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Politics and Media Headlines 2/20/09

Caro's picture

Their turn to protest. I wonder if they were kept out of the president’s view, as the Bush protesters were.
More than 500 protest Obama's arrival (East Valley Tribune)
Presidential protesters made their voices heard in chants and signs Wednesday outside Dobson High School… They held their signs up high: "Don't tread on me," "Spend all you want, I'll pick up the tab," "I'll keep my freedom! You keep the change!" "Free fertility drugs now." And "B.O. smells and so does Socialism."

GOP governors consider turning down stimulus money (AP)
A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment. Though none has outright rejected the money available for education, health care and infrastructure, the governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho have all questioned whether the $787 billion bill signed into law this week will even help the economy.
Turn down the money. Uh huh.—Caro

Kit Bond Touts Effects Of Stimulus Bill He Voted Against (Think Progress)
Last week, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) slammed President Obama’s recovery and reinvestment plan… “Unfortunately, this bill stimulates the debt, it stimulates the growth of government, but it doesn’t stimulate jobs,” Bond insisted. However, [this week] Bond is touring Missouri to tout the very stimulus plan he railed against. In a press release, Bond boasted about an amendment he included in the bill to provide more funding for affordable housing — and that will create jobs… Bond is not alone in trying to reap the political benefits both from voting against the bill and from bringing much needed funding to his district.

Assumptions (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
WaPo's Michael Shear…: “Because the Republicans largely abandoned the stimulus bill, the Democrats are the ones that will own it -- for good or ill.”… Democrats may "own" the stimulus, but Republicans share ownership of the fact that it wasn't bigger. If the stimulus doesn't work, and insufficient spending turns out to be the reason, Republicans will own a large share of the blame.
Yes, but what the American people believe about who may be at fault depends almost entirely on what’s said by the media mavens who are constitutionally predisposed to blame Democrats for everything that’s bad, and to praise Republicans at all times.—Caro

Insufficient Boldness (by Simon Johnson, a Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management and a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, writing at The New Republic)
[A] definite advantage of [Obama’s homeowner rescue] plan is that it should help unblock the problem of securitization trusts. Housing loans that were "bundled" together into mortgage-backed securities have been hard to restructure, because no one has clear authority to negotiate on behalf of thousands of dispersed investors… The Obama plan is certainly better than the inaction that preceded it, and it signals that some unproductive ideology has quietly dropped away. Unfortunately, it feels like being vaccinated only after already contracting a disease; you would much rather be offered a potential cure. That cure would be expensive--particularly if it involved more money to support the modification of non-Fannie/Freddie mortgages--and it might not work. But there is little to be gained at this stage from being insufficiently bold.

A Step in the Right Direction (by James Kwak at Baseline Scenario
I agree that the main concern is that the plan does not go far enough. This is because the main proposal for struggling homeowners is to provide cash incentives to lenders… So I think that the Obama team has to be ready to sweeten the pot later - or take other, more aggressive measures - if this plan does not have the desired effect. Of course, if they were going to do that, they wouldn’t announce it now (because you don’t want lenders just to hold out for the next round of larger bonuses). So maybe that is the plan. But on balance I think most of what is in the plan is helpful. If only it had come, say, twelve months ago. (Political Wire)
The Obama administration set up a web site to show how the economic stimulus money is spent, state-by-state.

Obama Allies Launch New Ad Touting Stim Package As “First Step On Road To Recovery” (by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line)
A Democratic operative sends over the new ad that Obama’s allies on the left — AFSCME and the labor-backed Americans United for Change — have just launched touting the benefits of the stimulus package President Obama signed… The ad touts the stim package as “the first step on the road to recovery.” This forward-looking formulation is yet another reminder that the political war over the package is only just starting. In the months ahead, Obama and Dems will be working to solidify public perceptions that the bill is righting the economy, while Republicans try to cast it as failing.
Click through to watch the ad. We’re on the right track with ads like this, but it may not be enough. The right wingers are way ahead of us in outlets and spokespersons, some of whom will lie and make hugely inaccurate comparisons to demean their opponents. See below.—Caro

Fox & Friends asks: "Are we headed towards Socialism?" (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Hannity declares recovery bill "a liberal hijacking of the American way of life" (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Special Report takes a "fair and balanced look" at whether the recovery plan is "socialism" (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Doocy claims "administration is talking down the economy" so that "anything up is up" (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)

Cunningham suggests Obama should "resign the Presidency" if stimulus fails (video at County Fair, Media Matters for America)
Right. The way Bush did when we saw that there were no WMDs in Iraq.—Caro

Michelle Malkin takes photo with man holding swastika Obama sign (County Fair, Media Matters for America)
The man with the sign isn't professing his affinity for Nazis. He isn't even identifying himself as a Nazi. The swastika in question has a circle around it forming an O and the rest of the sign reads "BAMA". Get it? Obama is a Nazi.

