Archive for the ‘Speaker of the House’ Category

Michigan Legislature Needs to Get to Work on Permanent Budget

October 5, 2009

Last week, Michigan saw its second government shutdown in the state’s history.  In the history of this country, only two other states have had government shutdowns because of a budget crisis, and Michigan is the only state to have more than one shutdown.  What’s even more sad is that the 2 shutdowns came only 2 years apart.

I ended up watching most of the late-night sessions last week, as I followed the budget crisis, and while there were some humorous segments (such as “I can count!” coming from the chairman of the Senate), most of what I saw was just sad – it’s sad that the Michigan legislature can’t pass a budget on time.

So why does Michigan have problems passing a budget?  There has been a fundamental failure in leadership, as well as the overall impacts of having the state in such a poor economic state.

Michigan is essentially the same position as it was for the 2007 shutdown: a Democratic Governor with terrible economic policies, a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with Andy Dillon (D-Redford) as Speaker of the House waiting until it is too late to work on the budget, and a Republican-controlled Senate who tried to get the budget done on time, but was unable to overcome the incompetency of the House.

In both the 2007 and 2009 shutdowns, work on the budget started too late, and many legislators (including Republicans) weren’t committed to finishing the budget on time.

While portions of the budget were being passed by the Senate late Tuesday night, the House had already recessed for the day.  We saw the same thing in 2007: Andy Dillon would go would only have the House in session once or twice a week over the summer, and he even took a five-day weekend trip to Mackinac Island after acknowledging that the state was facing a budget crisis.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) had been getting Senate budget bills passed and sent over to the House faster than House bills were coming to the Senate.

But this isn’t to say that all Republicans were trying to finish the budget on time or that all Democrats were uninterested in finishing on time.  While the Senate Republicans seemed to generally work harder as the deadline got closer, NOBODY was working hard enough in the month and weeks beforehand.  Instead of passing a budget 2 hours into the government shutdown, the legislature should be passing a budget weeks or even months beforehand.

Representative Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) has suggested that the Michigan Constitution be amended to require the budget be done by July 1st, and legislators wouldn’t get paid after that date until a budget was passed.  Bledsoe told the Detroit Free Press, “We’ve had every opportunity to get this work done earlier in the year.  There’s no excuse to be moving the budget as late as we did.”

Senator Hansen Clark (D-Detroit) has suggested fining legislators $1,000 a day for each day after the fiscal year that a budget isn’t completed, with the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leaders paying $3,000.  He told reporters, “Even though many of us work long hours, we don’t have the same incentives as other sectors of the work force.  Typically, our incentive would be to do a good job so we can get re-elected, but apparently that’s not enough. … The leaders have to be accountable for results.  If you don’t perform the core mission of your job, and that’s to enact a balanced budget … there should be a penalty.”

Former Majority Leader Ken Sikkema (R) said that the problems run deeper than just legislators not cracking down in time: “The gap between revenue and spending is so large that there isn’t any structural issue that can compensate for it.  It’s a much deeper issue that legislators don’t want to deal with.  Michigan as a state can’t continue the level of spending it’s enjoyed for many years.  The economy has downsized underneath it.  Until you change the tax structure and the spending process, this kind of paralysis is likely to continue.  There is no process change that is going to make this a rational, timely, decision-making process.  Until there are fundamental changes, you can’t avoid this kind of chaos.”

And in part, I would agree with that.  The Democrats in the legislature have refused to accept that spending cuts are an inevitable result of the state’s deficit.  Taxes can only be raised so many times and only to a certain level, and when you’ve exhausted that option, you have to cut spending.  Michigan is not in a position to raise taxes.  Businesses won’t come to Michigan if we raise taxes, and we’ve even seen film companies come to Michigan now that we have a tax credit for film companies.  Raising taxes is only going to hurt the economy more and drive more people out of the state.

Fortunately, an interim budget was passed and signed by Governor Granholm only 2 hours into this year’s shutdown, but we aren’t in the clear yet.  The legislature gavels into session tomorrow, and a permanent budget still needs to be passed for the new fiscal year.  Unless legislators understand that spending cuts are not and option, but a necessity, and that they have to start cracking down and getting to work, we will wind up seeing a full government shutdown when the interim budget expires.

And we need to learn from our mistakes – this cannot happen in 2010.  It’s just unacceptable.  Fortunately, 2010 is an election year, and lawmakers will be trying to pass a budget on time so that they can get reelected, but unless things change, we will see ourselves back in this same position in 2011.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Live Analysis of President Obama’s Health Care Speech to Congress

September 9, 2009

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (other than the one I did yesterday), but I figured this was an important issue to talk about, and I’ll probably be writing a column on health care sometime this week, so this will help me get some ideas down a little early.

President Obama is about to give  a speech to a joint session of Congress, and I’ll be giving my live analysis of his speech.  And this is live, so excuse any typos – I’m not always great at typing quickly.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has just gaveled the session into order, so we’ll begin in about 10 minutes here.

The President’s speech is expected to last about 45 minutes (not including applause), so I’m guessing that it will run close to an hour (maybe a little over) when it’s all done.

Speaker Pelosi has now called the session to order – Vice President Joe Biden by her side.

The Escort Committee is now leaving to follow behind President Obama when he enters the chamber.

Michelle Obama is now arriving.  The Cabinet is now coming into the chamber.

President Obama is now coming into the chamber – and he’s getting a lot of applause (as every President does during these joint sessions).

He’s now up to the podium – Speaker Pelosi is trying to bring the chamber to order.  She is now introducing President Obama.

He’s talking about the last time he spoke here – that it was during the worst economic situation we’ve faced since the Great Depression.  “We are by no means out of the woods … a full recovery is still months away.”  He’s saying that he won’t let up until “those who seek jobs can find them.”

Wow – Hillary Clinton looks out-of-place – she’s wearing this red suit and she’s surrounded by men in black suits.

President Obama is thanking Congress for their help and support in trying to fix America’s economy.  He’s talking about building a future for America, and that health care is central to that future.

“I am not the first President to take up that cause, but I am determined to be the last.”  It’s a nice quote, but there’s always going to have to be reform – things change – nothing will ever be perfect.

He’s talking about Teddy Roosevelt talking about health care reform, and Representative John Dingell (D-MI) introducing a bill every session to reform health care.

Talking about the hardships facing those who are uninsured – not those on welfare, but mostly the middle class.  He’s talking about people being denied insurance because of previous conditions.  “We are the only democracy … the only wealthy nation who allows such hardship for its people.”  But we’re also the democracy who other countries turn to for certain health care needs (such as Canadians needing some quick emergency treatments).

Talking about insurance companies dropping patients in the middle of treatment for bogus reasons such as having acne and not claiming it – and I’ll agree with him here – that’s a problem that SHOULD be addressed.

Talking about insurance premiums going up, and leading to businesses not being able to open/survive because of health care costs.

