You are hereEconomy
By Dave Lindorff
Now here’s a word you’re not hearing in America these days: anti-trust.
The country is being dragged down by monstrous businesses, all of which, we’re told, are just “too big to fail.” As a consequence of this, the nation’s taxpayers, and their progeny born and yet unborn, are having trillions of dollars sucked away to prop up these giant rotting corporate corpses.
Zombie banks, zombie automakers, zombie insurance companies, all bigger than nation states, and all on life-support.
There is a simple answer to this problem. Bust them up.
It's the Health Care, Stupid!
The enormous budget deficits projected for future years have the starring role in the documentary IOUSA (see CEPR's analysis of the film). However, the simple fact that the film conceals is that these scary deficits are driven almost entirely by projections of exploding private sector health care costs.
The government pays for approximately half of the country's private sector health care through programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Therefore, if the projections of exploding private sector health care costs prove accurate, then the government will face a serious deficit problem. However, if health care costs can be contained, then the budget problems are easily manageable.
Michael Moore plans film about ‘biggest swindle in American history’
By Carol Eisenberg | Muckety
Filmmaker Michael Moore is looking for “a few brave people who work on Wall Street.”
The muckraking director of films about the auto and health-care industries and America’s love of guns is now working on a movie about what he calls “the biggest swindle in American history.”
But he says in his letter that he needs a couple of informants to help guide him.
“Your identity will be protected and you will decide to what extent you wish to participate in telling the greatest crime story ever told,” Moore says in an open letter posted last week on his website.
If the CEOs of Bank of America, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch think that members of Congress have been tough on them, they have no idea what awaits.
The 54-year-old filmmaker born in Flint, MI , the son of an auto assembly-line worker, made his reputation as a populist bomb thrower in Roger & Me, which documents his unsuccessful efforts to confront then-General Motors CEO Roger Smith about his management of what was then the world’s largest automaker.
It turns out that you don't want to be a former city dweller in rural parts of southernmost Australia, a stalk of wheat in China or Iraq, a soybean in Argentina, an almond or grape in northern California, a cow in Texas, or almost anything in parts of east Africa right now. Let me explain.
Dean Baker has the latest news of belief you can hope in.
U.S. Intel Chief's Shocking Warning: Wall Street's Disaster Has Spawned Our Greatest Terrorist Threat
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig
We have a remarkable ability to create our own monsters. A few decades of meddling in the Middle East with our Israeli doppelgnger and we get Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaida, the Iraqi resistance movement and a resurgent Taliban. Now we trash the world economy and destroy the ecosystem and sit back to watch our handiwork. Hints of our brave new world seeped out Thursday when Washington's new director of national intelligence, retired Adm. Dennis Blair, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. He warned that the deepening economic crisis posed perhaps our gravest threat to stability and national security. It could trigger, he said, a return to the "violent extremism" of the 1920s and 1930s.
America's Controlled Economic Implosion
Unemployment’s global reach
Toxic Plans for Toxic Assets
by Stephen Lendman
Exit Paulson, enter Geithner with the latest "no banker left behind plan" - aka whatever Wall Street wants, Wall Street gets. Yet, the reception was underwhelming. The Dow plummeted 382 points while investors took shelter in bonds and gold. AP reported that "the new bank rescue plan landed with a thud on Wall Street" as investors worried that no end to the crisis is in sight. Editorial and op-ed commentaries were near unanimously negative and some especially critical.
At a February 9 congressional briefing, lawmakers greeted Geithner with laughter and sarcasm, but most of it is just politics. Bailout opponent Brad Sherman (D, California) asked for details and a dollar amount, but instead got generalities about what he announced the next day - a plan to:
HEALTH INSURANCE: PRIVATE ENTERPRISE VS. GOVERNMENT?
Private Enterprise: 48%
Government - All Problems: 28%
Government - Emergencies: 12%
Don't know: 12%
Private Enterprise: 32% (-16%)
Government - All Problems: 49% (+21%)
Government - Emergencies: 10% (-2%)
Don't know: 9% (-3%)
What Is Single Payer Health Insurance?
