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Wonkbook: Harry's Reid's busy summer; BP bankruptcy?; Bernanke's outlook

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Harry Reid has put together a packed Senate schedule for the summer, including financial reform, war funding, energy legislation and Elena Kagan's confirmation. Meanwhile, Wall Street is starting to think about a BP bankruptcy. And Ben Bernanke is predicting an unpleasant recovery.

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Harry Reid has scheduled a busy summer for the Senate, reports Meredith Shiner: "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) laid out an daunting summer agenda for the Senate on Monday afternoon, including a tax extenders bill, an emergency extension of unemployment benefits, a small-business jobs bill, the financial reform conference report and a war funding bill. To top that off, the Senate also has to begin the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and deal with the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf. 'The work period between now and July 4 is short, but our to-do list is very long,' Reid said. As if that’s not enough to deal with, Reid wants key Senate committees to draw up an energy bill in wake of the oil spill crisis."

Wall Street is starting to take a potential BP bankruptcy seriously, writes Andrew Ross Sorkin: "The idea that BP might one day file for bankruptcy, particularly as part of a merger that would enable it to cordon off its liabilities from the spill, is starting to percolate on Wall Street. Bankers and lawyers are already sizing up potential deals (and counting their potential fees). Given the plunge in BP’s share price - the company has lost more than a third of its value since Deepwater Horizon blew - some bankers and analysts say BP is starting to look like takeover bait. The question is, who would buy BP, given its enormous potential liabilities?"

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Ben Bernanke predicts 'we'll have continued recovery, but it won't feel terrific,' report Jon Hilsenrath and Luca di Leo: "Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered cautious reassurance that the U.S. recovery is on track, despite recent turmoil in financial markets and worries about the health of Europe's economy. 'There seems to be a good bit of momentum in consumer spending and investment,' Mr. Bernanke said at a dinner hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 'My best guess is we'll have continued recovery, but it won't feel terrific.' In addition to longstanding worries about anemic U.S. job growth and a fragile banking system, Fed officials have been watching warily in recent weeks as U.S. stock prices decline amidst Europe's worsening economic outlook."

Pop interlude: The Brunettes' "Her Hairagami Set".

Table of Contents: More evidence that BP ignored internal warning signs (and other energy news); consumer borrowing is up (and other economic news); administration kicking off $125 million campaign in defense of health-care reform (and other domestic policy news); and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has subpoenaed Goldman Sachs (and other FinReg news).

Energy

BP ignored internal investigations showing safety and environmental violations, report Abrahm Lustgarten and Ryan Knutson: "A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the oil company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways. The confidential inquiries, which have not previously been made public, focused on a rash of problems at BP's Alaska oil-drilling operations. They described instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured employees not to report problems and cut short or delayed inspections to reduce production costs."

Under pressure, Obama will reopen offshore drilling, report Laura Meckler and Jonathan Weisman: "The Obama administration, facing rising anger on the Gulf Coast over the loss of jobs and income from a drilling moratorium, said Monday that it would move quickly to release new safety requirements that would allow the reopening of offshore oil and gas exploration in shallow waters. Gulf Coast residents, political leaders and industry officials said delays in releasing the new rules, along with the administration's six-month halt on deepwater drilling-both issued amid public pressure-threatened thousands of jobs."

The EPA is developing a new measure of electric car efficiency, reports Peter Whoriskey: "To fill the gap, researchers and Environmental Protection Agency officials have been conducting vehicle tests, researching driver habits and even running focus groups toward informing consumers about which cars are energy hogs. Whatever metric they come up with is considered key to shaping consumer choices that in aggregate could profoundly affect smog and carbon emissions. The EPA is responsible for developing the fuel-economy labels posted on window stickers of all new cars and light trucks. A proposed rule is scheduled to be issued by August."

There is growing support in the Senate for an energy bill separate from cap and trade, reports Meredith Shiner: "Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said early Monday morning he believed the Kerry-Lieberman bill would be offered as an amendment to an energy bill once it reaches the Senate floor, but Senate sources insist that no decisions have been made. …'My position has been we should definitely move ahead with the legislation we reported from our committee and if we're able to do more than that, we should certainly do that as well,' Bingaman said. 'I tend to think the two issues are somewhat separate, and I think people are going to vote on climate change-or cap-and-trade legislation-pretty much on the basis of what their position is on that.'"

