Monday, September 29, 2008

Bipartisan Coalition Defeats Casino Socialism

The Wall Street Bailout bill failed to pass Congress. And the corporate media, Democrats, and President Bush are "shocked" that it happened. Bush said our economy would collapse within days. Democrats and Bush also wanted to ensure that their corporate donors get more of their money back. The corporate media said it was a "done deal." The American public were told it would pass, so don't bother try to call your Congressperson. The American people didn't capitulate as the so called leaders of our nation did. Now Wall Street is throwing a temper tantrum and dropping the values of stock they thought could be purchased with "free" taxpayer money.

Just a couple months before the election, the economy is looking in worse shape than ever. To buy our confidence, and our votes in November, the government wanted to bail out their long-term corporate donors. It appears that Americans are no longer fooled by such gimmicks. We defeated the biggest corporate handout of taxpayer money in world history! For once, the people of this country actually have had a say. It appears that for once, Americans are actually comfortable with change!

The Federal government has long felt its role was to end or prevent recessions. Unfortunately, by doing this they make future recessions harsher. After every energy spike, the US economy goes into recession. The Feds should have allowed it to run its course, assuming we believe in capitalism. But Democrats continually believe it is the taxpayer's job to "create jobs." And they were literally the party behind the bailout.

There were some leaders against the bailout. On the Republican side, our own Michelle Bachmann stated her opposition early on. The Democrat who best represents my own views is Representative Marcy Kaptur. Someone else the corporate media love to hate also took a stance against the bailout: Dennis Kucinich. Too bad the media determine who wins elections, because Kucinich could easily beat a insanely sad McCain-Palin.

In Minnesota, half of our elected representatives refused to give in to Pelosi's pleas to help out Bush's bailout. There were also many Republicans who enabled the American people to stop this corrupt handout of money that could be better spent elsewhere. In Minnesota, these representatives deserve great praise for their stance against George Bush and Nancy Pelosi:

Michelle Bachmann (R )
Jim Ramstad (R )
Collin Peterson ( DFL )
Tim Walz ( DFL )

This could be the issue that gains the Walz campaign some traction against the GOP. It is a very close race, and if he wanted to win he would vote with his constituents and not against them.


Call these supporters of the Wall Street Bailout today:

Keith Ellison --- 202-225-4755
Betty McCollum --- 202-225-6631
James Oberstar --- 202-225-6211
John Kline --- 202-225-2271

Tell them that the only Americans supportive of the bailout are the corporations that stand to profit and the politicians who stand to get more political contributions. Everyone else stands united against this abhorrent form of government policy that is appearing before us.

These un-leaders deserve to be called out for their pathetic stance in handling our economic situation. None of them have proposed weaning the American public off of oil. Skyrocking energy prices are the primary culprit of our economic doldrums. They refuse to deal with the reality of Peak Oil and global energy demand, but want a "deal" with Wall Street before our government can no longer sell its T-bills to China.

America needs long-term solutions, not short-term election gimmicks. A rescue package for Wall Street is a future tax-bill for the working class. Democrats need to get the message.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Bailout Is a Band-Aid

The Bailout Is a Band-Aid: Housing Crisis Needs to Be Fixed
Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:18 PM

By: Christopher Ruddy

Yesterday Sen. Orrin Hatch was hitting the airwaves.

The subprime crisis, he said, was the fault of the Clinton administration, who he said created the subprime mortgage crisis.

Other Republicans have been laying blame on the financial crisis on minorities and illegal immigrants who got mortgages they simply couldn’t pay. They offer no statistical proof on this point.

Nor does the usually sensible Senator Hatch offer evidence when it comes to pointing the finger at the Clinton administration.

The attempt to deflect blame for the crisis is not simply wrongheaded; I think it will compound Republican political woes and bring us disaster again in November.

Doesn’t Hatch and Co. know that Bill and Hillary Clinton voters in the swing states will decide who becomes the next president? They are wary of Obama, but love the Clintons and remember the good economic times of the’90s.