It’s “placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. … We will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other program combined.”  Again – he’s right here – Medicare/Medicaid costs are getting out of control – it’s just the solution where I disagree with him.

Talking about a single payer system like Canada’s or a plan that individuals should buy their own health care, but both of these are radical shifts that would disrupt the health care system.  He’s saying we should use what works as a template and fix the problems in our current system, rather than switch to a Canadian-style system or a completely individual style system.

He’s now talking about the 5 committees coming up with health care bills in Congress – an amount of reform that has been unprecedented in history – and again – this is a good thing – if we have multiple ideas, we have more to choose from and more discussion going around.

Now he’s talking about opponents to reform using scare tactics and just trying to score political points.  “The time for bickering is over.  The time for games has passed.”  Games and bickering are part of the American political system – it’s a sad fact, but it’s true.  And both parties do it, but getting into a “Well the other party did __________” kind of mentality is bad for America.

“If you already have insurance … nothing in this plan will require you to change what you have. … What this plan will do is make this insurance that you have work better for you.”  It’ll make it illegal for insurance companies to deny you based on a preexisting condition.  And that got a LOT of applause.  It will be illegal for them to drop you when you get sick.

“No one should go broke because they get sick. … Insurance companies will be required … to cover routine check ups … and preventative care. … It saves money and it saves lives.”  And that was all for people who already have insurance.

For those who don’t, this plan will give you an opportunity to get quality insurance.  “We’ll do this by creating a new business exchange.”  Insurance companies will want this because it gives them more customers.

And for those who still can’t afford insurance, tax credits will be provided.  The exchange will take effect in 4 years.

He’s talking about immediate relief for those who get sick before then, citing a plan that Senator McCain proposed during the plan during the 2008 campaign – and Senator McCain just got a huge grin on his face.

He’s saying that some people may not want to pay for insurance, but when they get sick, we wind up paying for their health care when they wind up in the hospital.  “Under my plan, people will be required to carry basic health insurance” just like states require people to have basic auto insurance.

And this is where I disagree with the President.  Personally, I don’t think we should be forcing people to buy insurance; however, I also don’t think that we should then be paying for their hospital visits.  If someone decides not to get insurance, and they get sick, then we shouldn’t be footing the bill – they should just have to pay for treatment themselves or not get it.

Now, moving on to “key controversies that are still out there:”

  • Saying that there won’t be plans to try to kill off the elderly who are sick.
  • No money will go toward illegal immigrants. – and somebody just shouted “Lie!” and Speaker Pelosi gave him a stare of death – whoever it was, that was pretty unprofessional and immature.
  • No money will go toward funding abortions.
  • This will not be a takeover of the entire health care system.

These are all good points, and I’d encourage EVERYBODY to read the bill that finally gets introduced instead of just listening to either the Democrats’ talking points or the Republicans’ talking points.

“Consumers do better when there’s choice and competition.”  And he’s absolutely right about that – but instead of setting up a government program to do this, we should open insurance markets to cross state lines, so that companies can compete nationwide, adding more competition all over the nation.

He’s saying that he doesn’t want to drive insurance companies out of business, just hold them accountable.

He’s saying that he would like a non-profit public option (which that surprised me that he still pushed for that – I figured that he wasn’t going to try to push that tonight).  It would be an option for those who don’t have insurance, and people wouldn’t be forced to chose it.  He estimates that less than 5% of Americans would sign up.  He’s saying that this public option wouldn’t be funded by the government, but would have to be self sufficient.

But what would happen if it stopped being self sufficient?  Would it essentially turn into a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

He’s saying that some are suggesting that the public option only go into effect where insurance companies aren’t competing well, or that we have a private co-op instead.  Saying that he won’t back down from giving a choice to people who can’t afford health care.

And the screen just panned over to the Republican section and they really do not look happy about this.

“Now he’s talking about how we’ll pay for the plan – “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficit – either now, or in the future. … Period.”  He’s saying that in his plan, there will be a section that will require spending cuts if the means of saving money aren’t there.  He’s now talking about the past administration making a mistake in passing tax cuts that we couldn’t afford as well as the Iraq War.

And while he does have an excellent point with the Iraq War part (which is a whole separate issue), I don’t think that that jab at the Bush Administration is going to help win any Republicans over – and with Senator Kennedy gone, they’re going to need an additional Republican vote in the Senate.  That was a bad strategic move on the President’s part.

Talking about ensuring that Medicare will be there for future generations.  Saying that seniors pay too much out-of-pocket for prescription drugs.  Saying not to pay attention to “scary stories that your benefits will be cut.”  GOP members don’t look happy.  “I will protect Medicare.”

“Making [Medicare] more efficient will [help make] the entire system more efficient.”  Saying that if we reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid, that will pay for his plan.  Well why don’t we just reduce waste in Medicare and Medicaid anyway!  Why do you need to add one “good” thing to get rid of one bad thing?  Why not just cut waste out of M&M whether or not the other health care reforms pass or not.

Talking about malpractice reform bringing down costs of health care – and all the GOP members stood up and started cheering – even Biden stood up for that one.  Saying that we need to put safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.  Saying that the Bush Administration wanted to test some of these ideas in individual states, and he likes that plan too.  So now he’s playing to the Republican side a bit – which is good because he’s going to need to do that if he wants this to pass the Senate.

Now talking about it’ll cost $900 billion over the next 10 years, but that’s less than the Iraq War…and I think he said something about the Bush tax cuts – I didn’t catch it.  Whatever it was, the Dems liked it, but the Repubs looked pretty pissed off – Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI) really didn’t like whatever was said.

Saying he won’t stand by as the special interest groups fight to keep things the way they are.  “I will not accept the status quo as the solution.”  And he’s right – we DO need reform – I just disagree with him on the type of reform we need.

Talking about reforms leading to saving lives.

“We cannot fail … there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed.”

Talking about the late Senator Kennedy (D-MA) on his death bed talking about this year being the year that health care reform will be passed.

Health care reform has been a source of “rigorous and intense debate”.

Obama’s talking about Senators Hatch (R-UT) and McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) working with Senator Kennedy.  That his p”assion was born out of his own experience … having 2 children stricken with cancer.”  He’s saying that “concern for others … is not a partisan” issue.  “We are all in this together, and when fortune turns against us, others are there to give us a helping hand. … Sometimes government has to step in.”

Saying that Republicans and Democrats joined together in 1965 when they created Medicare.

“When any efforts to help people in need are attacked as unAmerican … and we can no longer engage in a civil conversation” … I missed that last part.  Whatever his point was (I’m sure it was something about engaging in civil debate) – I agree here – we need to discuss it, not try to drown one side out.

“I still believe we can act when it’s hard.”  Saying we need to have “civility” and not gridlock the process but make progress.

“I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.  Because that is who we are.  That is our calling.  That is our character.  Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.”

Now the Republican response by Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA):

Republicans are ready for reform.  We’ve lost jobs since February.  “Americans want health care reform … [They’re saying] it’s time to start over with a … bipartisan plan.”