Lindsey Graham is staying out of the new energy bill push, reports John Harwood: "Mr. Graham expects Democrats to focus on oil companies in a revamped Kerry-Lieberman proposal, then dare Republicans to oppose it as tar balls wash onto gulf beaches. 'I could easily accept that dare,' Mr. Graham said. Noting that energy-state Democrats also have reservations, he dismissed Mr. Obama’s renewed push as 'all politics' - a 'head fake' in response to pressure from environmentalists over the oil spill. The real action on energy, Mr. Graham predicted, will come in 2011."

Reactor problems are raising questions about nuclear energy, reports Matthew Wald: "The American nuclear industry, primed to begin new construction projects for the first time in 30 years, is about as eager for an operating problem at an old reactor as the oil industry was for a well blowout on the eve of opening the Atlantic coast to oil drilling. Nonetheless, a nuclear reactor where a hidden leak caused near-catastrophic corrosion in 2002 has experienced a second bout of the same problem. In 2002, the plant, Davis-Besse, in Oak Harbor, Ohio, developed leaks in parts on the vessel head, allowing cooling water from inside the vessel, at 2,200 pounds per square inch of pressure, to leak out."

Boycotting BP makes no sense, writes Sharon Begley: "Drive right on by the BP station and pull up to the pumps from Exxon, the company responsible for the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 and, more recently, one of the biggest corporate funders of the movement to tar the science of climate change. Exxon also managed to reduce the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by an Anchorage jury for the Valdez disaster to $507.5 million; the Valdez fishermen and other victims have still not been made whole. (Fun fact: to protect itself in case the original judgment was affirmed, Exxon got a line of credit from JP Morgan, which the bank then parlayed into the first credit default swap, as recounted in the 2009 book 'Fool's Gold' by Gillian Tett.)"

Punk interlude: Sleater-Kinney play "What's Mine Is Yours".

Economy

Consumer borrowing is increasing, report Jeff Bater and Meena Thiruvengadam: "Consumer borrowing unexpectedly rose in April but fell in March, suggesting Americans aren't too comfortable with their finances despite the economic recovery. The Federal Reserve on Monday said consumer credit outstanding increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.5%, up $954.8 million to $2.440 trillion. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast a $1.0 billion decline in consumer credit during April. But the surprise gain came with a revision to March, when borrowing fell $5.4 billion, or 2.7%. Originally, it was estimated rising by $2.0 billion."

William Gale makes the case for more stimulus: "At this stage the danger of doing nothing is we have a slower recovery, or we fall back into a second recession, or we bump along in a lost decade like Japan. The cost of that in terms of unemployment and lost output, the human costs, are immense. People are out of work, and that hurts their spending, their kids, their skills. The lost output we're talking about is a huge amount and if the government can help that, I don't see why it shouldn't."

Dan Mitchell makes the case against more stimulus:"I'm not a big believer that government can do much to offer short-term economic conditions. In the long run, reducing government spending, lowering marginal tax rates, deregulating, lower tax barriers -- those are all good things. In some sense, recessions are the economy adjusting to previous bad policies. There's not much you can do."

Wal-Mart is focusing more on foreign stores, reports Ylan Mui: "The company that began as a five-and-dime in rural northwest Arkansas opened its annual shareholder meeting last week with Bollywood-style dancers, Asian balancing acts and Brazilian martial artists representing some of the 14 foreign countries in which Wal-Mart operates. Last year, its international division topped $100 billion in sales for the first time and this year it is expected to surpass the United States in number of stores. This is the next phase of Wal-Mart domination. It built its business in small towns and suburbs across the United States, but now international sales are growing at almost nine times the rate of domestic sales."

The stock market is in a state of confusion, report Susanna Kim and David Jolly: "With little in the way of economic data on Monday, traders found little to ease their concerns about Friday’s jobs report and the debt problems in Europe. As a result, stock indexes spent much of the day wandering before falling sharply in the last hour. Scott Brown, chief economist of Raymond James & Associates, pointed to continued uncertainty as a reason for the decline. 'I think the market participants are trying to get a handle on everything. We have an economy that appears to be on a moderate recovery, but not as strong as you would like to see,' Mr. Brown said. 'There are a lot of concerns regarding Europe that aren’t going to go away anytime soon. You have uncertainty, which I think justifies this kind of market.'"

The United States has its problems, writes Bob Doll, but at least we're not Europe: http://bit.ly/9femH4

California is lagging behind the rest of the country in job growth, reports Cari Tuna: "In April, the last month for which state data are available, California nonfarm employment fell 2.5% from a year earlier, compared with a 1.1% national drop, as the state lost a higher percentage of jobs in the recession and has added a smaller percentage this year. The state's 12.6% jobless rate far exceeded the 9.9% U.S. rate in April, as reported by the Labor Department. 'We're underperforming the national economy,' said Esmael Adibi, director of Chapman University's economic research center in Orange, Calif. 'We should have more jobs than are showing up.'"

