Vision Problems

Liberals are always going on about how they are more “sensitive” to the concerns of “the poor”…yet…

May 20 marks the 1,245th straight day that the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline costs more than $3 a gallon, according to AAA data. That’s nearly three-and-a-half years above $3 a gallon.

That can’t help the poor. But it does help the Liberal Agenda.

So does ObamaCare, their nearly 100 year old wet dream of Government control of everyone through Health Care.

Mind you, the VA scandal is just an annoying blip they have to find a a way to sweep under the rug…Nothing about Government Health Care to see here…

In the meantime… they are “angry” about it. So “angry” in fact…

As the Veterans Affairs (VA) fiasco rages on, the House passed a piece of legislation that would make it easier to fire VA employees and make the department more accountable.  It was passed with bipartisan support, with the vote being 390 in favor to 33 against.

There was only one problem.  The bill (VA Management Accountability Act, H.R.4031) failed to pass the U.S. Senate.  Senate Democrats decided mark this Memorial Day by blocking this bill.

I’m, sure it was “too partisan” or some such BS. They are proud to wear their Union diapers. So the Democrats will want to pass their own bill, which undoubtedly will be all style and no substance and full of cronyism and super regulations that are ridculous and just look like a band aid, but if you’re against this one you obviously hate veterans! 🙂

And when the Republicans reject THEIR bill (not the bi-partisan one they rejected) they’ll bash them repeatedly in the media right before the election. The “other” bill will not even register in their consciousness.

After all, they “care”. 🙂

They care about “jobs”

The unemployment rate has been higher than ever before ever since The Liberals took over. But it’s around 3% in North Dakota because of the oil boom.

But Liberals hate Oil. They refuse to pass the Keystone Pipeline. They have the EPA Nazis going out and harassing business people and destroying jobs that aren’t politically correct.

They want a $15/hr minimum wage, that will ruin businesses and put EVEN MORE people out of work.

But opposing them is just “greedy” and “insensitive” to the poor. So they send out their shock troops to make an irrational fear-based circus out it.

Because they “care”.

There is the lowest labor participation rate in 35 years.

BUT their narrative feeds their Agenda.  And they “care”. 🙂

So back off.

They talk incessantly about the “War on Women” over abortion and birth Control but are absolutely silent as the grave about Sharia Law and the treatment of women under their hand picked Politically Correct Religion, Islam.

You “misogynist”!

Liberals loudly proclaim they are Pro-Choice.

As long as that choice fits THEIR Agenda that is.

pro-choice butAre you starting to see a pattern?

Oh, and if you happen to protest them expect the IRS to harass you, and then they’ll deny they were ever doing it.

The Holier than thou Liberal media will call you a “racist”, “a Homophobe”,”a radical”,”a Misogynist”,”a partisan”, “A domestic Terrorist” or even the hail mary of them all you “racist!”, or any other schoolyard nasty name in an attempt to shut you the hell up.

But they like the First Amendment, they say. As long as you say something they don’t disagree with that is.

Oh, and they absolutely hate the 2nd Amendment. The idea of you carrying a gun around to defend yourself is utterly mad-hatter time to them. That’s the Government’s job.

After all, the NSA is only “protecting” you. And we wouldn’t want you to go off like a loose cannon when they Stormtroopers come with their drones and take over, now would we?

It’s for for your own good.

The Government is here to Protect & Serve. How can we Help you, today? 🙂

You can keep your Doctor. Your Health Care. And it will cost less.

Trust Us.

We’ll Protect you from yourself.

Feel Better Now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

Well, Mama ain’t happy.

Look out, everyone: The nation’s school lunch lady, Michelle Obama, is mad. With her federal nutrition program under fire across the country and now on Capitol Hill, Mrs. Obama put out a “forceful” call to arms this week to “health activists,” according to The Washington Post.

Read: radical Leftists!

She’s cracking the whip. Her orders are clear: There must be no escape. The East Wing and its sycophants zealously oppose any effort to alter, delay or waive top-down school meal rules. Big Lunch must be guarded at all costs.

We “care” so much that we will not be denied. You will comply! Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated!

Progressives blame kid-hating Republicans and greedy businesses for the revolt against Mrs. Obama’s failed policies. But the truth is right around the corner in your students’ cafeterias. Districts are losing money. Discarded food is piling high. Kids are going off-campus to fill their tummies or just going hungry.

According to the School Nutrition Association, almost half of school meal programs reported declines in revenue in the 2012-13 school year, and 90 percent said food costs were up. Local nutrition directors are demanding more flexibility and freedom. Look no further than school districts in Los Angeles and Chicago.

As I noted in 2011, the L.A. Unified School District pronounced the first lady’s federally subsidized initiative a “flop” and a “disaster.” Principals reported “massive waste, with unopened milk cartons and uneaten entrees being thrown away.” The problem has only worsened. The Los Angeles Times reported last month that the city’s students throw out “at least $100,000 worth of food a day — and probably far more,” which “amounts to $18 million a year.”

Draconian federal rules dictate calorie counts, whole-grain requirements, the number of items that children must put on their trays, and even the color of the fruits and vegetables they must choose. Asked for a solution, LAUSD Food Service Director David Binkle told the Times bluntly: “We can stop forcing children to take food they don’t like and throw in the garbage.”

