Tag Archives: Congress

Dog bites man…


And Congress does its bloody best to make sure that we get a repeat of the world financial meltdown from 2007.

At issue is the “swaps push-out” rule, which requires banks to move derivatives trading out of taxpayer-backed subsidiaries. Derivatives are risky financial instruments that contributed to the 2008 crash. Allowing banks to conduct those trades on the assumption that taxpayers would bail them out if the deals went sour was not only bad for taxpayers; it also raised the value of the trades and thus effectively acted as a subsidy for the banks. Financial institutions, obviously, weren’t thrilled with the new rule. In 2013, lobbyists for Citigroup gave lawmakers a proposal to exempt a wide array of derivatives, and it subsequently appeared in a bill approved by a House committee that year.

Derivatives are what nearly sank the whole thing the last time around. And now, the Congress has decided, in the same kind of “bipartisan” way that brought us the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the Commodity Futures Trading Act during the Clinton Administration, to let these guys gamble with taxpayer money again. This is such a spectacularly bad idea that it’s hard to believe that its supporters didn’t sneak it into the bill the way they did just as a goof, to see what they could get away with, those scamps.

“Hey, Bob. Let’s see if we can get them to pass the Free Smack Subsidy next! Somebody call Luntz and have him think up a name for it. The Opiate Liberation And Personal Freedom Liberty Act Of 2014, or something.”

The arrangement is the result of a “bipartisan compromise” engineered by Mikulski by which Wall Street gets to oil up the roulette wheel again in exchange for increased funding for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is supposed to oversee things like derivatives training, and which the incoming, and more radical, Republican congressional majority surely will chloroform entirely the first chance it gets. Meanwhile, things are being arranged to put us all on the hook again for Wall Street’s gambling jones.

Speaking of everything being fucking awful…


I see the Democrats are doing their usual shit of selling out to corporate interests at the expense of science, clean renewable energy, and the middle class and poor people:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress.

Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into — or deeper into — poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the package would make permanent tax provisions that are intended to help businesses, including a research and development credit, small business expensing, and a reduction in the S-Corp recognition period for built-in gains tax.

The costs of the package will not be offset.

You know, as much as I despise the Republican party’s agenda, I will say to their credit that they at least HAVE an agenda and that their response to a bad election cycle isn’t to fucking give up.

So note to Democrats, if you give voters the choice between Republicans and ‘we’re mostly Republicans too’, they’re not going to choose you.

At least the president has promised to veto this atrocity.

Seriously, I’m going back to bed.

(h/t John Cole)

“I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed…”


And here we go…

WASHINGTON — Congressional efforts to raise the nation’s debt limit and reopen the shuttered federal government stalled Tuesday when the House of Representatives delayed a vote on its latest proposal as the threat of possible default loomed larger and a top bond rating agency warned of a possible downgrade for U.S. bonds.

What had appeared to be progress in budget talks stopped as House of Representatives Republicans insisted anew on their own plan, a plan that might again prove unacceptable to Senate Democrats or the White House. Then the House delayed any action.

In a shot from Wall Street at the dysfunction in the capital, the bond rating agency Fitch Ratings said late Tuesday that it would consider downgrading the AAA rating for U.S. government bonds. Fitch said it would look at the question as the debt fight was all but certain to extend into next year even with a short-term settlement now

As we once again approach fiscal disaster and a costly bond rating downgrade, I will continue to remind everyone that the people responsible for driving us off of that cliff are a group of about 50 hard right conservative Republicans in the House who are willing to risk destroying the economy to ensure that millions of Americans go without health care.

Vote in 2014 accordingly, please.

The road to war… er… punative, limited, very small, really tiny military stuff that goes boom


Hmm… the phrase, “With friends like these…” comes to mind.

JERUSALEM — The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, plans to dispatch 300 of its members to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as part of a broad campaign to press Congress to back President Obama’s proposed strike on Syria, the group said Monday.

The push by the group, known as Aipac, which included asking its supporters to call members of Congress, came as Israeli newspapers reported Monday that President Obama urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to get personally involved in lobbying Congress. The reports said that Mr. Netanyahu had called several members himself.

But while those reports could not be confirmed, the intense push by Aipac and other Jewish and pro-Israel groups put Israel in a bind, after a week of trying to stay on the sidelines of the debate. Mr. Netanyahu’s government strongly supports an American strike to punish President Bashar al-Assad of Syria for his apparent use of chemical weapons, and as a warning to his Iranian patrons. But Israelis are deeply worried about being blamed by a wary American public for another military gambit in the Middle East, or of losing their broad bipartisan support if they land on the wrong side of the vote.

So the Israeli government would like the United States to go to war against their enemies on their behalf. And the President called on the Israeli Prime Minister to get personally involved in trying to convince Congress.

No. Just no. Today’s a good day to call your Representative and Senator and let them know that you are against military action in Syria. That we don’t need to get involved in another war in the Middle East. And certainly not for the weak reasons that the administration has been giving us.

To put it more simply, here’s something I’ve seen floating around social media that sums it up nicely:

Syria

I can’t fathom how the Israelis will think that talking the Representatives of the American people into an unpopular war will not damage America’s long term support for their nation. It seems foolishly short-sighted. Americans do not want this war. Getting pushed into by Israel will only make them even less likely to want to take future military action in that region.

The one bipartisan consensus continues…


This weekend saw a brief pause in our rush to go bomb something, as the President decided that maybe, being a constitutional law scholar and all, he should go talk to the one branch of government whose job it is to declare war before he went about shooting freedom missiles at Syria.

This has proven to be minor impediment in our government’s march to war, well, but authorization of the use of force that only differs from war in that we don’t have to declare it, send troops, or have any sort of achievable goals, we just get to blow shit up.