Bob Herbert argues the administration needs to take stronger action against unemployment: "Even if we somehow experienced a sudden, extraordinary surge in job growth (which no one is expecting), it would take a very long time just to get back to the level of employment that we had when the recession started in late-2007. Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, addressed this. She 'the fastest year of employment growth was 2.6 percent, in 1998. If, in the event we have that extremely strong level of growth from here on out, we would still not get down to pre-recession unemployment rates until January 2015.'"

This economic downturn will have lasting negative effects, writes Nancy Folbre: "Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution describes the “permanent scarring” of workers’ economic prospects. The economists Timothy Smeeding and Jeffrey Thompson, summarizing recent trends in inequality and poverty, also emphasize the plight of those who lack both financial and human capital. Data on the percentage of individuals living in poverty have not yet been released for 2009. Ms. Sawhill summarizes efforts to project future trends this way: “bad news on poverty, worse to come.” Her projections, developed in conjunction with Emily Monea, suggest that poverty rates for children could reach 25 percent by 2011."

90s nostalgia interlude: "Newsies" perform Lady Gaga.

Domestic Policy

Democrats are launching a $125 million campaign to defend health care reform, reports Mike Allen: "Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Victoria Kennedy - widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) - are expected to be named co-chairmen of a $125 million campaign that White House allies are rolling out to defend health care reform amid growing signs Democrats are failing to get political traction on the issue.…The Health Information Center is being started by Andrew Grossman, a veteran Democratic operative who founded Wal-Mart Watch, a labor-backed group to challenge the world’s largest retailer on employee relations and other fronts."

Pennsylvania is trying out a pilot health care reform program, reports Shirley Wang: "Pennsylvania is carrying out the largest state pilot program in the U.S.-called the Chronic Care Initiative-which involves more than one-million patients, 800 doctors and 16 insurers across seven regions of the state. Insurers are providing $30 million over three years in extra payment to doctors who are involved, and the state is contributing $3.4 million to run the program.…In 22 doctors' practices across southwestern Pennsylvania involving 7,500 diabetic patients, the percent of patients with high blood-sugar levels-a sign that their diabetes isn't in good control-fell to 24% from 29% after nine months in the program."

Liberal activists are increasingly upset with the Obama administration, reports Jackie Calmes: "'This is the greatest reform president since Lyndon Johnson, and every progressive in the movement is dismayed and disaffected,' said Robert L. Borosage, the co-director of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future. 'Some of that is expectations that were shattered' - by Mr. Obama’s lack of support for a public health insurance option and liberalized rules for union organizing, and his escalation in Afghanistan.…That liberal lament is loudest right now on the issue of the government’s role in creating jobs.…Liberals say the president has prematurely encouraged the Democratic deficit hawks in Congress by his own anti-deficit rhetoric."

Obama is adding diversity to lower federal courts, reports Scott Wong: "Of Obama’s 70 appellate and district court nominees, 44 percent are female and 43 percent are minorities, according to recent analysis by the Alliance for Justice, a liberal advocacy group. By contrast, only 22 percent of President George W. Bush’s 322 confirmed judges were female and less than 18 percent were minorities. Of President Bill Clinton’s 372 confirmed judges, 29 percent were women and 25 percent were minorities. 'As the numbers indicate, he [Obama] far exceeds any other president in diversifying the federal bench,' said Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron."

States are depending on as-yet-undelivered federal Medicaid money, reports Kevin Sack: "Having counted on Washington for money that may not be delivered, at least 30 states will have to close larger-than-anticipated shortfalls in the coming fiscal year unless Congress passes a six-month extension of increased federal spending on Medicaid.…Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, for instance, penciled $850 million in federal Medicaid assistance into the revenue side of his state’s ledger, reducing its projected shortfall to $1.2 billion. The only way to compensate for the loss, he said in an interview, would be to lay off at least 20,000 government workers, including teachers and police officers, at a time when the state is starting to add jobs."

