Posts Tagged GOP

WILL DONALD TRUMP AND TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN PROCLAIM THE NEW 21st CENTURY GLASS-STEAGALL ACT, BUT ONLY METAPHORICALLY?

The Banking Act of 1933, commonly referred to as the Glass-Steagall Act, ushered in various reforms, to assist the Nation’s Recovery from The Great Depression.  “Glass”, which was part of (new) President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, broke-up the Banking Industry, and created Federal Deposit Insurance.  It was made permanent in 1945.

Prior to “Glass”, companies could engage in both commercial and investment banking, which meant that risky securities actions might jeopardize clients’ deposits, and there wasn’t any deposit insurance either.  In the mid-1980s, however, many of the banking restrictions were lifted, and mostly larger banks transformed themselves into Financial Services Supermarkets.  Also, making “banking” even more precarious: the number of products and financial institutions, has frown considerably since the 1930s.

In October of 2008, President George W. Bush bestowed many billions of dollars on the largest banks, in order to enhance liquidity within the banking system.  Unfortunately, that action was interpreted, by many, as conveying an explicit Federal Government Guarantee of what became to be called the “Too Big to Fail” banks.  That general assumption merely led to an even higher concentration of financial business, on the few, but same, largest—or Too Big to Fail Banks.  Thus, the solution worsened the problem!

Following The Great Recession (4Q07-to-1Q09), President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into Law, in July 2010.  Dodd-Frank reined-in the banks, required required high equity capital standards, and was intended to separate the investment risks from consumer deposits.  The GOP, however, has sought to repeal Dodd-Frank ever since!

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is Donald Trump’s lead-man on banking laws, has been suggesting that he might propose a “21st century version of Glass-Steagall”. Donald Trump has also been saying the same thing!  Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren called Secretary Mnuchin to task, at a Senate Finance Committee Hearing, as linked from CNBC-TV.  She noticed that he had been avoiding the question of whether, or not, the Trump Regime would break-up the banks.

Finally, Secretary Mnuchin realized that he had to answer the question, and his response was still quite convoluted: “it’s a complex issue”; “not a good thing”. and finally “NO!”   He stammered when she asked him how they could be considering a “21st century version of Glass-Steagall—a law which specifically broke-up the banks—with one that would not.” Mr. Mnuchin suggested that he would bring a team from the Treasury Department to brief the Senator’s Staff.

Secretary Mnuchin seemed to be avoiding answers from most of the Senators on the Committee—especially the Democrats—as he offered to provide briefings, similar to those offered Senator Warren, to a number of other Senators.  Surely, the Secretary of the Treasury should be expected to appear before the primary Senate Committee, which regulates his office—and be totally prepared! And it should be obvious to most Americans that, so soon after the 2008 Banking Crisis, that the status of the Banking Laws would be Question Number One, Two and Three!

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AMERICA IS BEGINNING TO WONDER IF DONALD TRUMP CAN GOVERN—AT ALL!

Following the Presidential Election, there has been an on-again, off-again rally in the stock market, which might have been partially attributed to Donald Trump’s victory, last November.  Generally, the stock market performs best in the first and fourth calendar quarters, most years; however, some investors might have placed too much faith in Trump’s vague promises, raising the seasonal spurt even higher.   Also, some CEO’s seem to have swooned over his proposals:  the corporate tax-rate being halved; escalating depreciation on plant and equipment; eliminating most all regulations; and the “Border-Adjustment Tax”.

As of Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.3% since Trump won, and the    S & P 500 was up by 8.3%.  There was little in the way of economic activity to have justified such a surge; however, some investors may have just followed the herd instinct.  They wanted to believe!  But like any other asset, when the price rises for no apparent reason, there might come a time where it cannot sustain that psychological momentum.  Did the markets seem to sense that yesterday?

Ever since he announced his candidacy, in June of 2015, Donald Trump has been harping on two primary goals—the worthless Wall, and his vow to “…replace ‘Obamacare’: with something much better, and at less cost.  Just trust me!”  HA! Donald raised the stakes too high, before his American Health Care Act had to be pulled yesterday—for the second time—due to insufficient support from his own Republican Party!

Always the person to find a scapegoat to blame–rather than blame House Speaker Paul Ryan, or the entire GOP–Donald blamed the Opposition Party.  For a self-proclaimed “Negotiator”, how ludicrous was it to have over-sold the “certain” success of his AHCA, as he had often boasted, and then blame the Democrats…but, for what?  He was trying to tear-down a perfectly good (first-step) of a comprehensive plan that could provide Affordable Health Care for all!

Many Americans, including investors, are beginning to wonder if Trump can actually govern! He boasted, before the election, about how many things he would do, beginning “Day One!”  But so far, he has accomplished very little.  On the negative side, however, the list of his idiotic moves is a mile long!

