Government Regulation

Obama pledges to protect Net Neutrality rules

November 9, 2011

“President Barack Obama pledged to veto a congressional measure that would overturn new U.S. Internet traffic rules, his staff tweeted to his Twitter account on Wednesday.

Adopted by a divided Federal Communications Commission last December, the Internet rules forbid broadband providers from blocking legal content while leaving flexibility for providers to manage their networks.

Republicans have criticized the rules, slated to go into effect November 20, as needless government regulation of the Internet that represents an unprecedented power grab by the FCC.

A Senate resolution to disapprove the rules is being debated on the Senate floor on Wednesday. A vote on the measure is expected on Thursday. A similar measure passed 240-179 in the Republican-led House of Representatives in April.”

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Senator Corker (TN-R) introduces legislation to ‘unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

November 9, 2011

“U.S. Senator Bob Corker has introduced legislation to unwind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that have drawn more than $150 billion in taxpayer aid since the 2008 subprime lending collapse.

In a press release, the Tennessee Republican said the bill introduced today is intended to start a conversation about how best to rebuild the U.S. housing market.

“We are no closer to transitioning Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac off government life support than the day the firms were taken under direct government control,” Corker said. “We’re introducing this bill to lay down a marker and get a conversation going that Washington has put off for far too long.”

The legislation is similar to a package of bills being considered by House lawmakers. The Senate Banking Committee has not scheduled a hearing on the bill.”

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Bachmann: “Unfortunately for too many Republicans, they also aspire to be frugal socialists”

November 9, 2011

“Speaking to about 50 Republicans and more than a dozen reporters at the socially conservative Family Research Council in Washington, Bachmann targeted unnamed GOP opponents in terms she usually reserves for Democrats.

“Unfortunately for too many Republicans, they also aspire to be frugal socialists,” she said, apparently targeting GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. “The reason President Obama and some Republicans can get behind socialized medicine is because they share the same core political philosophy about the purpose of government.”

“We cannot preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity if the choice in next November is between a frugal socialist and an out-of-control socialist,” she added, the latter phrase a reference to Obama.”

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In S.E.C. Fraud Cases, Banks are remaking broken promises expecting Americans to believe them

November 9, 2011

“Citigroup is far from the only such repeat offender — in the eyes of the S.E.C. — on Wall Street. Nearly all of the biggest financial companies, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America among them, have settled fraud cases by promising the S.E.C. that they would never again violate an antifraud law, only to do it again in another case a few years later.

A New York Times analysis of enforcement actions during the last 15 years found at least 51 cases in which 19 Wall Street firms had broken antifraud laws they had agreed never to breach.

On Wednesday, Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, an S.E.C. critic, is scheduled to review the Citigroup settlement. Judge Rakoff has asked the agency what it does to ensure companies do not repeat the same offense, and whether it has ever brought contempt charges for chronic violators. The S.E.C. said in a court filing Monday that it had not brought any contempt charges against large financial firms in the last 10 years.”

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During Obama’s tenure, big banks have become bigger and Wall Street has profited more under Obama than it did under the entire Bush administration

November 6, 2011

“President Obama calls people who work on Wall Street “fat cat bankers” and his reelection campaign will try to harness public frustration with Wall Street. Financial executives, for their part, say the president’s pursuit of new financial regulations are punitive and “holding us back.”

But both sides face an inconvenient fact. During Obama’s tenure, Wall Street has roared back even as the larger economy has struggled.

The largest banks are larger today than when Obama took office and are returning to the level of profits they were making before the depths of the financial crisis in 2008, according to government data.

Wall Street firms — either independent companies or the high-flying trading arms of banks — are doing even better. They’ve made more profit in the first 21 / 2 years of the Obama administration than they did during the entire Bush administration, industry data show.

Behind this turnaround are government policies that saved the financial sector from collapse and then gave banks and other financial firms huge advantages on the path to recovery. For example, the federal government invested hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in banks, money that the firms used for risky investments on which they made huge profits.”

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Romney manages to unveil Medicare reform without much scrutiny or controversy

November 6, 2011

“Mitt Romney has out-maneuvered Rick Perry in the effort to surreptitiously embrace an overhaul of Medicare reform — a top goal of conservative elites — without drawing too much attention or criticism in the Republican presidential primary.

Romney unveiled the outline of his Medicare plan on Thursday and Friday as part of a larger proposal to cut spending and the federal budget deficit. Perry included his Medicare plan a week ago — which was less detailed than Romney’s — in a rollout that focused on his tax reform plan.

Perry stepped all over his entitlement reforms by emphasizing his optional 20 percent flat tax idea, almost to the exclusion of everything else. His recommendations for Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid got some attention from conservative policy wonks and journalists in the days that followed, but very little otherwise.”

