Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grip and Grin

I am doing these days what a lot of “experienced Democrats” are doing, as I hear the familiar names and see the faces of all of the people I worked with in years past, being named to or rumored for key Obama positions. I am thinking, “Do I want to try and get back into that rat race?”

At home, I look at my “grip and grin” pictures and staring back at me from one section—beneath my most beloved photo, former Steelers Quarterback Terry Bradshaw and me "BS-ing" at a Realtors conference in Texas--are the smiling faces and/or extended hands, of Paul Volcker, Rahm Emanuel, Tom Daschle, Steny Hoyer, Charlie Rangel, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Stevens, oops (must have been that damn celebration of the Alaska Partnership Office opening) and, again, I think, “Do I really want to start working 60 hours a weeks, again?

Nope, not at my age! And “hell, no.”

And then I look at my 401 (k) which has shrunk to a 101 (AA) size and think, “Hmm, maybe I should do, say, just 20 hours somewhere?”

Now, I begin to sweat those 6 dozen questions Obama job applicants must answer. I’d need about five dozen extra pages just to do my “enemies list,” those who have me on theirs and those whose names appear on mine, and that’s just Hill colleagues! , on upper

While walking my dog and pondering these weighty matters, on upper Connecticut Avenue earlier this week, I cross paths with an old friend and neighbor, the always handsome and suave Julian Bond. We shake hands as fellow conspirators in the post-Obama time might and I asked the former NACCP head and civil rights warrior, which Obama Administration job he most wants? He laughed and said, “Court of St James.”

I wished him luck, but before separating. I remind him that if he needed a chauffeur, I know how to drive an automatic, even on the left hand side of the road! (Note to self. Consider substantive overture to Bond my initial Obama job application!)

I think to myself I could get by the “Obama no lobbying standards,” since I haven’t been paid to lobby anyone or advise them how to lobby, since 2004, even though—certainly with my blog—I have been an advocate. Maybe just being in advocacy doesn’t disqualify you, at least from driving for an ambassador!

The old surge, the power in the belly returns. I feel it. I’m in play, especially if "neighbor Bond" gets his British job! I now realize that a low key job in quiet Merry Olde England, working for Mr. J Bond as his driver, could provide me with a real “Quantum of Solace!”

Oh, oh. I now am feeling seven times happy!!

Hillary and Andrew

Where do the Democrats want to put Andrew Cuomo, if Hillary Clinton is named Secretary of State? No, seriously, this is a real question, not a request for a multiple listing of vile places and ribald jokes.

Can you imagine what kind a campaign Andrew would lay on New York Governor David Patterson demanding that Patterson appoint him to fill Hillary’s unfinished Senate term?

Does Patterson want Cuomo the hell out of the state? Does Chuck Schumer want Andrew’s competition for all of those cameras in DC? Do the Senate Democrats need another “shy, retiring, team player” like Andrew, issuing multiple daily press releases?

Arguing that it would be impossible to comb through Bill Clinton business records, partnerships, and dealings might be the easiest answer, plus it keeps Andrew in the New York AG’s office, which is not a bad fit for him (noted with a left handed compliment!).

Help for Detroit?

The only guy I worked for in my 11 years in Congress, Rep. Bill Moorhead (D-Pa) was the chief sponsor of the Chrysler loan guarantee legislation in the 1970’s, the last time Washington helped the auto industry.

Ironically, this time, I would let one of the Big Three, likely Chrysler, declare bankruptcy and then maybe help the remaining two, Ford and GM, but only in return for stiff corporate and labor give ups.

The problem is that there are better and cheaper cars available to us, made in the US by American workers—even though they carry Japanese names--and until that market dynamic changes, Ford ,GM, and Chrysler wont’ succeed.

The “Big Three” also are gluttonous and the unions have to kick in, too.

Listening to the senior auto officials plead their case, watching AIG seek/demand $150 billion in federal assistance--almost double the $75 Billion the Treasury offered—and complain they need to accelerate their officers deferred compensation or risk losing these talented people, and then hearing the commercial banks ask for money but refuse to lend what they have or what they are getting from Treasury to consumers and small businesses, really makes me sick.

Can those with their hands out begging understand that “you have to give to get” and, if you don’t want to, you shouldn’t get!

Supplicants never should be selfish!