Or you can do what Arlington Heights District 214 in Michelle Obama’s home state of Illinois just did: Vote yourselves out of the unsavory one-size-fits-all mandate. Last week, the state’s second largest school district decided to quit the national school lunch program altogether. Officials pointed out that absurd federal guidelines prevented them from offering hard-boiled eggs, hummus, pretzels, some brands of yogurt, and nonfat milk in containers larger than 12 ounces.

The district will deliberately forgo $900,000 in federal aid and instead rely on its own nutritionist to devise healthy choices that students actually want. One local parent summed it up well: “(T)he government can’t control everything.”

As more schools look to withdraw, you can bet on the White House to ramp up the Republican-bashing rhetoric. Mrs. Obama’s advocates have already taken to social media to complain about Big Business special interests.

But let’s remember: Mrs. Obama has been working the food circuit since 2005, when the wife of newly elected Sen. Barack Obama was named to the corporate board of directors of Wal-Mart processed foods supplier TreeHouse Foods Inc. — collecting $45,000 in 2005, $51,200 in 2006, and 7,500 TreeHouse stock options worth more than $72,000 for each year.

Fact: The first lady has been the most insatiable crony at the center of the Fed Foods racket. Her nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America has reported assets of $4.5 million from secret donors. It’s not just mean conservatives pointing out her Big Business ties. The left-wing documentary “Fed Up” made the same point before being edited under pressure. Hello, Chicago Way.

Mrs. Obama’s allies also have accused opponents of wanting to repeal “science-based” standards. But the first lady herself was caught spreading false claims that her program was responsible for reducing childhood obesity, when the decline began a decade ago.

And as I’ve reported previously, deep-pocketed Big Labor’s push to expand public union payrolls with thousands more food service workers is also driving Mrs. Obama’s agenda.

Waste, failure, lies and special interest ties. If federal food policy were really about the children, the East Wing would be embracing change. But this is not about protecting the kids. It’s about protecting Michelle Obama. Her thin-skinned response to criticism is telling:

Hell hath no fury like a Nanny State control freak scorned. (CNS)

And it’s all YOUR FAULT for resisting the “caring” and “compassion” smothering of the LEFT.

They just care about you too much. And it’s your fault for resisting their superior vision for your life.

Kinda like the mother on “The Goldbergs” don’t you think?… 🙂

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

But as long as you do as Momma and Pappa Government say and don’t back talk everything will be happy and  perfect.

Kumbuya! Praise the Government!

Your Lord and Master demands it.

WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!

🙂

Political Cartoons by Chip Bok

 

 

 

Christmas Eve 2012

CNN’s Don Lemon discusses the possibility of profiling white men in an attempt to prevent gun violence and decrease the amount of mass shootings. Lemon argues that white males between the ages of 18 and 25 were behind nearly all recent mass killings.

MSNBC: People Against Gun Control Are Scared Of “Black And Brown People” Rising Up To Get Them…

Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

D-Oh!  Never saw that coming…

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (Abe Lincoln)

Imagine the man who spoke those words coming before his country in a time of distress and blaming a rival political party for all the nation’s ills; it’s impossible. Obama is a well-known admirer of the Lincoln biography “Team of Rivals,” but while he’s talking to the other side, he seems unwilling to listen. Apparently, he’s content with laying blame and saving face at the expense of the nation’s financial health. (Katie Hicks)

D’oh!  Never saw that coming…

After all, he gets a “get out of Blame” card for free. What else could want for Christmas…. 🙂

 

The  students at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Ark., were invited on a class field trip to see a performance of the show this month but unfortunately were blocked from seeing the Christmas classic by atheist groups that felt the children’s classic since time immemorial was ‘religious’ and therefore was banned under a separation of church and state.

The school naturally caved to the atheist groups, rather than fight a prolonged and expensive court battle to defend the matter.

The problem is, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has nothing to do with the teaching of religion, and is more about caring for each other and respecting one another’s differences—something the atheists like to exclaim they represent when defending their own viewpoint of the universe.

While Charles Schultz wanted a definitive religious experience for the viewer he was well aware of the problems of inserting anything religious into a television special, even as early as 1964. Executives at CBS originally balked at the special, so Schultz tempered the message. Schultz explained why Linus makes a speech from the Gospel of Luke:

“If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” – Charles Schultz, on “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

The point Schultz was trying to make was that Christmas is not about religion so much as it is about the birth of Jesus Christ, who was as much an  historical figure as he was a religious figure. Jesus of Nazareth existed, and whether or not you believe he was the Son of God (a matter of religious conjecture and faith), billions of people worldwide follow his simple teaching of treating others as you would treat yourself.

The message of Jesus is fundamentally simple and non-religious in its content.  As such, it is supremely important that children understand and are taught the significance of the holiday—to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the simple message that much of world tries to live by daily. The message of loving one another as equally as we love ourselves is hardly one that is unique to Christianity or any other religion for that matter, yet it was unique at the time of the Roman Empire when it was first delivered.

The Charlie Brown Christmas special does not delve into the religious aspects of Christianity, nor does it try to. The show merely expounds upon the message of loving each other equally, and does so in an equanimous manner. Charlie is castigated for his simple view of Christmas while the other children are focused on the commercial aspects of Christmas. They eventually come to the realization that all aspects of Man are wonderful, if given the love and equal treatment we all deserve. This is not a religious message; it is a universal message of unity, charity and love.  Most importantly, this is a message that almost certainly any atheist would agree with; love and charity and kindness to one another are hardly exclusive to religion.

