Archive for the ‘Mitch McConnell’ Category

A Look at the Causes of the Credit Crisis

March 17, 2009

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the American credit system.  Personally, I think Americans rely far too heavily on credit, and that is going to come back to haunt us VERY soon if we don’t make some drastic changes.

Back during the debate over the first bailout bill of this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following comments:

more about “A Look at the American Credit System …“, posted with vodpod

And it’s that type of thinking that leads to the credit crisis that we’re in now.  The credit system is like our circulatory system?  NO!  We should not be relying that heavily on our credit system.  Credit is NOT intended to be the same thing as money.  Equating credit with available spending money is one of the major factors that led to the Great Depression.  People were buying things on credit and laying out installment payment plans.  That enabled them to buy more stuff, and this created an artificially high demand for items (such as radios or cars, both of which were often being bought on credit).  But once they began having to pay multiple payments back, people could no longer to afford to continue buying stuff (thus why I called the demand “artificially high”) – the demand for those items was not necessarily high, people were just buying things immediately that they normally would have saved up for.  And when they didn’t keep track of how much that would cost in the long run, the credit bubble burst.

The other day, I posted a comment on a friend’s blog (Right Wing Reform), and that’s what got me thinking about all of this.  The following is my comment (with a little more added in – I wrote the original comment to be quick and short):

The credit system is intended to be used as a crutch.  You still do the walking, but you can’t quite walk all by yourself at the beginning of an injury (purchasing a large item).  Over time, you begin to pay off the debt (heal), and use less and less of the crutch, until eventually you don’t need it (the item is paid off).  The problem with the current way many Americans are using credit is that they’re using it more like a wheelchair than a crutch.  And it’s used too often, even to take one little step in a room (buying a meal at McDonald’s or a small purchase at the grocery store).  The problem with using it for small items is that over time, you begin to lose track of how much you’re spending (unless you have a GREAT memory), and a lot of people find themselves not being able to pay off the entire credit card bill at the end of the month.  And do you know what that means?  That’s right, they have to pay interest on that.  And that means less money in their pocket, meaning that they are MORE likely to use credit as cash.  And the person (or family) gets deeper and deeper into debt.

When you overburden the credit system and you never try to walk on your own, the crutch breaks.

Honestly, we’re never going to be able to get rid of credit.  And there’s no reason to.  When used responsibly, it’s a great tool.  But a strong financial system would be able to withstand a loss of a credit system (at least small item credit [the biggest example of a small item credit system would be credit cards; another example would be  installment payments for stuff like furniture] - I would argue that it should be able to withstand the loss of large item credit, but this would mean that buying a house would be something that takes a lot of work and time, and you’d go back to the days of people building their own houses and living with other people rather than a single person owning a home by the age of 23).

Right now, America would not withstand the loss of even the small item credit system, and THAT is a problem for us financially.

If Americans want to get through this financial crisis, keeping the credit cards at home more often would be one way to help.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Déjà vu : Senator Judd Gregg Withdraws Nomination for Commerce Secretary

February 12, 2009

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) has just withdrawn his nomination for the position of Commerce Secretary.  This is breaking news coming in now, but there’s not yet word on the reason behind it.

Just in – there are 2 reasons:

  1. He is unhappy with the economic stimulus package.
  2. He is unhappy that the census moved from being controlled by the Commerce Department to the White House.

So, President Obama is going to have to AGAIN find another person for Secretary of Commerce (since Governor Bill Richardson [D-NM]).  I’ll try to update this when there’s more information.

UPDATE:

Here’s what Obama said during an interview on Air Force One:

“Judd is a good man.  And I think that he sincerely wanted to work with us.  I think he had a change of heart on the idea of leaving the Senate.  [Gregg is] somebody that we’re going to work with on issues like fiscal responsibility, the fiscal summit that’s coming up.  And the one thing I want to make sure of is that people don’t take from this the notion that we can’t get Democrats and Republicans working together.  I’m going to keep on working at this, and eventually, we are going to break down some of these barriers because the American people need it.  They are desperate for us to find common ground.”

He was then asked, “What do you see in terms of common ground potential that perhaps we in the media do not?”

Obama: “I’m an eternal optimist.  I can tell you, generally speaking, Judd Gregg and I agree on 80% of things that matter to the American people.  There’s 20% that we disagree on.  I’ve always felt that we can find areas to work on that we share, and then have a vigorous, heated debate on some of the things that we don’t.  And I think we’re going to get there. [Gregg and I] had a discussion over the last couple days.  I wasn’t sure whether he had made a final decision or not.  But clearly, you know, I think he was just having second thoughts about leaving the Senate, a place where he’s thrived and been there for a long time.  You know I think the one thing I give him credit for is having searched his heart before he took on the job because obviously you don’t want somebody having a change of heart after they have been confirmed and are in the process of building a team.”