He’s saying that Obama’s plan will cost Americans more – that even the Congressional Budget Office agrees – it’ll create 53 new bureaus and raise the deficit.  It won’t make the program better for seniors.

“The President [could have] taken government run health care off the table, but he didn’t.”

Americans should be able to get insurance with preexisting conditions.  We should give incentives for healthy choices and preventative care.

“We’re grateful that the President mentioned medical liability reform.”  “Junk lawsuits drive up the cost of medical care.”

We should establish a plan that would enable people to buy insurance across state lines – and that was one of McCain’s big pushes during the ’08 campaign that I really agreed with.

“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon … working together in a bipartisan way, we can lower the cost of health care.”

Alright – I wasn’t able to catch that much of the response because there weren’t any pauses in that speech, but it was basically the same thing that McCain said during his Presidential campaign.

Overall, I think the President did a moderately good job.  I wish he would’ve gone into detail a little more than he did, and there are some things that I definitely disagree with, but there were some good points:

Malpractice/tort reform is a huge part of the plan that will help lower costs of health care.  Eliminating waste in Medicaid and Medicare is another great thing that we need to do.  Ensuring a way that people can keep their coverage even when they get sick is another necessity that almost everybody agrees with.

I disagree with the public option, and I disagree with forcing people to have some sort of insurance plan.

I wish that he would consider adopting the plan to allow people to cross state borders to purchase health care plans.

Overall, it was a good speech, but I think he took a couple too many jabs at Republicans and the Bush administration (he’s going to need some Republicans’ votes, and that wasn’t a way to win them over).  I also wish he would’ve had more details of his plan, but with only having 45 minutes, that’s hard to do.

I’m not sold on the President’s plan, but I do think there are some good parts of the plan that I’d like to see develop.

We’ll see what’s introduced and what Congress does with the bill(s).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican

The Bill that Nobody Read: The Economic Stimulus Package (H.R. 1)

February 23, 2009

So, I know it’s been a while since Congress passed H.R. 1, the economic stimulus plan, but C-SPAN finally uploaded and categorized all the videos, so better late than never.  I wanted to show you all just how much the Democratic leadership tried to hide the details of the latest stimulus plan:

Here’s the first clip, courtesy of C-SPAN. In this clip, Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) asks for additional time for debate, so that more than 90 minutes will available for debate. Lewis was not allowed to ask for the additional time (not sure if that’s in the rules of the House or one of the previous resolutions), so he asked Representative David Obey (D-WI) (Appropriations Committee Chairman) to do so, but Obey refused to allow for more debate time. Representative Tom Price (R-GA) then asked if the bill could be read aloud by the clerk, since no member had had time to read it; however, this request was refused because House resolution 168 made it so that the bill was to be considered read (even though it was physically impossible). This violated a previous promise by the Democrats to keep all bills available for 72 hours before a final vote was brought up.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
 

In this clip, Representative Lewis shows how secretive the drafting of this bill was. Even many Democrats were left out of the negotiations.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) emphasized that the Democrats refused to allow the House Clerk to read the bill and that debate was limited to 90 minutes. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Representative Obey (D-WI) responds to Jack Kingston (R-GA) talking about appropriations to protect a mouse. He said that there’s nowhere in the bill that mentions a mouse. Well, that’s true – the word “mouse” is never in the bill; however, there is money for that’s given to the EPA for a saltwater marsh protection program where the focus of that is to protect a certain species of mouse (according to an EPA representative). So, while what Mr. Obey said was technically true, it would also be true if I said that the bill never talks about “tax cuts.” The phrase “tax cut” or “tax cuts” is never in the bill, but the legal equivalent is. So, Mr. Obey is really just playing with the words here, and he’s ultimately lying through his teeth. But what really makes him look like a fool is when he tells the Republicans to find the section they’re talking about, as he holds up the 1,000+ page bill that even HE didn’t have time to read through.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In this clip, Representative Zach Wamp (R-TN) has one of my favorite quotes of the debate, “If ever there was a massive bill where the devil is in the details, it is this bill. And there are many devils in the details of this bill.” He also does a good job at placing some of the blame on the Republicans.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) explains the mouse in the bill: “They say there is no mouse in this bill. But there is, sir. What they don’t tell you is that in the EPA projects, it cites for sure and for certain they will spend money on the salt marsh habitat for the mouse in San Francisco. Certainly, the Speaker is getting her cheese.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In this clip, Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) shows where the blame lies in saying that people borrowed and spent too much: “Too many of our fellow citizens borrowed too much. They spent too much, and they couldn’t pay it back. And now the mistakes of individuals, the Democrats want to force upon us collectively.” He also explains how the Congressional Budget Office says this bill was a disaster.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) (the youngest House member) talks about how we’re spending trillions at a time and that we can’t afford to get this wrong.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Representative Lewis shows, again, how unprepared Congress was to even debate the bill: “Mr. Speaker, we just received official scoring of the $792 billion bill at 12:04 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive this critical information until one-third of our very limited debate time was over.” He later goes on to say, “While portions of the bill were scored by CBO earlier, in the case of the appropriations section, 40 percent of this entire package, the Members have not had the benefit of knowing what effects this bill would have. Now that we have this information, let me tell you what the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concedes.” Lewis also shows that the Democrats are simply rushing this through in one big bill instead of going through the proper appropriations channels: CBO estimates that only 11 percent of the money will spend out this year. It begs the question why has the majority decided to include this in this bill rather than through the regular appropriations process? Why have they decided to create 33 new programs and permanently expand 73 programs? By growing the Federal Government now in this bill, the majority knows that they have a much better chance of permanently increasing government.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) goes over some great points on why he opposed the bill.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Alright, I hope that opened your eyes to how much the Democratic leadership in Congress tried to keep this bill hidden from the members of Congress before they voted on the bill.  So many of the Democrats in Congress have said that they wish that they would’ve asked more question before supporting the War in Iraq.  I’m guessing that many Democrats will be  saying the same about this bill in a year or 2.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Kansas Can Now Afford to Pay Tax Refunds and State Employees

February 18, 2009

Yesterday I was watching America’s Newsroom, and Megyn Kelly did a story about the budget crisis in Kansas. According to the Governor, Kathleen Sebelius (D), the state was not going to be able to pay tax refunds or state employees on time.  Sebelius wants to borrow money from other state accounts within Kansas; however, Republican legislators want budget cuts because they feel Sebelius’s solution is irresponsible.  Republican leaders in the state House and Senate (both where they’re in the majority) argued that the internal borrowing wasn’t legal until the Kansas had a balanced budget for the fiscal year (the fiscal year ends June 30).

Watch the video, and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of FOX News):

Since that video, the Governor signed a budget-balancing bill, and the Republicans have said that the internal borrowing is now legal.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal told reporters, “I’m extremely pleased that she signed it, because that’s what needed to happen.”  Senate President Steve Morris also told reporters, “This action gives us reassurances that we will have the resources to repay this.”