The speech delivered by Linus is the only reference of in the special to any religious aspect, and even that is a simple Biblical description of the historical event of the birth of Jesus:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'” Luke 2:7-14, from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” by Linus

Despite what the atheists argue, this is the sole reason for the existence of Christmas, the birth of Jesus and his birth being recognized as the birth of a Savior. That is a matter of historical fact, and the reason why children need this explained to them. (Thomas Purcell)

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

linus

And now a message from those fun-loving guys and gals, The Atheists:

Crush a Creche, Keep Christmas Free from Christianity: War on Christmas & Christmas Symbols

Christian Nationalists aren’t moved by the principle of treating adherents of other religions with respect — they sincerely believe that they deserve special privileges from the government. (atheism.about.com)

Unlike Liberals… 🙂

So, why is Christmas singled out? In essence, because Christianity is being singled out.

Not to say that other faiths, specifically Judaism, don’t have to fight against religious prejudices; however lambasting Christianity has become a social norm in American culture. People, who would have once been revered for a strong commitment to their faith, are now treated as second-class citizens.

In addition to personal attacks, Christianity has also come under fire from schools and the government. Like the six year-old girl from Marion, North Carolina who was forced by school administrators to remove the word “God” from a Veterans Day poem. Or the restaurant in Pennsylvania that was mandated by government officials to offer its “10% church pamphlet discount” to customers of all faiths — including atheists. Both of which sparked mass controversy, and opened a discussion concerning the freedoms of speech and religion.

Cities and individuals have also been forced to remove Christian symbols that were seen as offensive. For instance, Buhler, Kansas and Steubenville, Ohio both removed the depiction of the cross within their city logos, after being threatened by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) with a lawsuit. Or Patrick Racaniello, who was forced to remove the cross he posted in his front yard, because local officials claimed that it violated a city ordinance concerning the attraction of public attention.

Not to mention the Obamacare mandate that forces Catholic employers to provide contraceptives to their employees — a mandate strongly opposed by the Catholic faith.

Although revving-up around Christmas, religious freedom continues to be a year round struggle — with the preceding examples only being a small snippet of the full realm. Whether in the spirit of inclusion or in the sentiment of “separation of church and state” — a notion that cannot be found within the Constitution — the war on Christianity does not appear to be receding anytime soon.

Furthermore, the main point missed by opponents of Christianity is that it’s because of our Judeo-Christian founding that America has remained so diverse, not despite it. With Christmas being a yearly reminder of the occasion and the opportunity to celebrate faith, family and life, no matter your religious beliefs — because it’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. (Policymic)

And I’m not even an actual Christian, mind you…MERRY CHRISTMAS

I will say it while I still can. 🙂

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

Moral Hazard

Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc-ra-cy)- a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing,and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed,are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

THE $7 Trillion Dollar Secret

The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.

The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.

A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.
‘Change Their Votes’

“When you see the dollars the banks got, it’s hard to make the case these were successful institutions,” says Sherrod Brown, a Democratic Senator from Ohio who in 2010 introduced an unsuccessful bill to limit bank size. “This is an issue that can unite the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. There are lawmakers in both parties who would change their votes now.”

The size of the bailout came to light after Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, won a court case against the Fed and a group of the biggest U.S. banks called Clearing House Association LLC to force lending details into the open.

The Fed, headed by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, argued that revealing borrower details would create a stigma — investors and counterparties would shun firms that used the central bank as lender of last resort — and that needy institutions would be reluctant to borrow in the next crisis. Clearing House Association fought Bloomberg’s lawsuit up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the banks’ appeal in March 2011.

$7.77 Trillion

The amount of money the central bank parceled out was surprising even to Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1985 to 2009, who says he “wasn’t aware of the magnitude.” It dwarfed the Treasury Department’s better-known $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Add up guarantees and lending limits, and the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion as of March 2009 to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year.

“TARP at least had some strings attached,” says Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, referring to the program’s executive-pay ceiling. “With the Fed programs, there was nothing.”

Bankers didn’t disclose the extent of their borrowing. On Nov. 26, 2008, then-Bank of America (BAC) Corp. Chief Executive Officer Kenneth D. Lewis wrote to shareholders that he headed “one of the strongest and most stable major banks in the world.” He didn’t say that his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm owed the central bank $86 billion that day.
‘Motivate Others’

JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon told shareholders in a March 26, 2010, letter that his bank used the Fed’s Term Auction Facility “at the request of the Federal Reserve to help motivate others to use the system.” He didn’t say that the New York-based bank’s total TAF borrowings were almost twice its cash holdings or that its peak borrowing of $48 billion on Feb. 26, 2009, came more than a year after the program’s creation.

Howard Opinsky, a spokesman for JPMorgan (JPM), declined to comment about Dimon’s statement or the company’s Fed borrowings. Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for Bank of America, also declined to comment.

The Fed has been lending money to banks through its so- called discount window since just after its founding in 1913. Starting in August 2007, when confidence in banks began to wane, it created a variety of ways to bolster the financial system with cash or easily traded securities. By the end of 2008, the central bank had established or expanded 11 lending facilities catering to banks, securities firms and corporations that couldn’t get short-term loans from their usual sources.
‘Core Function’

“Supporting financial-market stability in times of extreme market stress is a core function of central banks,” says William B. English, director of the Fed’s Division of Monetary Affairs. “Our lending programs served to prevent a collapse of the financial system and to keep credit flowing to American families and businesses.”

