Archive for the ‘legislation’ Category

Bonus backlash hits Wall Street

March 21, 2009
Congress may undo a decades-old compensation system, alarming bankers but pleasing those who believe ‘financial buccaneers’ deserve payback.
By Walter Hamilton and Tom Hamburger
Los Angeles Times
March 21, 2009
Reporting from Washington and New York — As Washington’s anti-bonus zeal intensified Friday, alarm spread across Wall Street that the government’s sudden taxation fervor could ensnare thousands of workers and affect every major financial firm.

Although the fast-moving legislative campaign was born of frustration with the bonuses paid to workers at ailing American International Group Inc., employees at comparatively healthy investment banks fretted about the steep tax hikes they could face if the legislation became law.

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Missing from Congress’ stimulus negotiations: transparency

February 14, 2009

“The longer a piece of garbage lays out in the sun the worse it stinks,” said Republican Representative John Culberson (R-TX), refeering 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,” said.

“Nobody read this bill before it was passed,” he said.


President Obama has indicated he wants Congress to conduct its work in the open. But in this first test case, ‘he’s pleased with the process and the product,’ a spokesman says.
By Peter Nicholas
Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2009
Reporting from Washington — Upending Washington’s entrenched ways of doing business is proving tougher than President Obama may have assumed.

The nearly $800-billion stimulus bill served as a test case.

During the campaign, Obama released a position paper stating his commitment to open government. As president, he said, he would not only insist on transparency in his own administration, he would press Congress to revamp its practices as well.

Obama has no constitutional authority to set rules for Congress, but he suggested he would use his influence to see to it that Congress doesn’t conduct its work “in the dead of night and behind closed doors.”

Heavy reading 

HEAVY READING: House GOP leader John Boehner shows a copy of the massive bill, which he and every other Republican in the House opposed, along with seven Democrats. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

In the first major piece of legislation pushed by Obama, transparency was missing.

Important negotiating sessions devoted to the stimulus took place in congressional offices, outside public view. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) said he was in a meeting about the stimulus plan Tuesday night in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). Among the participants was White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“We had to do some hard bargaining,” Waxman said.

The abundance of private deliberations made for some comical moments.

Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) was walking through the Capitol on Wednesday on his way to a public meeting in which senators and House members were supposed to hash out differences over the stimulus. As he passed the Rotunda, Camp spotted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) holding a news conference announcing that a deal had already been struck.

“This is the largest spending bill in the history of the United States, and I believe the public business should be done in public,” said Camp, who had been appointed to the 10-member conference committee created to reconcile differences between the two chambers.

“President Obama made that commitment repeatedly in his campaign,” he said.

Obama aides say that the president is still committed to transparency in government.

He reiterated the pledge during the transition, posting a promise on his website to “restore the American people’s trust in their government by making government more open and transparent,” and cited closed conference committee sessions as a practice ripe for overhaul.

But the White House isn’t apologizing for how the stimulus bill was handled. Given the dismal economic climate, White House aides said, the country needed a stimulus bill — fast.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, asked about the private negotiations, said that Obama wasn’t troubled.

“He’s pleased with the process and the product that has come out,” Gibbs said while briefing reporters Friday. “I think when the process is done, the American people will be proud of the product that we believe and we hope will begin to stimulate the economy.”

Democratic leaders said the bill was handled according to procedures and customs that have been in place for years, including when Republicans controlled Congress.

Waxman said Congress’ treatment of the bill was fairly standard. Could Congress have demanded that all negotiations play out in public? Waxman said that would have been impractical.

“There are too many moving parts in this bill,” Waxman said. “We would be sitting in an open conference committee meeting for weeks, if not a whole month, to process all the amendments that would have been offered.”

Honeymoon Lost, Stimulus Too? Many Liberals Dismayed

February 5, 2009

This stimulus bill is just a mess, and I sense the tide of opinion is swinging away from it as currently constituted. It’s not only people like me, but also writers ranging from Bob Samuelson to Jeffrey Sachs, to editorial boards ranging from The Washington Post to The Philadelphia Inquirer who are critical of the hodgepodge nature of the thing. What’s the matter with a big payroll tax holiday? Helps the working class. Works fast. Can be shut off when the time comes.

By David Brooks and Gail Collins

The New York Times:

The Congress and Historic Anti-Trafficking Legislation

December 16, 2008

On Dec. 10, Congress passed historic anti-trafficking legislation. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) passed both the House and the Senate within several hours. That timely victory was more than two years in the making and represents the triumph of one man’s passion and a broad coalition’s power.

It is safe to say the legislation would not exist without the wholehearted passion and the incredible commitment, dedication, skill and determination of Michael Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, who has for more than a decade presided over a loose, broad-based coalition of left-right activists who unite in opposition to human slavery and exploitation but differ on almost every other issue. Keeping that group of diverse leaders united and focused is in itself a monumental accomplishment. But satisfying the different expectations required a rare level of expertise indeed.

By Janice Shaw Crouse
The Washington Times

It is also safe to say the legislative victory would have been impossible without the grass-roots involvement of organizations like Concerned Women for America and the Southern Baptist Convention – two conservative groups that have been intimately and extensively involved in the nitty-gritty lobbying and negotiating essential to passage of the legislation. It is rare for conservative groups to get headlines for their involvement in what is commonly referred to as “social justice” issues, yet CWA, the Southern Baptists, and the Salvation Army, along with many other evangelical organizations, are usually found in the trenches when such battles are being waged, whether domestically or internationally. Certainly, in the fight against commercial sexual exploitation and labor slavery, conservative leaders are essential to success.

Further, this legislation is an outstanding achievement of the Bush administration, who first called the crime of human trafficking “modern-day slavery.” From the outset, President Bush was an outspoken champion of those who are sexually exploited and used as a commercial commodity. He spoke at the United Nations and on national broadcasts about the necessity for protecting women and girls entrapped by the criminal networks who traffic in human beings. No doubt, Mr. Bush’s support of anti-trafficking efforts will be a major legacy of the Bush administration.

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