Meanwhile, Sebelius said, “I’m just sorry that we had to have high drama and worry a lot of Kansans about our ability to pay our obligations in order to get to the end of the process.”

Personally, I agree with Megyn Kelly.  And while she may have been a little mean to Treasurer Dennis McKinney, she has a point – it’s bad management if you need to do borrowing within your state.  The state should be able to balance their budget and pay taxes back to people and pay their employees.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the discussion that went on on FOX News yesterday, but they brought up a point to citizens: Don’t give the government so much money when you fill out information for withholding.  You have the option to withhold more, and if you’re doing that now, just don’t.  I’m not saying lie and withhold less than you should.  I’m saying, only have them withhold the minimum that you legally have to.  That way, when states like Kansas can’t pay you back on time, you’re not getting screwed.  If you don’t pay the government their taxes, you get penalized.  When they don’t pay you back, what happens to them?  NOTHING!  It’s unfair!  So, just don’t give them extra money!

I’ll try to find that discussion video and post that and discuss it in a later blog post, but right now, FOX News’s search for videos isn’t working right.

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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Live Analysis of Governor Granholm’s Michigan State of the State Address

February 3, 2009

The Michigan State of the State address is about to begin.  I will be live blogging the event, giving my analysis (so my apologies for any spelling errors – I’ll fix them eventually).

Alright, she’s entering the chamber (I’m not sure if this is the House or Senate – probably House since  it’s bigger).

Oh – my roommate (Democrat) just about made me die of laughter – he said, “Where is she?”  I said, “Right there.”  And he goes, “Oh, I thought that was a dude.”

Alright – she’s making her way up to the podium – about half the room is still clapping – probably the Democrats.  There’s Lt. Governor John Cherry up in his chair.

There’s Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) and Speaker of the House Andy Dillon (D).

She’s saying welcome and thank you.  She’s welcoming and congratulating the new representatives.

She’s now welcoming Supreme Court Justice Dianne Hathaway, elected this year.  And she’s congratulating the longest serving president of the State Board of Education.

Now thanking the servicemen and women from Michigan as well as the first responders.

We just gave a moment of silence for those who lost their lives defending this country and state overseas.

“I will not sugar-coat the crisis facing this state. … Our auto companies fought for their very existence, and as the bottom fell out of the national economy” Michigan “went from bad to worse.”  She’s absolutely right about that.  “Any honest assessment of our state’s economy must recognize that things are likely to get worse before they get better. … Things will get better … because Michigan citizens are resilient … because our battle plan is focused on the three things that matter most: fighting for more good paying jobs in Michigan, educating and training people to fill those good paying jobs, and protecting out people.”

“This is not time for pet projects or special interests.”

Now talking about Michigan now having “a friend in the White House who now shares our agenda.  I say this based on pragmatism, not upon partisanship.”  BULL CRAP!

She’s talking about him being focused on energy jobs, education, and protecting people.  COME ON Madame Governor, the Republicans are interested in all of those things too!

“We’ve made many tough choices in our budget.”  True, but you could have done a lot more to fix the state, but you didn’t, and that’s why we’re as bad as we are now.

“I have a veto pen, and I will use it. … The President’s economic plan is a one-time opportunity.”  Really?  Because so far, I count THREE bailout bills.  What’s to stop three more?

She’s saying that our problems will be here after the economic stimulus money is gone.  Lt. Governor Cherry will be in charge of downsizing government, reducing number of departments from 18 to 8.

Something about we can’t have “9-5 government in a 24/7 world.”  Good point there – I’ll give her that one.

Her and Cherry are reducing salaries of all elected state officials in Michigan by 10%.  That’s a good move – I COMMEND HER on that, but I don’t really see how she can directly do that.

“Already, I’ve cut more than any other Governor in Michigan.”

She’s saying that a national survey showed that MI has done more to cut spending than other state in the country.  I’d like to see the details of the survey, but if it’s all true, I commend her on that.

She’s cutting funding for the state fair – because it’s not essential to government.  GOOD CALL!

Talking about preserving our wetlands.

Talking about reducing corrections spending.  We’re going to close 3 more facilities in the coming months.  Reinvest in more law enforcement on the street.  More law enforcement is good, but I’m not too keen on closing 3 facilities – that means more criminals on the streets, since our prisons are already TOO FULL!

Funding for roads, bridges, and transit systems – um, we’ve needed that for the past FEW years!

We can focus on jobs when we spend within our means.

We need to diversify, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing our number one industry, the auto industry.  When pundits and ill-informed politicians take cheap shots at the auto industry and its workers, we (she’s saying this) will defend the auto industry.

Talking about the green auto industry being great.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs being lost since 2000.  “These losses have fueled our determination to bring new industry to Michigan.”  Good – we can’t JUST depend on the auto industry anymore.

Talking about film and TV project coming to Michigan after the tax breaks to film companies.

Three major announcements:

  • Wonderstruck Animation Studios – $86 million in Detroit.
  • Stardock Systems (digital gaming) – build in Plymouth
  • Motown Motion Pictures – $54 million in Pontiac (former GM plant)

Motown MP alone will create 3,600 jobs.  That’s great news – especially for the Pontiac area.

“But our success with the film industry is not an isolated example.”  Talking about renewable energy industry – solar panel production companies are building here in Michigan.

Just like the auto industry “it creates all kinds of jobs for all kinds of people.”  And that’s a good thing – I am VERY enthusiastic about renewable energy, as long as it’s not expensively forced on the people.

She’s talking about wind turbines (and wind power is something I have always been really excited about – that  and nuclear power).

Jobs for manufacturers and engineers – for solar panels and electric car batteries.

She’s getting really intense about this.  “The fact that these jobs are in Michigan is no accident.”

We bring them here by beating out other states and countries.

We passed incentives to make sure those batteries are made in Michigan.  Within weeks of passage, GM said that they’d make batteries for the Volt automobile will be made here in Michigan.  5 million electric car batteries to be made a year, creating 14,000 jobs.

She’s saying that we want electric cars researched and designed here as well as all kinds of renewable energy companies.

She set a goal for becoming more dependent on renewable energy.

  • 3 wind turbine manufactures to expand in Michigan.
  • Unisolar to build solar panel factory in Battle Creek.
  • HSC – $1 billion for solar panel expansion
  • Dow-Corning – more solar panels.
  • Great Lakes Turbine to build in Monroe (where my roommate’s from!)

“We all know that  we need more jobs – a lot more.”  I agree with you there.

President Obama has demanded more use of renewable energy.  This will increase jobs in Michigan.

“By 2020, Michigan will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels for generating electricity by 45%. … We’ll do it through increased renewable energy and gains in energy efficiency.”  Sounds like a good idea to me, but I think 45% is high.  I have no problem with it as long as it doesn’t jack up prices.  But if it makes energy unaffordable, don’t do it.