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Mitt Romney’s Fiscal Plan means cutting Federal Programs and may lead to significant changes to Social Security and Medicare

November 6, 2011

Among the elements in Romney’s plan:
-Cap federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product (it was 24.3 percent last year), which would require spending cuts of approximately $500 billion per year in 2016, assuming the economy grows about about 4 percent annually. (The US grew by 2.8 percent in 2010.) The plan would also reverse defense cuts in Obama administration budgets.
-Cut nonsecurity discretionary spending to below 2008 levels by cutting such spending 5 percent across the board.
-Privatize Amtrak, saving $1.6 billion.
-Reduce subsidies for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Legal Services Corporation, saving $600 Million.
-Eliminate Title X family planning funding that benefits groups like Planned Parenthood, saving $300 million.
-Reduce foreign aid by $100 million, particularly to countries the US borrows money from, including China.
-Reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition, align federal employee compensation with the private sector, and repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, which, according to Romney, “forces the government to pay above-market wages, insulating labor unions from competition and driving up project costs by approximately 10 percent.”

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CBS 60 Minutes Reporter Steve Kroft stuns Speaker Boehner, former Speaker Pelosi with questions on their personal investments

November 4, 2011

Q: Madam Leader, I wanted to ask you why you and your husband back in March of 2008 accepted and participated in a very large IPO deal from Visa at a time there was major legislation affecting the credit card companies making its way through the House. Did you consider that to be a conflict of interest?

Leader Pelosi. I don’t know what your point is of your question. Is there some point that you want to make with that?

Q: Well, I guess what I am asking is do you think it is all right for a Speaker to accept a very preferential, favorable stock deal?

Leader Pelosi. Well, we didn’t.

Q: At a time when there is major legislation affecting that company in the House?

Leader Pelosi. Well, first of all let me say this. What we are talking about is an industry. What we are talking about is a Congress that passed more protections for credit card holders. The [Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights] bill, you know Carolyn Maloney has been our champion on, to the point where the industry spent $3 million to try to defeat her last time.

So the issue that you are talking about, first of all, what you are contending is not true. But second of all, we are very proud of our record of what happened.

Now, what Congressman or Senator Durbin was able to do in the Senate is quite remarkable, and when he was able to achieve that, then it was on this same issue, it was included by our Chairman Barney Frank in the bill.

Q: Mr. Boehner, do you believe that members of Congress, particularly members of the leadership should be allowed to trade in stocks at a time when the companies they’re trading have major interests before the body?

Boehner: I think there are plenty of rules of the House and certainly rules from the SEC that members should follow and I believe do follow.

Q: You made a number of trades going back to the health care debate; you bought some insurance stock right before you declared the public option dead. Did you make those trades based on non-public information?

Boehner: I have not made any decisions on day-to-day trading activities in my account and haven’t for years – I do not do it, haven’t done it and would not do it.

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Freddie Mac posts $4.4 billion loss, sparking the company to ask the federal government for a $6 billion loan

November 4, 2011

“The government-owned company said it lost $4.4 billion in the third quarter, a big increase from a $2.5 billion loss in the year-ago period.

Low sale prices on foreclosed homes in its inventory, low mortgage rates on its refinanced loans, and losses on derivative investments continued to drain cash from the lender that the government rescued in 2008.

The company warned of further weakness ahead as the pace of foreclosure sales picks up.

Freddie Mac has already drawn $72.2 billion in taxpayer funds and needs extra public money to cover its latest loss plus a $1.6 billion dividend payment to the U.S. Treasury.”

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Insurance Company AIG posts largest loss, $4.1 billion, since 2009

November 4, 2011

“Bailed out insurer American International Group posted a much larger loss than analysts expected.

AIG had a third quarter net loss of $4.1 billion, which was a $2.16 loss per share.

It was the largest quarterly loss since the 2009.”

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Obama to the House Speaker on ‘wasting time’: “What have you guys been debating, John [Boehner]? A commemorative coin for baseball? You have legislation reaffirming that ‘In God We Trust’ is our motto.”

November 3, 2011

“President Obama on Wednesday attacked House Republicans for failing to pass jobs growth measures and instead voting on commemorative coins and a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto.

“What have you guys been debating, John?” Obama said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “A commemorative coin for baseball? You have legislation, uh … reaffirming that ‘In God We Trust’ is our motto,” said the president.

Obama’s attacks were not reserved for House Republicans, saying that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) supports infrastructure improvement.

“ ‘Roads and bridges are not partisan in Washington’, that’s a quote from him,” Obama said.”

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Bachmann: The United States becoming a ‘banana republic’ because of ‘crony capitalism’

November 3, 2011

“Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says too many politicians are willing to do the bidding of big corporations, resulting in what she calls a “Bernie Madoff-style of government”.

“Some who are currently a part of Occupy Wall Street believe that the problem that we’re facing today is capitalism and that the problem today are free markets. It’s not,” Bachmann said over the noon hour during a speech in Ames, at Iowa State University. “The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit and that is crony capitalism or forcefully taking your money away from you for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends.”

Bachmann opposed the Wall Street bail-out and criticizes both Democrats and her fellow Republicans like former President George Bush, for pushing it through in the fall of 2008. “The problem is one set of standards that government has for individual Americans and another separate set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates,” Bachmann said. “That’s wrong and that has to stop.”

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