You are hereEconomy
By Nick Egnatz
Unchecked capitalism and the two-party Democratic/Republican political system are both responsible for our financial disaster and completely incapable of correcting the mess they have created. The Democratic Party celebrated giving workers a minimum wage increase to $6.55/hour when a livable wage for basic needs would range from $11.41 (two adults, no kids, both working) to $25.49 (two adults, one staying home with 2 kids). These figures compiled by the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign are again for basic needs and assume employer paid healthcare. The livable wage for a single person living alone with no children is $14.86, again with paid company healthcare.
We now have a president who uses arguably unconstitutional powers that have been universally accepted to do GOOD things. Is this good or bad?
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children."
These must be the words of some liberal Democratic Senator running for President in 2008. But no, these are the words of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, five decades ago.
The United States, the only superpower remaining on earth, currently spends more on military than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined. The U.S. accounts for 48% of the world’s total military spending. Where did the peace dividend from winning the Cold War go?
By David Swanson
While a Democratic polling firm has just found, as pollsters always do, dramatic public support for public health coverage, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear divided, as they have always been, over whether to take a comprehensive approach to health care.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on C-Span on Sunday that incrementalism would suit him better "than to go out and just bite something you can't chew." Clyburn said he opposes any comprehensive approach in 2009. Meanwhile House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) made a long speech about healthcare at a conference in D.C. on Thursday in which he said "I am committed to helping bring comprehensive reform to the floor of the 111th Congress."
Dennis Kucinich States His Intention To Put The Federal Reserve Under Government Control
1:27 mins. - Click "Read more" for more informative video links.
Wikileaks has released a secret hour long telephone recording between US heads of industry discussing efforts to prevent the emancipation of unions under an Obama administration. Yesterday the Huffington Post ran a story by Sam Stein titled "Bailout Recipients Hosted Call To Defeat Key Labor Bill". The story inclded around five minutes of an hour long recording between federal bailout funds recipiets. Wikileaks has released the full hour long recording. The call shows the firms to be involved in lobbying, effectively with public money.
The summary below is excerpted from Mr. Stein's story:
Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.
By Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama and his economic team are being careful to couch all their talk about economic stimulus programs and bank bailout programs in warnings that the economic downturn is serious and that it will take considerable time to bounce back.
I’m reminded of an experience I had with Chinese medicine when I was living in Shanghai back in 1992. I had come down with a nasty case of the flu while teaching journalism at Fudan University on a Fulbright Scholar program.
A few weeks ago, I noted Businessweek's cover story which asked a simple question: "How much of Obama's mammoth fiscal stimulus will leak' abroad, creating jobs in China, Germany, or Mexico rather than the U.S?" In the age of corporate written trade policies that incentivize outsourcing, this is a key question, as U.S. tax dollars could end up simply heading offshore unless Congress takes action.
The Risk Maverick: Present Economy Worse than Depression
Some optimistic experts are now saying that though this will be a turbulent year for global markets, the worst of the financial crisis is now behind us. Would it were so. We believe that 2009 will be tougher than many anticipate.
America has embraced Lemon Socialism.
The federal government -- that is, you and I and every other taxpayer -- has taken ownership of giant home mortgagors Fannie and Freddie, which are by now basket cases. We've also put hundreds of millions into Wall Street banks, which are still flowing red ink and seem everyday to be in worse shape. We've bailed out the giant insurer AIG, which is failing. We've given GM and Chrysler the first installments of what are likely to turn into big bailouts. It's hard to find anyone who will place a big bet on the future of these two.
It gets worse. While Washington debates TARP II, the Federal Reserve Board continues to buy or guarantee or provide loans for a vast and growing pile of questionable financial and corporate assets, much of which are likely to be worth far less than the Fed has paid or guaranteed or accepted as collateral. We're talking big money here -- so far over $2.4 trillion. (The entire TARP -- parts I and II -- in combination with the proposed stimulus package come to just over $1.5 trillion.)
President Barack Obama will get a daily economic briefing, similar to the national security briefing he receives every morning.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Thursday said Obama wants to know the most up-to-date-information as he and his top aides work on reviving the struggling economy. The new administration is facing skyrocketing home foreclosures and job layoffs, tightening credit and a weakening dollar.
Gibbs says economic adviser Lawrence Summers briefed Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other top advisers Thursday morning. He says that briefing and future closed-door meetings will help Obama make decisions about how to best move forward.
"I tend to think Obama is up to the task of repairing all the destruction brought about in a mere eight years by George Bush. But, as we always must ask, does he have the political will to do so?"
One wonders, looking at America after eight years of George W. Bush's destructive policies and actions, why anyone would want to go through the struggle to win the presidency. A quick survey of the United States among the world's nations should be enough to discourage anyone from wanting to wade through the cesspool of a presidential campaign only to find a congregation of crocodiles waiting at its end.
From its high point shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when the sympathy of the civilized world was with us, America's image around the world has been systematically shredded by Bush and his cabal of neocons, along with other assorted right-wing policymakers.
Below are excerpts from a letter Lawrence Summers, director-designate of the National Economic Council, sent to the leaders of the House and Senate about President-elect Barack Obama's reforms to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
These are the changes that Barack Obama is committed to making happen. In particular, he will call for:
• Use our full arsenal of tools to get credit flowing again to families and businesses.
