It’s been a week hasn’t it? The StimPack passed, with new bailed-out CEO pay limits. Three Republicans in the entire Congress voted for it, though they supposedly all support it. What a cop-out! Geitner dazzled the…well…nobody with new but few details about the TARP II package. Judd Gregg realized he was incapable of any kind of partisanship that had a prefix (bi, post, etc.) and pulled out of the running for the Commerce post.
On the Tennessee meets Washington side, our Governor managed to stay in the headlines for HHS, despite professing not seeking the job. I would be surprised if his name didn’t come up again for Commerce, since, apparently, the administration is running out of right leaning Governors and Senators to appoint to something. Maybe they’ll put his office in a Wal-Mart so he can connect with the regular folks for President Obama.
Despite all this activity, just under 4 weeks into the new Administration, there’s still a bunch of mess to clean up. At this point, we’ve just managed to collect all the visible bottles and cans left over from the frat party that was the last administration, and there’s no doubt there are plenty more hiding, and plenty more to do.
Just dealing with the economic situation, I’m wondering what kind of new, or revitalized economic regulation is going to come out of the administration. I’m also interested in what Congress plans to do with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed the Depression era Glass-Stegall Act. It seems evident in the wake of the devastating events that went down in September that doing away with Glass-Stegall was a bad idea, but I don’t hear anyone on the Hill talking about that yet.
Maybe I’m just too impatient.
The reason I’m interested in those things in particular, is that I firmly believe that the lack of regulation, and the effects of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act are directly responsible for the decay of confidence in our financial system, and the mass exodus of capital that caused it’s downfall. The only way to bring that confidence back is to reinstitute many of the rules that kept us from falling victim to financial cannibalism. This isn’t Highlander, there can be more than one.
Another thing that needs to be addressed is a strengthening of rules surrounding the sub-prime mortgage providers. When I bought my house in 2007, I didn’t experience this, but a friend of mine, who makes about the same money but lives in a city with far higher cost of living, told me that he had offers from lenders for up to nearly $400,000, even though he knew he couldn’t pay it. That’s crazy. I’m all for people being responsible for the risk they enter into, but lenders shouldn’t be in the business of helping people into bankruptcy.
Which is another thing I’m interested in. The Bankruptcy Bill of 2005 that made it harder for individuals to file Chapter 7. How is that screwing up middle-class families caught in the economic downturn? 73 Democrats in the House and 17 in the Senate voted for the bill. Obama was not one of them. He may want to revise this law, but it will be an uphill climb. Every member of the TN delegation (from 2005) voted for this bill (remember, Ford was representing the 9th at that time). Keeping the Blue Dogs on board, despite the current bill’s negative effect on their largely rural constituency, may be tough. On the Senate side, even though many of the Republicans that made the bill possible are gone, keeping those 17 Democrats, 3 of whom are serving in the Administration.
Finally, what about GWOT. We’ve heard a lot about the financial situation. We haven’t heard very much about any foreign policy. I understand that much of this is due to the Administration being only 25 days old, but I’m interested in what they have planned for Iraq and Afghanistan. Further, I’m concerned about the India/Pakistan thing in the wake of revelations this week that the attack on Mumbai was planned on Pakistani soil. India seems to be reacting positively, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the Pakistani’s to actually clean up their act. ISI’s fingerprints are all over the maintenance of the extremists in the hinterlands of Pakistan.
Then of course there’s the killer peanuts, the new RNC poster mamma for that old tired Reagan Myth, and God knows what else I forgot. We’ve got a lot of mess yet to clean up, but passing the StimPack was a good start. Here’s to hoping we can maintain the momentum.
Oh yeah, and Healthcare!