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Carolyn Kay

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Submitted by lambert on

Click through to the story on those protesters. Jeebus.

Caro's picture
Submitted by Caro on

Just discouraged for a while.

It happens from time to time.

Submitted by jawbone on

on the part of Obama/WH econ team, seemingly premised on desire to keep the Big Bankster Boiz big and fat cats fat (or at least not slimmed too much).

The NYTimes has an article which talks about Obama and his team's desire to keep the bondholders "whole" and to not suffer losses:

Most banks no longer hold the loans they make, content to collect interest until the debt comes due. Instead, the loans are bundled into securities that are sold to investors, a process known as securitization.

But the securitization markets broke down last summer after investors suffered steep losses on these investments. So banks and other finance companies can no longer shift loans off their books easily, throttling their ability to lend.

The result has been a drastic contraction of the amount of credit available throughout the economy. By one estimate, as much as $1.9 trillion of lending capacity — the rough equivalent of half of all the money borrowed by businesses and consumers in 2007, before the recession struck — has been sucked out of the system.

Banking chiefs, who have come under sharp criticism for not making more loans even as they have accepted billions of taxpayer dollars to prop themselves up, say it is the markets, not the banks, that are squeezing American borrowers.

The Obama administration hopes to jump-start this crucial machinery by effectively subsidizing the profits of big private investment firms in the bond markets. The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve plan to spend as much as $1 trillion to provide low-cost loans and guarantees to hedge funds and private equity firms that buy securities backed by consumer and business loans. [With what kind of regulatory controls and demands for transparency from esp'ly hedge funds, notoriously opaque operations?]

The Fed is expected to start the first phase of the program, which will provide $200 billion in loans to investors, in early March.

But analysts question whether this approach will be enough to unlock the credit that the economy needs to pull out of a deepening recession. Some worry it may benefit only select investors at taxpayer expense. [Ya think?]

The program also does not try to change securitization practices that, many investors say, spread risks throughout the world and destroyed financial institutions. Policy makers acknowledge that for now, fixing credit ratings, reducing conflicts of interest and improving disclosure can wait. [My emphasis--all of it.]

Obama's new head of the SEC has stated she will not go after the ratings agencies. WTF? [I must find that link.]

Submitted by lambert on

Utter crap. Great link.

Why don't we just turn the banks into regulated public utilities?

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I was having a discussion about the seeming double speak from Obama and there is almost no knowledge of Obama's role in passing the first bill, or his crappy watered down approaches since he's been president. Obama says one good thing and that's all people talk about--they rarely hear, see or read the details.

I happen to think Obama can be made to do the best thing, but not if he's still treated as a demigod who can do no wrong by his staunch supporters. And then to see his wrong doing justified. Obama has a lot of political capital he can use to do some very positive stuff, but he's not using it.

Caro's picture
Submitted by Caro on

... we had to push him--to vote against Roberts, to agree to a filibuster against Alito, to speak out about Jena, etc. etc. etc.

inna's picture
Submitted by inna on

this is just absolutely maddening though! this is the worst kind of trickle down economics. where is outrage?? it seems that the general populace is simply unaware of what is being done in our name.

wtf, Obama??? what total crookery, this is just disgusting.

Submitted by jawbone on

In a post also noting the lack of specificity and actual plans from Geithner, Jane noted a Financial Times aritcle which reports (with some unnamed SEC sources) no actual plans to regulate the Moody's, et al. Investigation? Maybe sometime in the future....

Via a good Ian Walsh piece on this economic downturn being no black swan, worth a read in itself.

Note: When I located the link it worked for me to get into the complete FT article, but now I can't get in. Must have used up my 3/month free articles.... You may have better luck. Shoulda copied the pertinent parts when I first found it....drat.