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October2011.org

Can Obama be like Ike?

I’m guessing no:

In a series of recent reports, Pentagon experts and budget-cutters like Sen. Coburn have proposed cuts of $1 trillion — almost exactly the sum of the $420 billion from the first round of cuts and the $600 billion that would be triggered by the failure of the bipartisan commission. The striking similarity of the details of these reports, despite their authors’ radically differing political views, implies that it’s not so very hard to find
deep reductions in so massive an enterprise as the Defense Department.

All propose a reduction in both civilian and military personnel; a redeployment of forces now stationed in Europe and Asia; the cancellation or shrinkage of planned procurements for fighter aircraft, helicopters, aircraft carriers, and missile defense; reforms in military health care; and a downsizing of the nuclear weapons stockpile. Even after such cuts, the United States would still be spending as much as it ever did during the Cold War, when it was in perpetual conflict with the Soviet Union, which it deemed an existential threat to the West.
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Fannie and Freddie

It is, of course, an article of wingnut faith that Fannie and Freddie crashed the economy by helping undeserving black and brown people get mortgages. (Wall Street didn’t have a thing to do with it.) So if Obama actually implements such a proposal, it will trigger yet another wave of right-wing outrage:

President Obama has directed a small team of advisers to develop a proposal that would keep the government playing a major role in the nation’s mortgage market, extending a federal loan subsidy for most home buyers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The decision follows the advice of his senior economic and housing advisers, who favor maintaining the government’s role as an insurer of mortgages for most borrowers. The approach could even preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants owned by the government, although under different names and with significant new constraints, said people knowledgeable about the discussions.

A decision to preserve a major government role would mark a big milestone in the effort to craft a new housing policy from the wreckage of the mortgage meltdown and could mean a larger part for Fannie and Freddie than administration officials had signaled.

In a statement, the White House said it is premature to say that senior officials have agreed on any of the three main options outlined earlier this year in an administration white paper on reforming the housing finance system.

“It is simply false that there has been a decision to move forward with any particular option,” said Matt Vogel, a White House spokesman. “All three options remain under active consideration and we are deepening our analysis around how each would potentially be implemented. No recommendation has been made to the president by his economic advisers.”

But progressive economist Dean Baker hates the idea:

It would be difficult to find an economic rationale for this policy other than subsidizing the financial industry. The government can and does directly subsidize the purchase of homes through the mortgage interest deduction. This can be made more generous and better targeted toward low and moderate income families by capping it and converting it into a tax credit (e.g. all homeowners can deduct 15 percent of the interest paid on mortgages of $300,000 or less from their taxes).

There is no obvious reason to have an additional subsidy through the system of mortgage finance. Analysis by Mark Zandi showed that the subsidy provided by a government guarantee would largely translate into higher home prices. This would leave monthly mortgage payments virtually unaffected. The diversion of capital from elsewhere in the economy would mean slower economic growth and would kill jobs for auto workers, steel workers and other workers in the manufacturing sector.

Old home week

At Kweder’s open mike last night. Tom the Bomb, who I haven’t seen since high school, was there and he’s as anti-establishment as ever. Yo, Tom!

Plus, I’m sitting there watching these two guys play a while before I finally realize the guy on the Rickenbacker bass (very nice bass, by the way) is a local reporter who used to be a music critic back in the day.

My buddy Matt did another great set. He’s appearing at the World Cafe at the Queen in Wilmington Thursday night, in case you want to check him out.

Termination rights

Now, how do you suppose this battle’s going to turn out?

When copyright law was revised in the mid-1970s, musicians, like creators of other works of art, were granted “termination rights,” which allow them to regain control of their work after 35 years, so long as they apply at least two years in advance. Recordings from 1978 are the first to fall under the purview of the law, but in a matter of months, hits from 1979, like “The Long Run” by the Eagles and “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer, will be in the same situation — and then, as the calendar advances, every other master recording once it reaches the 35-year mark.

The provision also permits songwriters to reclaim ownership of qualifying songs. Bob Dylan has already filed to regain some of his compositions, as have other rock, pop and country performers like Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Waits and Charlie Daniels, according to records on file at the United States Copyright Office.
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Speaking of screwing your interns

CBS Sunday Morning, a show that used to have at least a veneer of social conscience, ran a free-market biased piece on unpaid internships this week. Among the things they didn’t mention: That unpaid internships are frequently illegal (and why), that schools actually charge the students for the academic credit (so you’re not only working for free, you’re paying for the privilege), and that we’re seeing even more of a class stratification in influential fields like the media and public policy, because poor and working class kids can’t really afford to take those high-status internships.

Maybe that’s why one of the CBS interns who worked on the piece (for a $50 a week stipend – barely enough to cover subway fare) had this to say: “I was really surprised by the fact that so many people are against internships being unpaid. There were a lot of people that I found who were like, ‘It’s illegal. It’s unfair.’ I was so surprised that so many people were saying that,” Berg said.

But instead, the piece turns into a bootstrap lecture where if you “think big” and “have the guts to start from the bottom,” you can work for free, become a consultant and live happily ever after!

Ladies and gentlemen, your librul media!

Asked if interns are getting a raw deal, he told Smith, “Absolutely they’re getting a raw deal, and they don’t even know it.”

Eisenbrey is vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit Washington think tank. Unpaid internships, he says, are taking paid jobs away from people who need them.
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Facing the victims

Are you thinking what I’m thinking – namely, that this British approach to last week’s London rioters might apply here? I wonder what would happen if Jamie Dimond and the rest of the boys had to sit down with the people whose lives they destroyed through their toxic financial games:

People convicted of last week’s rioting and looting who are not sent to prison will be forced to do community work in the areas affected by their behaviour, Nick Clegg will announce today.

The Ministry of Justice is to order the Probation Service to arrange for Community Payback orders to take place on projects associated with the damage caused in the disorder or in the places where it took place. Many will also be forced to meet the shopkeepers, homeowners and businessmen whose property was destroyed in the rioting in an attempt to bring home the consequences of their actions.

Mr Clegg will today become the last major party leader to contribute to the debate on the causes and consequences of the rioting and will attempt to stamp a Liberal Democrat identity on the Government’s overall response. Aides said the idea was to ensure that first-time offenders did not get “sucked into” repeat offending as a result of taking part in the riots, but had a chance of rehabilitation.

“Clearly some people are going to go to prison, but this is about ensuring that those who don’t, contribute to the areas where they’ve caused the damage and those communities can see that they’re doing that,” said one senior Liberal Democrat aide. “We also don’t want to create repeat offenders. Meeting victims has proved to be a very effective way of ensuring that people face up to the consequences of their actions and that’s what we want to see happening.”

Health care law

1) I’m pretty sure I won’t be covered.
2) I’ll probably be eligible, but will get nowhere near enough of a subsidy to make it affordable.
3) Wheeee!!!!

Danny’s all-star joint

Rickie Lee:

Water.org

Matt Damon:

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