Monday, March 19, 2012

Things I Think

Pursuing the Nomination

--Mitch Romney is a robotic wimp; Newt Gingrich almost is history; Rick Santorum is too scary for some in his own party, let alone Democrats and Independents. Could that add up to Barack Obama winning by default in November, because the GOP has screwed the pooch?

Banks Got Off Easy

--A few weeks ago when details of the Administration “deal” with large mortgage lenders first became public, I blogged that the big banks got off easy, since the remaining residential real estate problem still existed, and the amount of money (@ $25 Billion) the banks were required to pay was insufficient. I had hoped for a greater cash contribution from those financial institutions with balance sheets made rich because of Uncle Sam’s financial support in 2008 and 2009.

On Sunday, March 18, the New York Times editorialized similarly; see link below.

So, once again, the big banks skate and their misdeeds did not produce sufficient blame or financial liabilities for all the damage they did.

I asked this before and do so, again, “Who in Congress will stand up against the banks and for the American public, who—likely unknowingly--still financially support with federal subsidies those same big financial institutions?”

Is ED part of the solution?

--Fannie and Freddie have CEOs who both have announced they plan to leave as soon as their government finds a replacement.

Freddie just reported a profit of $1.5 Billion in 4Q 2011, likely presaging even greater returns the rest of this year, but had to pay the US Treasury a $1.7 Billion “dividend” (paying twice the rate of interest which commercial banks paid for the TARP money), thus had red ink of $200 Million for the last three months of 2011.

Fannie Mae is not as close to black ink and likely still will require more Treasury assistance and longer, but I suspect that both former GSEs—barring some unforeseen calamity-- will be in a positive cash flow position by 2013.

I am told that there may be bells and whistles in their arrangements with Treasury which could keep them paying more than they’ve borrowed from Uncle Sam but that remains to be seen.

Rather than prognosticate about what Congress should do legislatively with Fannie and Freddie in 2013—when there will be a new GOP Administration in town or four more years of Obama II—I would like to suggest someone whom I think would make a super CEO at either company.

He is someone who knows the business has enjoyed the respect of people in both parties-- downtown and on the Hill-- and for whom the new CEO comp of about $500K would be a pay raise.

I also suspect, if the opportunity ever presents itself, he would be able to lead his company back into an active and productive mortgage financing activity.

My candidate is the F&F regulator Ed DeMarco.

I am sure that—in his “conservator” role—he’s been all over ways to keep the companies functioning and I suspect he well understand the fickle nature of the large commercial banks, who seem reluctant to pick of the secondary mortgage market cudgels, short of full federal guarantees of any losses.

If Fannie is a little worse off than Freddie, then let DeMarco take over the company in DC and bring it along to match the success of its Virginia counterpart.

Ed, I don’t know if you want it or not, but you have my vote for either of those vacancies.

Misogynists R Us: The GOP and Women

--When the Republican presidential primary ends, assuming it ever does, and Mitt Romney is anointed or Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, or Mitch Daniels finally gets to enjoy the results of a brokered GOP convention, how will that winning/surviving candidate ever dislodge from his candidacy from months and months of his party’s and their sympathizers anti-female rhetoric and political activity.

I am not just talking about Romney’s “end Planned Parenthood” or Santorum’s “women should stay home and be with child,” but the actions of a variety of GOP majorities and Governors (Pennsylvania Governor’s Tom Corbett’s clueless “just tell them to close their eyes”) and Limbaugh’s “slut and prostitute” declarations. House hearings on women’s health issues which have no female witnesses.

These conservatives have tried legislative and executive regulations to deny rights that have been granted women by other laws and other regulations, most notably on women’s healthcare issue including their abortion rights.

How can most women of any political persuasion and race look at any of these guys and think of the Republican Party’s ultimate presidential choice and say, “He’s my political hero; he speaks for me?”

Naturally after the nomination, the Republican candidate will try and tack left to get back--from far right—to just right of center and attempt to broaden his appeal. But, that is going to be a very long row to hoe.

Adding to this cacophony of anger and mysogynism, the Catholic Bishops have all but officially joined the Republican Party issuing manifesto after manifesto hoping to guilt the “faithful”--most of whom, according to surveys, seem to birth control users--to cast their political votes with the Church’s view of contraception and against President Obama and Democrats in general, who the Bishops claim are stifling “religious freedom.”

But, as one wag noted, “Interesting, isn't it, that this Church so intent on managing the sex lives of its adherents is run by men and women who are not allowed to have any?”

I heard RNC head Reince Priebus (does he have a brother named “Klattu”?) dismiss GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski’s concerns about this very issue by saying he’s not responsible for what she says or believes.

One would like to see those Bishops put the same zeal and effort they put into fighting Barack Obama on health care issues used elsewhere, like cleansing their ranks of rogue clergymen child molesters or even balancing the federal budget.

I guess it’s easier to use their bully pulpits spiritually to mug women over their personal healthcare choices.

Men in public office who bully women don’t deserve women’s votes in November or any other time.

(I wrote the segment above before reading GOP lobbyist Ed Roger’s Washington Post article warning his party against its attacks on women’s issues; link follows.)

Maloni, 3-19-2012