Consider the following problems that he has been entangled in:  the failed raid in Yemen, which resulted in the death of one Navy DEAL and 24 Yemeni civilians; attacking the American Judiciary for rebuking his two Anti-Muslim Bans; his apparent desire to control the Media; threatening a pre-emptive attack on a nuclear-armed North Korea—in China’s back yard; Trump’s potential collusion with Russia, and so on!

A number of Americans who voted for Trump have been on TV stating that they are having Voter’s Remorse.  It’s times like this when I wish that we had a Parliamentary System.  That way, just one “No Confidence!” vote would place M. P. Donald Trump, in a back-bench seat, where he belongs.  Oh, if only…!

When Trump stated yesterday that the GOP’s AHCA Plan had to be pulled, distancing himself from bad news as always, he proclaimed that the next item of business would be Tax Reform.  But there are two problems with that strategy, which he is overlooking:  a number of deep-pocketed conservative organizations, including the Koch Brothers, have come out again Trump’s Tax Plan; and the money that he was supposed to take from ACA customers was necessary to fund his large tax cuts for the Wealthiest two-percent!

Meanwhile, many institutional and individual investors are, no doubt, using this weekend to review Trump’s record—both positive and negative—and to decide what their next financial moves might be.  Additionally, many overseas investors are also considering whether the recent Trump Rally is real, or just a market bubble!  I sure wouldn’t be surprised it there is a pause, at least, in the rally–or perhaps a reversal.

 

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WE CAN’T KEEP WAITING FOR CONGRESS TO GO NOWHERE FAST, REGARDING TRUMP’S POSSIBLE COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA. WHAT’S PLAN B, AND PLAN C?

In my last post, I suggested that behind Donald Trump’s Visible Regime, there might be a Shadow Government, which controls the real power in Washington.  But, here are just a few of the problems, emanating from today’s White House, that smell:

1. Trump’s Political Strategist, Steve Bannon, is a permanent member of the National Security Council.

2. With two former generals in Trump’s Cabinet, why was it the Secretary of State, who suggested a potential pre-emptive attack on North Korea, and in Chin’s backyard?

3. Why have Cabinet Officers not been allowed to appoint Deputies, as usual, and their Confirmation Hearings should have been held, or at least scheduled by now?

4. Why was Donald Trump so discourteous after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Friday?  He looked like a pouting schoolboy who had just been smacked-down!

5. Why is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipping the coming NATO Summit in order to visit Moscow, which he is quite familiar with? Couldn’t he take a side trip there, either before or after the NATO meeting?

6. Numerous former and current Trump Associates have had contact with various Russian officials, both in Moscow and Washington.

7. Yesterday, Donald Trump was threatening Congressman, who vote against his ideology-based Health Care Plan?  Does he know that we were still a Democracy?

8. And, why does his daughter, Ivanka, sit in on meetings with foreign Heads of State?

Plan A, just holding Congressional Hearings, when Donald Trump’s Republican Party holds the majority in both Houses, will always have a Chairman who belongs to his party, as well as a majority of members.  Also, since the GOP believes that it can jam even the most Draconian Legislation through Congress, with their own Man in the White House, can it really be trusted to find collusion, between Trump and Russia, if it is found to have been present?

A “Select”, or Temporary, Committees of Congress will fare no better, since it also will have many of the same party and ideological biases as standing committees do.   The Nation needs to have a Plan B, and a Plan C.  Plan B would be the appointment of “Special Prosecutor, someone of exemplary legal credentials and who is unbiased, for or against anything but the Truth.  And Plan C would consider other options, besides Impeachment, such as a complete Regime Change.

The Special Prosecutor should delve into all aspects of the Russia-Trump Connections, where there may be improprieties.  This would include: current and former Trump employees, agents and advisors; whether in person or any other form of contact, and whether the location was foreign or domestic.  And Yes, the Special Prosecutor should have complete access to any and all Federal Tax Returns (and all Schedules) of Donald Trump—and for every prior year!

Plan C should draw-up plans, in the event that there was some form of collusion, between Donald Trump and his Campaign, with the Russian Federation.  Simple Impeachment proceedings might not be appropriate, since it would be merely eliminating the Head of an Illegal Government. Just like the proverbial Hydra: cut-off the head, and it frown another. Plan C should decide whether usual Impeachment proceedings would be appropriate or, perhaps, a Declaration of the Election as being null and void might be in order

Plans B and C, or some other appropriate meassures, will take time to consider, draft and, perhaps, need to be ruled on by the Supreme Court.  Given the many important policy issues—both foreign and domestic—which are constantly arising, we need to insure that we have plans already in place to maintain that “finely-tuned” Government that the United States must have!