The Senate is preparing changes to the House jobs bill, reports David Rogers: "Pulled from the left and the right, Senate Democrats on Monday began shopping changes to a House-passed jobs bill that would increase aid to cash-strapped states while treading more lightly on new tax rules aimed at private equity interests with clout in the party. An estimated $24 billion in Medicaid funds - dropped by the House before Memorial Day - would be restored after an outcry from governors and liberals. At the same time, Senate tax writers hope to placate a handful of Democrats on the East and West coasts by softening House reforms that target wealthy investment-fund partners who now shelter their income at lower rates afforded capital gains."

Delays in the job bill have prevented a "doc fix" from taking effect, reports Carl Hulse: "The House approved the package just before heading out the door for Memorial Day but the Senate took no action, meaning that extended unemployment benefits for thousands of Americans began running out last week. In addition, a 21 percent cut in fees paid to doctors by Medicare has also gone into effect since the legislation stalled, a drop in payments that could lead some physicians to quit treating those on Medicare. Hoping to avoid a prolonged fight in the Senate, the leadership is planning to make some adjustments to the House legislation in an effort to round up 60 votes to hasten the bill along."

The White House is asking Congress for authority to stop wasteful federal agency spending, reports Laura Meckler: "The White House plans to ask Congress for new authority that could help to discourage unnecessary spending by federal agencies, a move that comes amid rising public concern about the federal deficit. The proposed change would let agencies that save money redirect half the savings to other initiatives, with the rest going toward deficit reduction, an administration official said on Sunday. Under current law, agencies are typically forced to return any unspent part of their budgets, giving them an incentive to use every last dollar even if the money isn't needed. The new policy would alter those incentives."

Stand-up interlude: Demetri Martin tells "The Jokes With Guitar".

FinReg

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has subpoenaed Goldman Sachs, report John McKinnon and Susanne Craig: "The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission issued a subpoena to Goldman, demanding that the firm provide a key for identifying customer names and a way of matching up specific documents to the commission's requests for information. The subpoena also demanded documents concerning Goldman's mortgage-backed derivative securities, which are central in current federal probes of the firm. The commission is particularly interested in Goldman's dealings with American International Group Inc., which had to be bailed out by the government during the financial crisis in 2008."

Tim Geithner, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank will control the final shape of FinReg, reports Damian Paletta: "The three have said that the experience from the financial crisis should serve as the foundation for what new regulations should look like. As a result, people who know them say, they are likely to show willingness to negotiate on parts of the bill they don't view as core, while being intractable on pieces they view as elemental. That could mean easing provisions with strict limits on derivatives trading, proposed restrictions on fees banks charge retailers and even agreeing to allow auto dealers to be exempt from new lending rules."

Countrywide will repay consumers $108 million, reports Dina ElBoghdady: "Bank of America, owner of former mortgage giant Countrywide Financial, will pay $108 million in refunds to hundreds of thousands of homeowners under one of the largest judgments imposed by the Federal Trade Commission.…The FTC alleges that Countrywide's servicing arm, which was once responsible for collecting money on $1.4 trillion worth of loans, deceived borrowers into paying marked-up fees for property inspections, lawn mowing and other services after they defaulted on their loans in order to boost Countrywide's profits when the housing market tanked."

The Senate is poised to vote on ending the hedge fund manager tax break, reports Jia Lynn Yang: "Yet the Senate looms. Two powerful Democrats -- Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) -- were working Monday to soften the tax provision, to satisfy the concerns of a few senators worried about its effect on venture capitalists. Aides said Senate leaders are optimistic that they can muster the 60 votes needed to pass the change, but it could lead to problems in the House. The provision would haul in roughly $18 billion by raising taxes on the income of people who run private-equity firms, venture-capital shops and real estate investment partnerships."

A Lincoln loss could make weakening the derivatives provision of FinReg easier, reports Ben White: "Electoral politics will enter the complex equation on Tuesday as Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), author of controversial language that could force Wall Street banks to spin off lucrative derivatives trading operations, faces a primary run-off. If Lincoln loses the too-close-to-call race to Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, some on Wall Street think it will be easier to get the language out. But no matter how the primary turns out, the overwhelming confidence Wall Street once had that the provision would be gutted has largely evaporated."

FinReg lobbyists are keeping a low profile, reports Chris Frates: "Big banks and other financial interests will launch a final push to influence the Wall Street reform bill when Congress returns this week, but it won’t be the kind of scorched-earth lobbying blitz that traditionally accompanies final negotiations. Instead the approach will be lower profile, less likely to draw attention to its politically damaged beneficiaries and ideally carried out by lawmakers who can influence members of the House-Senate conference committee crafting the final bill. The targets will be hot-button issues such as regulations on derivatives trading, debit card fees and consumer protection."

