Thursday, November 4, 2010

Some Post Election Observations

Boehner’s “New Tea Party”

Speaker Boehner, indeed.

Well John Boehner now has won the post to which he has aspired and kudos to him for realizing his dream to be House Speaker. Like him or not, he’s part of the boffo GOP success.

But, as they say, “Now that we’ve won it, what do we do with it?”

Let me establish upfront that I don’t think the House Republicans will be able to conduct themselves in any manner save to try and savage the Obama Administration and weaken the President and the Democratic party for the 2012 races. They’re too narrow minded and selfish, both of which they displayed when they ran the Congress from 2000 to 2006 when George W. Bush was President.

I hope all of that has changed and now wiser the R’s will seek some form of bipartisanship…..but I doubt it.

It just may be that all of the Democrats who stayed home on Tuesday and all of those Independents, who voted against Obama’s policies, need is two years of the “new Tea Party” unvarnished to realize how unrealistic, backward looking, and self serving the new House majority is.

Do the American people, John Boehner, really want to rollback the limits Congress just this year put on Wall Street and large banks? Other than the ton of campaign money the financial services types plowed into GOP campaigns, what has the American public gotten from these institutions—besides watching their executive compensation grow as their lending slowed down, while banks invested their excess funds not in loans but in overnight Fed funds.

This is the crew that Boehner vows to save and that’s his “good public policy?”

Wait until new Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) takes that home to Kentucky and tries to sell it. Paul yells, “The federal government doesn’t create jobs, large and small businesses do.” Yea, yea. But the reality Senator is a lot of federal money flows through those commercial entities to create those jobs. But, I’m OK with stopping all federal funds from going to Kentucky and I expect that a majority of Americans would agree

I am ever reminded of the Tea Party rally where supporters carried signs saying “President Obama, Keep the Government Away from my Medicare.”


Boehner brags that the GOP and not the Democrats represent the American public. Just how is the GOP going to cut the deficit? There isn’t enough “fat”—which is a relative term—to cut and balance the federal budget.

Of course, now Speaker Boehner can stop his Republicans—who ran wild when they last controlled the House and booked huge federal deficits—from approving any “earmarks.” Those nifty “little” appropriated funds that cost hundreds of millions—and represent gifts to friends and constituents--which are tacked onto to “must have” legislation and see no scrutiny by anyone save the requesting Member or Senator.

Man up John and stop those congressional goodies!

Maybe the House GOP can start with some other “wasteful federal spending.” How about agriculture food supports or cotton and wool subsidies, highway construction, timber, and dairy subsidies? That could be a lot of lost jobs, especially in red states, if the Tea Party is going to go after those federal benefits. That shouldn’t stop our virtuous new heroes, should it? Class, class, Bueller, Buehler….?

Oh, they likely mean cut the federal benefits which go to urban minorities, like federal food stamps, But, aren’t the majority of food stamp recipients white?

I know “the new Tea Party” should put its House muscle behind closing unnecessary domestic military bases and ending weapon systems that even the Pentagon doesn’t want.

Now there is a valuable target.

What are the chances that Speaker Boehner will lead his troops in that direction?

Class, class, Bueller….??

The House Democrats do look ideologically homogenized. Maybe they can get their act together as the minority party. Maybe they can give Speaker Boehner a little of what he meted out to them?

I am happy for America that Harry Reid won, mainly because Sharon Angle— the Nevada Tea Party favorite—was so lame. But the Senate Democrats might consider a fresh new leader, with Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin (the “odd couple roommates”) being the logical choices. I’ll take either over Harry, who had his day in the sun and proved wanting.

If You Are Going to Walk the Walk, Then You Need to…

Come on Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.), you can’t identify even one federal program you would cut? I just listed several areas known to millions. All you can complain about is how much the WH is spending on the President Obama’s trip to India. Did you complain about any Bush trips, even the one monthers back to “the Ranch” in Texas? Do you think he went without staffers and Secret Service protection surrouding him?

Responses: Barack Obama or Howard Dean?

As President the day after the election, Barack Obama offered a reasonable rejoinder to the GOP victories of Tuesday (paraphrasing), “The buck stops with me and I know a good part of yesterday’s vote was a rejection of my policies, but I still am ready to work with the GOP on behalf of the American people, etc. etc. etc.”

Former Vermont Governor and Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean approached it a little differently, suggesting (paraphrasing), “If the Republicans expect to cut Medicare and Medicaid and give tax cuts to the wealthiest in American, we will wrap it around their necks and beat the hell out of them with it.”

Dean, who some see as a potential Obama rival in 2012, is not liked or trusted by Obama insiders.

Barack Obama is in office for the next two years and no amount of GOP taunting will change that fact. He continues to have a bully pulpit. I would have preferred that he uttered comments closer to Dean’s.

The President isn’t going to win friends or voters cozying up to the divided Republicans in both the House and Senate.

Financial Services

Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) or whichever Republican stabs him in the back and takes the Chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee from him should find ranking minority member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) a royal pain in the butt to cross or ignore.
Barney doesn’t do “nice” very well, but he can tear the flesh from most dullards who seek to substitute rhetoric for facts.

The flip side is that Barney could be “tired” after all of his work in this Congress and might not want to “bust balls.” But should he chose to engage, he may not have the votes but he will make it tough for anyone wanting to put Wall Street and the big banks on their old lofty pedestals, which seems to be the new Speaker’s goal.

I don’t think the House R’s have the votes or the creativity to force a new mortgage market model, i.e. the “Fannie/Freddie problem” on the Obama White House. So that matter must wait whatever will be the Obama plan promised in the new budget.

Tim Johnson (D-SD), the likely new Senate Banking Chairman, Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jack Reed (D-RI) should be able to control Dick Shelby (R-Ala) and the Committee R’s. Look for Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to wind up serving on this committee.

But, once the R’s agree on who will be the House Financial Services Chairman or Chairwoman, thinking of Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.), I am sure that we will hear all of the same canned anti-GSE rhetoric again.¬¬

Last tidbit

Thursday’s American Banker carries a story quoting victorious Republicans on what changes they would like to make in the financial services area. Naturally they want to get Fannie and Freddie, but in the list of items they hope to accomplish is a recurring theme, end/limit new bank regulations on large investment and commercial banks, as well as the small guys.

The lesson of the George W. Bush years hardly was that we had too much federal financial regulation, but that we had too little and very few federal regulators stopped anything that Wall Street or the big banks wanted to do.

Now to be fair to the election winners, they’re giddy over their success and the implied power they have, but if their first steps are to reduce the height of the lion’s fence or remove it all together, people are going to get badly mauled and maybe lots of people.

Maloni, 11-4-10

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