Answering a question about when he realized Gregg had reached a final decision, Obama said: “Today.  Look, this kind of thing happens all the time, people change their minds.  Just usually there aren’t a lot of reporters around when it happens.”

And here’s a press release that Gregg issued:

“I want to thank the President for nominating me to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Commerce.  This was a great honor, and I had felt that I could bring some views and ideas that would assist him in governing during this difficult time.  I especially admire his willingness to reach across the aisle.

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me.  Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns.  We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.

“I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.

“As we move forward, I expect there will be many issues and initiatives where I can and will work to assure the success of the President’s proposals.  This will certainly be a goal of mine.

“Kathy and I also want to specifically thank Governor Lynch and Bonnie Newman for their friendship and assistance during this period.  In addition we wish to thank all the people, especially in New Hampshire, who have been so kind and generous in their supportive comments.

“As a further matter of clarification, nothing about the vetting process played any role in this decision.  I will continue to represent the people of New Hampshire in the United States Senate.

And here’s what he said in an interview right after the news broke that he was withdrawing:

I regret that due to the impending Senate schedule involving the potential of dealing with an extremely large stimulus package, coupled with the ongoing issues of developing fiscal policy relative to the budget and the continuing economic downturn and my responsibility for foreign operations appropriations, it has become difficult to continue service on the TARP oversight board.  I have advised Senator McConnell I will need to step aside from this effort.

Gregg, also a ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that even though he is leaving TARP, he will continue to work with the panel.

I will continue to be involved in ongoing TARP discussions and oversight, and will work to ensure that TARP funding remains focused and targeted in order to stabilize our economy and protect consumers.

Alright, so there’s the press releases / comments that were issued.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Happy 200th Birthday to Abraham Lincoln

February 12, 2009

Well, as most of you know, today is Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.  The government has been celebrating this all day, and I’ve been watching the Bicentenial Celebration that the Congress has been holding in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda since I got back from class.

So far, I’ve seen the U.S. Army Chorus sing “The Battle Hymn of  the Republic” (one of my FAVORITE songs).  After that, I listened to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speak.  Each of them shared stories of President Lincoln as well as some quotes from one of our greatest Presidents.  Those speeches should be available on C-SPAN’s website sometime later: http://www.c-span.org/series/lincoln-200-years.aspx.  Also, there is the website www.lincolnbicentennial.gov, but I’ve been unable to get on there yet today due to high traffic.

And I just wanted to take the time out to honor President Lincoln.  While I certainly don’t agree with everything that  he did, I do think that he was a great President.  He got us through one of the toughest times in the history of this country.  He reunited the country after the Civil War.  He was monumental in ending slavery.  He was the kind of person who never gave up, and this was seen in how he continued his political career after suffering defeats.

He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed, even when that made him unpopular with some, and that is what made Lincoln a truly great President.  You knew where he stood.  And he stood strong.

President Lincoln, thank you, for what you did for this country.  You truly were a great man.

Done Remembering,

Ranting Republican
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A Michigander’s Perspective: The Goverment Should Not Bail Out the Auto Industry

November 13, 2008

As rumors fly that a $25 billion bailout of the auto industry may actually come to a vote in the Congress, I figured that I, a citizen of Metro Detroit and Michigan should weigh in.

First, the facts:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for “emergency and limited financial assistance” for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler where legislation would be passed that would make the automakers eligible for financial support under the $700 billion bailout bill that was passed in October.

This comes after a $25-billion loan program bill specifically for automakers that was passed in September.  The problem with that program was intended to loan money to the Big 3 only to help refit plants across the country in order to assist automakers in making tougher fuel economy standards.  Now the automakers are saying that they need loans just to keep overall operations continuing.

Republicans in Congress are expected to push for the restrictions on the $25 billion to be dropped, before any other optionss are considered.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already started advocating for this plan; however, it is expected that Democrats will oppose dropping any of the restrictions on the $25 billion.

Now, what is my opinion?

Well, I have a lot to gain if the auto industry bounces back.  I have 2,500 shares of Delphi, an auto parts supplier for General Motors.  If it goes back up to $10 a share, I’ll have made a little under around $24,650 on my investment.

Plus, it’ll bring jobs back to Michigan if the automakers do bounce back.  And that’ll help the economy of my state, which is in a pretty sad condition right now.

