Archive for June 2009
Bob Woodward’s Maestro, a history of Alan Greenspan’s regime at the Fed through the turbulent 90’s, was written 10 full years ago, yet reading it today, it is startlingly familiar territory. All the issues, arguments, and solutions which we think are new to the financial market since the collapse were actually rehearsed – over and over again – during various Financial crises while Greenspan was the Fed’s Chair. It’s all there – bailouts, “too big to fail”, threats to the vulnerable global economy, taxpayer rescues – everything except any mention of derivatives.
From the morning in August 1987 when Greenspan chaired his first FOMC meeting (the Fed board’s actual name is, significantly, the Federal Open Market Committee) he seemed to be dealing with one crisis after another. When he took over the economy was in the dumper brought about by the first Bush; when he was finally replaced by Ben Bernanke 3 years ago, he left having watched over the second Bush while he flushed the vibrant Clinton economy down the toilet, an economy that Greenspan – according to himself as reported by Woodward, at least – did a great deal to help create. And in each of those instances – from the savings & loan crisis to the currency crises of Mexico, Asia, and Russia to the LTCM crisis – there was a single cause: exceedingly dangerous financial speculation, not by fly-by-night hucksters and shady traders but by the biggest financial instutions in the world.
Once upon a time a Russian expatriot who hated the Soviets because they destroyed her father’s pharmaceutical business emigrated to the United States and wrote a few books about how wonderful money and the people who make it and spend it are. She postulated a “philosophy” called “Objectivism” that 15 yr-olds with untreatable acne and rich people who fancied themselves Masters of the Universe found fascinating and rewarding. This “philosophy”, by her own definition, was one that was built around the concept of man as a heroic figure as long as he was making a lot of money and a useless wimp who was a boil on the ass of the universe if he wasn’t. Perhaps that explains its appeal to the two groups mentioned above.
I’m getting a bit confused. On hand #1 Obama says he thinks we need a “public health option” if for no other reason than to take care of the people the insurance companies don’t want. On hand #2, his HHS Sec, Kathleen Sibelius, told NPR yesterday that all public health options are “off the table”, that they ought to be because single payer is “a bad direction to go” and, furthermore (just in case the insurance companies Rahm wants donating to the Democrats next year had any doubts or fears) that the president – the president elected by the people who are the 60+% percent who want single payer – has no plans at all to create one. None. (Via DCblogger at corrente)
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that a single-payer option is not on the table.
“This is not a trick. This is not single-payer,” Sebelius told Steve Inskeep. She added: “That’s not what anyone is talking about — mostly because the president feels strongly, as I do, that dismantling private health coverage for the 180 million Americans that have it, discouraging more employers from coming into the marketplace, is really the bad, you know, is a bad direction to go.”
Asked if the administration’s program will be drafted specifically to prevent it from evolving into a single-payer plan, Sebelius says: “I think that’s very much the case, and again, if you want anybody to convince people of that, talk to the single-payer proponents who are furious that the single-payer idea is not part of the discussion.”
The single payer option exists primarily as a threat (which is what we said it was), a stalking horse to scare the health insurance companies into line, Sibelius confirmed, even though she admitted that Medicare shows a real public option is demonstrably cheaper. Read the rest of this entry »
OK, so you can’t generalize too much nationally from the fucked up politics of NY state but otoh this is such a shining example of the state of the Democratic party that it’s howling for attention. Two NY Blue Dog Dems just voted with their GOP colleagues to turn the leadership of the Democrat-controlled Senate over to the Pubs. To quote Rosalind Russell, “Ain’t it perfect?”
Republicans regained control of the New York State Senate on Monday afternoon, winning support from two dissident Democrats in a surprise power-sharing deal. The sudden coup effectively ended Democratic control of Albany after five months and allowed Dean G. Skelos of Long Island to reclaim the title of majority leader, replacing Malcolm A. Smith of Queens.
The raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Mr. Espada and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a series of parliamentary maneuvers. Democrats tried to stall, storming from the chamber and even turning off the lights, but Republicans continued the session and elected new leadership.
Both Mr. Espada and Mr. Monserrate said they still considered themselves Democrats.
“Why?” is the question. Not “Why did they do it?” That question is easily answered, at least in the case of Mr Espada.
The shakeup also left Pedro Espada Jr., a Bronx Democrat, as president of the Senate….
Tom Golisano, the Rochester billionaire who recently announced he was moving to Florida because of New York’s high taxes, played a major role in brokering the deal.
Nothing like a little bribery to liven up your day. Or some pressure from a pissed off billionaire who thinks his taxes are too high. Never mind that he thinks the fact that he has to pay any taxes at all is a shame and a disgrace because he’s so special.
As for example (Gary Varvel, the Indianapolis Star):
Actually, considering the way their ideas work out maybe it’s better they don’t have any.