September 6, 2011 archive

The Infrastructure Bank – An Economic Elixir?

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With Congress returning this week, 90 Second Summaries kicks back into gear for the fall. All eyes will be on President Obama as he delivers an address Thursday evening to a joint session of Congress. Mr. Obama is expected to propose a infrastructure-related program to get the economy moving again, and an infrastructure bank is a prime candidate for inclusion in this package.

Last season, we covered a prominent infrastructure bank bill by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT3) and released an interview with the Congresswoman alongside it. Rep. DeLauro has reintroduced her proposal for the 112th Congress, so we are updating this episode to account for recent developments, and we’ll be posting highlights of the interview on Thursday.

Here’s the episode:

As always, the one-pager with more details is below the fold.

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AFL-CIO President Gets Tough With Democrats

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Recently AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid in on the line to the White House and the Democrats, you don’t support us, we won’t support you. “In the past we’ve spent a significant amount of resources on candidates and party structures, and the day after election, workers were no stronger then they were the day before,” Trumka said, during a sit down at his Washington D.C. office slightly more than a week ago.

The failure to pass Employee Free Choice Act and the public health insurance option and the renewal of the Bush tax cuts and the consistent push for free trade deals have made Mr. Trumka cranky. In light of the events in Wisconsin, he has taken a harder stand and in recent interviews has politely let his frustrations show.  This is some of what he said in an interview with Huffington Post where he also spoke out on Social Security and Medicare:

“What we are now focused on is doing a couple of things differently,” Trumka said. “In the past, we would build our structure six to eight months before the election,” he added. “Now we’re not going to do that. We’re going to focus our resources on building a structure that has total fidelity towards America’s working people, both union and non-union working people. We’ll do it 12 months a year, so they’ll be able to transition from electoral politics, to advocacy, to accountability with no effort. And it will continue to build greater strength for workers after the election and in between elections.”

snip

“How do you tell someone like my dad, who retired the day he was 62, that he has to work to 67? It would have been a death sentence for him,” said Trumka. “He couldn’t have worked to 67 — he was completely disabled of black lung. So what do you tell then? You tell them that they ought to be able to retire at a lower range.”

“I think the President made a strategic mistake when he abandoned talking about the jobs crisis and job creation and focused completely on the politically manufactured debt crisis,” he said when asked for a review of the administration’s economic record. “You have one very obvious way to make a dent in the deficit crisis, which is to get people back to work.”

“But you don’t have anyone actually talking about jobs,” Trumka said. “And when you bring it up to people at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, their almost universal response is we have a Congress that won’t do it. So what do you do? You do what leaders do, you lead.”

Another labor official spoke about plans to engage more on the local level:

“One of the most important aspects of the labor movement, which is different then for other entities, is that we have an enormous network of local community workers who are responsible for talking to people after their election,” one top union official said. “The experience of the last six years should teach progressives a great deal about the difference between elected people who say the right thing in their candidate questionnaires and the people who are there voting for workers, voting for jobs and advocating our positions.”

“There was a perception in the progressive community in January 2009 that things had gotten pretty good,” the official, who requested anonymity, added. “But we didn’t have an infrastructure in place to say we need a bigger stimulus, or we need to be concerned about jobs or we need to have a different national agenda.”

So what has President Obama done since he was elected? He has met with and capitulated to the demands of Republicans, banks, Wall St. and corporations. I sincerely doubt that Obama will have anything that will be any different to say on Thursday than this mediocre responses of the past.

Two for Tuesday

Hello everyone. My interest in politics and political blogging has gone way down. But I’m still a big fan of music and I’d like to move this little series here. It has never gotten much interest anywhere else but I’m hope you can enjoy it as much as I do.  

This failed series is about my many memories of many Tuesdays listening to back to back songs by the same band on WNEW-FM “Where rock lived.” The station is long gone now and as far as my music taste goes those favorite DeeJays have mostly been replaced by a man named John Schaefer.