Fannie and Freddie weren't the main bad actors in the financial crisis, writes Edmund Andrews: "the big question isn't whether Fannie and Freddie made things worse. I agree; they did. But the really key question for future policy purposes is this: who was driving whom? For that, you should look at who was firstest with the mostest in the subprime/no-doc/option-arm arena. The answer on both counts, by a wide margin: private label securitizers. Yes, Fannie and Freddie contributed to the bubble and the bad lending. But it wasn't because they were trying to help the poor, and they certainly weren't the driving force. They were just trying to keep up with their private-sector rivals. That's a big distinction."

Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 8, 2010; 7:12 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Next: The BP bankruptcy scenario

Comments

You should be fined for not having insurance because if you have an emergency and go to the emergency room, then you do not have the money for the bill, it gets charged to everyone else. Get medical insurance for your entire family at the best price from http://bit.ly/cmg7mK By contributing to the pool and doing your part, overall costs come down. Its like stores that have to charge more because of all the theft. People go to the hospital and then not pay, it gets charged to everyone else.

Posted by: frankedwin08 | June 8, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: leoansi | June 8, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

- Lincoln ONLY proposed that derivatives bill to save her butt after Halter announced his run. She should deservedly go down in flames along with all other ConservaDems. Halter will get more done than Lincoln and won't wait until he is politically in trouble before starting to work.

- Any BP bankruptcy is simply a scheme to avoid paying damages it caused. If BP is allowed to go bankrupt, then any homeowner underwater in his/her mortgage should feel no guilt in walking away either.

- Once the fed gvmt starts relentlessly putting white collar criminals in jail, then MAYBE wallstreeters and bankers will start to take notice and start behaving. Until then, western society is a lawless landscape where rich people and politicians can get away with anything. This is another reason Bush admin officials ought be prosecuted for any crimes they have committed.

- US doing better than Europe? Well, socialist Canada is doing even better. Their banks are safer, their debt is lower, their unemployment rate is lower, medical costs are lower and everyone has quality health care access, and it will soon be warm in Canada. And had this gusher happened on a Canadian well, it might have been plugged weeks ago.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

- The oil gusher is clearly spewing more than 10,000s of barrels per day. Some experts are worried that the worst-case 100,000 per day is now reality. Many others suggest a lower bound of somewhere around 25,000 barrels per day.

- Oil companies should be required to completely fund a kind of "oil swat" response team that is manned and operated by the Coast Guard, which hires and trains the needed experts, some of whom have inspection authority at ANY oil well in US waters.

- In addition, oil companies should be required to fund a one billion dollar response fund which the fed gvmt can use for cleanup and damages; and anytime the fed gvmt uses any of this money, the oil companies MUST instantly put more into the fund to keep it at one billion dollars.

- relief wells must be drilled for each new well, and the latest and safest technology must be used at all wells.

If these kind of things are not made law by this November, I will not be voting.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Anyone that does not believe that derivatives need to be regulated after suffering the worst economic collapse since the 1930's, ought not be posting here or anywhere. Derivative back mortgages are what got the country into this mess. Yes, you can blame Wall St and the banker. But also blame the republicans and Bush who were aware of this potential disaster and did NOTHING. Bush and the republicans should be in jail rotting for all the harm they did. Then the remainder of responsibility falls on American citizens...weak minded...and led astray by the "American Dream", many Americans took out and were easily awarded mortgages of $300-800k with incomes of $25k -70k. It's all American stupidity championed by the party of stupid... the republicans.

Posted by: vintel7 | June 8, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Lomillialor- why even post if you are going to post lies and bull? Everyone involved would have plugged the well by now if they could have. Canada is in worst shape than the USA ever was. A dollar in Canada buys next to nothing. No thanks...I will spend my money right here in the good old USA.

Posted by: vintel7 | June 8, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

--"If these kind of things are not made law by this November, I will not be voting."--

LOL. You'll be voting, no matter what. It gives you the illusion of power of your fellow man.

Posted by: msoja | June 8, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

vintel

Please have the decency to say which lie I have told and make your case. Otherwise, I will assume you are just another knee-jerk, nihilistic neocon.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

msoja

Your second phrase I agree with.

Your first phrase? Well, you are ASSuming.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats continue to be the party that gets things done. Republicans continue to be the lazy, adult wounded child syndrome party of No. If psychological profile tests were given prior to candidates running for office...there would be no more republican party. Not a single one of them would be deemed psychologically fit.

Posted by: vintel7 | June 8, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Lomillar:

Canada is not in great shape either, the unemployment rate is at 8.1% which isn't exactly great.