As a conservative Republican of the Reagan type, I find myself in this odd place cheering on some of the sensible things I hear from Democrats.

Barack Obama said any bailout to Wall Street must not be simply a cash payout or a loan, but be treated like an equity investment in these firms. We want our money back and then some. Yes to that, I say.

And demands by House Democrats that the secretary of the treasury alone not be given a blank check for more than a trillion dollars of our money, and that we have complete transparency in the transactions, I say yes to that, too.

Fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability — aren’t these things Republicans believe in?

The Democratic complaints about the Bush plan shows that our government is working. The executive branch tried to put a gun to the head of Congress and told them, “Sign this check or the whole U.S. banking system will collapse.”

Congress didn’t blink.

Don’t get me wrong. I am for a bailout, but one that is sensible and is a win-win for Wall Street, Main Street investors and taxpayers like you and me.

But remember the government bailout plan proposed by the president and modifications supported by the Democrats won’t fix the underlying problem: the housing market collapse. Home prices are continuing to fall, and fewer people are buying homes than ever. Foreclosures will continue.

Unless this underlying problem is fixed, the economic symptoms will continue. There are some remedies. But before I get to them, let’s review what has happened.

The Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan gave the U.S. economy shock treatment back in 2001 and 2002 when it lowered interest rates to 1 percent — the lowest Fed Funds rate in recent history.

By pushing the pedal to the metal and backed quietly by the White House, the Fed injected massive liquidity in the U.S. economy, creating the largest asset bubble in history, according to the Economist magazine.

Incredibly low rates by the Fed were accompanied by an acceptance of the central bank for all sorts of exotic mortgage loans. No down payments. Interest only. No job and income verification. Get the picture?

Compounding this irresponsibility was then the “greed factor” that kicked in at several levels.

First were the local banks and mortgage companies that pushed mortgages, notably adjustable rate ones that offered extremely low introductory rates, and gave them to buyers who would not be able to pay back once the rates adjusted up.

Well rates have adjusted up and the crisis hit.

Many mortgage providers also encouraged loan applicants to lie about incomes and qualifications to approve these mortgages.

Wall Street as a whole had little role at this stage. But later, Wall Street took these mortgages, which had been rolled up into collateralized debt instruments, better known as mortgage backed securities, and sold them off to investors globally.

Wall Street failed to compute the risks involved in these securities. It was a failure, not a crime.

But many Wall Street firms, hedge funds and other investments took incredible, unwarranted risks using these securities. These firms would borrow money at low rates — say 4 percent — and invest in CDOs paying 6 to 7 percent. This small difference in rates of 2 to 3 percent, the arbitrage, would throw off enormous returns, especially considering little or no money had been placed on the table to buy the securities.

I have been told that Lehman and AIG played this leveraging game, investing only $1 for every $30 they held in such toxic suggestions. Again, what they did was not a crime. They took enormous risk and reaped huge returns — for a while.

Now they want us to pay for the huge losses that ultimately fell upon them.

Washington played a role in the mess too. The White House pushed for easy money and easy lending practices, many weighted in favor of the banks and lenders and against the consumer.

Congress, dominated largely by Republicans from 1994 to 2006, did an awful job in oversight. This is especially true after President Bush took the oath of office.

When Bill Clinton was president, the Republicans acted beautifully, working diligently to keep President Clinton on a center-right economic course. The results were great.

This seems like ancient history, but it’s important to have a clear picture of how we got into this mess. It may help us get out of it.

First, we need to know the “crisis” the Bush administration presented to us just last week is not a crisis that just popped up. It was apparent to many two years ago the real estate market was in a bubble and would bust.

And when the Fed moved in 2004 and raised rates from 1 percent to 5.25 percent by 2006 — a more than 400 percent increase in two years, it also led directly to those adjustable mortgages re-adjusting at very high rates. Homeowners got struck hard — with monthly mortgage payments on medium size homes mushrooming literally overnight.

The Fed increase rates started the credit crisis. The first tremors were apparent over a year ago when the Fed took emergency steps to give banks liquidity.

