The Roundup for February 16, 2011
Just got a new slow cooker, so need to run out for potatoes to add to my chicken dish, which I have to plan now, because it’s a slow cooker.
• With the open amendments process on the House continuing resolution, Democrats were able to stop some cuts to police and firefighter programs. Nancy Pelosi praised that action but said that the CR “would still destroy 800,000 private and public-sector jobs.”
• Yves Smith has responded to both the CAP GSE reform proposal and the Treasury Department’s white paper. She doesn’t like either, but I was under the impression that Treasury picked up on John Hempton’s plan to raise fees for GSE guarantees gradually, which Smith wholeheartedly supported previously. And she also seems in sync with Treasury’s plan to raise the down payments on mortgages to at least 10% on conventional loans. The problem with Treasury’s “plan” is it’s not a plan but a framework, so it’s hard to critique.
• Democrats keep chasing the shiny object of LIHEAP cuts, ignoring the other social services cuts in the budget.
• Keep an eye out for US Uncut, the analogue to the successful anti-austerity movement in the UK. They’ve really just started so there’s not much there yet.
• Matt Taibbi has another great piece in Rolling Stone on why nobody on Wall Street has been to jail. But it could have been a short blog post:
Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.
“Everything’s fucked up, and nobody goes to jail,” he said. “That’s your whole story right there. Hell, you don’t even have to write the rest of it. Just write that.”
End of story.
• In addition to wanting to limit the CFPB budget in the Federal Reserve, House Republicans want to put CFPB back in Treasury so they can better control annual appropriations. Wait a sec. If they feel like they have to do this, aren’t they implicitly conceding that they cannot impact the annual appropriation of CFPB if it’s in the Fed, which they’re trying to do in the 2011 CR?
• More clashes in Yemen and across the Muslim world today, as the (outgoing) Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, says that Arab nations shouldn’t fear the uprisings. That’s easy for him to say, he’s in line to become the new leader of Egypt. On this point, Graham Fuller has an excellent op-ed about Bahrain, US interests, and how they don’t align with anything resembling freedom or democracy.
• Consumers saving more is prudent for the long-term in this you’re-on-your-own society, but in the short term it really does stall recovery. Maybe we should make the safety net better to reverse this trend.
• If the US government is one big insurance agency with a standing army, then they should insure against climate change, too.
• The Fed predicts higher GDP growth in their monthly forecast, but the same jobless rate. We’ve seen this movie before.
• This lawsuit against BofA and Countrywide could be formidable. It has to do with faulty appraisals as well as bad securitizations.
• For-profit colleges and their super-rich lobbyists keep fighting government regulations and may even succeed. Someone should mention that one of their lobbyists, Lanny Davis, recently defended a war criminal in Ivory Coast just as his forces were committing atrocities.
• Mark Bittman wonders why GMO foods aren’t labeled, let alone blocked from sale.
• Hard for the US government to get all high and mighty about Internet freedom abroad when they want to access personal details of Internet users here at home.
• Could we actually see habeas challenges from Bagram, and thanks to the federal judge who worked under Ken Starr in the Independent Counsel’s office, no less?
• I can see this story about the ICE agent shot and killed in Mexico becoming a big deal stateside.
• John Boehner’s claim that the federal workforce has increased by 200,000 since Obama took office isn’t even close to being true.
• The lawmaker who wrote the “justifiable homicide” bill against abortion providers in South Dakota is backing off, but mainly because people are watching.
• At this point, 150 years beyond the formation of the KKK, I think it’s safe, Haley Barbour, to denounce the founder. Of course, he doesn’t want his bread and butter Southern racist base to be offended.
• Representatives for the Villagers in Ecuador will not stop pursuing Chevron until they get the money owed to them for pollution cleanup.
• The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report is a best-seller. Why is that? I downloaded it for free.
• The Sea Shepherds rock. They stopped a whale hunt today.
• Justin Bieber loves Canadian single payer health care. He’s also anti-choice, so don’t get too excited.
• Actual amendment to the budget from a House Republican: save money by taking away Obama’s TelePrompTer! Face!
• Man-on-dog Rick Santorum has a Google problem. Yay, Dan Savage!