Vintel7:
Our dollar is at 0.9488USD. The only reason left for pricing disparity that's as bad as it is is simply because companies *can* charge us more because we were lower than you guys for so long.

Personally, if BP goes bankrupt I would much prefer to see abandoned sites over a rebranding of their assets. Boycotting it over here tends to be pointless... I'm pretty sure I've never seen one over here and like that article said, all you're doing is picking your evil. Hurray for the bus.

Posted by: akusu | June 8, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

@Vintel: "Anyone that does not believe . . . ought not be posting here or anywhere."

"Lomillialor- why even post if you are going to post lies and bull? "

I'm sorry, who made you arbiter of who should and should not post somewhere, and under what conditions?

Sharing your opinions with the caveat that people who disagree with you aren't entitled to speak is not a great way to start a discussion, no matter what side of the aisle you're on.

"Republicans continue to be the lazy, adult wounded child syndrome party of No."

Not always lazy. They had a pretty productive year in 1995

"If psychological profile tests were given prior to candidates running for office...there would be no more republican party. Not a single one of them would be deemed psychologically fit."

Sure.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

@Lom: I agree with your principled stand to not vote. I'll be voting, though. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

"Consumer borrowing unexpectedly rose in April but fell in March, suggesting Americans aren't too comfortable with their finances despite the economic recovery."

What a terrible way for them to say that. "Rose in April but fell in March"? Does March come after April? When talking about sequential events, it makes much more sense to say consumer borrowing had fallen in March but unexpectedly rose in April". And then note that two months don't make a trend.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

"This is the next phase of Wal-Mart domination ... but now international sales are growing at almost nine times the rate of domestic sales."

Um, that's because the domestic market is mature, and saturated. There's not really any place for Wal-Mart to expand sales in the U.S. market, so of course international sales--where they are building all their new stores--is where the growth is happening.

I mean: duh.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Kevin

Fine with me if you vote and I don't.

I would rather Sarah take the blame for the coming collapse (that I believe the GOP guaranteed and the Dems have been unable to prevent). In fact, at this point, I sort of wish McCain had won.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"They had a pretty productive year in 1995"

What did they do other than sabotage the NK agreement? (which then led to NK creating operational nukes a few years ago? Yes, the nuke material they used in those recent bombs was going to be shipped out of NK under the 94 NK agreement, indeed it was sealed in UN shipping containers and ready to go).

As far as the welfare reform goes, Al Gore was the one who had pushed Clinton to do that even prior to the 94 elections. Even without a GOP ascendency in Congress, it was very likely it would have happened at some point anyway. And the annual budgets passed were almost identical to the ones Clinton proposed. Gingrich did try to stop the gvmt several times to get his way on the budgets, but he suffered a PR backlash and relented to Clinton.

The GOP congress did, however, distract the country from terrorism with endless witchhunts and an impeachment. I suppose you can be proud of that. They never had ONE investigation into the need to fight terrorism or how to do so.

And then let's consider what the GOP congress from 2000-2006 did: um, doubled the national debt, authorize invasion of the wrong country, which enflamed terrorism even more according to the pentagon, helped jump-start the great recession, and so on.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Great choice on "What's Mine is Yours." Such a good jam.

Posted by: mkabak | June 8, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Lomillalor,

you're going to biatch and moan as much as you do on here (sometimes rightfully so)and you don't vote? Really??


Nice spin going on about HCR too. If Republicans spent $125 million trying to tell us that the war in Iraq was a "just war" and got money from Haliburton for example everyone would be going NUTS.

$125 million seems like a lot of money to waste trying to win public support. If its so great why not let it rest on its merits?

I am interested though in the pilot program in PA. That could be a great thing that could save a ton of money. That just makes sense which is why its not happening on a national scale.


Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"I would rather Sarah take the blame for the coming collapse"

Palin would lose to Obama, I'm pretty sure. I mean, I'd vote for her, but I don't think she'd win against an incumbent Democrat president.

In this cycle, I've got a congressman to vote for. That's about it.

"In fact, at this point, I sort of wish McCain had won."

I'm so glad he didn't. ;)

"the nuke material they used in those recent bombs was going to be shipped out of NK under the 94 NK"

You really think Kim Jong Il was going to do that? Okay, then.

Welfare reform, NAFTA, and they brought up The Fiscal Responsibility Act, The Taking Back Our Streets Act, The Personal Responsibility Act, Family Self-Sufficiency Act, The American Dream Restoration Act, The National Security Restoration Act, The "Common Sense" Legal Reform Act, The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, The Citizen Legislature Act, and some of it happened.