The Fed has said that all loans were backed by appropriate collateral. That the central bank didn’t lose money should “lead to praise of the Fed, that they took this extraordinary step and they got it right,” says Phillip Swagel, a former assistant Treasury secretary under Henry M. Paulson and now a professor of international economic policy at the University of Maryland.

The Fed initially released lending data in aggregate form only. Information on which banks borrowed, when, how much and at what interest rate was kept from public view.

The secrecy extended even to members of President George W. Bush’s administration who managed TARP. Top aides to Paulson weren’t privy to Fed lending details during the creation of the program that provided crisis funding to more than 700 banks, say two former senior Treasury officials who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak.
Big Six

The Treasury Department relied on the recommendations of the Fed to decide which banks were healthy enough to get TARP money and how much, the former officials say. The six biggest U.S. banks, which received $160 billion of TARP funds, borrowed as much as $460 billion from the Fed, measured by peak daily debt calculated by Bloomberg using data obtained from the central bank. Paulson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The six — JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) and Morgan Stanley — accounted for 63 percent of the average daily debt to the Fed by all publicly traded U.S. banks, money managers and investment- services firms, the data show. By comparison, they had about half of the industry’s assets before the bailout, which lasted from August 2007 through April 2010. The daily debt figure excludes cash that banks passed along to money-market funds.
Bank Supervision

While the emergency response prevented financial collapse, the Fed shouldn’t have allowed conditions to get to that point, says Joshua Rosner, a banking analyst with Graham Fisher & Co. in New York who predicted problems from lax mortgage underwriting as far back as 2001. The Fed, the primary supervisor for large financial companies, should have been more vigilant as the housing bubble formed, and the scale of its lending shows the “supervision of the banks prior to the crisis was far worse than we had imagined,” Rosner says.

Bernanke in an April 2009 speech said that the Fed provided emergency loans only to “sound institutions,” even though its internal assessments described at least one of the biggest borrowers, Citigroup, as “marginal.”

On Jan. 14, 2009, six days before the company’s central bank loans peaked, the New York Fed gave CEO Vikram Pandit a report declaring Citigroup’s financial strength to be “superficial,” bolstered largely by its $45 billion of Treasury funds. The document was released in early 2011 by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, a panel empowered by Congress to probe the causes of the crisis.
‘Need Transparency’

Andrea Priest, a spokeswoman for the New York Fed, declined to comment, as did Jon Diat, a spokesman for Citigroup.

“I believe that the Fed should have independence in conducting highly technical monetary policy, but when they are putting taxpayer resources at risk, we need transparency and accountability,” says Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

Judd Gregg, a former New Hampshire senator who was a lead Republican negotiator on TARP, and Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who chaired the House Financial Services Committee, both say they were kept in the dark.

“We didn’t know the specifics,” says Gregg, who’s now an adviser to Goldman Sachs.

“We were aware emergency efforts were going on,” Frank says. “We didn’t know the specifics.”
Disclose Lending

Frank co-sponsored the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, billed as a fix for financial-industry excesses. Congress debated that legislation in 2010 without a full understanding of how deeply the banks had depended on the Fed for survival.

It would have been “totally appropriate” to disclose the lending data by mid-2009, says David Jones, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York who has written four books about the central bank.

“The Fed is the second-most-important appointed body in the U.S., next to the Supreme Court, and we’re dealing with a democracy,” Jones says. “Our representatives in Congress deserve to have this kind of information so they can oversee the Fed.”

The Dodd-Frank law required the Fed to release details of some emergency-lending programs in December 2010. It also mandated disclosure of discount-window borrowers after a two- year lag.
Protecting TARP

TARP and the Fed lending programs went “hand in hand,” says Sherrill Shaffer, a banking professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and a former chief economist at the New York Fed. While the TARP money helped insulate the central bank from losses, the Fed’s willingness to supply seemingly unlimited financing to the banks assured they wouldn’t collapse, protecting the Treasury’s TARP investments, he says.

“Even though the Treasury was in the headlines, the Fed was really behind the scenes engineering it,” Shaffer says.

Congress, at the urging of Bernanke and Paulson, created TARP in October 2008 after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. made it difficult for financial institutions to get loans. Bank of America and New York-based Citigroup each received $45 billion from TARP. At the time, both were tapping the Fed. Citigroup hit its peak borrowing of $99.5 billion in January 2009, while Bank of America topped out in February 2009 at $91.4 billion.
No Clue

Lawmakers knew none of this.

They had no clue that one bank, New York-based Morgan Stanley (MS), took $107 billion in Fed loans in September 2008, enough to pay off one-tenth of the country’s delinquent mortgages. The firm’s peak borrowing occurred the same day Congress rejected the proposed TARP bill, triggering the biggest point drop ever in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. (INDU) The bill later passed, and Morgan Stanley got $10 billion of TARP funds, though Paulson said only “healthy institutions” were eligible.