If you listen to John Schaefer long enough you will hear this same named mentioned over and over as the man who was the direct link between “Rhythm & Blues” and “Rock & Roll.” The last time I heard John Schaefer mention this familiar Blues Man as a Father of Rock & Roll was on August 19th during the fascinating interview about Traveling the Chitlin’ Circuit.

Cartnoon

Wet Hare

Holding The Banks Acountable

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama’s jettisoning the EPA regulations dominated the Friday news dump. What was buried in the usual media hullabaloo was this:

FHFA Sues 17 Firms to Recover Losses toFannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Apparently the FHFA has found something that this White House hasn’t, the courage to hold the banks accountable for the losses from the sale of mortgage backed securities (MBS) to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The suit surpasses the $20 billion settlement that the 50 state AG settlement is reportedly attempting to extract from the banks for a liability release over ALL issues in foreclosure fraud.

The lawsuits cover $105 billion worth of securities, and FHFA wants returns on some portion of the losses taken on the securities, which they attribute to illegal actions by the banks when they sold the MBS (specifically, misrepresentations about the underlying loans). Earlier reports said that the losses for Fannie and Freddie on private-label MBS came to around $30 billion, so that’s probably around what they will ask for. The LA Times story puts it at $41 billion in losses. Whatever the number, this is more than the 50 state AG settlement is reportedly attempting to extract from the banks for a liability release over ALL issues in foreclosure fraud. And this is just a representations and warrants case.

This may derail the 50 state AG attempts at an agreement that absolves banks from any liability:

The biggest banks are already negotiating with the attorneys general of all 50 states to address mortgage abuses. They are looking for a comprehensive settlement that will protect them from future litigation and limit their potential mortgage litigation losses.

“This new litigation could disrupt the AG settlement,” said Anthony Sanders, finance professor at George Mason University and a former mortgage bond strategist.

Banks may be more reluctant to agree to a settlement if they know litigation from other government players could still wallop their capital, he said.

As David Dayen so astutely observes:

. . . . FHFA is just a canary in the coalmine for the losses and the liability that these banks are holding because of their actions in mortgage origination, securitization, and servicing. You cannot have a banking sector with this many liabilities and expect a robust, well-functioning economy. This action is necessary for the rule of law as well as for the health of the nation.

(emphasis mine)

Even better would be some of the people involved being held responsible and sent to prison.

On This Day In History September 6

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 6 is the 249th day of the year (250th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 116 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, Cal Ripken Jr of the Baltimore Orioles plays in his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking a record that stood for 56 years.

Calvin Edwin “Cal” Ripken, Jr. (born August 24, 1960) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop and third baseman who played his entire career (1981-2001) for the Baltimore Orioles.

During his baseball career, he earned the nickname “Iron Man” for doggedly remaining in the lineup despite numerous minor injuries and for his reliability to “show up” to work every day. He is perhaps best known for breaking New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, a record many deemed unbreakable. Ripken surpassed the 56-year-old record when he played in his 2,131st consecutive game on September 6, 1995 between the Orioles and the California Angels in front of a sold-out crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. To make the feat even more memorable, Ripken hit a home run in the previous night’s game that tied Gehrig’s record and another home run in his 2,131st game, which fans later voted as Major League Baseball’s “Most Memorable Moment” in MLB history. Ripken played in an additional 502 straight games over the next three years, and his streak ended at 2,632 games when he voluntarily removed his name from the lineup for the final Orioles home game of the 1998 season. His record 2,632 straight games spanned over seventeen seasons, from May 30, 1982 to September 20, 1998.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

–André Berthiaume



Art Glass 49

Late Night Karaoke

Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Worst Persons 9.2.2011

Worst Persons: Lucien Chenier, Nan Hayworth and Mike Shaw{/center.

Find out why Lucien Chenier of Ottawa, Ontario, is WORSE; Westchester Rep. Nan Hayworth is WORSER; and Mike Shaw, the acting chairman of the Republican Committee of Pima County, Ariz., is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for September 2, 2011.