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm's Brother, Tapped for White House Health Care Policy Advisor Spot
By Lynn Sweet, The Chicago Sun-Times
Washington - While the Obama White House is searching for a replacement for health czar Tom Daschle, policy work on health care reform - a priority for the administration - Is ongoing with one key advisor especially well connected.
The brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a noted bioethicist, is advising the Obama administration on health care reform.
Dr. Emanuel is the Chair of the Department of Bioethics at The Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health and a breast oncologist.
Dr. Emanuel is a special advisor to the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget for health policy. He told me he is "working on (the) health care reform effort." He is "detailed" to the OMB spot and is still officially an employee of the NIH.
After getting $125 billion in taxpayer bailouts, the top officers at Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and three other banks agreed to forgo their 2008 bonuses. Now they’re awarding billions to their troops. Can government “claw back” that money?
On December 8, The Wall Street Journal reported that John Thain, the 53-year-old chairman and C.E.O. of Merrill Lynch, had let it be known he wanted a $10 million bonus.
The interview was nearly over. on the Fox News Channel last Wednesday evening, Sean Hannity was coming to the end of a segment with Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, the chair of the House Republican Conference and a vociferous foe of President Obama's nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill. How, Pence had asked rhetorically, was $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts going to put people back to work in Indiana? How would $20 million for "fish passage barriers" (a provision to pay for the removal of barriers in rivers and streams so that fish could migrate freely) help create jobs? Hannity could not have agreed more. "It is … the European Socialist Act of 2009," the host said, signing off. "We're counting on you to stop it. Thank you, congressman."
There it was, just before the commercial: the S word, a favorite among conservatives since John McCain began using it during the presidential campaign. (Remember Joe the Plumber? Sadly, so do we.) But it seems strangely beside the point. The U.S. government has already—under a conservative Republican administration—effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries. That seems a stronger sign of socialism than $50 million for art. Whether we want to admit it or not—and many, especially Congressman Pence and Hannity, do not—the America of 2009 is moving toward a modern European state.
There is certainly a great deal of slack-jawed shock going around these days, especially in progressive circles, where pundits, commentators, analysts and kibitzers continually find themselves reeling from yet another "inexplicable" move by the Obama Administration to uphold the core principles of their predecessors: enriching the rich, extending the empire, and enhancing the authoritarian power of a thoroughly militarized state.
Congressional Offices Don't Have the Stimulus Bill, Lobbyists Do
February 12, 2009 04:14 PM ET |
By Paul Bedard | Washington Whispers | US News & World Report
Investigation looks into political pressure in bailout distribution
A special inspector at the Treasury Department is auditing the Troubled Asset Relief Program after reports that members of Congress exerted pressure and that banks actively lobbied for the money.
By Ralph Vartabedian | LATimes
Amid growing public consternation with the federal banking bailout, the Treasury Department's special inspector general has opened an examination of political influence in handing out some of the $350 billion in federal bank bailout funds, The Times has learned.
The audit, which has just begun, is broad in scope but will focus on lobbying activities by financial institutions and what the special inspector general, Neil Barofsky, has called "outside influences."
By Dave Lindorff
Hand it to Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). The conservative senator from the Granite State turned down an appointment to the position of President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce citing “irreconcilable differences.”
Citing the latest Senate vote on Obama’s economic stimulus package, for which Gregg voted “no,” Gregg said, “ We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy."
A Short History of US Government Handouts
by Stephen Lendman
Global economies are withering while Washington conceives "Financial Recovery Plan(s) from Hell," according to economist Michael Hudson in his latest February 11 article. Bankers demand more trillions, "or (they'll) plunge the economy into financial crisis." What they want they'll get, and here's where things now stand.
On February 10, Bloomberg.com reported that Treasury Secretary Geithner "pledged government financing for as much as $2 trillion....to spur new lending and address banks' toxic assets, seeking to end the credit crunch hobbling the economy." Hudson calls it "Stage One of a two-stage plan," so far unannounced, to transfer trillions more to corrupt bankers who caused the problem in the first place, yet taxpayers will get little more back than the bill.