Mark Lake, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Had lawmakers known, it “could have changed the whole approach to reform legislation,” says Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic Senator from Delaware who, with Brown, introduced the bill to limit bank size.
Moral Hazard

Kaufman says some banks are so big that their failure could trigger a chain reaction in the financial system. The cost of borrowing for so-called too-big-to-fail banks is lower than that of smaller firms because lenders believe the government won’t let them go under. The perceived safety net creates what economists call moral hazard — the belief that bankers will take greater risks because they’ll enjoy any profits while shifting losses to taxpayers.

Moral hazard arises because an individual or institution does not take the full consequences and responsibilities of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to hold some responsibility for the consequences of those actions. For example, a person with insurance against automobile theft may be less cautious about locking his or her car, because the negative consequences of vehicle theft are (partially) the responsibility of the insurance company.

If Congress had been aware of the extent of the Fed rescue, Kaufman says, he would have been able to line up more support for breaking up the biggest banks.

Byron L. Dorgan, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, says the knowledge might have helped pass legislation to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, which for most of the last century separated customer deposits from the riskier practices of investment banking.

“Had people known about the hundreds of billions in loans to the biggest financial institutions, they would have demanded Congress take much more courageous actions to stop the practices that caused this near financial collapse,” says Dorgan, who retired in January.
Getting Bigger

Instead, the Fed and its secret financing helped America’s biggest financial firms get bigger and go on to pay employees as much as they did at the height of the housing bubble.

Total assets held by the six biggest U.S. banks increased 39 percent to $9.5 trillion on Sept. 30, 2011, from $6.8 trillion on the same day in 2006, according to Fed data.

For so few banks to hold so many assets is “un-American,” says Richard W. Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “All of these gargantuan institutions are too big to regulate. I’m in favor of breaking them up and slimming them down.”

Employees at the six biggest banks made twice the average for all U.S. workers in 2010, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics hourly compensation cost data. The banks spent $146.3 billion on compensation in 2010, or an average of $126,342 per worker, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s up almost 20 percent from five years earlier compared with less than 15 percent for the average worker. Average pay at the banks in 2010 was about the same as in 2007, before the bailouts.
‘Wanted to Pretend’

“The pay levels came back so fast at some of these firms that it appeared they really wanted to pretend they hadn’t been bailed out,” says Anil Kashyap, a former Fed economist who’s now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people find some of the stuff that happened totally outrageous.”

Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch & Co. at the urging of then-Treasury Secretary Paulson after buying the biggest U.S. home lender, Countrywide Financial Corp. When the Merrill Lynch purchase was announced on Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America had $14.4 billion in emergency Fed loans and Merrill Lynch had $8.1 billion. By the end of the month, Bank of America’s loans had reached $25 billion and Merrill Lynch’s had exceeded $60 billion, helping both firms keep the deal on track.
Prevent Collapse

Wells Fargo bought Wachovia Corp., the fourth-largest U.S. bank by deposits before the 2008 acquisition. Because depositors were pulling their money from Wachovia, the Fed channeled $50 billion in secret loans to the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank through two emergency-financing programs to prevent collapse before Wells Fargo could complete the purchase.

“These programs proved to be very successful at providing financial markets the additional liquidity and confidence they needed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty,” says Ancel Martinez, a spokesman for Wells Fargo.

JPMorgan absorbed the country’s largest savings and loan, Seattle-based Washington Mutual Inc., and investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. The New York Fed, then headed by Timothy F. Geithner, who’s now Treasury secretary, helped JPMorgan complete the Bear Stearns deal by providing $29 billion of financing, which was disclosed at the time. The Fed also supplied Bear Stearns with $30 billion of secret loans to keep the company from failing before the acquisition closed, central bank data show. The loans were made through a program set up to provide emergency funding to brokerage firms.
‘Regulatory Discretion’

“Some might claim that the Fed was picking winners and losers, but what the Fed was doing was exercising its professional regulatory discretion,” says John Dearie, a former speechwriter at the New York Fed who’s now executive vice president for policy at the Financial Services Forum, a Washington-based group consisting of the CEOs of 20 of the world’s biggest financial firms. “The Fed clearly felt it had what it needed within the requirements of the law to continue to lend to Bear and Wachovia.”

The bill introduced by Brown and Kaufman in April 2010 would have mandated shrinking the six largest firms.

“When a few banks have advantages, the little guys get squeezed,” Brown says. “That, to me, is not what capitalism should be.”

Kaufman says he’s passionate about curbing too-big-to-fail banks because he fears another crisis.

‘Can We Survive?’

“The amount of pain that people, through no fault of their own, had to endure — and the prospect of putting them through it again — is appalling,” Kaufman says. “The public has no more appetite for bailouts. What would happen tomorrow if one of these big banks got in trouble? Can we survive that?”

Lobbying expenditures by the six banks that would have been affected by the legislation rose to $29.4 million in 2010 compared with $22.1 million in 2006, the last full year before credit markets seized up — a gain of 33 percent, according to OpenSecrets.org, a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics. Lobbying by the American Bankers Association, a trade organization, increased at about the same rate, OpenSecrets.org reported.

Lobbyists argued the virtues of bigger banks. They’re more stable, better able to serve large companies and more competitive internationally, and breaking them up would cost jobs and cause “long-term damage to the U.S. economy,” according to a Nov. 13, 2009, letter to members of Congress from the FSF.