But, I still oppose the bailout.

First, I’m tired of Michiganders saying, “I support the bailout because it’ll bring jobs back to Michigan.”  Well, my fellow Michiganders, when it’s YOUR tax dollars being spent outside of the state, would you support a bailout?

If the technology sector all of a sudden began failing, would you support a bailout of Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Adobe, Atari, Microsoft, Sony, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, etc…?  I wouldn’t!  And as Governor Granholm is advocating for this bailout, mayors of major cities all over the nation are asking for their piece of the bailout?  And did I not predict that as we bail out more companies, more people would ask for their piece of the bailout pie?

This attitude is the same attitude as many people have with earmarks.  Ask most voters and they’ll tell you that they oppose earmarks, but then they’ll go and vote for the Representative “who brought so much money back to the district” through earmarks.  Examples of this are my representative, Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI13), who brags about the earmarked money she’s brought to the Detroit area, and more famously, Representative John Murtha (D-PA12) and Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK).

Second, the fact that the United Auto Worker’s Union (UAW) is backing this bailout scares me.  A LARGE PORTION OF THIS PROBLEM IS THE UAW’s FAULT!  The UAW bullied GM, Delphi, and Chrysler into giving workers benefits and wages that the companies couldn’t afford.  How?  By threatening to strike when the companies were suffering.  (I don’t remember the UAW ever threatening Ford with a strike in recent years, but I could be wrong).  Let me give the UAW a little lesson in business management: When your company is losing money, the LAST thing you want to do is cost your company more money by not showing up to work and going on strike.  If the government is going to step in and do anything about the auto industry crisis, it should be to reduce the choke-hold that the UAW has had on auto companies.  Instead of complaining about getting your benefits or wages cut, be thankful that you have JOBS.  Because when you go on strike, that means products aren’t being made, which means that less products will be sold, which means that less money comes in to the company, which means that either A) you lose your job or B) you lose wages/benefits.  Striking during a time of CRISIS only furthers the problem, and the fact that the UAW leadership (and at least 51% of the membership) refuses to acknowledge this (or are just too stupid to realize it), really angers me.  Obviously you can’t see me right now, but I’m actually getting angry just talking about the sheer stupidity of the UAW (and a lot of unions, such as the unions that struck during Northwest Airline’s financial problems and eventual bankruptcy).

And that leads me to my next point: Bankruptcy court.  We have them for a reason folks.  Let the automakers use them.  We shouldn’t be looking at bailouts at all until the companies file for Chapter 11 (and even after that, I will still be opposed to bailouts).

Lastly: I don’t think that the bailouts will work with the auto industry.  Some have cited (as they did for the bailout bill passed in October) that the government successfully bailed out Chrysler in the 1970s by guaranteeing a $1.5 billion loan.  The problem with equating the 2 situations is that in the 1970s, we weren’t establishing a pattern of bailing out company after company who came to the government looking for help.  In addition, that was a bailout of one company, not the auto industry.  Honestly, if one of the Big 3 fail, that will probably be enough to give the other 2 enough business to recover.  It’s not ideal, or anywhere CLOSE to ideal (heck, I have friends and family members who work in all 3 companies), but it’s better than this general industry bailout plan.  I think that an industry bailout will help the Big 3 for a while, but that won’t be enough for them to recover, so 1 or 2 of them may fail (I honestly think GM would be the first to go, and I don’t see Ford going under).

It’s not a good situation, but a bailout will only make it worse.  Michiganders and Detroiters need to stop being selfish and start thinking about the good of the country as a whole.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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4 Days to Go: Senate Prediction: Democrats Gain 6 Seats

October 31, 2008

Here’s my Senate prediction.  I already did my Presidential election prediction as well as the Gubernatorial Elections prediction.  The colors ARE switched from what the normal media colors, so sorry about that, but that’s the way the website I use does it.  The maps are courtesy of Dave Leip’s U.S. Election Atlas, and my most current prediction can always be found here.  On to the predictions…

* = Pickup via defeat of incumbent; ^ = Pickup of an open seat

Democrats: 16 (+6)
Republicans: 19 (-6)
Light gray indicates states with no Senate races

First, a note about Wyoming and Mississippi:

  • Wyoming has 2 races, Michael Enzi (R) against Chris Rothfuss (D) and John Barasso (R) against Nick Carter (D). I expect both Republicans to win with results around 63%.
  • Mississippi has 2 races. The maps are predictions for Thad Cochran (R) against Erik Fleming (D). In the election between Roger Wicker (R) and Ronnie Musgrove (D), I expect Wicker to win with around 51%, a much closer race than the other.