Now, you might be tempted to think that given how much the GOP seems to reflexively hate anything associated with President Obama, that they might continue to say no to anything he wants to do. I mean, these are the guys who are threatening to implode the full faith and credit of the United States in order to stop the implementation of health care reform ideas that began their life as proposals from the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation after all simply because Obama attached his name to them.

You’d be wrong. War is our national pastime. And when it comes to sending messages via the US Tomahawk postal service, our leaders come together as one to join hands and sing Kumbaya.

 

Cowardice, plain and simple


Rep. Scott Rigell (R–Virginia) reports that as of a few minutes ago his letter urging President Obama to consult Congress before launching an attack on Syria is “Inching…toward…100… 81 Republicans and 16 Democrats have signed on to our letter so far…”

This disgusts me. The passivity of it disgusts me.

Congress should not send a letter asking the President to consult Congress before taking America to war. Congress should tell the President flatly that unless he comes to the Capitol building and gives a convincing rationale for attacking a nation-state that is not a direct, immediate threat to the United States of America, that they will not fund it. Period. They are the branch of government that declares war, not the Executive. If they think military action is warranted, then they need to own it. Not cravenly sit by bitching about being ‘consulted’ on the matter of STARTING A WAR.

For all the talk of their fealty to the letter of the constitution and all the rhetoric about Obama being a dictator, they sure do seem content to sit back and try and distance themselves from STARTING A WAR and the resultant killing that follows.

They are opportunistic cowards who will try and utilize the decision to START A WAR to further advance their careers or bring down the careers of those on the other side.

As I said, disgusting. But typical of Congress these days.

The End Game


Is this really a surprise to anyone? Anyone?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) suggested that President Obama could be impeached over what he alleged was a White House cover-up after last year’s attack in Benghazi, Libya.

They did it to the last Democratic president. They’ll probably try it with this one. And, if given the chance, they’ll do it to the next one and the one after that.

You cannot compromise with amoral lunatics.

But a part of me really would like to see the GOP stand up and explain to the American people how having the State department go back and forth with the CIA on talking points to produce a statement for a spokesperson who said that extremists attacked and killed our people because they were upset over a movie instead of because we are constantly bombing the countries in which they live amounts to a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’

Not that it matters, really, because as well all know, the only part of the constitution that is legitimate is the 2nd amendment.

Sweet mother of Zod, I’m leavin’ early, so pass the vodka, comrades.

Benghazi


As Congress continues to hold hearings on the Benghazi attacks, it is perhaps useful to keep in mind the fun we had with the last Republican Congress and the last Democratic president that was the Whitewater investigations, in which Congress held hearings, investigations, appointed a special prosecutor all in an attempt to undermine, weaken, and get convictions against Bill and Hillary Clinton, which ultimately ended in zero charges against the couple and their eventual post-office verbal acceptance by Republicans.

If you will recall the last neverending investigation of a Democratic President by a Republican Congress, there were many, many hearings that attempted to pin financial crimes on the President and only succeeded in discovering stained dresses and what the president enjoyed doing with his cigars when Ms. Clinton wasn’t around, so… yeah… thank you so much for putting that image into our heads, Gingrich.

So this week, as the endless hearings continue into why a White House spokesperson went on a Sunday news show and said that the attack happened because some Muslims were upset by a movie an idiot made instead of the fact that some Muslims were (and are very) upset by the fact that the U.S. is currently bombing the hell out of their countries (and their women and children), will continue in the hopes that some new stained dress and ruined cigar will surface.

Also, I’m sure we will hear endless armchair generaling about how President John McCain would have totally flown to Libya himself and saved everyone and killed all the terrorists everywhere with his bare hands.

Wow…


In case you were wondering why the Senate Republicans let a bipartisan deal on expanded background checks for guns die in committee unable to clear the threatened filibuster, Senator Pat Toomey (co-author of the bill) clues us in:

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn’t want to “be seen helping the president.”

Two weeks ago, only three Republican senators voted for the bipartisan background checks amendment sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), despite overwhelming popular support for such a measure.

“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,” Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.

So principles and good politics be damned. We’re going to kill this bill just to piss off liberals.

And people wonder why our government can’t do a damn thing.

(h/t John Cole)

Death from above


I’ve been a bit absent on politics lately, because frankly, the election burned me out and I was tired of talking about it in any capacity. These days one of the fastest ways to get removed from my social media feeds to be non-stop troll me with right-wing memes that can be debunked by googling Snopes.com.

I just don’t have the energy for it right now.

But seriously, this is just bad:

The Obama administration has “no intention” of authorizing a drone strike against U.S. citizens on American soil, but Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Tuesday that “an extraordinary circumstance” might make the option possible.

Of course, you won’t know what those extraordinary circumstances are or when they take effect or whether or not you should avoid weddings or funerals for a few days, because the decision to use drones and lethal force is completely self-contained within the Executive branch and has no oversight, checks, or balances of any sort, so… you know, sleep tight, tonight and try not to think of the possibility that someone in the Department of “Justice” might one day recommend dropping a freedom bomb on your block because some neighbor’s kid posted something on the wrong bulletin board.

We’ve gone from the last administration arguing that it was perfectly legal for the president to order your kid’s testicles to be crushed to get you to talk to the current administration arguing that it’s perfectly legal to order an assassination of an American citizen on US soil without due process.

Note to the useless sacks of crap currently comprising what is called Congress… This is the sort of thing you should slap the administration over. Not Benghazi.

But they won’t. Because they don’t care and even if they didn’t, it is the rare congressman who could fight for the principles of civil liberties with the threat of being blamed if, God forbid, another terrorist attack occurred in a US city.

Also, we don’t really care either. Because we live with the expectation that it will never happen here.