NOTE:   I realize that if the world-clock stopped ticking, we would have time to call for a Constitutional Convention, or to otherwise Amend the Constitution; but, WE DON’T!

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THIS ST. PATRICK’S DAY, NOT ALL OF THE IRISH EYES WERE SMILING!

As the Irish are one of the oldest, and most easily assimilated groups of immigrants, St. Patty’s Day has come to be a day of celebration, not only for the Irish, but for many Immigrant groups.Ω even those who might seem to be flying under the radar—because they are of European stock. But they realize that Trump’s racially-motivated immigration ideas today could turn against all other groups tomorrow.  So, they stand together! 

Sure, Donald Trump might have toasted Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly with green beer, on Thursday, and both men had-on green ties, and the fountain on the White House’s south lawn glowed green, for a day or two.  The undocumented Irish find little solace in those hollow events, however, due to the fact that they entered the    U. S. on perfectly legal Visas, and remained here after they had expired.  Besides the Irish, many others, like the Polish, the Mexicans, Nigerians, Filipinos, etc., are hard-working taxpayers, who are raising families here.

Perhaps the Irish won’t be the first group to be deported; but, how can they ever be sure that, as Trump or some other demagogue like him, works their way down the list of nationalities that, at some point, they might be next!  As much as Trump talks about creating jobs, he doesn’t realize that immigrants often are the reason for economic expansion as they add (usually) younger workers, entrepreneurial and technological skills, and they also increase the consumer base, as more spenders can grow the economy exponentially.

Undocumented immigrants normally enter the U. S. incrementally, and they are eventually assimilated into our society.  Unfortunately, racist actions do make it difficult for some, such as today’s Muslims, and of course blacks after centuries of living in America!

In 1981, 120,000 Cubans came ashore in Miami, in just two months time, and they were quickly assimilated into the local, very large Cuban-American community.  That many refugees, arriving in one area, and being quickly assimilated was, of course, an aberration.  Even though some of those “Marielitos” were, as Donald Trump would say, “Bad Hombres”, their proportion generally pales when compared to the overall percentage of criminals in American society.

So, while Mr. Trump was toasting Prime Minister Kelly at the White House, Joe McHugh, Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora and International Development visited the Aisling Irish Community Center, in Yonkers, N. Y.  Aisling is one of a number of community centers that provides social services, health screenings and other assistance to, what it calls, the “forgotten Irish”.  Staff members at Aisling, and other such centers, say that anxiety is peaking because of Trump.  Minister Joe McHugh, said, after his visit: “They live in fear.” But why?

Is this what America has come to:  like those billionaires, who have more money than they could ever hope to spend, and they just seem to want more?  Everyone of us are descendants of people who had come from somewhere else–even the Native Americans.   And for all of those “god-fearing Christians”, I surely wonder how you can mouth the words: “Do unto others…”

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ARE TRUMP AND THE GOP MORE CONCERNED WITH IMPROVING HEALTH CARE, OR REPEALING OBAMA’S SIGNATURE LEGISLATION?

On Monday, the House Republicans released their Replacement Health Care Plan so they can Repeal “Obamacare”.  Donald Trump jumped at the chance to embrace the Plan.  Also, since the GOP has been so focused on devising, a replacement plan, they seem most ebullient just to mimic George W. Buh’s boast of “Mission Accomplished!”; but, the suitability aspects must have been left back at the conference room.  The reception for the much touted GOP plan, so far, has been anything but favorable, even from within their own party.

Actually, the House Leadership didn’t release it; rather, they seem to have preferred to just have it leaked.  There wasn’t any condemnation for it getting out, just the wiggle room to declare that it was only an early draft and, that way, they could always reel it back in.  Right now, however, the House GOP leadership is trying to put some lipstick, as well as some rouge, on this pig.  But really, this swine is just not gonna fly.

Since the Plan is, no doubt, being analyzed in minute detail, by all of the usual news sources, I will not try to duplicate their efforts.  The NY Times article, linked above, cites various key components of the ACA, and how the House Plan compares.  Specific parts of the ACA are also cited, along with explanatory notes on those being: retained; modified; or eliminated. However,  I would like mention a few key points, which the GOP might have purposely preferred to be lost in the shuffle:

  1. What will happen to those previously uninsured Americans who, under ACA’s Extended Medicaid provision, will lose their health care coverage under the GOP Plan?  Why hide that fact?
  2. Why would reasonably wealthy people be receiving the health care tax credits, rather than just those who need the help in order for them to buy the insurance?  A tax-cut for the wealthy?
  3. When will the American People be advised that they will not be guaranteed to be covered for “pre-existing conditions” if they had not, in fact, already purchased the insurance  coverage?  Why not spell this vital detail out?  Besides, no health care insurer would provide new customers with coverage that include adverse medical conditions!
  4. Block Grants will not insure health care for residents, when given to the states as “flexible dollars”, because the funds may just be added to the state’s General Fund.  In 2009, Republican Governor Mark Sanford, of South Carolina, received Infrastructure money from the Federal government, intended to create “shovel-ready” jobs; but, he used it to pay-down the state debt.  And, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, also a Republican, just refused the much-needed money outright.