Alright, so let’s look at the states where people may disagree with me:

  • Arkansas: Mark Pryor is unopposed by a Republican.  Rebekah Kennedy (Green) is the only opponent, so that’s why I have it so high.  It’s not a mistake.
  • Alaska: Last prediction, I had it going to “Uncle Ted” Stevens.  Then, the jury found him guilty.  I changed my prediction on the U.S. Election Atlas website, but didn’t repost a prediction here (although I did write a blog post saying that Mark Begich would win).  Then, I started thinking, and I think Stevens will pull it off.  I know the polls disagree (but the Research 2000 poll showing him down 22% is just wrong), but I don’t see Alaskans voting out Uncle Ted.
  • Minnesota: Again, like last time, for every poll that comes out showing Franken ahead, a poll comes out showing Coleman ahead by the same amount.  Right now, it’s just too close to call, so I’ll keep it where I had it last week.

Now, the map indicating the confidence that I have that my prediction is right:

Democrats: 16 (+5)
Republicans: 19 (-5)
Tossup: 3
Light gray indicates states with no Senate races

Alright, so what changes did I make since last time, and why?  Here they are:

State

Previous

Current

Reasoning

AK

D50L

R50T

I don’t think they’ll vote “Uncle Ted” out.

IA

D50S

D60S

It looks like Tom Harkin will reach 60% here.

KY

R50L

R50S

Mitch McConnell seems to be making a stronger comeback, back from when it was looking like a close race.  I think he’s now safe for sure.

NE

R60S

R50S

I think this an oversight the first time I did the predictions.

NM

D60S

D50S

I think Steve Pearce (R) has gained enough support that he’ll keep Tom Udall (D) from getting above 60%.

NC

R50T

D50T

Elizabeth Dole’s “Godless” attack ad against Kay Hagan was found out to be less than true.  I think there’ll be big backlash against Dole, and I think it’ll go to Hagan, but it is still a little bit too close to call in my opinion.

OR

R40T

D50S

Like I said last week, if Gordon Smith (R) didn’t pull ahead (as he was looking like he might), I was going to slide it over to Jeff Merkley, and that’s what I did.

By Monday, when I do my final update, I should be able to take North Carolina out of the toss-up category, and if more polls come out with Begich leading by a huge margin in Alaska, I’ll switch it back to Begich.  I don’t think I’ll be able to take Minnesota out of the toss-up category, but Al Franken’s latest campaign ad controversy may help Coleman, and I may be able to slide it to the “Lean” category.

Come back here on Monday for my final prediction.

Done Predicting,

Ranting Republican

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Live Analysis of the Senate Vote on the New Bailout Bill: Bill Passes

October 1, 2008

Alright, so I’ve been watching C-SPAN throughout the day as much as I could, and saw everything from the US-India nuclear agreement and the Amtrak bill to the discussion on the Financial Industry Bailout bill.  They’ll be voting on that next, and I’ll be live blogging as they vote, whether it looks like it’ll pass or fail.  The rumor is that it’s expected to pass the 60-vote threshold, since they added some tax cut packages; however, these packages were rejected earlier in the week by the house, so it may clear the Senate, but fail the House by more than H.R. 3997 did.

This is now discussion on H.R. 1424, the Paul Wellstone (former Senator from MN) Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007:

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), speaking for an amendment on the bailout bill, although he’s stated that he is against the bailout bill overall.

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), now speaking that the current bill is a good bill, and it’s “necessary that we pass it now.”  He is saying that Senator Sanders amendment would be bad for taxpayers.

Vote on the Amendment:

The Noes have it.

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), now speaking.  Saying that it’s the waning hours of the Senate, and that the Senators depend on their staff a lot, talking about them working unbelievable hours: “they make this place operate.”  Talking about the Legislative Clerk, David Tinsley.  Thanking him for his service.

Mitch McConnell (R-KY), now wishing Tinsley well in his retirement.

McConnell now speaking again, there’s 2 minutes to each side.  Talking about the bipartisan work in coming together to build a bill to resolve this financial crisis.  Saying that Senators Gregg and Dodd (who were appointed as designees for delegating time for discussion, etc) did a good job on the bill.  Saying that this will help resolve the “problems facing mainstream Americans.”  Saying that “we came together” in the middle of an election year.  He’s congratulating Senators for coming together and urges the passage of the bill.