Instead of importing coal, we’ll spend energy money on Michigan wind turbines and solar panels and energy efficiency devices, all installed by Michigan workers.

Ask Legislatures to allow for Michigan homeowners to become entrepreneurs by installing solar panels on roofs and selling money back to power company.  Sounds good to me – it’s giving people the choice to do this, and enables people to eventually make that money back.

Asking utility companies to invest in energy efficient products.  Good.

Unlike the coal we buy right now, the money that we will spend on energy efficiency will create jobs in Michigan.

Create Michigan Energy Corps – creating jobs and turning natural resources into renewable fuels and weatherizing houses.

Saying that we’ll need less coal power  plants here in Michigan.

I’m kinda mad that she hasn’t said anything about more nuclear here in Michigan.

Talking about how she’ll bring new jobs to Michigan – that she’s gone all over the world to get jobs.  Yeah, well you haven’t been too successful so far.  You can go places to bring jobs here, but that doesn’t matter until you bring some here.

Saying she’ll require (I think it was universities) to buy Michigan.  I have a problem with that though, because she wants a tuition freeze in order for universities to get stimulus money.  How can they do that if you FORCE them to buy Michigan-made (more expensive at times).

Saying people should buy Michigan products.  Buy everything from Ford to Faygo.

Talking about the Michigan $4,000 putting college in the reach of all students.  Um, $4,000 really doesn’t do that much.

Michigan will be the first state to replicate the Kalamazoo promise on a large scale.  Something about free education, and I missed the rest.

#2 in the country for well qualified teachers in the classroom.  How are we #2 with the Detroit Public School system?

No Worker Left Behind: Talking about free college tuition – $5,000 per year for 2 years.  Training people for jobs, such as nurses, electricians, computer technicians.  52,000 people.  Helping us to remake Michigan.

Added more resources to the unemployment system – THAT’s what we need – to allow more people to rely on welfare!

Asking universities and colleges to freeze tuition for the next year.  The problem with that is, what if THEY can’t afford it?

Give people 90 days without the fear of foreclosure.  That’s absolutely insane.  If people buy a house that they can’t afford, then they should lose it.

Talking about asking auto insurance companies to freeze rates on auto insurance.  Sure, if they want to, but don’t make it mandatory.

She’s saying we’ll use every administrative tool to ensure that affordable rates are given to consumers.  That should be up to the companies, not the government.

Saying that we shouldn’t strip people of health coverage in order to reduce spending.  We shouldn’t HAVE state sponsored health care!  She’s saying we should protect those whom people of faith often call “the least of these.”  Well, people of faith need to step up and help the poor.  That’s their duty as good Christians (as it is my duty), NOT the governments.  When did Jesus ever say that the government should help the poor?  He didn’t!  He said his followers should – that’s why it makes me angry when people give that as a reason that Jesus would be a Democrat!

And wouldn’t “the least of these” refer to the unborn babies as well?  I don’t see you protecting them, Madame Governor!

“Is it harder to balance the state budget or the budget of a family who went from 2 paychecks to 1?”  Talking about the harships of family being much greater than the hardships of politicians as leaders.

She’s now giving an example of a guy on unemployment who used No Worker Left Behind to go to a university and now he’s working for Dow Corning.

Sorry – my news station just stopped covering it – ABC needed to go back to “regular scheduled programming.”

OK – I’m back.

Talking about hope and strength.  “We together will build a better Michigan.  God bless you all, and God bless the great state of Michigan.”

Tim Skubik is on now – saying that “Doom and Gloom” only got 2 paragraphs.  He’s right – I think she could’ve shown that things are bad more than she did instead of just saying, “This is what we WILL do,” since she’s been saying that for YEARS now.

She never really said exactly how much she wanted to cut out of the government.  I will commend her for some of her pro-energy efficient plans, but I think she may wind up driving up costs at a time that we can’t afford it.  Allowing people to sell back energy from solar panels is a GOOD thing, because it gives individuals the choice to do it, instead of  mandating it.

And now Mike Bishop’s response:

He’s saying that “we all want what’s best for our state.”

“Each one of us has felt the effects of this economy.”

Saying that the Governor wants to use federal funds to fix the state, but a quick infusion of money “will never be the antidote. … You can’t increase spending and debt and somehow hope to resolve a serious budget crisis.”  The Republicans will submit a plan in the next 45 days for instant stimulus – it incentives job providers instead of increasing spending.

The House must pass Senate Bill 1.  Get rid of the 22% business surcharge.

Talking about manufacturing complexes and other companies coming in due to tax cuts, proving that business tax cuts DO work.

The second part of the plan would bring property taxes in line with home values.  Third, a tax credit for purchases of new homes will be created.  This would spur the housing market.  And he’s absolutely right – that was one of the things my parents looked into was the huge jump in taxes we would’ve payed if we moved this past summer.

Review each item in the state budget and find savings – good!

We must “be certain that state resources are used efficiently.”  Absolutely!

Talking about opportunities coming with adversity – leaders need to rise up and “take the reins that will lead us back to prosperity. … Time for us to fix Michigan. … Thank you … God bless you, our families, and our great state of Michigan.”

Alright – I’m off to a meeting – I’ll spell check this and finish my analysis when I get back.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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House Energy & Commerce Committee: Dingell Out, Waxman In

November 20, 2008

Earlier today the House of Representatives Democratic caucus voted on who will head up the Energy and Commerce Committee in the 111th Congress.  The caucus voted 137-122 to make Henry Waxman (D-CA29) the next chairman, instead of voting John Dingell (D-MI15) back into the position that he currently holds.

Now, this is pretty big news, seeing as Dingell has been a Congressman for 53 years, compared to Waxman who has only been in office for 33 years.  Although I don’t have any details, reports are that the vote fell along generational lines, with younger Congressmen voting for Waxman and older Representatives voting for Dingell.

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Dingell, but Henry Waxman is an extremely liberal Congressman, and has been a huge ally of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  I would’ve much rather had Dingell as the head of the committee instead of Waxman.  Here we come environmental liberalism to the extreme!

Done Ranting,

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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Analysis of the House Voting Down Yesterday’s Bailout Bill

September 30, 2008

I had hoped to do a post on this yesterday, but I wanted to actually see the bill before I did anything on it.  It took them a while to get the bill language up, and I found out that it was about 110 pages long (it is available here if you’re interested).  Also, here’s the bill that the Senate didn’t vote to pass (it needed 60% to pass).

As I’m sure all of you know, the House voted down yesterday’s bill, H.R. 3997, the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” 205 (140D/65R) – 228 (95D/133R), with 1 not voting (R).

The following is the summary of the act, courtesy of the Financial Services Committee of the House:

SUMMARY OF THE “EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008″

I. Stabilizing the Economy

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) provides up to $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy mortgages and other assets that are clogging the balance sheets of financial institutions and making it difficult for working families, small businesses, and other companies to access credit, which is vital to a strong and stable economy. EESA also establishes a program that would allow companies to insure their troubled assets.