"it was very likely it would have happened at some point anyway"

Fair enough. It still happened during the Republican congress, and they actually participated in crafting the legislation, so it counts towards the Republicans being productive.

"with endless witchhunts and an impeachment. "

You'll notice I said 1995, not 1997/1998 as a year of productivity. There was a reason I did that. As I mentioned before, I considered the whole Clinton impeachment to be crazily counter productive. As far as the Republicans being responsible for terrorism . . . everybody could have done more, I suppose. Certainly, our counter-terrorism forces under Obama seem to be working those drones. Several high-profile kills under the Obama admin. I like that.

It's a productive administration.

"And then let's consider what the GOP congress from 2000-2006 did: um, doubled the national debt, authorize invasion of the wrong country, which enflamed terrorism even more according to the pentagon, helped jump-start the great recession, and so on."

They did indeed spend like drunken sailors (something I harped on a bit at the time, elsewhere).

I also tend to agree on the Republican sponsored (but bi-partisanly authorized) pre-emptive war against Iraq. Although I really think the idea that the Iraq war (or anything we have done or can do, other than a wholesale conversion to Islamic theocracy and surrender to the global caliphate) somehow "enflamed" Islamic terrorism fundamentally misunderstands the nature of Islamo-fascism and its goals. But I expect we'll just have to agree to disagree on that point.

9/11 occurred before the Iraq war, and directly after 8 years of Bill Clinton.

As I have noted elsewhere, I think the Great Recession is a bi-partisan effort that is not easily addressed by swapping parties. Nor do I see any interest on either side about doing anything substantive that would help address the economy in a positive way, if it might in some way discomfort some donors or lobbyists. Folks like Blanche Lincoln come close, but only due to primary threats.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

@visionbrkr: "$125 million seems like a lot of money to waste trying to win public support. If its so great why not let it rest on its merits?"

PR work on behalf of HCR is a "shovel ready job". It's actually stimulating the economy.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 8, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"Nice spin going on about HCR too. If Republicans spent $125 million trying to tell us that the war in Iraq was a "just war" and got money from Haliburton for example everyone would be going NUTS.

$125 million seems like a lot of money to waste trying to win public support. If its so great why not let it rest on its merits?"


visionbrkr,

The money being spent is being raised privately, so what is the big gripe? If you don't think that Republican-leaning interest groups have spent tens of millions on mass media communication promoting their issues, then you are not well informed.

Also $25 mil per year for 5 years is not a great deal of money for a media campaign, relatively speaking. The ACA has many elements that are set to phase in over time, and it makes sense in an era of short attention spans to keep advising the public of the impending changes, and the schedule under which they will take place.

Again, this is a law that you backed. If private money is to be spent over a 5 year period to inform the public about how it works and the reasons why changes under the new law lead to a better health care system, why would you "biatch and moan?"

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 8, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"PR work on behalf of HCR is a "shovel ready job". It's actually stimulating the economy."

Again, the media campaign for the ACA is being financed by 100% private donations.

And am I really the only one who can remember the endless ads touting and explaining the (unfunded) prescription drug benefit to seniors?

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 8, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

And am I really the only one who can remember the endless ads touting and explaining the (unfunded) prescription drug benefit to seniors?

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 8, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Patrick,

wow you're THAT old? ;-)

No serious gripe here but its coming from unions and foundations and private groups. If Dems can ask where those foundations, unions and "private groups" (ie moveon.org) are getting their money from why can't I?

Just doing my part to make sure its on the up and up.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

wow i really botched that one. Meant to say:

If Dems can ask where Republican "private" (see corporate) donations come from for similar issues why can't I ask here?

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

vision

Yes, I've basically given up. That's why I am always so upset. :( The Dems are turning into the GOP and I won't vote for nihilistic and incompetent bastards regardless of party affiliation. I now think the HCR was never going to happen (and they never intended to make it happen) until it became evident that progressives were going to rebel if it didn't pass in some form.

Kevin,

Kim Jong Il. We'll never know for sure whether he would have shipped it out because as it turn out it was the USA, not NK, which broke the agreement. But yes, he had the fuel already packed in shipping containers with UN inspection seals on it, and then we broke the agreement because of the GOP objections of it. Clinton had another agreement ready in 2000 which would have caused many of NK's long-range weapons to be dismantled as well, but it wasn't ready for ratification until 2001 and Bush scrapped that agreement, much to the disgust of the SK's.

