Politics and Media Headlines 5/5/09
I Cannot Make This Up (by Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors)
I was stunned when I got off the plane in Minneapolis St. Paul and found myself face-to-face with a Fox News store. Yes, they had souvenirs, no, I did not buy any.
Tengrain had just attended a conference in honor of the 100th anniversary of The Progressive magazine. I’m told that there were a lot of expressions of unhappiness with Obama, maybe something like this below:
Buying Brand Obama (by Chris Hedges at Truthdig)
Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East…
Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as “green” energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action “reform” bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms.
Yes, and those of us who tried to warn liberals who he really was are still to this day demonized and refused a voice in many locales.—Caro
Frank: Democrats Blocking Progressive Financial Reforms Should Be Kicked Out Of The Party (Think Progress)
Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) “cram-down” amendment — which would rewrite bankruptcy law to allow judges to renegotiate mortgages with banks — was rejected 45-51 by the Senate. Twelve Democratic senators voted against the bill, after furious lobbying from the mortgage and banking sectors. The financial sector had funneled millions into the coffers of Democratic senators who voted nay, leading Durbin to decry that banks “own” Congress.
This weekend, on the Bill Maher Show, Maher suggested to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that progressive Democrats fighting against moneyed interests form a new party: “Let’s be honest, the Democratic party, starting in the 90’s, also became the party of business and Wall Street. So what we really need is another party that’s the progressive party.” Frank objected, saying, “We who don’t feel that Wall Street should call the shots are in the majority of the Democratic party.” Frank then suggested that the “minority” in the party that is blocking progressive financial reforms break away to form a third party… Frank suggested six times during the interview that Democrats cozying up to the financial sector form their own voting bloc.
Click through to watch the video. Just a reminder—Bill Maher was a big supporter of last year’s not-progressive candidate for president, Barack Obama.—Caro
Obama Dines with Krugman, Stiglitz (Political Wire)
Newsweek: "Mindful of his predecessor, Barack Obama seems to be trying harder to make sure he hears all sides. On the night of April 27, for instance, the president invited to the White House some of his administration's sharpest critics on the economy, including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz. Over a roast-beef dinner, Obama listened and questioned while Krugman and Stiglitz, both Nobel Prize winners, pushed for more aggressive government intervention in the banking system."
Congress Poised To Launch 9/11-Styled Commission On Financial Crisis (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
The House of Representatives came to agreement on Monday afternoon on the establishment of a 9/11-styled commission that would be independent of Congress and granted the power of subpoena to investigate the origins of the financial crisis. Aides on the Hill said that the House will likely vote on the measure Wednesday, adding that the chances of passage were high. The office of the bill's cosponsor, Congressman Darrell Issa, said the legislation would be similar to that recently passed by the Senate. The concept of the commission is pegged to the investigative body that looked into the intelligence collapse precededing the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
A 9/11-styled commission. Great.—Caro
More Banks Will Need Capital (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. is expected to direct about 10 of the 19 banks undergoing government stress tests to boost their capital, according to several people familiar with the matter, a move that officials hope will quell fears about the solvency of the financial sector. The exact number of banks affected remains under discussion.
White House Expecting Banks Will Need More Money, But Not From Government (by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post)
Gibbs stressed during his briefing with reporters that banks should be able to raise the money they will need "either from private means or the selling of some assets."… Gibbs also insisted that the public and regulators would be "pleased with the amount of transparency with which these tests" will be conducted and released. On this front, he finds himself in disagreement with the TARP's chief watchdog Elizabeth Warren, who has been decidedly unimpressed with the transparency of the process.
We Can't Subsidize the Banks Forever (by Mathew Richardson and Nouriel Roubini, thanks to Economist’s View)
If we are to believe the leaks [about stress tests], the results will show that there might be a few problems… But the overall message is that the sector is in pretty good shape. This would be good news if it were credible. But the International Monetary Fund has just released a study of estimated losses on U.S. loans and securities. It was very bleak -- $2.7 trillion, double the estimated losses of six months ago. Our estimates at RGE Monitor are even higher, at $3.6 trillion, implying that the financial system is currently near insolvency in the aggregate. With the U.S. banks and broker-dealers accounting for more than half these losses there is a huge disconnect between these estimated losses and the regulators' conclusions.
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