Alright, this basically explains the principle that the Representatives who were for the bill were advocating: This is an investment, not a bailout (similar to the Chrysler government loan guarantees of the 1970s and 1980s, where we co-signed on a $1.5 billion loan).  They argue that we will make our money back, and even possibly make a profit (like we did with Chrysler).  Here’s the problem with that thinking: many American people who are in crisis right now are NOT helping the situation.  I gave an example of a woman who simply left her old home and mortgage in the middle of the night and bought a house in the Carolinas (I don’t remember which off the top of my head) the next day, before the credit caught up to her.  There have been stories of people tearing apart houses right before the bank repossesses them, “because the bank is the bad guy” when in actuality, it’s both the bank’s fault for giving a loan to somebody who never should have been able to get one as well as the homeowner’s fault for trying to buy a house that he/she simply couldn’t afford.  It’s a lack of basic family budgeting and spending principles that helped get us into this situation.  Then mortgage companies gave out Adjustable Rate Mortgages to people who NEVER should’ve been able to get one, and people looking to buy homes ignored the first basic principle of fiscal responsibility: don’t buy something you can’t afford!  So, we’re going to buy these mortgages, but that’s not going to stop people from not being able to pay the mortgages.  Instead of banks losing money, it’ll be the government.

Now, on the other hand, it IS unfair for responsible buyers who happened to get a mortgage from the wrong company to have to suffer, and it is THESE instances that I am more willing to accept government intervention, but how the government is to analyze and weed out the good from the bad is quite a problem, considering the massiveness of banks and mortgage companies that have failed or are looking like they will fail.

II. Homeownership Preservation

EESA requires the Treasury to modify troubled loans – many the result of predatory lending practices – wherever possible to help American families keep their homes. It also directs other federal agencies to modify loans that they own or control. Finally, it improves the HOPE for Homeowners program by expanding eligibility and increasing the tools available to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help more families keep their homes.

Now, that last sentence is where the government could lose a lot of money.  When you expand eligibility and increase tools for helping people stay in their homes, you’re saying that these people are getting help to stay in homes that they can’t afford, which means that the government is footing the bill, and that’s money that the government will not see back in its hands a good chunk of the time.

III. Taxpayer Protection

Taxpayers should not be expected to pay for Wall Street’s mistakes. The legislation requires companies that sell some of their bad assets to the government to provide warrants so that taxpayers will benefit from any future growth these companies may experience as a result of participation in this program. The legislation also requires the President to submit legislation that would cover any losses to taxpayers resulting from this program from financial institutions.

This is again, where the “investment” principle comes into the bill.  And this could be good for the government, like the bailout of Chrysler was profitable to the government in the 1980s and 1990s.  The part that confuses me is that last sentence – why the President is the one to draft legislation to cover taxpayer losses seems to confuse me, unless that’s their way of knowing that the President will approve of the measure, since he himself drafted it.  I’ll have to look into that a little more to understand what all that would do.

IV. No Windfalls for Executives

Executives who made bad decisions should not be allowed to dump their bad assets on the government, and then walk away with millions of dollars in bonuses. In order to participate in this program, companies will lose certain tax benefits and, in some cases, must limit executive pay. In addition, the bill limits “golden parachutes” and requires that unearned bonuses be returned.

If these executives cared about their companies, most of them just would stop taking pay.  I guarantee you that if I were the CEO of AIG, and if I were set for life, I wouldn’t take another pay check until the company was back on track.

V. Strong Oversight

Rather than giving the Treasury all the funds at once, the legislation gives the Treasury $250 billion immediately, then requires the President to certify that additional funds are needed ($100 billion, then $350 billion subject to Congressional disapproval). The Treasury must report on the use of the funds and the progress in addressing the crisis. EESA also establishes an Oversight Board so that the Treasury cannot act in an arbitrary manner. It also establishes a special inspector general to protect against waste, fraud and abuse [sic]

Good.  Frankly, I don’t trust the Treasury Department after they advocated the Fannie and Freddie bailouts.  I want to know where this money is going, and I want Congressional approval of it (even though I don’t support the Democrats in Congress, the more people that have to approve where the money goes, the better).

So, that’s the summary, and here’s the section-by-section analysis of the bill, basically the summary with details, also courtesy of the Financial Services Committee:

 SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Short Title.

“Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.”

Section 2. Purposes.

Provides authority to the Treasury Secretary to restore liquidity and stability to the U.S. financial system and to ensure the economic well-being of Americans.

Section 3. Definitions.

Contains various definitions used under this Act.

Title I. Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Section 101. Purchases of Troubled Assets.

Authorizes the Secretary to establish a Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) to purchase troubled assets from financial institutions. Establishes an Office of Financial Stability within the Treasury Department to implement the TARP in consultation with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FDIC, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Requires the Treasury Secretary to establish guidelines and policies to carry out the purposes of this Act.

Includes provisions to prevent unjust enrichment by participants of the program.

Like I said above.  The government has to be careful that this really is an investment, because if more companies say, “We can take risks, because we’re too big, so the government will HAVE to bail us out,” then it becomes purely a bailout and a terrible investment that will cost taxpayers billions (if not ultimately trillions, since this bill alone would authorize up to $700 billion).  Personally, I really don’t think the government should be doing this at all, but since some bailout bill will eventually pass, I’d want it filled with as many fiscal conservative principles as possible.

Section 102. Insurance of Troubled Assets.

If the Secretary establishes the TARP program, the Secretary is required to establish a program to guarantee troubled assets of financial institutions.

The Secretary is required to establish risk-based premiums for such guarantees sufficient to cover anticipated claims. The Secretary must report to Congress on the establishment of the guarantee program.

Again – I like the whole reporting to Congress idea.

Section 103. Considerations.

In using authority under this Act, the Treasury Secretary is required to take a number of considerations into account, including the interests of taxpayers, minimizing the impact on the national debt, providing stability to the financial markets, preserving homeownership, the needs of all financial institutions regardless of size or other characteristics, and the needs of local communities. Requires the Secretary to examine the long-term viability of an institution in determining whether to directly purchase assets under the TARP.

Section 104. Financial Stability Oversight Board.

This section establishes the Financial Stability Oversight Board to review and make recommendations regarding the exercise of authority under this Act. In addition, the Board must ensure that the policies implemented by the Secretary protect taxpayers, are in the economic interests of the United States, and are in accordance with this Act.

The Board is comprised of the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Director of the Federal Home Finance Agency, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Section 105. Reports.

Monthly Reports: Within 60 days of the first exercise of authority under this Act and every month thereafter, the Secretary is required to report to Congress its activities under TARP, including detailed financial statements.

Tranche Reports: For every $50 billion in assets purchased, the Secretary is required to report to Congress a detailed description of all transactions, a description of the pricing mechanisms used, and justifications for the financial terms of such transactions.