The Affordable Care Act certainly can be improved, as was Medicare when it was originally passed, and also the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).  The Republican Party has been extremely intent on obstructing President Barack Obama, since the evening of his first Inauguration, and Trump just wants to tear down anything that Obama had accomplished.

But, is that a reason to take Affordable Health Care away form the tens of millions of Americans who have come to rely upon it?  The following Op-Ed, from the NY Times, is co-authored by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a key participant in writing the ACA Legislation.)

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PERHAPS THE REPUBLICANS MIGHT HAVE UNCOVERED MORE THAN THEY HAD WANTED, IN THEIR QUEST FOR AN “OBAMACARE” FIX

As the Republican Party has been delving into alchemy, for almost seven years, in its search to replace President Obama’s Affordable Health Care, it has determined that Americans need to be able to buy health insurance across state lines.  And I agree completely.  But, there’s more to the overall problem, than just where the insurance is sold!

Upon further consideration, however, their search also reveals certain risks in assuming that each of the 50 states already competently regulate the respective insurance operating companies doing business within their states.  The regulatory problems have also become more difficult, especially as the parent companies grow more diverse–and the industry more complex.

Banks and Securities Firms are regulated by Federal Regulators, which enables them to examine, let’s say, Bank of America or Goldman Sachs, both across the nation—as well as across their various product lines.  For Allstate or Nationwide, however, different state regulators examine the individual subsidiaries independently, without any coordination whatsoever—especially with regard to self-dealing among other out-of-state subsidiaries.

The idea of buying Health Insurance in Indiana or Ohio, or Homeowners in Texas versus Oklahoma, would be a simple enough change.  That’s because the insurance risks, for comparable customers, would not change just because they live on one side of the state line, or the other.  If Blue Cross-Blue Shield, for instance, could operate through just one, or perhaps, several subsidiaries nationwide, that would lower some of its redundant expenses, perhaps lowering the premiums, as well.  But, the highest risk is at the Home Office–where the buttons are pushed!

A NY Times article, from 2009, described some issues with AIG, one of the very largest insurance companies, which operated through 71 insurance operating companies, that were spread among 19 states, and additionally in many, many foreign countries.  Eventually, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury had to provide the largest bail-out in American History—some $182 billion.  Otherwise, a collapse by AIG could have brought down the overall American Economy—or even worse!

AIG was playing a shell game with itself: the various operating companies were investing in each other, rather than properly diversifying their similar risks more adequately; some companies were shifting debt to other AIG subsidiaries, making it impossible for the various state regulators to ascertain their respective financial stability; and the parent company (AIG, Inc.) had engaged in “Credit Default Swaps”, the so-called “toxic assets”, whereby it guaranteed Wall Street assets valued at more than its own Net Worth.

But, the final question is:  How far will the Republican Party keep searching, if in looking for a replacement for “Obamacare” (as they call it), they might have the Insurance Regulatory Environment to deal with?

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I AGREE WITH DONALD TRUMP! LET’S GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS WIRE TAP THING!

OK, OK!  Don’t get excited.  But, I do believe that Donald Trump has made a great point!  A really good one, for ONCE!   And, let’s get this whole mess over with at one time!  If President Barack Obama were, indeed, tapping the phone lines at Trump Tower, he was surely trying to prove that the Trump Campaign, and then the Trump Transition Team, had been cozying-up to Vladimir Putin, and his Russian Goon Squad!

Director James Comey, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has suggested that the investigation be scrapped, since a President cannot direct wire taps.  He claims that electronic surveillance now requires the approval of the FISA Court, which was established by the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act of 1978.  That Act was passed, following the GOP’s Watergate Break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

Let’s expand the wire tape investigation; however, and appoint a Special Investigator, just like when the Republicans went after President Bill Clinton.  Also, as Judge Ken Starr did at that time, let’s expand the Investigation to determine both: what role President Obama had in those illegal wire taps, and also to eliminate this Russo-Trumpian Conspiracy Theory, which has been hanging around for just too damn long!  But, Donald, this was a great stroke of genius on your part: demanding a Special Investigator.

Oh, by the way, in order to get this whole investigation started-off, please forward a copy of the Report and the Intelligence that you have available.  They surely will be invaluable to determining Obama’s fate.  And that way, you can get back to doing the People’s Business–Making America Great Again!

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