The group’s website cites Nobel Prize-winning economist Oliver E. Williamson, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, for demonstrating the greater efficiency of large companies.
‘Serious Burden’

In an interview, Williamson says that the organization took his research out of context and that efficiency is only one factor in deciding whether to preserve too-big-to-fail banks.

“The banks that were too big got even bigger, and the problems that we had to begin with are magnified in the process,” Williamson says. “The big banks have incentives to take risks they wouldn’t take if they didn’t have government support. It’s a serious burden on the rest of the economy.”

The Moral Hazard.

Dearie says his group didn’t mean to imply that Williamson endorsed big banks.

Top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration sided with the FSF in arguing against legislative curbs on the size of banks.
Geithner, Kaufman

On May 4, 2010, Geithner visited Kaufman in his Capitol Hill office. As president of the New York Fed in 2007 and 2008, Geithner helped design and run the central bank’s lending programs. The New York Fed supervised four of the six biggest U.S. banks and, during the credit crunch, put together a daily confidential report on Wall Street’s financial condition. Geithner was copied on these reports, based on a sampling of e- mails released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

At the meeting with Kaufman, Geithner argued that the issue of limiting bank size was too complex for Congress and that people who know the markets should handle these decisions, Kaufman says. According to Kaufman, Geithner said he preferred that bank supervisors from around the world, meeting in Basel, Switzerland, make rules increasing the amount of money banks need to hold in reserve. Passing laws in the U.S. would undercut his efforts in Basel, Geithner said, according to Kaufman.

Anthony Coley, a spokesman for Geithner, declined to comment.
‘Punishing Success’

Lobbyists for the big banks made the winning case that forcing them to break up was “punishing success,” Brown says. Now that they can see how much the banks were borrowing from the Fed, senators might think differently, he says.

The Fed supported curbing too-big-to-fail banks, including giving regulators the power to close large financial firms and implementing tougher supervision for big banks, says Fed General Counsel Scott G. Alvarez. The Fed didn’t take a position on whether large banks should be dismantled before they get into trouble.

Dodd-Frank does provide a mechanism for regulators to break up the biggest banks. It established the Financial Stability Oversight Council that could order teetering banks to shut down in an orderly way. The council is headed by Geithner.

“Dodd-Frank does not solve the problem of too big to fail,” says Shelby, the Alabama Republican. “Moral hazard and taxpayer exposure still very much exist.”
Below Market

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, says banks “were either in bad shape or taking advantage of the Fed giving them a good deal. The former contradicts their public statements. The latter — getting loans at below-market rates during a financial crisis — is quite a gift.”

The Fed says it typically makes emergency loans more expensive than those available in the marketplace to discourage banks from abusing the privilege. During the crisis, Fed loans were among the cheapest around, with funding available for as low as 0.01 percent in December 2008, according to data from the central bank and money-market rates tracked by Bloomberg.

The Fed funds also benefited firms by allowing them to avoid selling assets to pay investors and depositors who pulled their money. So the assets stayed on the banks’ books, earning interest.

Banks report the difference between what they earn on loans and investments and their borrowing expenses. The figure, known as net interest margin, provides a clue to how much profit the firms turned on their Fed loans, the costs of which were included in those expenses. To calculate how much banks stood to make, Bloomberg multiplied their tax-adjusted net interest margins by their average Fed debt during reporting periods in which they took emergency loans.
Added Income

The 190 firms for which data were available would have produced income of $13 billion, assuming all of the bailout funds were invested at the margins reported, the data show.

The six biggest U.S. banks’ share of the estimated subsidy was $4.8 billion, or 23 percent of their combined net income during the time they were borrowing from the Fed. Citigroup would have taken in the most, with $1.8 billion.

“The net interest margin is an effective way of getting at the benefits that these large banks received from the Fed,” says Gerald A. Hanweck, a former Fed economist who’s now a finance professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

While the method isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to state the banks’ exact profits or savings from their Fed loans because the numbers aren’t disclosed and there isn’t enough publicly available data to figure it out.

Opinsky, the JPMorgan spokesman, says he doesn’t think the calculation is fair because “in all likelihood, such funds were likely invested in very short-term investments,” which typically bring lower returns.
Standing Access

Even without tapping the Fed, the banks get a subsidy by having standing access to the central bank’s money, says Viral Acharya, a New York University economics professor who has worked as an academic adviser to the New York Fed.

“Banks don’t give lines of credit to corporations for free,” he says. “Why should all these government guarantees and liquidity facilities be for free?”

In the September 2008 meeting at which Paulson and Bernanke briefed lawmakers on the need for TARP, Bernanke said that if nothing was done, “unemployment would rise — to 8 or 9 percent from the prevailing 6.1 percent,” Paulson wrote in “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010).
Occupy Wall Street

The U.S. jobless rate hasn’t dipped below 8.8 percent since March 2009, 3.6 million homes have been foreclosed since August 2007, according to data provider RealtyTrac Inc., and police have clashed with Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say government policies favor the wealthiest citizens, in New York, Boston, Seattle and Oakland, California.

The Tea Party, which supports a more limited role for government, has its roots in anger over the Wall Street bailouts, says Neil M. Barofsky, former TARP special inspector general and a Bloomberg Television contributing editor.

“The lack of transparency is not just frustrating; it really blocked accountability,” Barofsky says. “When people don’t know the details, they fill in the blanks. They believe in conspiracies.”