GSE Issues

There was supposed to be a hearing before the Henry Waxman (D-Cal.) Investigations Committee today, featuring former Fannie and Freddie CEOs, Frank Raines and Dan Mudd, and Leland Brendsel and Dick Syron. It’s been postponed until Dec. 9, so that the Committee Republicans can bring some witnesses of their own. (Congrats to Waxman who toppled “Old Bull” John Dingell for in the contest for Chairmanship of the House Commerce Committee? I wonder if tat success came from Dingell’s life long support for the auto industry at a time when those Detroiters don’t look very good?)

Rep. Waxman and his staff have run a super set of hearings soliciting informative and revealing testimony from major players in the economic and mortgage meltdowns, which have laid so low our economy.

But, what else could the GOP be trying re Fannie and Freddie, with its new witnesses? On the Committee first day of hearings—with the then McCain campaign in full bloom—the GOP brought forth a “minority report,” filled with errors and distortions which tried to blame the entire economic collapse on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the subprime mortgage fiasco which came courtesy of Wall Street and lax or non-existent GOP federal regulation.

That didn’t stop the R’s—and Tom Davis of all people who supped so deeply at the Freddie trough—from trying to blame the local companies for everything (including the “heartbreak of psoriasis”). Those allegations now largely has been swatted away by a variety of media and businesses sources not connected with the former government sponsored enterprises, which shows the mistakes they made but equally makes clear that Fannie and Freddie were not the root cause of much beyond their own demise (which itself may have been premature and politically dictated).

So, now that the McCain camp which tried to use this same “Fannie/Freddie did it” fairy tale in its anti-Obama campaign—is history, as is most of Fannie and Freddie--what are the Republicans going to dredge up to in an effort to sanitize their regulatory shortcomings and, once again, blame Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Most observers point to the seminal actions by Mudd and Syron, respectively, to purchase large amounts of toxic Alt A and private label subprime securities (PLS) in 2006 and 2007, as the major red ink causes.

But, almost as important, is the fact that virtually every aspect of the two mortgage companies business was presided over and blessed by their former regulator the Office of Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), following the May, 2006 consent agreements both companies signed with OFHEO. From that point on, the regulatory agency had their own employees in both companies every business day of the week reviewing all transactions and decisions.

If the former GSE managements made bad business calls, what’s that say about the OFHEO staff who shared in their meetings and machinations?

This next Waxman hearing should be fun to watch as the Committee GOP has to perforce blame other Republicans for mortgage misfeasance or malfeasance!

(Mt deepest condolences to the children, grandchildren, and other relatives of Angelina Luchetti Maloni, my brave sister-in-law, who passed away on Thursday afternoon. Angie was my late brother’s wife and had just turned 69 last week. Rest in Peace, Angie, I'll keep and eye on the kids.)

Maloni 11-20-2008


Bill Maloni said...

A reader just informed me that while the "consent agreements"--between OFHEO and the companies--were struck in 2006, OFHEO had a amassed investigative staff at the company premises in the summer of 2004, which in my argument, makes the regulatory agency partially responsible for more corporate business decisions.

John M said...

Hi Bill,

In a couple of hours we will be releasing the next installment of Doom's unauthorized transcript of AEI's Sept 30, 2008 subprime seminar. There is an official transcript now if you want an early peek at the whole mess, but here's a tidbit you might enjoy:

"... And I [UBS' Tom Zimmerman] was amazed to read something on the internet this morning. Where — I think it was Mudd — I think he was saying that they’re going to evaluate, what, some minimal capital return is? … before they decide what kind of lending they’re going to make? Because they are going to first decide what’s a realistic kind of … so it sounds like … you know, I thought the government might use Freddie / Fannie as a real lever to push out lending — to push out liquidity to the market. It sounds like first somebody is going to figure out what it takes to keep them reasonably solvent, then go back and figure out what kind of loans they can make. If they do that, then they’re not going to be any help going forward."

Google's News Archive Search seems to be broken, so I can't confirm that such a story was online in late September. Does the above sound right?

John M said...

I've just posted an edited extract of your post here. Thanks!

Bill Maloni said...

Thanks, as usual, John.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

I found your blog and you brought back many fond memories. I hope we can reconnect.

GSE Advocate

Bill Maloni said...

Did we once "connect?"

If so, ws it.....I won't even go there!!

I'd love to talk to anyone who takes the time to read my blog and comment.