Senator Reid: Is now reading letters from people who have written in to him, regarding the financial bill.  Saying that this bill isn’t for Wall Street, but for families across America.  Well, Mr. Reid, it may not be for them, but it’s going to benefit them for a time, and ultimately hurt American families.  Talking about keeping taxpayers first.  But this isn’t going to keep taxpayers safe.  He’s saying it’s an investment, but this will only set precedent for further government losses.  He’s talking about giving help to people who will have their homes foreclosed on, but it’s their fault they bought houses the couldn’t afford.  We have to draw the line, and helping people avoid foreclosure will only set precedent and make the situation worse.  Talking about getting alternative energy (BUT HE DIDN’T MENTION NUCLEAR!).  Talking about how much land in Nevada is owned by the government – 87% of the land is owned by the federal government, and 40% is no-flyover – I never realized it’s so much!  Some Senator’s cell phone went off.  Now talking about “each Senator … facing a critical test of leadership” tonight.  “Help is on the way.”

They’re voting now on an amendment to H.R. 1424 (a mental health bill which also had a tax break section added into it, as I said above), which will add the Emergency Economic Stabalization section to the bill – I thought McConnell had leader time to speak still???

Calling the roll:

Akaka: Aye

Alexander: Aye

Barasso: Aye

Baucus: Aye

Bayh: Aye

Bennett: Aye

Bingamen: Aye

Boxer: Aye

Brown: Aye

Brownback: No

Burr: Aye

Cantwell: No

Cardin: Aye

Casey: Aye

Clinton: Aye

Cockren: No

Coleman: Aye

Collins: Aye

Conrad: Aye

Corker: Aye

Cornyn: Aye

Craig: Aye

Crapo: No

Dodd: Aye

Dole: No

Domenici: Aye

Dorgan: No

Durbin: Aye

Ensign: Aye

Enzi: No

Feingold: No – WHAT!

Feinstein: Aye

Grassley: Aye

Gregg: Aye

Hagel: Aye – DANG IT!

Harkin: Aye

Hatch: Aye

Hutchison: Aye

Inhofe: No

Inouy: Aye

Isakson: Aye

Kerry: Aye

Flobecarh: Aye

Cole: Aye

Kyle: Aye

Landreau: No

Lautenberg: Aye

Levin: Aye

Lieberman: Aye

Lincoln: Aye

Luger: Aye

Martinez: Aye

McCain: Aye

McCaskill: Aye

McConnell: Aye

Menendez: Aye

McCulski: Aye

Murkowski: Aye

Murray: Aye

Nelson (FL): No

Obama: Aye

Pryor: Aye

Reed: Aye

Reid: Aye

Roberts: No

Salazar: Aye

Sanders: No

Schumer: Aye

Sessions: No

Shelby: No

Smith: Aye

Snowe: Aye

Specter: Aye

Stabenow: No

Stevens: Aye

Sununu: Aye

Tester: No

Thune: Aye

Vitter: No

Voinovich: Aye

Warner: Aye

Webb: Aye

Whitehouse: Aye

Wicker: No

Widen: No

Biden: Aye

Bunning: No

Borasso: No

Byrd: Aye

Coburn: Aye

Demint: No

Johnson: No

Allard: No

Chambliss: Aye

Lahey: Aye

Graham: Aye

Bond: Aye

Nelseon (NE): Aye

Carper: Aye

The vote passes 74-25.  The Amendment having 60 votes, the amendment is agreed to.  (I later found out that Senator Ted Kennedy was not present tonight, as he is having medical difficulties.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the Senator).

Reid is now speaking, saying he’s happy with tonight’s vote.  “When we work together, we can accomplish good things. … Thank you” to everyone.

Now the vote on HR 1424, a Mental Health Bill which now includes the above amendment.  This bill is expeced to pass.

Akaka: Aye

Alexander: Aye

Allard: Aye

Barasso: No

Bayh

And I’ve lost sound on C-SPAN??  It’s too hard to keep up with her on this one – I’ll summarize it once they’re done voting.

And we’ve now lost all sound from C-SPAN, so I’m clueless as to what’s going on.  The vote tally listed on the screen is for the amendment to the bill, so I’m not sure if the bill is passing as of now or not, but as I said above, this bill is expected to pass.  It’s funny, the media is now reporting that the Senate passed the bailout bill, although all they actually did was add it on to another bill, which they’re just voting on now.

Lieberman: Aye

It passed 74-25.  The bill, as amended, has passed, having obtained 60 votes.

I’m guessing that the votes were the same as on the amendment.

And they’re moving on to other business.  I’m done!

I really don’t think this bill should’ve passed.  Obviously I think it’s better than the first bill, but I’m still not happy with it.  We’ll see what happen in the House later this week.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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