Jobs! Unemployment! Will Business Pushback Work?

The Obama Administration, through the Treasury Dept., is getting ready to test how far the government can go in regulating American business. Fresh off its victory to reform credit card practices, the next battleground will be Treasury‘s plan for tougher oversight of the financial industry through revamping the agencies that regulate it.

That old phrase about every action having an equal and opposite reaction couldn’t be more apt in this case.

Already the financial industry is pushing back on plans that haven’t even been unveiled yet.

They concede that the economic crisis has significantly weakened their hand. Yet they now say their concern is that the government will overreach, and impose too much regulation.

Global handshake

For the rest of us, the problem is determining what constitutes overreaching? Americans aren’t comfortable at all with big business making that determination. Just as many may be a bit nervous about the point man in this financial oversight reform. That would be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. You can include me among the skeptics that he’ll come up with a package that embraces meaningful change.

Is it too much to ask that those charged with changing a failed system not be too cozy with that same system? Geithner doesn’t come off as a sinister, evil bureaucrat. He just seems content to nibble around the edge of real change rather than confronting the financial community and using the power he does have.

No matter what he comes up with (we may see later this week), expect Republicans in Congress and their buddies in talk radio to skewer any talk of regulatory change as another Obama step down the road to socialism. Of course, they know better. Few people, least of all President Obama, want to totally inhibit the financial markets’ ability to operate, and make money. Their excesses, as evidenced by the market meltdown of last fall, must be curbed.

Expect to see and hear much noise if part of Treasury’s plan is to increase the power of the Federal Reserve.  The Fed has a long and involved history in terms of its role in the American economy. This we do know, however. Big business has lined up lobbyists galore to make their case once legislation reaches the Hill.  While it may take place out of the glare of the media spotlight, this is a battle worth watching as it unfolds in the weeks ahead.

Who do you think will win? Big business, or the government?

And, most importantly, what if anything will the American people get out of it?

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Economy? Who cares…

You may have noticed, as I have, that our politicians seem to have stopped talking about the economy.

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Nope, what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it…Dick Cheney’s trash talk…and whether US prisons can house terrorists …seems to have blown economic news right off the front pages.

The question is, did somebody fix things while the rest of us weren’t looking, or is our attention being diverted for a reason?

Cynic that I am, I choose the latter. Take a look around, America. While things may have bottomed out, they certainly haven’t gotten better. And here’s a telling statistic for you. Last year, there were about 1.7 applicants for every available job. Right now that number is 4.8 applicants. That means those who have been thrown out of work are facing daunting obstacles to finding a new job, even if they’re good at what they do.

Chances are, there are four other people just as good who have sent their resumes to that same HR department. And that’s a single stat. Expand that outward and what you see is a wholesale scramble to reinvent or reset job skills to fit a fast changing market.

But how much do we read or know about the struggles of the everyday working person, or person seeking work?

Hey, that’s not important, pal! Ridiculous arguments about who’s calling the CIA liars (which, by the way, GOP Pelosi stalker Pete Hoekstra actually did), now that’s important.

Barack Obama making the mistake of getting into a spitting match with Dick Cheney (Dick Cheney!!!) over national security is what we ought to spend our time contemplating this Memorial Day Weekend.

Oh, and by the way, our lawmakers don’t just take Monday off. They’re off the whole week! And the House calls it the Memorial Day District Work Period, and they do so with a straight face. The economy, health care, climate change, they’ll all keep until Congress returns. And when it does, we’ll hear more about Republicans wanting a full blown probe of Nancy Pelosi.

Houston, we have a problem. It’s called MISPLACED PRIORITIES. America has a long way to go before the major work that needs to be done to fix things is even halfway finished. When Congress returns, how about they grow a spine and tell Republicans we have a list of terrorists being held in US prisons as long as your arm already. They include everyone from shoe bomber Richard Reid to 20th hijacker Zacarias Moussaoui to American Taliban John Walker Lindh.

Keeping GITMO open or jobs for the American unemployed, which is the Republican priority? Providing health care to those who don’t have it, or trying to gut Nancy Pelosi?

There are choices, aren’t there?

Which topic do you think should be headline news?

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Did Democrats Punk on GITMO?

The short answer to the above question? Yes, they did.

Yes, the people locked up at Guantanamo Bay may well be guilty of crimes against this country and its citizens. How guilty we don’t know in many cases. Some people have been locked up there for years without trial. Yet pandering members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, act like to bring them to justice on US soil is somehow a clear and present danger to the public.

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The Democrats involved in the shameful Senate decision to withhold funding for GITMO’s closure got punked by Republicans, pure and simple. How else to explain the lopsided 90-6 vote? How else to explain Harry Reid’s bizarre statement about the detainees, “We don’t want them around”? So what do you suggest, Senator? Shoot them all? Keep ’em locked up forever without giving many the benefit of a trial?

FBI boss Robert Mueller fed more red meat to opponents of closing GITMO by asserting detainees held or released in the US could pose a threat.

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A cursory reading of history would tell us the following: Several German saboteurs landed in the US, were captured, tried by military tribunal, and executed back in 1942. None were detained for a minute outside the US.

Also, in case people forgot, tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were interred during the same wartime period, again inside the US. If Nazis and Japanese can be securely held inside this country, what in the world is Congress thinking by scaring the American people about GITMO detainees?

President Obama will address the nation on this issue by the time many of you read this. It really doesn’t matter what he says, given that he’s been sold out by his own party on this issue. Americans’ concerns about national security are legitimate ones. However, the idea that suspected terrorists can help fund terror operations from behind bars in ludicrous. That’s what Super Max prisons were made for.

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And the fears about what happens if they’re released? Gee, it seems like the only way that would happen is if they’re found innocent. So is Congress trying to say that America’s courts would be suspect if one or two of these detainees are found not to have done what the government says they’ve done? They’ve already impugned the competence of virtually every corrections officer currently working in the US.

Instead of fighting the Republicans on this issue, the Democrats folded like a gambler with a bad hand at one of Harry Reid’s Vegas casinos. Not to mention they’ve spoon fed the GOP an issue that they’ll certainly use going forward in their war of “no” with the president.

And what’s their end game? Keeping GITMO, an international scar of shame, open and nothing less.

Is this really what the American people want? How about you? Do you want to keep Guantanamo Bay open?

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