Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thank You Dede, You're a Hero

It looks like Dede Scozzafava--the initial GOP choice in New York’s 23rd congressional district who was scorned by national conservatives and later dropped out of the race the weekend before this past Tuesday's election--drew around 7300 votes or slightly more than the margin by which Democrat Bill Owens defeated the Conservative Party’s Doug Hoffman, allowing the Democrats to claim this seat for the first time since the Civil War era.

Scozzafava drew heavy media attention when she was forced to resign days before the special election, because of major hostility from the GOP’s national right wing, which preferred conservative Hoffman.

Her vote total and the fact that she endorsed Owens was kind of a “she who laughs last,” at least for now.

As I wrote earlier, the extra House seat won’t give the D’s more than a little bragging rights, but the GOP was served notice by its right wing that “moderate Republicans”—whatever that term may now mean—are going to face additional hurdles when they seek to run not only in 2010 but in the off year and maybe 2012, too.

So Michael Steele, you and those party elders—not associated with the extreme wing of your party--better worry about Dick Armey, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and that cabal.

It is noteworthy that the National Republican Campaign Committee and Hill Republicans strongly opposed Hoffman, until Scozzafava quit over the right wing assaults.

Before her departure, Congressional Republicans charged that Hoffman wasn’t even a resident of the 23rd District and—more significantly--that he lacked “the integrity and qualities needed to be elected to anything, let alone Congress.”

Days ago, NRC head Michael Steele restated his firm backing of Scozzafava in the face of mounting pressure to end the official party's support for her bid.

Then Dede bolted, endorsed Democrat Owens, and the GOP threw "did a 180" and backed a loser, Hoffman. Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich endorsed the guy the ‘adult Republicans” said lacked integrity and other positive qualities.

Look out. The conservative bogeymen are coming for the national GOP and I am not sure the Party is prepared to stand up for whatever qualifies as GOP principles.

All Politics Are Local

I know that the sainted Tip O’Neil claimed that “all politics are local," but I hope the gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey shock some of my national Democrat friends and brings them back to the reality of governing. There is a difference between winning an election and then using your victory to wisely make policy.

While I think the party chose a weak Virginia candidate and New Jersey had its economics and tax issues, this splash of cold political water might just shake up some of the Democrat congressional hot air machines and force them to examine what policy choices make sense to the American people and which don’t.

When you win, you have to do more than just strut, call your GOP opponents “out of touch”—even if they are--and then squabble like hell among yourselves while domestic problems seem to worsen. That’s a losing prescription for the Democratic Party which dominated all of the elections last year...

All solutions don’t have to be omnibus and costly. Whether it’s financial reform, climate technology, job creations, immigration, foreign policy, etc. etc. a dose of common sense often is better than a “trillion dollar initiative.”

The public is sending that message

From my perspective the Democrats at both ends of Washington have too many “omnibus” answers and are not doing enough hard work to generate simpler proposals that might work.

One of my conservative friends sent me an email noting those 30 years ago, we created the “Department of Energy,” as a cabinet level agency to make us independent of foreign oil.

Several Republican and Democrat Administrations later, we’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the DOE—with its 100,000 employees—and don’t seem much closer to energy independence??

Message to Democrats: It doesn’t take too many pissed off citizens, in a country where the major parties come close to halving the national electorate, to go from political winners to losers in two years.

The American people don’t need circuses. We do need common sense, less selfishness, and some political guts.

Brits and Volcker Are Right……

…is a perfect lead in to what Mervyn King and his Bank of England have done right and we have not. If we want to reduce financial systemic risk in this country then we should make sure that no financial services company ever earns the label “Too Big to Fail.”

The British are leading the way, now, and chopping down some of their “financial redwoods,” making them smaller and more manageable.

Let’s begin to listen to Paul Volcker, who is an Obama financial adviser. He says the best way to regulate the “TBTF” behemoths is just make them smaller.

Why is that so hard for us to understand? Why does this pragmatic view likely put Volcker (on whom, intellectually, I would stake my chips) at apparent odds with Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke? Because the big banks and financials services companions don’t want to be busted up?

Where are Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, when we need them? Where is Senator Sherman or Senator Clayton, with their respective versions of famous anti-trust legislation?

Bigger isn’t always better, especially in today’s financial megatrons. Now the Britsih are showing the way.

Both healthy and weak companies in the US should be required to reduce some of their size so they can more easily be managed and regulated. Probably sounds too “un-American” for it to happen, but it is hardly an original thought, as all of the anti-trust activity in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s suggests.

Break them up into smaller more easily managed and regulated entities, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which already have a 10 year deal with the Treasury to reduce their mortgages portfolios to the $250 Billion range, a third or more from where they are now), once Treasury stops using them to conduct mortgage operations which the rest of the market participants have abandoned.

I believe that is a more thoughtful approach to effective financial regulation than creating new agencies and new DC regulatory turf wars.

Rather than reducing real size and risk, the White House and Congress are trying to figure out who should manage the “TBTF” companies and how? Break them up and inject some steel in the spines of the federal regulatory institutions you have.

Why try and make peace and mollify the risk takers when with the same amount of zeal and political capital you can reduce it…and, in my opinion, enjoy a lot more public support in doing so.

Didn’t we learn anything from the past two years of financial failures and mistakes?
We are a people in love with new acronyms and organizational boxes, but “new” doesn’t mean “better.”

Speaking of managing risks from TBTF companies, Shelia Bair has it right to want these firms to pay up for their future support before they need help rather than afterwards!

Again, just common sense, but will the Congress go along?

(One last thought. Why do any bank employees need "bonuses" based on 2009 performnace? Let the banks show their support for the nation by keeping that money in house and lending it. Once again, the banks collectively received billions from the US Treasury. Let them, in the spirit of citizenship, show the nation's taxpayers some good faith!)

Maloni 11-5-2009


Anonymous said...

Dear Bill, we need more jobs not just political speeches and rhetoric. What happened to the promises of penalizing companies that export jobs abroad? I have decided to buy less chi... and buy more american products but what is the government doing? I have not seen legislation to help consumption of goods manufactured in the US, everybody wants lower interests rates but what good does it do when you don't have a salary? This president has shown good intentions but we need actions to help american workers.

Bill Maloni said...

I have ltitle doubt that the unemployment numbers will improve throughout 2010. But I also think the productivity figures suggest that industry may have learned better how to do more with less.

Yet, once consuemr demand grows, following improved job numbers, we'll see a marked improvement.

For what's it's worh, about two months, ago I thought of getting riod of my superb 10 year old foreign and buying a new Buick sedan, which just had gotten outstanding performance and reliability reviews from writers I trust.

"Buy America" was on my mind, even thoguh I knew I was opting for a "lesser" vehicle.

In the end, I got pragmatic, made a pocket book decision (probably as most Americans would), and put several hundred (body work) into my old car and feel like I'm driving a new one.

IMO, if the nation ever really went to "Buy American," we would lose the ersulting tarde war, since we have to rely on well made and affordably priced imports.