US Political Financial Reform Suggestions

April 6, 2010


Why the Fight for Financial Reform Needs to Get Much More Personal


Yet, when it comes to selling financial reform, Democrats are making the same mistake all over again. The nuts and bolts of the legislation — which are even harder for the public to get its head around than they were with health care — are being given a full airing in Congress, on op-ed pages and blogs, and on TV. And these devilish details — capital requirement levels, proprietary trading restrictions, the independence of the proposed consumer financial protection agency, etc., etc. — are critical. They are critical because it was getting them wrong that promoted the devastation in people’s lives we now see around the country. But the human element is once again getting short shrift.

This is a big-time blunder. Ask the proverbial men and women on the street where they stand on the Volcker Rule, and watch their eyes glaze over. The administration needs to make it clear: we don’t need to overhaul our financial system because the Wall Street sandbox has gotten a little messy, and bank CEO bonuses have gotten too big. We need to overhaul our financial system to make sure that system isn’t rigged to destroy the lives of millions of middle class Americans who worked hard, played by the rules, and ended up holding the short end of the stick when the big banks drove our economy over the edge of the cliff… Read more by Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

This is a great and thoroughly realistic appraisal of the US political situation — and the perpetuated Democratic mistakes — combined with sound suggestions aiming at what the administration ought to do better.

Supplementary: Global Haplifnet – vanguard topics

 haplif – Frank Kalder (HuffPost profile/comments)


Barack Obama’s first State of the Union speech

January 28, 2010


Excerpt – For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don’t understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded but hard work on Main Street isn’t, or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it. Not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope what they deserve is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences, to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories and different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills, a chance to get ahead. Most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They’re coaching Little League and helping their neighbors. As one woman wrote me, ”We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged.”

It is because of this spirit, this great decency and great strength that I have never been more hopeful about America’s future than I am tonight. Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength… Full text at New York Times

HuffPost comment (excerpt):

While most State of the Union speeches have a bit of a kitchen-sink feel to them, this one seemed particularly so with its blink-and-you-missed-it mentions of “earmark reform” and cracking “down on violations of equal pay laws — so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.” It felt less like an overriding vision for the country, and more like an attempt to deliver at least one applause line for every constituency in the country.

That’s not political leadership. Obama clearly understands this. It’s why he ended his speech by mocking politicians who “do what’s necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what’s best for the next generation.” And he just as clearly has the ability to articulate a bold vision for the nation and lead it where it desperately needs to go… By Arianna Huffington

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Barack Obama proposed restricting the big U.S. banks

January 22, 2010


The new proposal from Obama intends to limit speculation by commercial banks and to keep financial institutions from growing so big that they pose a risk to the economic system.

“When you see more and more of the financial sector basically churning transactions and engaging in reckless speculation and obscuring underlying risks in a way that makes a few people obscene amounts of money but doesn’t add value to the economy — and in fact puts the entire economy at enormous risk — then something’s got to change,” Obama said in an interview released yesterday by Time magazine.

Obama has branded bank executives as “fat cats” and proposed a fee on large banks to cover shortfalls in the government’s $700 billion financial rescue fund.

Expanding on earlier measures, Obama endorsed Volcker’s proposal to restrict proprietary trading by commercial banks. That would separate commercial banks from investment banks, a line blurred a decade ago by the repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act.

This restriction would affect some of the biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs and Citigroup Inc. … Read more at Huffington Post (VIDEO embedded)

The U.S. and the global community have come through a terrible financial crisis. A high price was paid particularly by the American people. Of course, it simply cannot be returned to business as usual.

Supplementary: Global Haplifnet – vanguard topics  

haplif – Frank Kalder (HuffPost profile/comments)

Barack Obama to impose a ‘responsibiliy’ tax

January 16, 2010


Fannie and Freddie are exempt from the White House banker ‘fee’.

The White House has spent months imploring banks to lend more money, so will President Obama’s new proposal to extract $117 billion from bank capital encourage new bank lending?

Just asking. Welcome to one more installment in Washington’s year-long crusade to revive private business by assailing and soaking it.

Barack Obama’s new “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee” – please don’t call it a tax – is being sold as a way to cover expected losses in the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). That sounds reasonable, except that the banks designated to pay the fee aren’t those responsible for the losses. With the exception of Citigroup, those banks have repaid their TARP money with interest.

The real TARP losers – General Motors, Chrysler and delinquent mortgage borrowers – are exempt from the new tax. Why the auto companies? An Administration official told the Journal that the banks caused the crisis that doomed the auto companies, which apparently were innocent bystanders to their own bankruptcy. The fact that the auto companies remain wards of Washington no doubt has nothing to do with their free tax pass… Read more at the Wall Street Journal

haplif – Frank Kalder  (Global Haplifnet)

Obama’s allocation of more troops to Afghanistan [VIDEO]

December 2, 2009


Barack Obama hopes to start transferring U.S. forces out of Afghanistan in July 2011.

The U.S. will send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the next seven months “so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers,” Obama said in his speech. Some of the new troops will help train Afghan security forces to “create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.” U.S. forces could begin to leave as security responsibilities are transferred to the Afghans. Obama said he hopes to start transferring U.S. forces out of Afghanistan in July 2011… (CNN + Speech VIDEO)

NATO nations nod along with Obama’s speech but may not meet his request for more troops.

Though generally welcoming the promised buildup of American troops to Afghanistan, Europe is likely to present President Obama with a mixed bag of responses to his request that allies step up their own deployments.

Some European leaders say that their countries are already stretched to the limit militarily and that growing public opposition to the war severely restricts their options.

In France, headlines trumpeted President Nicolas Sarkozy’s “flat refusal” to meet a reported request for 1,500 more soldiers.

Germany remains ambivalent about sending more forces because of souring domestic opinion over the war and public criticism of a German-ordered NATO airstrike in September that killed more than 100 insurgents and Afghan civilians…. Read more at Los Angeles Times

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

U.S. & China prospected emission-reduction goals

November 20, 2009


The Obama administration is likely to offer emission-reduction targets at next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen, as long as the Chinese offer a proposal of their own.

U.S. reluctance to set a short-term emissions goal has been a sticking point in the U.N.-sponsored talks for nearly a year. Almost all industrialized nations, and many developing countries, have announced plans to curb their greenhouse-gas output by 2020. Neither the United States nor China — which is not obligated to do so under the U.N. framework, even though it ranks as the world’s biggest emitter — has done so, thereby hampering the prospects of an agreement… Read more at the Washington Post

Package of energy projects

During talks in Beijing, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao endorsed a package of energy projects, including deals on clean coal and electric vehicles. Environmental analysts say the talks offer new hope the two countries will soon offer targets on emissions reduction… Read more at American Voice

Supplementary: Previous coverage on Obama’s China visit

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)

Barack Obama in China – Shanghai & Beijing

November 17, 2009


Handpicked audience in Shanghai

Barack Obama held a historic town hall with around 500 Chinese students in Shanghai yesterday in which he discussed how the free flow of information actually makes countries stronger. The town hall was a more subdued affair than similar events in the States; as the New York Times noted, “the audience seemed handpicked by the government and many were members of the Communist Youth League, which is closely affiliated with President Hu Jintao.”… More at HuffPost (PHOTOS)  

Obama and China’s Hu Jintao pledge stronger ties

The two presidents agree to cooperate on nuclear and climate issues. But differences over trade and human rights are also evident at the meeting in Beijing (Los Angeles Times)  

haplif – Frank Kalder (Global Haplifnet)