BTW, Nafta wasn't 1995. It was 1992. And yes, it passed ONLY because of massive GOP support. The majority party, the Dems, voted against ratifying it. I supported Nafta at the time, but I've come to believe it a huge mistake (one of Clinton's many). Those other "acts" you mention are inconsequential.

Whatever productivity you think the GOP congress was after 1994, I believe it mostly has contributed to a lost era of peace and prosperity for the US and the world.

The GOP neocons were at work lying and destroying even in Nixon's admin as they tried to sabotage SALT treaties, and they were the ones who convinced Reagan to waste huge sums of money due to a hyped Soviet threat. neocons in the CIA long ago started secretly assisting Egypt and other countries to imprison and torture muslims who didn't agree with their leaders in an attempt to stamp out political opposition, but it backfired and helped enflame hatred of the USA in Arab lands.

Cheney, wolfowitz, rumsfeld, Krystal and other neocons were long ago part of TEAM B, basically an American Nazi-like movement similar to Hitler's pre-WWII era of deception and violence. No doubt they'd impose a totalitarian system over America if they could. They let 911 happen though they knew something was afoot (no, they did not plan or execute it as many idiotic truthers believe).

Here's a wiki writeup of TEAM B.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_B

Any smart or informed person who votes for these kind of people, are truly no better than the core group of people who supported Hitler's rise IMO. They support these kind of people because of very base reasons they would never admit.

Lest you think fascism is a non-threat, go read about Spain's brief scare with fascism. Fascism is alive and well in America, and the tea party is a great place to get acquainted with it.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 8, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

"Yes, I've basically given up. That's why I am always so upset. :( The Dems are turning into the GOP and I won't vote for nihilistic and incompetent bastards regardless of party affiliation. I now think the HCR was never going to happen (and they never intended to make it happen) until it became evident that progressives were going to rebel if it didn't pass in some form."

I respectfully disagree. I think what changed was the election of Scott Brown. This was supposed to signal the big scary shift to the right, and the death knell for HCR. What happened instead is that it was a huge gift to the Democratic majority, who finally began to look at how to move legislation with fifty votes instead of sixty.

Once they cut the jokers out of the deck (Lieberman, Nelson, Lincoln, Landieu, etc.), they became free of their self-enforced gridlock of trying to chase the elusive 60 votes.

I understand your frustration with the system, Lomillialor. I think the best solution lies in reforming (or abolishing) the filibuster rule, so that mainstream Democrats don't have to kiss the rings of Olympia Snowe and the "ConservaDems" in order to get anything passed.

Not voting? Won't help so much.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 8, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Patrick,

agreed. Not voting helps no one. (I voted today btw)

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Lom,

you know you just reminded me of Glenn Beck right there ;-)

Got a chuckle too because i had visions of Lewis Black and "Mother Teresa had a mustache . . . Mother Teresa is HITLER!"

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Vision/Patrick,

I think you can make a decent argument that not voting helps yourself. Voting has a cost in terms of time and effort, and the probability of your vote affecting anything beyond a local race is remote. This is especially true given that when you're voting for a person rather than an issue - even if you vote is the deciding one which gets that person into office, you don't get to control that person's decision making once he or she is there.

Take Bush v Gore. Let's assume that it actually did come to down to one vote, and you're a Florida voter who picked Bush, partly because of Bush's commitment to keep out of unnecessary foreign affairs and his support of a comprehensive energy reform bill which, among other things, would 'decrease foreign dependence on oil through increase domestic production and the use of non-fossil fuel based energy production methods'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_W._Bush_presidential_campaign,_2000

Ouch. Not only did you have the deciding vote, but how awful is it to feel like you're the guy put Bush into power?

Posted by: justin84 | June 8, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

justin,

I disagree. Yes, one person never is the deciding factor but many individuals turn the tide. You don't have to look back far (2008 Presidential election) to see that. If you get a base fired up whether that base are conservatives worried about socialistic tendencies (real or imagined) in an administration or a liberal base angered at a 10+ year war one turns into 100,000 very quickly especially with the power of the internet.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 8, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

justin84,

Sorry to hear that George W. Bush disappointed you so much with his bait and switch campaign themes, and you later wished you had voted for Al Gore.

I have occasionally been disappointed by some of the successful candidates for whom I've voted, but I have never regretted casting my ballot; and the disappointment is almost inevitably still preferable to electing the alternative.

And I suspect that when November rolls around, Lomillialor will again find reason enough to participate in the election.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 8, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse


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