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Obama's "New" Economic Strategy
When you stop to think about it, people measure how well their lives are going not by their absolute state of being but by their situation relative to their expectations. For example, a poor person in a developing country may be ecstatic about getting a pair of shoes for the first time; in contrast, a billionaire may commit suicide after he loses $100 million in a down market.
The same is true for nations. The American elite has enjoyed the United States’ dominant status in the world since World War II and became thoroughly drunk with U.S. superiority in the last two decades after the demise of the Soviet Union left the country as the only superpower. This elite is resistant to accepting the reality that a multipolar world will soon be at hand.
BY BEN SCHMITT, Detroit Free Press
Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans announced today that his office is refusing to enforce sales of foreclosed homes as the real estate crisis continues to drain the region.
Evans made the announcement this morning at a press conference, several days after he urged Gov. Jennifer Granholm to impose a moratorium on home foreclosures.
"Today I will be stopping all mortgage foreclosure sales in Wayne County beginning with the sale that was scheduled for this Wednesday," Evans said. "I am doing so because it's my opinion that recently enacted federal laws provide protections for homeowners facing foreclosure."
Evans said the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, approved by Congress last fall requires the Secretary of the Treasury to implement a plan to mitigate foreclosures and to encourage services of mortgagers to modify loans to enable homeowners to stay in their homes.
TomGram: The Human Costs of the Economic Crisis
By Nick Turse
The body count is still rising. For months on end, marked by bankruptcies, foreclosures, evictions, and layoffs, the economic meltdown has taken a heavy toll on Americans. In response, a range of extreme acts including suicide, self-inflicted injury, murder, and arson have hit the local news. By October 2008, an analysis of press reports nationwide indicated that an epidemic of tragedies spurred by the financial crisis had already spread from Pasadena, California, to Taunton, Massachusetts, from Roseville, Minnesota, to Ocala, Florida.
Obama supporters held house parties on healthcare in December, and nobody has seen the results, the decisions as to what sort of actions were most favored. Let's ask:
Dr. Jeanne Lambrew
Office of Health Care Reform
By fax to 202 690 7203
By email to Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions Must Be Asked, New Demands Raised, More Needs Put On Agenda
By Danny Schechter
It is time for a euphoria check or maybe a check on euphoria, a time to start raising our own questions about government plans rather than reflexively rallying behind the Democrats just because the Republicans are so obstinate and revolting.
It is important to recognize that behind the GOP’s JUST SAY NO rejectionism is an calculated reaction. If they back and it succeeds, they look stupid. If it fails as many expect it will, they can say, “see we told you so” as part of a plan to stage a political comeback in two years. Rush Limbaugh may have the moxie to call for its failure but many of his party mates are more cagey.
They know that time may be on their side, and can read sentences like this from financial writer David Leonhardt in the New York Times magazine:
Follow the Money: Are Taxpayers on the Hook for Hundreds of Billions of Dollars for a Credit Crisis that Was Overblown?
(NOTE: This article appears in the current issue of the magazine Treasury & Risk)
By Dave Lindorff
Key members of Congress were stunned to hear Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson say on Sept. 18 in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill that the country was “days away” from a complete financial meltdown—one that could lead to Depression-like runs on banks, widespread violence and ultimately even to a possible declaration of martial law. It was a vision of Armageddon, but, of course, 10 days later, the House rejected a Wall Street bailout package sent over by Paulson, only to pass one in a more limited form—the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act—a week later that gave Paulson less power and only half the money he wanted.
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.