by ilene - December 6th, 2010 10:28 pm
Courtesy of Mish
President Obama has agreed to a tax deal that’s bound to please deficit-hawk hypocrites on both sides of the aisle. The cost is a mere $30 billion spread over 10 years. Spreading the cost over 10 years is an interesting concept given that the extensions are "temporary" for only 2 years.
Of course the last extension was "temporary" and the next extension will be "temporary" as well which makes me wonder about that $30 billion cost.
I have a better idea, why don’t we just "temporarily" extend these deals until 2020 and be done with it? We might be in a genuine recovery by then.
Of course we will then have to factor in the idea that we may need to "temporarily" extend the benefits "one" more time lest we sink the nascent 2020 recovery.
Obama’s Proposed "Compromise"
Inquiring minds may be asking "Just how compromising is the compromise, and more importantly, what’s in it for Susie?" Those are very good questions. The answers can be found in the article Obama Agrees to Extend Tax Cuts for Everyone for Two Years.
President Barack Obama said he’ll agree to a two-year extension of all Bush-era tax cuts in exchange for extending federal unemployment insurance. The plan also would cut the payroll tax by 2 percentage points.
Obama said he would accept a lower rate for the estate tax than Democrats wanted in order to break a stalemate over extending the Bush tax cuts before Congress adjourns. The current tax rates, enacted in 2001 and 2003, are set to expire Dec. 31.
Without the compromise, middle-income families would become “collateral damage for political warfare here in Washington,” Obama said in televised remarks. He said he still believes the nation can’t afford to permanently extend the top tax rates.
“This compromise is an essential step on the road to recovery,” Obama said.
In addition to keeping the current tax rates for all Americans, the plan outlined by Obama would extend aid for the long-term unemployed for another 13 months. The payroll tax — which funds Social Security and Medicare — would be cut by 2 percentage points during 2011 to help spur hiring.
Obama also endorsed allowing a full deduction for equipment purchases that currently must be deducted over time. The proposal would accelerate $200 billion in tax savings for companies in the first
by ilene - May 21st, 2010 2:21 pm
Courtesy of Simon Johnson at Baseline Scenario
After 9 months of hard fighting, yesterday financial reform came down to this: an amendment, proposed by Senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin that would have forced big banks to get rid of their speculative proprietary trading activities (i.e., a relatively strong version of the Volcker Rule.)
The amendment had picked up a great deal of support in recent weeks, partly because of unflagging support from Paul Volcker and partly because of the broader debate around the Brown-Kaufman amendment (which would have forced the biggest 6 banks to become smaller). Brown-Kaufman failed, 33-61, but it demonstrated that a growing number of senators were willing to confront the power of our biggest and worst banks.
Yet, at the end of the day, the Merkley-Levin amendment did not even get a vote. Why?
Partly this was because of procedural maneuvers. Merkley-Levin could only get a vote if another amendment, proposed by Senator Brownback (on exempting auto dealers from new consumer protection rules) got a vote. Late yesterday afternoon, Senator Brownback was persuaded, presumably by his Republican colleagues and by financial lobbyists, to withdraw his amendment.
Of course, Merkley-Levin was only in this awkward position because of an earlier lack of wholehearted support from the Democratic leadership – and from the White House. Again, the long reach of Wall Street was at work.
But the important point here is quite different. If Merkley-Levin did not have the votes, it was in the interest of the megabanks to have it come to the floor and be defeated. That would have been a clear victory for the status quo.
But Merkley-Levin had momentum and could potentially have passed – reflecting a big change of opinion within the Senate (and more broadly around the country). The big banks were forced into overdrive to stop it.
The Volcker Rule, in its weaker Dodd bill form (“do a study and think about implementing”), perhaps will survive the upcoming House-Senate conference – although, because this process likely will not be televised, all kinds of bad things may happen behind closed doors. Regulators may also take the Volcker Rule more seriously – but the most probable outcome is that the Fed and other officials will get a great deal of discretion regarding how to implement the principles, and they will completely fudge the issue.
by ilene - May 20th, 2010 6:00 pm
Guest Post: Who Will Your Senator Stand With Now?
Courtesy of Tyler Durden
By Dylan Ratigan
At this very instant, many of those in our Senate are in danger of being led off the plank by outgoing Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd. With cloture passing, Senator Dodd now has one final chance to present a manager’s amendment to make a weak bill stronger (or possibly even weaker.)
Once again, this financial "reform" process has thankfully brought into the light of day that we have politicians who are brazen in their willingness to aid the same fraudsters who have brought a great nation to its knees. But as this week’s primaries have clearly shown, there is no hesitation by the voters in throwing out the Establishment that got us into this mess and apparently has no plans to help us get out.
Thankfully, once forced to vote, politicians can no longer merely pretend to working for the People as they do the bidding of the Banksters. So once you look beyond all of the well-documented behind-the-scenes work by Dodd to weaken financial reform, we also have his on-the-record votes on a few of the meaningful attempts at real reform:
- No on the Franken Amendment to finally end the horrendous scam that is the current credit ratings system.
- No on the Vitter Audit the Fed Amendment that would give true transparency to a shadowy organization that has helped destroy our economy.
And just so you don’t think he can’t say yes to anything…
- Yes on the Carper Amendment to actively prevent state Attorney Generals from fighting for YOUR rights, because apparently the one lesson Senator Dodd learned from this mess is that our country will be much better off if he can just keep the next Eliot Spitzer from protecting citizens.
by ilene - May 20th, 2010 5:43 am
Is this a joke? There’s a broad effort, lead by Shelby, to block a discussion and vote on the Merkley-Levin amendment. Even with a 60 vote requirement and some democratic senators missing (with “one hand tied behind our backs” as Merkley said on the floor), it is still being blocked. David Dayen has the best roundup of the financial massacre from last night. If you get a chance, watch video of Merkley and Levin fighting for their amendment last night. They were on fire.
Between the last minute changes, the way the bill has morphed into an endless stream of studies to be ignored at a later date, the dropping of any of the strong progressive resolution mechanisms in the House and the blocking of votes and discussion on Dorgan, Merkley-Levin and Cantwell’s amendments, this has really been a massacre of what was originally a fairly decent bill. Both Reid and the President need to step in before this situation becomes even worse.
Dorgan slipped in his amendment by attaching it to another amendment, which nobody seemed to have caught. The Senate voted immediately to not have a discussion on the Dorgan amendment, thus having to avoid any responsibility for it.
As we discussed before, members of the “Chartered Financial Analyst”, or CFA, community were polled about the Volcker Rule. CFA’s are considered extremely well-qualified within the financial sector, and here’s how they voted:
Even reforms supported by a majority of polled financial CFA’s can’t get a discussion on the Senate floor. But having to deal with it daily, CFA’s are likely to feel how concentrated, politically powerful and abusive the current US financial system has grown.
Mike Konczal is a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute.