Currently viewing the tag: "heads"

The general public has figured out that these folks do not have a clue on how to fix the nation’s problems while being told the economy is on the mend and headed in the right direction.
American Thinker Blog

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House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) — who has said that Washington’s role is to “serve the banks” — announced today that his committee will mark up legislation to “pull the plug” on the Obama administration’s foreclosure prevention efforts:

It’s time to pull the plug on these programs that are actually doing more harm than good for struggling homeowners,” he said. “These programs may have been well-intentioned, but they’re not working and, in reality, are making things worse.”

House Republicans want to rescind the funding that has already been allocated for these programs. This effort comes at the same time that the housing market is staring at a double-dip, due in part to a buildup of empty, foreclosed-upon homes. “You have massive oversupply” thanks to overbuilding in boom times and the current glut of foreclosed homes, economist Dean Baker told the Los Angeles Times.

Republicans have been no friend to foreclosure prevention programs recently, even though one million homes were foreclosed upon last year and another one million will likely enter foreclosure this year. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) said last month that foreclosure prevention efforts “need to stop,” and the GOP even blocked an Obama administration nominee because they though he might have been sympathetic to helping underwater homeowners with their mortgages.

While the administration’s foreclosure prevention efforts have fallen far short of their goals (and in some cases did put homeowners in worse financial shape than if they had simply foregone federal aid), the answer is to fix the programs, not abandon them. For instance, we could allow housing counselors to approve HAMP modifications (instead of waiting months as banks lose paperwork and punt the problem down the road) and make more of a push to implement automatic foreclosure mediation programs, which have been quite successful across the country in preventing foreclosures. We could also end the absurd practice of “dual-tracking,” under which the foreclosure process continues even while homeowners are under evaluation for a loan modification, which results in families who are eligible for modifications losing their homes anyway.

There is nothing to be gained by allowing more preventable foreclosures to go forward, blighting more neighborhoods and acting as an even bigger drag on the economy. But the GOP is pretending that the housing crisis simply doesn’t exist.

Wonk Room

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U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald personally called Rahm Emanuel the morning Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested in 2008 “to let him know his name would likely come up in the complaint filed against Blagojevich,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Emanuel had just been tapped to be President Obama’s chief of staff. Discussion about the phone call came up in federal court yesterday.


Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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Back in the American Wild West, federal and state governments often put a price on the heads of infamous outlaws like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Sam Bass, Belle Star and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Today, our government is not so selective. It's seeking to put a price on the head of every American. Not because they've robbed a train, but for a different reason that could lead to a very bad end.


Various government agencies have come up with formulas for determining how much we are worth. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the value of a human life at $ 9.1 million. It reached this determination while proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. During the Bush administration, EPA calculated our value at $ 6.8 million. Was the difference in price caused by inflation? The EPA didn't say.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) arrived at its own figure for the value of an American life. It says each life is worth $ 7.9 million. That, too, is an increase from the $ 5 million value FDA had assigned each human American life in 2008. The agency calculated our value while proposing new and tougher warning labels on cigarettes that include pictures of cancer victims.

The Transportation Department — yes, Transportation — put our worth at $ 6 million while seeking to justify recent decisions to impose regulations the Bush administration had rejected as too costly, such as stronger roofs on cars.

It's nice to know that our government values its citizens beyond what it can extract in taxes. But given the Obama administration's likely pursuit of health care rationing (Dr. Donald Berwick, a wealth redistributionist who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is a proponent of rationed care) it is easy to forecast where this could lead should human life be regarded as having only that value placed upon it by government, or an agent of the state.

The beauty of our form of government is that it begins, not with government, but with us: "We the People." In our Declaration of Independence from Britain, there is a clause that sets us apart from virtually all other nations. Instead of receiving our basic rights, such as the right to life, from a king or despot — as was the case in older cultures and too many modern ones — America's Founders saw basic rights emanating from "our Creator" and thus, outside the reach of government and bureaucratic tampering.

Where could a formula for a governmental valuation of human life lead? If government gets to determine our worth, it could lead to government determining when in its judgment we are worthless. It could lead to government deciding that when we are costing the state more than we are paying in taxes, we might be seen as a bottle, package or can, whose "sell by" date has expired. And that would mean the government could regard us as disposable and allow — or force us — to "expire."

Too extreme? "It couldn't happen here," you say? All great horrors begin at the extremes and work their way into the mainstream because of moral weakness or exhaustion, or self-regard, or the rejection of (or ambivalence about) certain fundamental truths. Such neglectfulness paves the way for the great inhumanities, which today are studied in schools. They wonder, "how it could have happened" and "why didn't anyone see this coming?"

How and why, indeed? Consider yourself warned.

(Direct all MAIL for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207. Readers may also e-mail Cal Thomas at [email protected]

NewsBusters.org blogs

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Washington (CNN) - A former senior producer and guest host of Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” is joining Rick Santorum’s political action committee.

The former senator from Pennsylvania and probable 2012 Republican presidential hopeful announced Tuesday that Seth Leibsohn will serve as a senior advisor for policy for his political action committee, America’s Foundation, assisting the PAC and Santorum on policy matters and manage speechwriting.

“I’ve gotten to know Seth well over the last few years and have been impressed with his depth of knowledge on the diverse challenges our nation faces as well as his commitment to conservative principles,” says Santorum in an e-mail release.

Leibsohn is a writer, editor, communications expert and a senior partner with Leibsohn & Associates, a consulting firm based in the nation’s capitol.

He was a vice president of Empower America, a conservative group founded by Bennett. Leibshohn served as chief of staff to Bennett, as well as working on the former education secretary’s popular national syndicated radio show.

Santorum is heading back to Iowa on Thursday. According to an aide, Santorum will meet with several activists groups and take part in some statewide media interviews. Iowa plays a crucial role in the race for the White House, as its caucuses traditionally kick off the presidential primary and caucus season.

Since last summer Santorum’s made numerous trips to Iowa, New Hampshire - which holds the nation’s first primary - and South Carolina - which has first southern contest.

The former two-term senator lost his 2006 re-election bid by 18 points to Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and until last year was largely out of public view except for appearances on Fox News.

If Santorum formally jumps into the race for the White House, he could face a potentially crowded field of candidates, including a string of better funded opponents with larger national political operations.

Polls over the past six months indicate that Santorum registers in the low single digits nationally among Republican voters when it comes to the choice for their party’s next presidential nominee. Still, due in part to his strong opposition to abortion rights, Santorum remains popular with many socially conservative voters who have long had an influential role in the GOP primary process.

- Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


CNN Political Ticker

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Republicans continue to try to do anything they can to make sure government doesn’t try to regulate the multi-trillion dollar Wall Street tycoons.

Republicans aiming to unhinge the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation have turned to a new line of attack and have told the Treasury, Federal Reserve and other regulators to do more due diligence, according to a letter obtained on Thursday.

The letter raises questions about whether U.S. regulators are adequately following federal rule-making procedures such as reviewing public comments and conducting rigorous economic analyses of the rules’ impact on the industry.

A failure to abide by these guidelines has in the past forced the Securities and Exchange Commission to backtrack on numerous rules. The issue could come up again under Dodd-Frank if industry groups decide to challenge regulators for weaknesses in their rule making.

“We are concerned that regulators are not allowing adequate time for meaningful public comment on their proposed rules,” said the letter, which was addressed to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the heads of the Fed and market and banking regulators.

“We also believe that regulators are not conducting rigorous analyses of the costs and benefits of their rules and the effects those rules could have on the economy,” said the letter, signed by the Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, which oversees the implementation of Dodd-Frank.

The letter was dated February 15 and sent the same week Republicans on the committee voiced concerns about short public comment periods and the quality of cost-benefit analyses.


In short, the Republicans are back to complaining that government is doing too much, just like they did during the PPACA debate.  Not enough public comment, not enough cost-benefit analysis, not enough time to implement the rules.  At the same time, Republicans are making sure these regulators don’t have the staff or resources they need to get the job done:

The SEC has been without a chief economist for 10 months. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, meanwhile, only just filled the chief economist spot in December following an 11-month vacancy.

“The failure to promptly fill these key positions suggests that economic analyses is not a high priority for our regulators,” Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the panel, told regulators.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro and CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler have assured lawmakers in a series of hearings this week that the agencies are following federal rule-making procedures and having in-house economists weigh in on the cost-benefit analyses that are required.

“We are absolutely trying to grow” the number of economists on staff, which currently totals 30, Schapiro said, adding that the agency is aggressively recruiting a chief economist.


Kind of hard to do when Republicans are proposing to cut financial regulators’ budget this year by billions and to defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau completely.  Republicans don’t want anyone taking too close a look at Wall Street.  That’s what Wall Street is paying the Republicans to make happen, and they have unlimited billions to see it through.


Zandar Versus The Stupid

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John DiStaso has learned that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-NH) will be in New Hampshire on March 12 to make her first appearance of the 2012 presidential campaign cycle. She’s already been to Iowa and South Carolina.

Bachmann told ABC News that her goal is to get early state voters to focus on the key issues of “overspending, debt, national security.”

Said Bachmann: “That’s really what I’m doing. I’m trying to set the table, if you will. Because these voters are vital in the early states. They’re going to make a very important decision about our nominee. So, my focus, really, is to keep the voters focused on the issues.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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Washington (CNN) - Rep. Michele Bachmann will visit New Hampshire on March 11 and 12. It will be the Minnesota Republican’s first visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of this 2012 presidential cycle.

CNN has learned details of the potential presidential candidate’s travels.

Bachmann’s visit will be limited to Manchester. On Friday, she will attend meetings with Republican officials, among other things.

But Saturday features what has been described to CNN as the main event.

Bachmann, a darling of the Tea Party movement, will start the day at a breakfast event in Manchester, followed by meetings and a brunch. But the primary purpose of the trip is Bachmann’s attendance at a fund-raiser for New Hampshire’s Republican Party.

Jack Kimball, the new chairman of state’s GOP, enjoys wide Tea Party support.

The congresswoman’s visit to the Granite State is sure to garner heavy media attention, both local and national. Bachmann has publicly said she is weighing a presidential bid.

This weekend she heads to the early primary state of South Carolina. She recently visited Iowa, the state that’s slated to start the GOP nominating process in February.

- Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @shantravisCNN


CNN Political Ticker

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been sounding like a presidential candidate lately and, according to Politico, he’ll visit Iowa next month.

Meanwhile, Mother Jones notes his biggest advantage over other prospective GOP 2012 presidential candidates: No one can match his fat Rolodex and fundraising prowess.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been sounding like a presidential candidate lately and, according to Politico, he’ll visit Iowa next month.

Meanwhile, Mother Jones notes his biggest advantage over other prospective GOP 2012 presidential candidates: No one can match his fat Rolodex and fundraising prowess.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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Politico notes that “The lesson conservatives took from 2010 was that they don’t have to settle between electability and ideological purity. Now, their expectations for 2012 are higher than ever before. They’re not about to settle for anyone short of a full-spectrum conservative — and they don’t yet see anyone who fits the bill.”

However, as some have pointed out, the 2010 electorate was as conservative as they come, and voters in the 2012 presidential contest are likely to be more moderate, younger and more diverse. It isn’t clear whether a candidate focused on ideological purity can win with this electorat
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

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There are basically two models for encouraging the private sector to do things the public sector wants done. You can pay them to try, or you can pay them to succeed. It’s subsidies vs. prizes. According to David Leonhardt, the Obama administration is going to announce more than $ 100 million in prize programs next week — but these come with a twist:

The idea goes by one of two names: pay for success bonds or social impact bonds. Either way, nonprofit groups like foundations pay the initial money for a new program and also oversee it, with government approval. The government will reimburse them several years later, possibly with a bonus — but only if agreed-upon benchmarks show that the program is working.

If it falls short, taxpayers owe nothing.

The first British test is happening at Her Majesty’s Prison Peterborough, where 60 percent of the prisoners are convicted of another crime within one year of release. Depressingly enough, that recidivism rate is typical for a British prison.

