Morning Swim, Don’t Make Them Mad Edition
First: A new Times/CBS poll finds the President’s approval rating remains high. But the public worries the country/he can’t solve our long-run fiscal problems or fix the health care muddle. Seems they’re paying attention.
Second: It’s the unamimous view of the U.S. Senate that we must cover up photos of our mistreating/torturing people we detained in our wars, thus confirming that we mistreated/tortured people we detained in our wars, which is supposed to not make them mad and want to kill our people. Before George Bush and Dick Cheney, most Americans would have thought this reasoning is crazy, because it is.
Third: Who could have predicted that if you set out to reform America’s health care system, but accepted the constraint that you have to preserve its most flawed features — like the private insurance system that leaves millions uncovered, costs way too much and provides lower quality care than other nations without those features — that every one of the leading "reform" proposals in Congress would wind up leaving millions of people uncovered, cost way too much, and likely not improve the overall quality of care in America?
Well, our WH and Congress never saw that coming. Which leads TNR’s Jonathan Cohn to say it’s time to worry that we can’t pull this off. No kidding.
Fourth: The very good economist interviewed on PBS had to defend Obama’s proposed financial reforms against the nice bankers’ lady. She’s not George Will, so he was very polite.
She complains that it’s really unfair to think George Bailey needs more regulation when it was too-big-to-fail Mr. Potter who strangled the economy. She neglects to mention that all of Potter’s relatives are leading members of the American Bankers Association. Near the end, Krugman notes the proposals don’t go nearly far enough, even though they bring the AIGs and Wall Street banksters under some regulatory oversight.
In Only a Hint of Roosevelt in Financial Overhaul, the Times Joe Nocera says this isn’t the New New Deal. Aside from allowing the institutions that were too big to fail remain too big to fail (and leaving moral hazard unchecked), regulating the wrong derivatives, and putting the Federal Reserve — that’s the entity that missed the housing bubble and the shadow banks’ systemic risks and looting — in charge of making sure it doesn’t fall asleep again, it’s a fine proposal. I’m moving my savings from the mattress to my sock drawer as soon as it passes.
Nocera’s a good read, and here’s his final ‘graph:
The regulatory structure erected by Roosevelt during the Great Depression — including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the establishment of serious banking oversight, the guaranteeing of bank deposits and the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated banking from investment banking — lasted six decades before it started to crumble in the 1990s. In retrospect, it would be hard to envision even the best-constructed regulation lasting more than that. If Mr. Obama hopes to create a regulatory environment that stands for another six decades, he is going to have to do what Roosevelt did once upon a time. He is going to have [to] make some bankers mad.
He should make health insurance companies and a few other mega interests mad, too, but it ain’t the man’s style, and that’s a problem we seem to be having in lots of areas.
On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to have a problem seriously upsetting folks who actually supported a lot of what he said he’d do, while going out of his way to court a group of bad-faith liars who’ll let the country fail if he fails with it, and whom 3/4 of the country can’t stand. Strange, that.