If I was a Democrat I’d go with the president. And hope.
But as a Democrat in the Senate I’d know this stimulus package is a terrible piece of pork foisted upon the Senate by Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats in the House.
Jon Martin, Politico:
The stimulus is a PorkFest:
Economic journalist Stuart Varney said today on Fox News, “The stimulus was dishonestly presented to the public. It is all spending and little stimulus. It is mostly pork and Congressional leaders have not been honest about that at all.”
Risks To Republicans and Democrats on Stimulus
The risks for Obama are considerable. He and the Democrats will have no one else to blame if the package fails to boost the economy. Obama himself has said his first term can be judged on whether it succeeds, whether it creates or saves the 3 million to 4 million jobs he promises.
And if the economy fails to show marked signs of improvement — a possibility indeed — Republicans will have a megabillion-dollar “I told you so” in their pockets, just in time for the 2010 midterm elections and Obama’s own reelection bid in 2012.
Read the rest:
My number one question for all voters who watch the president tonight: does this look like a campaign or a man honestly defending the best possible economic jump start?
Number two question: Is the media digging for the truth?
Sadly, some people learn slowly.
Tom Daschle never dreamed he didn’t desrve a free limo and that the “perk” was probably reportable income.
And Nacy Pelosi is in denial that “bipartisaniship” is a good thing for a nation.
“The whole country is behind me,” she told reporters. “They know they need the House Stimulus.”
In a statement sure to rile Republicans, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday dismissed calls for bipartisanship as “process” arguments extraneous to passing a stimulus bill — and warned Senate Democrats against slashing proposed increases to education spending.
Pelosi — speaking to reporters on the second day of her retreat with House Democrats at a swank Williamsburg, Va., golf resort — was clearly annoyed with Senate attempts to slash up to $100 billion in spending from the $819 billion package the House passed last week.
At the same time, she urged the need for speed in passing the package — and stopped short of saying that she’d insist on her demands during upcoming conference negotiations with the Senate.
“Washington seems consumed in the process argument of bipartisanship, when the rest of the country says they need this bill,” the California Democrat said, seeming to sweep aside the Obama administration initial desire to have broad GOP support for the plan.
Read the rest:
Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), said: “Her comment really makes one wonder whether she understands the concerns of not only the majority of struggling Americans seeking tax relief and job creation, but many members from her own party.”
Pelosi’s increasingly partisan tone comes a day after Obama stepped up his pressure on Republicans, who have sought to downsize spending and increase tax cuts. They have been joined in their efforts by a coalition of centrist Democrats in the upper chamber, led by Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who has criticized the House stimulus as wasteful and ill-targeted.
I know it’s been a tough week, little Obamaites. You’ve been feeling … unstimulated.
But think of it this way — the drama in the Senate drove Tom Daschle completely out of the news. In a week or so, nobody will even remember that he was nominated for anything.
Perk up and feel free to ask questions:
How could so many cabinet nominees get into trouble? The Obama transition team was supposed to be so organized! Did their seven-page questionnaire ask about Facebook pages but not tax liens?
They did ask about tax liens, yet miraculously still wound up with two candidates who had them. It’s possible one or both of them didn’t even know. Maybe this goes to show that there are tax liens lurking everywhere, like cold germs. No one is immune. There could be one in your closet at this very moment, just waiting for you to go to sleep so it can pounce.
Wasn’t Tom Daschle crucial for health care reform? What are they going to do without him?
We have to get past the idea that transformative change requires one great cabinet member to steer it. That’s the kind of thinking that got us Donald Rumsfeld. Tom Daschle always seemed like a lovely man, but the idea that only he could get a big, important, dramatic health care reform through the Senate seems a little flawed, given the fact that he never got any big, important, dramatic reforms through the Senate when he was the actual majority leader.
By Gail Collins
The New York Times
I dropped out of school for a semester to campaign for Barack Obama. And now I’m asking myself whether I spent four months living with my aunt and going door to door in Dayton, Ohio, just so we could have a stimulus plan written by a bunch of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats in the Senate.
I don’t know how many times we need to go over this, but this is actually a real-life version of what Obama promised during the campaign. Didn’t you jump up and cheer when your guy promised that he’d get Republicans and Democrats to work together?
I wanted them to work together on global warming, not on cutting money for Head Start out of the stimulus.
And Obama feels your pain. He always said the bipartisan path was going to be rocky, but this week the going was so rough that the great trailer-tractor of stimulus blew out several tires on the shoals of post-partisanism. It was embarrassing — the President of the United States held White House negotiations with people who had already announced that they had no intention of voting for his bill. He let minority-party subleaders lecture him about what’s wrong with redistribution of wealth. He had a bipartisan Super Bowl party! But he still wound up cooling his heels, waiting for word from the newly hatched moderate caucus on what would happen next. This is the group that was led by Susan Collins of Maine. In November, we apparently elected Collins and her fellow Maine Republican, Olympia Snowe, to help run the country. And you wasted all that time thinking about Joe Biden.
Why did Obama nominate Senator Judd Gregg to be commerce secretary? He’s not just a Republican; he isn’t even that moderate. And he voted to eliminate the Commerce Department!
It’s not exactly a big gamble. Although the Commerce Department has many important duties, like supervising the patent office, it’s sort of like an old attic where people throw stuff that doesn’t fit anyplace else. And while there have been some sterling commerce secretaries, it has been run for lengthy periods of time by complete morons and the nation didn’t seem to suffer appreciably.
Even when I get irked with Obama, I still want to help him. Isn’t there something people can do?
This weekend the Obama army is going to rise again, creating a nation of stimulus house parties, made up of people who would like nothing more than to spend their days off talking about the administration’s economic plan. There’s a Mommies, Daddies and Wee Ones Gathering in Brighton, Colo. (“We will have kid crafts, videos, juice, snacks and coffee.”) And a gathering called “What Happened to My Retirement Nest Egg?” is scheduled for Watsonville, Calif. (“We’ll break out the wine and cheese.”)
Or, for sterner spirits, there’s the Economic System Redesign Leadership Meeting in Manhattan, which is sponsored by the Corporate Social Responsibility Advocates for Obama, the Social Innovators for Obama and the Sustainability Activists for Obama. (“Please bring your own lunch or eat before coming.”)
I still miss the way it was before the election, when everything seemed clearer.
Face it, you miss George W. Bush. Ever since he slunk off the scene, things have gotten all vague and squishy. You want somebody to rally against and Mitch McConnell is not an adequate substitute, even if he does look a little bit like the groundhog that assaulted the mayor of New York City this week.
Really, everybody’s getting so cranky.