The Day the Earth Still Stood: What Will Obama Inherit? | TomGram
By Tom Engelhardt
Gazillions of Americans descended on Washington. The rest of us were watching on TV or checking out streaming video on our computers. No one was paying attention to anything else. Every pundit in sight was nattering away all day long, as they will tomorrow and, undoubtedly, the next day about whatever comes to mind until we get bored. And in the morning, when this post is still hanging around in your inbox, you'll be reading your newspaper on… well, you know… the same things: Obama's speech! So many inaugural balls! Etc., etc.
Pelosi Open to Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials
By Bill Sammon | Fox News
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is receptive to the idea of prosecuting some Bush administration officials, while letting others who are accused of misdeeds leave office without prosecution, she told Chris Wallace in an interview on "FOX News Sunday."
"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," the California Democrat said. "And other things that are maybe time that is spent better looking to the future rather than to the past."
Report: Over 8 in 10 corporations have tax havens
Eighty-three of the nation's 100 largest corporations, including Citigroup, Bank of America and News Corp., had subsidiaries in offshore tax havens in 2007, and some of the companies received federal bailout funding, a government watchdog said Friday.
The Government Accountability Office released a report that said Bank of America Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley all had more than 100 units in countries that maintain low or no taxes. The three financial institutions were included in the $700 billion financial bailout approved by Congress.
Insurance giant American International Group Inc., which has received about $150 billion in bailout money, had 18 subsidiaries. JPMorgan Chase & Co. had 50 units and Wells Fargo & Co. had 18; both financial institutions received government bailout money.
The PDA conference in DC picked up again this morning with a panel on healthcare not warfare, which is PDA's name for its state and national campaigns for single-payer health coverage.
PDA is doing superb work, and you can join a PDA Issue Organizing Team to advance any of the following issues:
End the War, Redirect Funding
Health Care for All
* Single Payer Health Care
* Reproductive Rights
* Economic Justice
Clean, Fair, Transparent Elections
* Clean Elections
Stop Global Warming
* Global Warming
You can simply sign up for information here.
You can fund these efforts here.
Floridians: Here's How You Can Help Avoid State Budget Cuts for Critical Services | Press Release
Deep budget cuts, totaling $2.8 billion dollars (YES, that is billion with a "B"), were enacted during the special meeting of the Florida legislature.
Without thoroughly considering the consequences to their actions, some short-sighted state leaders have proposed tapping the Lawton Chiles Endowment Fund in order to balance the budget. This is an unacceptable proposition because the Chiles Endowment provides critical funding for Pre-K Education, Medicaid Nursing Expenditures, Higher Education, Criminal and
Civil Justice services, Agencies for Persons with Disabilities and many, many more services Floridians desperately need now and for years to come.
In 2008, Florida's Governor Charlie Crist was given the power to use $354 million of the funds, and given an ounce (which was already a BIG mistake), the Governor now would like to take a pound...$600 million from the Chiles Fund.
Indiana State Senator Files Gold Money Bill | Press Release
State Senator Greg Walker of District 41, (R-Columbus), has officially filed a Bill that would allow Indiana to offer its citizens a choice of Gold (and Silver) coin or the Electronic equivalent in payable and receivable transactions with the state. This bold bill will finally bring Indiana back into conformance with the Constitution for the United States of America which states "No state shall...make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts..." Article 1, Section 10.
The Indiana Honest Money Act will be voluntary for citizens, but mandatory for certain, specialized businesses and will allow Indiana to fund the Treasury with enough assets insuring that no current state funds will need to be earmarked. S.B. 453 is NOT a replacement for Federal Reserve Notes, but more of a competing, Constitutional currency and an insurance policy for our current, tenuous "money" system.
NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY Thursday, January 15
Call Congress to support HR 676 -- Single Payer Healthcare
United For Peace and Justice encourages you to join this nationwide Congressional call-in day. This is the second such call-in day, organized by the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Healthcare-National Single Payer Coalition. The first call-in day on December 22 was a tremendous success, and thousands of calls were made. In fact, by 11:00 AM that morning, Senator Kennedy's office reported to have already received over 1,000 phone calls in support of HR 676 which calls for more than the Massachusetts-style healthcare reform.
Now is the time to expand this effort. Everyone is being asked to make their calls to the Washington, D.C. offices of the House of Representatives.
Even before word came on Tuesday that Citigroup might split into pieces to shore up its finances, an unpleasant message was moving through Congress and President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team: the banks need more taxpayer money.
In all likelihood, a lot more money.
Mr. Obama seems to know it; a week before his swearing-in, he is lobbying Congress to release the other half of the financial industry bailout fund. Democratic leaders in Congress seem to know it, too; they are urging their rank and file to act quickly to release the rescue money. And Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, certainly knows it.
By Dave Lindorff
Congress should do now what it should have done back in the fall: kill the Wall Street bailout program.
After wasting $350 billion on a program that was misrepresented from the outset, and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in failing financial institutions that it could have bought outright for less than it was investing in them (AIG was worth only a few billion dollars in total at the time that the government bailed the company out with an initial investment of $85 billion and Citicorp today is worth less than the $45 billion the government has invested in that failing firm), the Treasury Department, now acting at the direction not of the Bush administration and outgoing Treasurer Hank Paulson, but the Obama administration, is asking for the other half of the Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP).
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.
There will come a moment when the most urgent threats posed by the credit crisis have eased and the larger task before us will be to chart a direction for the economic steps ahead. This will be a dangerous moment. Behind the debates over future policy is a debate over history—a debate over the causes of our current situation. The battle for the past will determine the battle for the present. So it’s crucial to get the history straight.
What were the critical decisions that led to the crisis? Mistakes were made at every fork in the road—we had what engineers call a “system failure,” when not a single decision but a cascade of decisions produce a tragic result. Let’s look at five key moments.