Regulatory Modernization Report: Prior to April 30, 2009, the Secretary is required to submit a report to Congress on the current state of the financial markets, the effectiveness of the financial regulatory system, and to provide any recommendations.

Section 106. Rights; Management; Sale of Troubled Assets; Revenues and Sale Proceeds.

Establishes the right of the Secretary to exercise authorities under this Act at any time. Provides the Secretary with the authority to manage troubled assets, including the ability to determine the terms and conditions associated with the disposition of troubled assets. Requires profits from the sale of troubled assets to be used to pay down the national debt.

Section 107. Contracting Procedures.

Allows the Secretary to waive provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation where compelling circumstances make compliance contrary to the public interest. Such waivers must be reported to Congress within 7 days. If provisions related to minority contracting are waived, the Secretary must develop alternate procedures to ensure the inclusion of minority contractors.

Allows the FDIC to be selected as an asset manager for residential mortgage loans and mortgage-backed securities.

Section 108. Conflicts of Interest.

The Secretary is required to issue regulations or guidelines to manage or prohibit conflicts of interest in the administration of the program.

Section 109. Foreclosure Mitigation Efforts.

For mortgages and mortgage-backed securities acquired through TARP, the Secretary must implement a plan to mitigate foreclosures and to encourage servicers of mortgages to modify loans through Hope for Homeowners and other programs. Allows the Secretary to use loan guarantees and credit enhancement to avoid foreclosures. Requires the Secretary to coordinate with other federal entities that hold troubled assets in order to identify opportunities to modify loans, considering net present value to the taxpayer.

This is the section that is most helpful directly to taxpayers, but will also award people for bad fiscal principles.  If you can’t afford a loan that you took out, it’s not the government’s job to use loan guarantees (essentially co-sign on the loan).  If you lose your house, that’s your own fault.  It’s harsh, but it’s fair.

Section 110. Assistance to Homeowners.

Requires federal entities that hold mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, including the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the FDIC, and the Federal Reserve to develop plans to minimize foreclosures. Requires federal entities to work with servicers to encourage loan modifications, considering net present value to the taxpayer.

Again, the government will lose a lot of money here, and so will banks.  If they’re letting people stay in houses when they can’t afford them, somebody is going to lose money, and it will be both banks and other lending agencies as well as the government.

Section 111. Executive Compensation and Corporate Governance.

Provides that Treasury will promulgate executive compensation rules governing financial institutions that sell it troubled assets. Where Treasury buys assets directly, the institution must observe standards limiting incentives, allowing clawback and prohibiting golden parachutes. When Treasury buys assets at auction, an institution that has sold more than $300 million in assets is subject to additional taxes, including a 20% excise tax on golden parachute payments triggered by events other than retirement, and tax deduction limits for compensation limits above $500,000.

Section 112. Coordination With Foreign Authorities and Central Banks.

Requires the Secretary to coordinate with foreign authorities and central banks to establish programs similar to TARP.

Section 113. Minimization of Long-Term Costs and Maximization of Benefits for Taxpayers.

In order to cover losses and administrative costs, as well as to allow taxpayers to share in equity appreciation, requires that the Treasury receive non-voting warrants from participating financial institutions.

Section 114. Market Transparency.

48-hour Reporting Requirement: The Secretary is required, within 2 business days of exercising authority under this Act, to publicly disclose the details of any transaction.

Good, if we’re going to screw our economy up more, I at least want to understand exactly how it happened.

Section 115. Graduated Authorization to Purchase.

Authorizes the full $700 billion as requested by the Treasury Secretary for implementation of TARP. Allows the Secretary to immediately use up to $250 billion in authority under this Act. Upon a Presidential certification of need, the Secretary may access an additional $100 billion. The final $350 billion may be accessed if the President transmits a written report to Congress requesting such authority. The Secretary may use this additional authority unless within 15 days Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval which may be considered on an expedited basis.

Again, good – it at least gives us the hope that we won’t use all $700 billion, at least on this bailout.

Section 116. Oversight and Audits.

Requires the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct ongoing oversight of the activities and performance of TARP, and to report every 60 days to Congress. The Comptroller General is required to conduct an annual audit of TARP. In addition, TARP is required to establish and maintain an effective system of internal controls.

Section 117. Study and Report on Margin Authority.

Directs the Comptroller General to conduct a study and report back to Congress on the role in which leverage and sudden deleveraging of financial institutions was a factor behind the current financial crisis.

Section 118. Funding.

Provides for the authorization and appropriation of funds consistent with Section 115.

Section 119. Judicial Review and Related Matters.

Provides standards for judicial review, including injunctive and other relief, to ensure that the actions of the Secretary are not arbitrary, capricious, or not in accordance with law.

Section 120. Termination of Authority.

Provides that the authorities to purchase and guarantee assets terminate on December 31, 2009. The Secretary may extend the authority for an additional year upon certification of need to Congress.

Section 121. Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Establishes the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program to conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the actions undertaken by the Secretary under this Act. The Special Inspector General is required to submit a quarterly report to Congress summarizing its activities and the activities of the Secretary under this Act.

Section 122. Increase in the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.

Raises the debt ceiling from $10.6 trillion to $11.3 trillion.

Section 123. Credit Reform.

Details the manner in which the legislation will be treated for budgetary purposes under the Federal Credit Reform Act.

Section 124. Hope for Homeowners Amendments.

Strengthens the Hope for Homeowners program to increase eligibility and improve the tools available to prevent foreclosures.

I’ve already voiced my opinions on this – this is gonna hurt us.

Section 125. Congressional Oversight Panel.

Establishes a Congressional Oversight Panel to review the state of the financial markets, the regulatory system, and the use of authority under TARP. The panel is required to report to Congress every 30 days and to submit a special report on regulatory reform

prior to January 20, 2009. The panel will consist of 5 outside experts appointed by the House and Senate Minority and Majority leadership.

Section 126. FDIC Enforcement Enhancement.

Prohibits the misuse of the FDIC logo and name to falsely represent that deposits are insured. Strengthens enforcement by appropriate federal banking agencies, and allows the FDIC to take enforcement action against any person or institution where the banking agency has not acted.

This wasn’t prohibited before?  I feel like that should’ve been outlawed back when the FDIC was FORMED!

Section 127. Cooperation With the FBI.

Requires any federal financial regulatory agency to cooperate with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies investigating fraud, misrepresentation, and malfeasance with respect to development, advertising, and sale of financial products.

Again, this needed to be in a bill?

Section 128. Acceleration of Effective Date.

Provides the Federal Reserve with the ability to pay interest on reserves.

Section 129. Disclosures on Exercise of Loan Authority.

Requires the Federal Reserve to provide a detailed report to Congress, in an expedited manner, upon the use of its emergency lending authority under Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act.

Again, if we’re going to kill our economy, at least we know how we did it so we don’t do it again.

