Category Archives: Finance

Supercomittee… Epic Fail!

If ever there was a cynical, transparent creation in recent political memory, it has to be the so-called supercommittee that’s just imploded in Washington.

From the minute this foolishness was announced, anyone with eyes could see it was doomed to failure. That wouldn’t be just ordinary failure, but, in the words of G4 TV, EPIC FAIL (this cable channel actually has a segment called that)!

So this supercommittee, charged with figuring a way to cut $1.2 trillion dollars from the nation’s budget, came up with nothing.

The traditional rationale is that Democrats wouldn’t agree to gutting programs like Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans swore a blood oath not to raise taxes on anybody, regardless of wealth. And yes, all of that is true.

Yet it obscures the issue at hand. When will politicians start to take their work seriously? When will the GOP move off its agenda of making President Barack Obama look bad so they can recapture the White House? And when will Democrats devise a winning strategy for truly speaking to the concerns of the American people?

From the day the supercommittee was announced, it was doomed to failure and all the players knew it. It wasn’t created with a tiebreaker (a 13th vote- too partisan), and unless somebody was ready to compromise nothing was going to happen. So now the American people have a series of automatic cuts to look forward to just after next year’s presidential election (note the timing).

As is typical of congressional tap dancing, there are now some people who voted to create the supercommittee in the first place who now want to create an out such that the committee’s fail has no consequences at all. They don’t want to see the military budget cut (check and see how many have big defense contractors in their home states), and they’re willing to risk looking like complete hypocrites to accomplish that goal.

President Obama is right to say he’ll veto any attempt to do an end around the mandatory spending cuts. If only he’d gotten hard with these folks a bit earlier.

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Are Republicans Serious About a Purity Test?

It sure looks like they are. Conservative leaders in the GOP have put together a 10 point checklist they say candidates for office should adhere to. If they don’t follow the leader on at least 7, they’d be denied party funds and endorsements. WHOA!!!

Among the 10 so called “principles” is opposition to abortion, along with opposition to President Obama’s “socialist agenda”. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of people who obviously long for the days of a senator named McCarthy.

This foolishness is even going to be presented to the Republican National Committee early next year. The inmates are truly running the asylum. What would they do about a Michael Bloomberg, who got the GOP line here in New York for the last mayoral election, but wouldn’t come close to hitting seven of the ten principles.

Suffice to say Mayor Mike wouldn’t have needed Republican money. In fact, they probably need his more. And what about the Republican’s resident homeboy, Michael Steele? Is he really ready to preside over a bunch of conservatives whose political strategy might well bury his party? Does any thinking Republican really want a litmus test?

It seems to me that at least in Congress, even the most moderate of Republicans toe the line, whatever the line is besides “no” on most legislation. Is this the next step for the tea party-ers, birthers, and Glenn Beck adherents? If so, Democrats ought to be licking their chops. That is, if they have the guts to articulate a different vision than a lockstep conservatism that I bet makes George Will cringe.

All this from a group of 10 members of the RNC who believe the Republicans have strayed too far from their conservative roots. It’s amazing they’ve gotten this far with their twisted initiative. But they have, and now it’s the party’s problem to fix, or maybe embrace.

I’m sure most of these folks haven’t read up on actual Republican history. It seems their memories only go back as far as Ronald Reagan. That people like Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller once proudly called themselves Republican must have slipped their notice.

No matter. If this is the true vision of the Republican Party, Michael Steele ought to resign tomorrow and give the reins of the RNC to co-chairs Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. The sad part is that some of the people who follow these folks are under the mistaken illusion these GOP celebrities actually care about them. Many have a right to be angry, but they’re mad at the wrong people.

Obama’s socialist agenda isn’t the issue. Seven figure bonuses for incompetent bankers who won’t lend credit worthy small businesses a dime are the problem. Much of what is presented to them is smoke and mirrors. And now, a purity test.

But you tell me. Are the Republicans far gone enough to actually implement these 10 “principles”?

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How Would You Put Americans Back to Work?

First and foremost, pay no attention to the gyrations of the stock market. The nation is still hurting, and a big reason is that not enough people have been able to find work. Consider this. In December of 2007, just two years ago, there were 1.7 applicants for every available job. Last month, that number jumped to 6.1.

The House is currently trying to figure out what to do about this. Those people who elected Barack Obama and gave both the House and Senate Democratic majorities are getting antsy. That’s not a good place to be with midterm elections on the horizon. But what to do?

There are a number of proposals on the table. Some lawmakers want to see a second stimulus enacted. Trouble is, no one, least of all the White House, sems to know how many jobs were really created or maintained from the last one. You can probably count a second stimulus as DOA, at least for now.

There are calls for some type of incentive for employers to hire new people. They range from a tax credit, to government funding of health benefits, to a straight payment of up to $3000 to any employer who hires new workers. Congress backed away from these incentives when they were brought up before because they worried employers would game the system (who, those capiatins of free enterprise? Never!!!).

Still others want to see some form of government make woprk program similar to the WPA or CCC during the Great Depression. Cost would be a big impediment here. Moderate Democrats would have the same objections they had to healthcare reform. And the Republicans? Suffice to say that anything that they see as hurting President Obama, like high unemployment, is a good thing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is urging caution, even in the face of mounting pressure to get something done. To pay for jobs creation, some have argued for using unspent financial bailout money, while others say new fees on securities transactions would make Wall St. foot at least part of the bill.

While out and out jobs creation sounds wonderful, Democrats in both houses of Congress have to be mindful of the political minefield any proposal would have to navigate. So as the House leadership takes its time in coming up with a plan, they must also balance fiscal prudence with an urgent need to act. Fewer and fewer Americans are buying the notion of a recovery, either now or in the near future.

So what would you do to put the unemployed back to work?

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