It’s important to remember that most adjustable mortgages created in the boom years still have not reset – and will continue doing so through 2011.

This problem will worsen unless Washington tackled the underlying problems.

The first thing the Fed must do to reduce the continuance of the problem is drop rates. It doesn’t have much wiggle room, because the dollar needs to be protected, but a small decrease in rates could have an enormous impact on those readjusting mortgages.

The second-most-important thing to do is for Congress to give a significant tax credit for new home buyers. Congress just passed a $7500 tax credit for new home buyers, though it’s not actually a credit but a loan at no interest.

The famed economist Edward Leamer of UCLA’s Anderson School says a $25,000 tax credit to new home buyers would put an immediate end to the fall in home prices. He suggests it would spur economic activity and government tax revenues would grow, more than covering the cost of the program.

Already home prices have fallen to reasonable prices and it should be a buyer’s market. But government can spur home buyers who keep staying on the sidelines think prices will fall more.

If this is done, home prices will stabilize and likely begin rising. All of the sectors that relate to the housing market will find relief.

And, most important, the value of those mortgage backed securities will increase as the underlying mortgages become current. Foreclosures will also abate.

The key to solving the financial crisis is not to simply send a blank check to Wall Street, but to get consumers buying homes again.

The National Debt Is An American Issue

Greetings. My name is Jeff Williams, blogger at National Debt Busters, finally responding to an invitation that was given to me months ago to post here regarding economic matters.

Since this is my first post, I want everybody to know that the National Debt is not a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It is an AMERICAN issue that must be dealt with. While I personally am a fiscal conservative and tend to vote Republican, my blog is not necessarily aimed at furthering the Republican agenda. It is aimed at educating citizens (who are hopefully voters) about the size and scope of the National Debt and other economic issues that face this great nation of ours. There are areas where I agree with Democrats, disagree with Democrats and same with Republicans.

Most of the time, I merely post articles that have been posted elsewhere, giving full attributions to the original authors, because not everybody has access to the same sources of information.

In the ensuing weeks and months, I'll be making occasional posts on Multipartisan Minnesota on issues that we Minnesotans should care about from an economic perspective regardless of political affiliation. My hope, again, is to educate people on the economic ramifications of the political decisions made by politicians of all parties at the State and Federal levels. This is something that all Minnesotans and all Americans should care about.

Thanks for listening.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

End of the American Empire - time for change!

Our economy is collapsing as Republicans go on about how Wall Street Socialism is GOOD and Democrats concede to Bush, again. Neither party wants to talk about change - REAL change. No partisan wants to say "The America we have had for the last 60 years is over. Life will be different from now on." That is the true reality, one that I thought it would take $250 a barrel oil to make true. It seems our economy is more fragile than I had thought.

The government is trying to instill confidence in the market, well I am not buying it. Nor will I respect their "leadership" in saving us. I want the bums thrown out - all of them. Every Democrat and Republican has failed at this point. Even my first term congressperson, Keith Ellison, has done NOTHING to prepare my district for this. Is there enough frustration like my own out there? Is switching from D to R or vice-versa really making a difference? There are those who who feel as I do, but they have to actually vote for change. ( Note to non-voters: make an economic statement instead. Stop shopping. Buy only necessities. And you might need some savings if your job disappears. )

Most Americans will have little hope to change Congress. Anti-Democracy activists have ensured that only major parties have any media attention, assuming they could get on the ballot. In Minnesota, one candidate shines very brightly: Senator Dean Barkley. The media here only mention him in 2 out of 3 articles, which is astounding in our elitist democracy. Barkley questions the need for the $700,000,000,000 bailout of Wall Street. I don't hear the Democrats or President Bush questioning, but wanting Republicans to vote with them so it's "bipartisan." Let's throw the bums out who got us in this mess and elect those like Dean Barkley!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Harry Grigsby supporting Farheen Hakeem

A day before the primary the Obama campaign made phone calls to its Minneapolis supporters, asking them to volunteer on a "get out the vote" initiative. They wanted members to show up at.... (drumroll please ) the Jeff Hayden HQ. Upon arriving at 9AM, they instructed their foot soldiers on the true nature of their calling: ensuring Jeff Hayden is endorsed. While on their valiant mission for a candidate they did not know, they performed an informal survey of 61B voters: it appeared that Hayden and Farheen Hakeem are currently tied. This doesn't worry Hayden as his main objective was complete, thanks to volunteers of a candidate not in the Minnesotan primary race.