To reduce the rate, a nonprofit group named Social Finance is playing a role akin to venture capitalist. It has raised about $ 8 million from investors, including the Rockefeller Foundation. Social Finance also oversees three social service groups helping former prisoners find work, stay healthy and the like. If any of those groups starts to miss its performance goals, it can be replaced.

For the investors to get their money back starting in 2014 — with interest — the recidivism rate must fall at least 7.5 percent, relative to a control group. If the rate falls 10 percent, the investors will receive the sort of return that the stock market historically delivers. “It’s been only a few months,” says Tracy Palandjian, who recently opened a new Social Finance office in Boston, “but the numbers are coming in O.K.”

This isn’t quite a prize program. In a prize program, you’re competing with an unknown number of other groups to hit a goal first. If there’s a big prize awaiting on the other end, you’re likely to be up against a lot of folks. That means your likelihood of success is low. Investing a lot of money and manpower into the project is thus a bad bet.

In a pay-for-success program along the lines of what Leonhardt is describing, you get paid as long as your program fulfills it goals. Indeed, you not only get paid, but you get paid back for everything you invested into the project. Thus, if you believe that success is likely, you have an incentive to invest a lot more money and manpower into the project than you would under any of the other scenarios. So if this program works, it could unlock a lot more private money, at a lot lower taxpayer risk, than either a traditional prize program, where the incentive is to underinvest, or a traditional subsidy, where taxpayers lose their investment if the program fails.

The danger with a pay-for-success program is that it pushes against more experimental efforts. The incentives are set up to reward projects that are likely to work, not projects that have a high risk of failure. But sometimes, projects with a high risk of failure also have the potential for more breakthrough success. So discouraging their pursuit can cut both ways. All that said, it’s not as if these bonds are the only way we’ll be attempting to solve social problems, so this isn’t a huge issue.







Ezra Klein

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Yes America there is a group that has volunteered to pick up where the criminal ACORN has left off, scientists have found a new phenomenon that is guaranteed to help this country get through the next two year and liberals have decided upon a new way to describe Green Bay Packer fans. These and other stories are included in today’s News Busted, the twice weekly feature from Newsbusters.org. 

Remember…you must watch this video or face the fines related to the Obamacare mandate for daily laughter.  So silence all of your explosive rhetoric, and enjoy the funniest three minutes on the internet (today). Oh, and remember, swallow whatever you are drinking unless you want your computer to be damaged from the resulting spit take and enjoy the latest episode of Newsbusted.   Click play and watch as Jodi Miller gives you Newsbusted, a look at the real news (sort of). And if you cannot see video below click here




YID With LID

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Yes America there is a group that has volunteered to pick up where the criminal ACORN has left off, scientists have found a new phenomenon that is guaranteed to help this country get through the next two year and liberals have decided upon a new way to describe Green Bay Packer fans. These and other stories are included in today’s News Busted, the twice weekly feature from Newsbusters.org. 

Remember…you must watch this video or face the fines related to the Obamacare mandate for daily laughter.  So silence all of your explosive rhetoric, and enjoy the funniest three minutes on the internet (today). Oh, and remember, swallow whatever you are drinking unless you want your computer to be damaged from the resulting spit take and enjoy the latest episode of Newsbusted.   Click play and watch as Jodi Miller gives you Newsbusted, a look at the real news (sort of). And if you cannot see video below click here




YID With LID

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Yes America there is a group that has volunteered to pick up where the criminal ACORN has left off, scientists have found a new phenomenon that is guaranteed to help this country get through the next two year and liberals have decided upon a new way to describe Green Bay Packer fans. These and other stories are included in today’s News Busted, the twice weekly feature from Newsbusters.org. 

Remember…you must watch this video or face the fines related to the Obamacare mandate for daily laughter.  So silence all of your explosive rhetoric, and enjoy the funniest three minutes on the internet (today). Oh, and remember, swallow whatever you are drinking unless you want your computer to be damaged from the resulting spit take and enjoy the latest episode of Newsbusted.   Click play and watch as Jodi Miller gives you Newsbusted, a look at the real news (sort of). And if you cannot see video below click here




YID With LID

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