Section 130. Technical Corrections.

Makes technical corrections to the Truth in Lending Act.

Section 131. Exchange Stabilization Fund Reimbursement.

Protects the Exchange Stabilization Fund from incurring any losses due to the temporary money market mutual fund guarantee by requiring the program created in this Act to reimburse the Fund. Prohibits any future use of the Fund for any guarantee program for the money market mutual fund industry.

Section 132. Authority to Suspend Mark-to-Market Accounting.

Restates the Securities and Exchange Commission’s authority to suspend the application of Statement Number 157 of the Financial Accounting Standards Board if the SEC determines that it is in the public interest and protects investors.

Section 133. Study on Mark-to-Market Accounting.

Requires the SEC, in consultation with the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, to conduct a study on mark-to-market accounting standards as provided in FAS 157, including its effects on balance sheets, impact on the quality of financial information, and other matters, and to report to Congress within 90 days on its findings.

Section 134. Recoupment.

Requires that in 5 years, the President submit to the Congress a proposal that recoups from the financial industry any projected losses to the taxpayer.

Again, why is the President writing this proposal?  And how do they honestly plan on recouping losses?  How do you get back billions of dollars from the financial industry?  I feel sorry for whoever has to write that proposal.

Section 135. Preservation of Authority.

Clarifies that nothing in this Act shall limit the authority of the Secretary or the Federal Reserve under any other provision of law.

Title II-Budget-Related Provisions

Section 201. Information for Congressional Support Agencies.

Requires that information used by the Treasury Secretary in connection with activities under this Act be made available to CBO and JCT.

Section 202. Reports by the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office.

Requires CBO and OMB to report cost estimates and related information to Congress and the President regarding the authorities that the Secretary of the Treasury has exercised under the Act.

Section 203. Analysis in President’s Budget.

Requires that the President include in his annual budget submission to the Congress certain analyses and estimates relating to costs incurred as a result of the Act; and

Section 204. Emergency Treatment.

Specifies scoring of the Act for purposes of budget enforcement.

Title III-Tax Provisions

Section 301. Gain or Loss From Sale or Exchange of Certain Preferred Stock.

Details certain changes in the tax treatment of losses on the preferred stock of certain GSEs for financial institutions.

Section 302. Special Rules for Tax Treatment of Executive Compensation of Employers Participating in the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

Applies limits on executive compensation and golden parachutes for certain executives of employers who participate in the auction program.

That I agree with.  If we’re bailing out these companies, lets at least waste the money solely on the companies.

Section 303. Extension of Exclusion of Income From Discharge of Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness.

Extends current law tax forgiveness on the cancellation of mortgage debt.

Alright, so that was the full summary of the bill that FAILED the House yesterday.

I want give you a quote from Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), given during yesterday’s House session:

Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this bill. This is only going to make the problem that much worse. The problem came about because we spent too much; we borrowed too much, and we printed too much money; we inflated too much, and we overregulated. This is all that this bill is about is more of the same.

So you can’t solve the problem. We are looking at a symptom. We are looking at the collapsing of a market that was unstable. It was unstable because of the way it came about. It came about because of a monopoly control of money and credit by the Federal Reserve System, and that is a natural consequence of what happens when a Federal Reserve System creates too much credit.

Now, there have been a fair number of free market economists around who have predicted this would happen. Yet do we look to them for advice? No. We totally exclude them. We don’t listen to them. We don’t look at them. We look to the people who created the problem, and then we perpetuate the problem.

The most serious mistake that could be made here today is to blame free market capitalism for this problem. This has nothing to do with free market capitalism. This has to do with a managed economy, with an inflationary system, with corporatism, and with a special interest system. It has nothing to do with the failure of free markets and capitalism. Yet we’re resorting now, once again, to promoting more and more government.

Long term, this is disastrous because of everything we’re doing here and because of everything we’ve done for 6 months. We’ve already pumped in $700 billion. Here is another $700 billion. This is going to destroy the dollar. That’s what you should be concerned about. Yes, Wall Street is in trouble. There are a lot of problems, and if we don’t vote for this, there are going to be problems. Believe me: If you destroy the dollar, you’re going to destroy a worldwide economy, and that’s what we’re
on the verge of doing, and it is inevitable, if we continue this, that that’s what’s going to happen. It’s [Page: H10370]
going to be a lot more serious than what we’re dealing with today.

We need to get our house in order. We need more oversight–that is a certainty–but we need oversight of the Federal Reserve System, of the Exchange Stabilization Fund and of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets. Find out what they’re doing. How much have they been meddling in the market?

What we’re doing today is going to make things much worse.

Pure economic genius from Dr. Paul.

And here’s a quote from Representative Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO):

Mrs. MUSGRAVE. Madam Speaker, I am pleased that the strong opposition to the initial administration proposal has helped to force some very important changes such as the bipartisan oversight board, which is an online database that will allow greater oversight of the Secretary’s actions, but this is still a bailout for Wall Street that will cost the average Colorado household thousands.

I simply cannot stomach transferring that kind of money from the middle class families to a bunch of Wall Street bankers whose avarice and greed put us in this situation in the first place. It’s interesting that, when working families were being crushed by soaring energy prices this summer, Congress went on vacation. Yet, when Wall Street faced the consequences of its actions, we worked around the clock to help them. We should place the same priority on helping Main Street that we place on helping
Wall Street.

And there she expresses what most Americans are expressing: “Why use my money to bail out people and companies who acted irresponsibly?”

A full record of everything said at yesterday’s House session is available on C-Span’s website here (it’s actually pretty cool – I never knew they had that!).

So, again, I am glad that the House voted down this bill.  Hopefully I’ll be able to see the next bill BEFORE there’s a vote on it – I was very disappointed that there was no record of this until today, and even then, so many people were trying to access it that they were killing GovTrack.us and the House websites.

On a side note, here’s a copy of the roll call vote, and I’d like to note that I’m terribly disappointed in Representative Tancredo (R-CO) for voting Aye on this.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Unofficial Deal Reached in Congress on Financial Bailout Bill

September 28, 2008

Word has just come in that congress has reached at deal; however, this deal has NOT been written down officially on paper yet.  This was a verbal deal made between Congressional leaders and the Bush administration.  The House is expected to vote on this bill later today (Sunday), and then pass it on to the Senate for a vote on Monday.  Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told reporters that the deal still has to be officially finalized, but “I think we’re there.”

Earlier in the night, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters that “quite a bit” of progress had been made.

Earlier in the night, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus had told reporters, “We’re making a lot of headway; I think it’s possible to get this thing done tonight, [but] I can’t guarantee it.”  It appears as if this deal was reached sometime within the last hour, sometime just after midnight.

I really want to see the guts of this bill before I make a final judgment on it – I just hope that we’re not going to waste more taxpayer money on something that will completely plunge our economy into the ground.

I’ll give any updates as soon as I get them, which probably won’t be until the House convenes tomorrow.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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