In the end, Geithner had his way. The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.

They take full effect in 2019.

Meanwhile, Kaufman says, “we’re absolutely, totally, 100 percent not prepared for another financial crisis.”(Bloomberg)

Feel better now? 🙂

Political Cartoons by Henry Payne

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

 Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

I Want Your Money

The Fraternal Order of Police in Camden New Jersey proved without a shadow of a doubt, public union willingness to toss fellow officers to the dogs. In a 300-1 vote, the union rejected an offer that that would have saved 100 jobs. That offer called for three days a month of unpaid furloughs for patrol officers for six months, then one furlough day in each of the following 12 months.

Please consider Camden police union rejects concession deal that could bring back 100 laid-off officers.
Altogether, more than 15 percent of Camden’s municipal workers, including 68 firefighters and about 100 civilians, were laid off as the city tries to fill a huge budget gap brought on by rising costs, decreased tax revenues and diminished aid from the state.
But screw that, we just want the money and even more jobs is not enough for this Union.
CalPERS (the California Public Employee Retirement System) and CalSTRS (the California State Teachers Retirement System).  CalPERS has over 9,000 employees receiving $100k or more in pensions; CalSTRS has over 3,000.
And they can retire at 50. and take ANOTHER JOB!

Lines are being drawn and the fight to reduce overly generous pay and benefits to government employees at the federal, state, and local level is underway. Not too surprisingly, public employee unions are gearing up, rallying government employees, and exerting pressure to maintain the generous pay and benefits that has loaded government with unsustainable debt. Public employee unions are, even now, pressing the Obama Administration for additional benefits and power.

President Obama, either unwilling, or perhaps unable, to bring long-overdue accountability to powerful public employee unions, has instead issued guidance requiring greater Union representation and input into federal agency decision making. Obama’s decision will likely embolden union bosses to think they can escape accountability and an honest review of benefits, salary, and pensions of government employees.

Perhaps it is time to send a different message. President Obama, like many Americans, is probably unaware that the federal government actually subsidizes federal government employee union operations. In fact, the federal government provides unions with free office space, pays for union member time and picks up travel and per diem costs. These “perks” represent a tax that has never been approved by American taxpayers–perks which operate at a level below the radar of Congress and well below the radar of the IRS. These hidden “perks” provided to government employee unions cost American taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

According to official data, federal employees currently spend some 2.9 million official work hours, at government expense, engaging in collective bargaining and union activities, representing a taxpayer cost of approximately $120 million. But the taxpayer costs and subsidizes to public employee unions is much higher than the official report because government does not account for all the expenses related to union activity.

Federal government unions are, in essence, running a business within the federal government. As we begin the debate over the proper role (if any) unions should have in government, one step Americans should all be able to agree upon is that taxpayer money should not be used to subsidize union activities.

Many Americans may be unaware that unions exist in every federal agency. In fact, most agencies have several unions competing for employee participation and funding which means that federal agencies are subsidizing the costs for several unions at the same time!

These federal agency union representatives have a large presence in Washington, DC, the seat of the federal government. But, most federal locations throughout the United States also have a union representative. So, for example, in a city, such as Kansas City, where the federal complex houses multiple government agencies, there will be multiple federal union representatives, from each federal union, within each federal agency, all at the same building location.

Why is this important?

Federal government union representatives are actually federal employees. They hold GS ranks and civil service status, and actually have federal jobs that they were employed to perform. Their union duties are, supposedly, performed over and above the requirements of their regular day job. However, because of the pernicious and growing power of federal unions, oftentimes, union duties often are performed in lieu of their job. Paid time off from regular government duties is allowed, in most federal agencies, for the union representative to solicit federal employees (i.e. market services), to attend union meetings (i.e. work for an entity other than their government employer) or travel to have “face time” with their union bosses in DC. All at taxpayer expense.

In addition, union representatives often request and are provided with office space that is more expansive than is warranted by their GS rank or than their federal job duties require. The cost of this additional square footage is also paid for by the American taxpayer, and is paid for at each federal agency, for each federal union representative, for each federal union. Federal government union representatives total thousands of federal employees, all billing their time, travel and per diem, for non-government related work, to the American taxpayer.

Perhaps an even bigger problem is that the federal government union representatives sometimes seem to operate under the mistaken belief that they were hired by the government to work for the union—and that union work is more important than the federal job they were hired to perform.

Unions seem, at best, indifferent to the performance of government and are exclusively concerned with pay and benefits of union workers. Therein lies another irony for the American taxpayer. Unions are organized to negotiate against employers, but, since the federal government is the employer, and since the American people pay for the federal government, then, technically, federal government employee unions might be construed as organizing against the American people.

It is time to bring some accountability to public employee unions. A good first step would be for Congress to get a grip on the proliferation of benefits for unions in the federal government, whose activities are an additional burden on federal taxpayers. Congress should change federal policies on payment of travel, per diem and office space for federal government union employees.

Better yet, perhaps President Obama should take the lead.

But he won’t. He’s too much of a kool-aid drinking Union guy, plus the Democrats are beholden to them like no other group.

The next closest influence are Trial Lawyers, and guess where they fit in – Health Care.

Gee, what a coincidence!

That memo being (in part):

Federal managers should seek employee input before major decisions are made, not after solutions are developed, according to a memo from Obama administration officials.