Harry Grigsby, Jeff Hayden's sole DFL opponent, did not win the primary endorsement. Yet a plethora of average, and not so partisan, voters who tend not to participate in the primary supported him. His campaign did not focus on internal partisan organizing, but spoke directly to actual residents of 61B. His supporters, along with independents and undecideds, can easily vote for the candidate Harry Grigsby has now endorsed: Farheen Hakeem.

Harry knows that Farheen Hakeem is the candidate truly meant to represent the heart of south Minneapolis. While the Democrats tax us to build a stadium for a billionaire (Target Field should be Hennepin County Taxpayer's Ballpark), Farheen has fought against such unscrupulous acts. Her voice is consistently ignored by the corrupt powers that mock the needs of the working class. Fortunately, these powers cannot squelch her message as the campaign goes door to door to ensure victory in November.

Can the Obama and Al Franken campaign really spend much more time on this local Minnesotan race as November approaches? Not if they want to win. Fortunately, the voters in this small Minneapolis district can rest assured that one campaign will not ignore them. The volunteers on this campaign wear brown t-shirts that beg the question: "What does Farheen Hakeem mean?" It means fresh wisdom. In times such as these , when change is both crucial and vital, Minnesotans need such a leader. Vote for Farheen Hakeem on November 4th for Minnesota House 61B.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

November Predictions

Yesterday was an interesting primary election! It says a lot more than polls do about how those invested in democracy choose to vote! Based on the election info, I would like to make some estimated guesses at the general election. These are using current statistics, as debates and other political unknowns will come into play.

With regards to my support in November, I believe that candidates should seek to solve our intertwined energy and economic crisis. More "rebates" from Democrats or "drilling" from Republicans are both insufficient. I'd love to hear someone try to prove, without blatant misinformation, that they will be. My solution is an annually increasing carbon tax in support of green jobs.

President - I do not see Minnesota as up for grabs. It will go to Obama. Assuming there is no voter disenfranchisement issues this time, only one hour waits in Cleveland this year, Obama should win nationwide.

U.S. Senate

Coleman - 45%
Franken - 35%
Barkley - 20%

There are about 10% of Republicans who voted for Jack Shepard. These Republicans would most likely not vote for Franken, but would consider Barkley. The biggest loser is clearly Al Franken, because he lost nearly a third of his support to Priscilla Lord Faris. I really don't think he can recover such a hit. He's been trailing Obama for a while in Minnesotan support, and this is a bad hit. And there are parts of Minnesota where she almost surpasses him in support ( in 25A, Franken got 49% of the vote, Faris 46% )!

If Dean Barkley is allowed in the debates, his support could improve. Franken is no longer seen as viable against Coleman, which reduces any form of political momentum. Barkley will need to attract Republican votes that Franken obviously can't if he is to beat Coleman. Being a former U.S. Senator helps Dean Barkley considerably, assuming the media refers to him as one.

US House - 1CD

This race will be close. Still, I think that Brian Davis will beat Tim Walz, who is in his first re-election bid.

US House 3CD

The Democrats shouldn't cry too much about possibly losing 1CD, as Ashwin Madia should win here.

US House - 5CD

Ellison - 84%
Davis - 10%
McGaughey - 6%

I could be overstating Barb Davis White's support. Ellison's opponent Gregg A. Iverson received more votes in the primary than she did. I could also be overstating McGaughey's support, though he may get the anti-Ellison vote. Keith will win easily by double digits.