By Sam Hananel, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Rep. Hilda Solis of El Monte edged closer Wednesday to winning confirmation as the nation's next labor secretary, after more than a month of delays over questions about her husband's unpaid taxes and her work for a pro-union group.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee cleared her nomination in a voice vote with only two Republicans voting against her. The action sends the nomination to the full Senate for a final vote likely this week.
A committee vote scheduled last week was abruptly postponed after news that Solis' husband had paid about $6,400 to settle outstanding tax liens against his auto repair business.
White House officials said the Democratic congresswoman and her husband were not aware of the liens until a newspaper reported them and that Solis was not involved in the business. But committee leaders said they wanted more time to review key documents.
Fraud 'Directly Related' to Financial Crisis Probed
FBI Agents Could be Reassigned from National Security Due to Booming Caseload
By Jason Ryan | ABCNews
TARP IG...Barofsky currently only has around four FBI and IRS agents to oversee how $700 billion is tracked.
The FBI has opened investigations into more than 500 cases of alleged corporate fraud, including 38 that involve major firms and are "directly related" to the national economic crisis, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole told Congress today.
The surge in white-collar investigations is putting such a strain on the FBI that Pistole said the bureau is considering reassigning agents from national security, which has been the bureau's priority since the 9/11 attacks.
"The FBI has more than 530 open corporate fraud investigations, including 38 corporate fraud and financial institution matters directly related to the current financial crisis," Pistole told the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
The 38 companies, he said, "are significantly large companies, businesses everyone knows about but I cannot comment publicly."
Unapologetic CEOs: What Did the Banks Do With Your Cash?
Bank CEOs, With $125 Billion in Taxpayer Money in Hand, Testify and Defend Before Congress
By Matthew Jaffe and Scott Mayerowitz | ABCNews
The heads of eight major banks that received $125 billion in taxpayer bailout funds were largely unapologetic for their role in helping to create the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression as they testified before Congress this morning.
The CEOs said they are trying to lend out more money and pledged to return to profit, be more transparent and repay taxpayers as soon as possible.
Yet they warned that there was still much work to do and that it would take time for the financial system to right itself.
Call Congress and the President. Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121. White House: 202-456-1414. If your member is a current co-sponsor, thank your rep. and ask him or her to stand firm for HR 676 and actively seek additional co-sponsors. If your member was a co-sponsor in the last Congress, ask him or her to sign on immediately as a co-sponsor in this Congress. If your member has yet to co-sponsor HR 676, ask him or her to please become a co-sponsor, select one or two talking points here.
For four decades, the world experimented with Keynes’ theories and the result was oversized States, punished by inflation, in which waste and a lack of efficiency grew apace with excessive public spending and bureaucracy, until the world began to return to civil society the vigor and role stolen by the governments.
Kucinich: "Save Homes" FOX 02-10-09
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement on the ongoing foreclosure crisis:
“According to today’s Wall Street Journal, Moody’s economy.com claims that nearly five million families could lose their homes to foreclosure between 2009 and 2011. Now is the time for our government to take a controlling interest in mortgage-backed securities and then direct loan modification, lowering principle and interest rates, extending terms of payments and keeping people in their homes.
“Banks are not lending money. They are hoarding money, because they fear their own balance sheets understate their losses. Instead of giving the banks more of taxpayers’ money in the hopes that banks will loan the money to keep people in their homes, the government must take charge to save the homes of so many American families. Keep people in their homes, the banks will get their money as well.
“Its time to stand up for the dream of American home ownership by saving the homes that are in jeopardy.”
The following chart shows the breakdown of the proposed federal discretionary budget for fiscal year 2009 by function area.
The discretionary budget refers to the part of the federal budget proposed by the President, and debated and decided by Congress each year. The part of the budget constitutes more than one-third of total federal spending. The remainder of the federal budget is called 'mandatory spending.' Fiscal Year 2009 will run from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009.
Note that this chart includes the war-related spending requested by the administration as supplemental to the regular budget proposal.