In a meeting on Wednesday with federal management and labor representatives, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management Jeff Zients reminded agency leaders to improve dialogue with employees by involving them before making final decisions. Managers should engage unions early in decision-making processes, as outlined in President Obama’s December 2009 executive order, said the memo.

Executive Order 13522 creates labor-management partnerships governmentwide and on the agency level. The order also requires the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations to launch pilot programs that will test bargaining over issues not normally negotiable by law in a small group of agencies and directs management to include pre-decisional involvement “in all workplace matters to the fullest extent practicable.” (Government executive.com)

In other words, Unions should be consulted before management makes any decisions. Making them, in effect, Managers.

Do you get that level of input at your job?

I know I don’t.

But Unions are special. They are the protected class in Liberal ideology.

They fight against the evil Corporations!

And they are killing us all.

“Ultimately, the goal is to allow employees, through their elected labor representatives, to have meaningful input, which results in better quality decision-making, more support for decisions, and timelier implementation,” the memo stated.

If you kiss our butt we won’t go on strike or we won’t work to destroy you. Sounds rather Mafia like doesn’t it?

The union idea of civil discourse is to protest outside opponents’ private homes. Now union supporters are targeting a developer , with fliers showing a bull’s-eye and his home address. Cue the chirping crickets. That will be the soundtrack for mainstream media reaction to the latest example of thuggery perpetrated by Wal-Mart opponents who are not happy that the non-union retailer wants to build a Wal-Mart-anchored development on the site of an abandoned Chevy dealership in Washington, D.C. The development would employ up to 1,200 people in a city with 10.2% unemployment.

A group calling itself Wal-Mart Free DC is organizing a protest, not at one of the proposed sites or at Wal-Mart headquarters, but at the private home of the developer. A flier produced by the group gives his name and home address and invites protesters to assemble on his front lawn. Oh, yes: There’s a smiley face centered on some cross hairs on the flier.

The group claims no formal union affiliation, yet prominently displayed on the group’s website are links to sites such as WalMartWatch funded by Service Employees International Union and United Commercial and Food Workers International Union. Certainly they are employing the thuggish tactics used before by the purple shirts of SEIU.

Last May, a frightened teenager was trapped inside his home as a mob of about 500 bussed in by SEIU demonstrated and chanted on his front lawn in an effort to intimidate his father, a deputy general counsel with Bank of America. Fortune magazine’s Nina Easton was a neighbor and provided the account of a story that might otherwise have received little notice.

As Easton reported, some 14 bus loads of people organized by the SEIU and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action descended on her neighbor’s home, armed with bullhorns, shouting about greedy banks and home foreclosures. After the mob was done, the buses took them to the nearby residence of a J.P. Morgan Chase executive.

Asked by Easton about the rationale behind such protests, SEIU representative Steven Leerner said:

“People in powerful corporations seem to think they can insulate themselves from the damage they are doing.”

So the union feels entitled to target — yes, we said target — them in their private homes.

The group that gathered at the developer’s home Thursday night was smaller and less-organized, but its purpose was equally clear — to intimidate those who would oppose it with the oldest threat in the book: “We know where you live.”

Wal-Mart is America’s largest employer outside of unionized government. (IBD)

And Unions want and need your money and your job to pay for their own, after all.

They are vastly more important that you.

They are warrior for the Cause.

American Federation of Teachers’ President Randi Weingarten has been doing her best to make sure Big Labor has a say in education reform. She wants to drive the train. The National Education Association, on the other hand, is taking the tact of putting dynamite under the tracks. While Weingarten says all the right things and uses all the necessary poll-tested phrases, she really wants to maintain the status quo. No tenure reform. No need to judge teachers by any measure other than seniority.

But in an interview with Newsweek, she made this curious statement, in response to Bill Gates saying, “We need to measure what they do, and then have incentives for the other teachers to learn those things:”

“Football teams do this all the time,” Weingarten responded. “They look at the tape after every game. Sometimes they do it during the game. They’re constantly deconstructing what is working and what isn’t working. And they’re jettisoning what isn’t working and building up on what is working, and doing it in a teamlike approach.”

That’s correct – they do. It’s too bad that public education does not operate more like the NFL.

Here’s an idea. Let’s have the NEA and AFT become the owners of a new NFL franchise. For a lack of a better name, we’ll call the new team the Thugs.

Players on the Thugs’ roster would receive tenure after two years, like they do in New York City Public Schools. They can play on the Thugs as long as they’d like, regardless of their skill level. And players would be judged not for their ability to score touchdowns or sack quarterbacks, but the number of years they’ve been in the NFL.

Over time, the Thugs’ roster would be filled with 50- and 60-year old players, raking in the big bucks while losing game after game.

Does anyone believe that the hypothetical Thugs, with their incredible job security, would be competitive with the teams that compensate players based on their performance and frequently alter their rosters to maintain an edge?

It would be wonderful if public education would operate more like the NFL, where you get paid for results and released for incompetence. Maybe then American K-12 students would receive the instruction they truly deserve.

Do what benefits you the most and proclaim to be doing it “for the children” is the fastest way to the Barf Bag for me folks.

But Unions don’t work that way. They just protect the incompetent and insulate themselves from any accountability for anything.

Oh, and they want ALL your Money. They deserve it. After all, they are special. 🙂

Political Cartoon