US House - 6CD

This is another close race. I would really like to see the last of Michelle Bachmann. Perhaps Tinklenberg will be able to gain enough support from moderate Republicans who do not feel Bachmann truly represents them.

US House - 7CD

Blue dog Democrat Collin Peterson should easily win.

In Federal races, it is difficult to really change current trends months before an election. These races tend to be media dependent and less "activist" oriented. Though get out the vote efforts are still very important.

As far as local races go, we will see. It will be up to local candidates to ensure that they stay ( or become ) engaged with the residents of their district. Candidates who accurately reflect their community's needs stand the best chance to be chosen to serve.

Minneapolis School Board

The voters of Minneapolis always support DFL endorsed. My fave non-DFL candidate, Mary Buss, did not make it past the primary. However, Doug Mann did and is seeking Green Party endorsement. I still like Lydia Lee and Jill Davis. Anyone else will have to prove themselves, assuming I vote for a third candidate.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Primary Election 08

US Senate

Tomorrow is the all important primary, and have done a little homework. I have decided to support Jack Uldrich for U.S. Senate. He clearly stated in one ad that off-shore drilling is like giving more cocaine to a coke-head. Sounds like he knows more about our addiction to oil than the "major" two-parties. You won't hear Al Franken mention anything about our nation's addiction to oil, you'll only hear it from people like Jack. Franken simply wants to end our "dependence on foreign oil" which will never happen if we never cut consumption.

I was appalled listening to bits of the RNC, when delegates shouted "Drill here! Drill now!" How much oil can be drilled in Minnesota? How about off-shore oil in Lake Superior? I'll bet there is oil that has runoff into Lake Calhoun - but that doesn't mean we should drain the lake, process the water, to get whatever is in it. Thankfully, Minnesota has no shale oil or uranium. Our best local energy solutions are solar, geothermal, and wind. But I didn't hear any catchy slogans about these at either "major" party conventions this year.

The only Independence Party member who could beat Jack is former US Senator Dean Barkley. He spoke at the "Open the Debates" super rally with Ralph Nader, Rosa Clemente, Governor Jesse Ventura, and others. He has support of Jesse and former Congressman Tim Penny. He does have experience as a U.S. Senator, unlike Al Franken. We will see how both of them do in the primary tomorrow.

Minneapolis School Board

I have thought about this, read some discussions on e-mail and online. I intend to vote for Mary Buss, Jill Davis and Lydia Lee. Doug Mann's opinion on Curriculum Based Measurement (CBM) and Response To Intervention (RTI)literacy strategies is in the comments section. But both Doug Mann and Thomas Picks are perennial candiates for school board and other local offices. I don't think it should be discouraged for people to run for office, but it is a factor.

Judicial Offices - Associate Justice 3 :

For the Supreme Court Tim Tingelstad's website screams "extremist Christian", but he does believe in abiding by the Constitution. Something I rarely hear anyone talk about lately, being the Supreme Law of our land. Tim has a good point that having our judicial branch appointed by committee doesn't allow for accountability. He emphatically states: "The seats on the Supreme Court belong to the people of Minnesota, not to an individual, not to the governor, and not to committees. Our courts must be accountable to the people."

But My vote will be going to Alan Lawrence Nelson, because he's a Minnesotan with a worldview. He also has the experience necessary for the job.

Associate Justice 4 :

I personally like Jill Clark, who stated this about incumbent Lorie "Gildea votes overwhelmingly with Justice Barry Anderson. Justice Anderson is a well-developed jurist, but aligning so often with him indicates that Gildea is not." And I just liked her statements overall.

4th District Court - Judge 53 :

David Piper is running - and he called me just about an hour ago asking for my vote. I think he got a hold of some of the DFL candidate's supporter list. ( it's too easy to get on these, you just sign up as a supporter of say.... Al Franken ). It's tough to weed through six excellent candidates, but being a part of the DFL establishment doesn't bode well with me. I am most likely going to vote for Paula Brummel.

US House - CD5 :

No one. I am voting in the Independence Party primary, but have no intention of supporting their candidate.