Posts tagged Senate

Nationalism or Internationalism? (video)

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Nationalism or Internationalism?

 

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Barack Obama are working both sides of the Atlantic this week. But their mutual target is Russia. Reid is busy on Capitol Hill in that regard, while the President is on a week long European tour. While Reid and Obama are wrestling with several issues besides Russia, they’re sending a mutual message that the U.S. will punish Russia for its military operation in Ukraine.

Furthermore, a pricey aid package for the newly installed Ukrainian government based in Kiev is in the works.

President Obama is meeting with leaders from the G-7 nations. His stop in Holland yesterday was widely regarded as an attempt to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and deter him from moving his forces beyond the Crimean peninsula and further into Ukraine.

Obama and the G-7 allies have also firmed up their decision to remove Russia from the annual G-8 economic summit. The removal appears to be official, which is why the G-8 is now being called the G-7.

Notably, the G-7 will meet in June 2014 in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss what organizers say is “a broad agenda.”

But what Obama and his allies are doing overseas has a way of softening up the folks back home in America—to justify foreign aid for Ukraine.

On the home front, Sen. Reid is stumping for an aid package for Ukraine as Congress embarks on a marathon session this week. