Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bailout Bill Fails

In a blow to Paulsen and the Bush administration, Congress voted down the 700 billion dollar bailout package. I'm not really sure how to feel about that -- on the one hand I'm glad that Congress saw that bailing out a corrupt Wall Street was a heavy-handed move against the American taxpayer, and on the other is the worry-wart wondering if Congress is about to propel us into Great Depression II.

For the most part I am willing to suck it up and accept a bailout of Wall Street, sure the large banks of America are to blame for this mess (bad government policies may have opened the door, but bad banking decisions shoved us through the door) if banks keep tanking it will make all of our lives far worse off. I think that this bailout needs to be a little more even handed to home-owners who are actually suffering from the sub-prime mortgage debacle. For example in markets of declining value, I would suggest allowing homeowners to go the Fed in situations where they have an un-refinancible mortgage. The only help for suffering homeowners that the bailout package provided (at least to my understanding) is to help homeowners keep their homes if they land in bankruptcy -- if banks can be bailed out of bad debts well before bankruptcy becomes an issue distressed homeowners should have the same opportunity.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Republicans may not have voted the package down because of its merits, but because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California). Apparently the Speaker gave a highly partisan address before the vote which angered allot of the Republican lawmakers. In her speech she laid blame for the crisis almost solely on the President and the Republican party. I hope you are thinking.....WHAT THE HELL! Basically, we may be hanging on the thread of the first depression in seven to eight decades and the reason our lawmakers fail to act is Partisanship. I would be fine with the package being voted down due to the bills poor conception, but voting it down because Ms. Pelosi offended the ego of the elephant party is unacceptable and an indictment of the collapsing two party system. I long for a system and leaders who are most concerned about the good of the nation and not the good of the party.

Maybe the time has come for some kind of abolishment of the two party system in elections, I'm not saying outlawing the Republican or Democratic parties, I'm arguing we end party affiliations for elected officials. I mean when we vote, there is no more R and D by the candidates names -- instead of the R & D, a synopsis of the ideals that each candidate supports and plans for how to make our nations and communities better. I guess I'm thinking of a political system kind of like Dr. Seuss's "The Sneetches," if you have never read it I suggest you go to your library and check it out -- it might be the best way to end the partisan bickering and bottlenecks that keep plaguing Washington.

Heaven Help our Leaders Grow Up!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Economy -- Where should the blame lie?

At Political Civility, Lyall is discussing the economy, government bailouts, and financial regulation. He infers that if elected Barack Obama will over increase regulation (somehow missing the past several hundred billion dollars the Bush administration has expended in market intervention) and Democrats will push more government intervention into the market, and that doing so will reek disastrous results. While I'm no fan of over-regulation, I'm even less a fan of the Treasury Department throwing cash at a banking industry that has proved incapable of making prudent lending decisions over the past decade.

In rebut to a comment blaming Republicans he points out theories that the subprime mortgage market was sparked by well-intended Carter/Clinton policies regarding the Carter-era Community Redevelopment Act, and therefore the blame for the current market woes falls (not wholly, but in part) with the Democrats. This was later brilliantly impeached by bekkieann who pointed out that it was lenders misuse of the deregulation provided by the CDA that has led to the current crisis:

"Clearly lenders took a concept intended to help low-income people and extended that concept to those who did not need that type of financing, and a lot of people got way in over their heads.
Do you know anyone who had/has an ARM? What income bracket are they in? I know some in my own income bracket. We are not poor.
Deregulation allowed lenders to perpetrate this financing scam on Americans who were eager to live beyond their means. "

In the current situation, increased regulation is warranted and deserved on a banking industry that failed to perform due diligence in lending practices for the past several years. Bailouts of the banking industry, without stringently increased lending regulations is an offense to the American taxpayer footing the bill. (For starters, make sure mortgage originators are qualified to evaluate a customer's ability to repay, objectives in obtaining financing, and matching proper mortgage products to their customers -- Stock brokers need to prove their competency in these respects and individuals suggesting mortgage products should be have these same demonstrable competencies.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Economy -- Who will take the lead?

The past few days have been unnerving to say the least. The size and number government bailouts that have happened over the last few months is incredible. One of the largest and once most stable investment banks has filed bankruptcy, AIG has become a US Government subsidiary, and other once rock solid financial institutions are teetering on the brink of collapse and to be honest I'm quite worried that a depression (I admit I'm being over dramatic) may be on the horizon. For me and many Americans this election is quickly becoming about one issue, which party will (if possible) avert economic catastrophe.

Our federal government has been feverishly trying to prop up failing financial institutions, and these bailouts have helped stabilize the disastrous effects of the subprime mortgage market collapse. However, with the latest 85 billion dollar bailout the question needs to be asked how much more can the nation expend on bailouts? It is an ominous sign that the Treasury Department is having to insert itself into the market on a regular basis just to keep the banking industry afloat. It appears that if the invisible hand was allowed to work without government interference, our economy would be in shambles.

Unfortunately, neither candidate for chief executive appears to have or be talking about how they will turn this around. Obama seems to get the severity of the situation better than McCain, while McCain has proposed a commission to solve the financial crisis while claiming that the fundamentals of the economy are strong (I don't blame McCain -- while his career background scores high on the bravery and heroism scale, his scholastic record isn't exactly stellar regarding subjects like economics or even mathematics)

I'm leaning towards Obama on ability to lead our nation out of imminent economic disaster. While the Republican mantra of tax cuts are good and great, they don't combine well with a federal government that is swimming in debt, fighting wars on two fronts, and (seemingly) propping up the entire nation's financial system. McCain's unsettling continued use of the "strong economic fundamentals"line isn't helping ease my concerns that he isn't the sharpest tack on the economy.

While in 2004 I was concerned about the best leader in the war on terror and Iraq, in 2008 staying the course is the least of my concerns.

Sarah Palin Baby Name Game

One of my biggest issues with Sarah Palin is her Child Naming Convention. Well now you can have an orginal Palin-esque name!

Mine is Slicer Mission Palin! I might use this one for child number 4 -- at least I'll suggest it for craps and giggles.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nice Try, But I Don't Think So

Obama has actually contended that he has more executive experience than Sarah Palin because of running his presidential campaign.

“Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years,”

McCain's campaign called the statement laughable, and I agree. While Obama's campaign has accumulated a large financial war chest, and he has been able to recruit a large following of volunteers, that is a far different story from running a state or the federal government. Sorry Obama, spending money on one massive program (your candidacy) doesn't hold a candle to the responsibility of funding the myriads of programs that states run without having to raise taxes or run deficits. The fact that Obama makes this comparison, might be quite revealing of just how naive and inexperienced Obama is.

You can spend money, that doesn't mean you can manage the Federal budget responsibly.

Palin -- Maybe I was a little harsh.

Okay, maybe my last post was a tad harsh regarding Sarah Palin as the VP pick. There is still one issue with which I'm not comfortable about her, (i.e. the ethics investigation underway in Alaska) but I think she may actually be the perfect addition to the McCain ticket. I've listened to some her recent campaign speeches and she seems quite eloquent but more importantly she seems more than pleasant, a wonderful contrast to her Democratic opponent the ever mouthy Sen. Biden. She has held executive office more than any of the candidates for President or VP, although in a small state it is executive experience nonetheless. It is true that she lacks foreign policy experience, but it should be noted that governors seldom do have extensive foreign policy experience and that lack of experience hasn't stopped the American voter from electing governors to the Presidency nor do I expect that it should stop voters from electing Mrs. Palin as VP.

While I assume the accusations in the her current ethics investigation will be found merit less, I do have concerns that it taints her image as a fighter of corruption and I'm sure that the Dem Duo will (if they feel necessary) use that against her. However as a whole, I think this is the only legitimate negative that overshadows Mrs. Palin's VP nomination. The biggest illegitimate issue I have with Mrs. Palin are the names of her children -- Track and Trig? Are those Biblical names, or European?

I think the upcoming debates (assuming there will be a VP debate) will be interesting to see how she handles Biden. My prediction (hope) is that Biden will try and monopolize the debate with verbose orations and shrill accusations trying to link McCain/Palin to Bush/Cheney, while Mrs Palin will focus on issues and pleasantly win the debate. While I'm cautiously optimistic regarding Mrs. Palin, she is a far more desirable VP than Senator Biden.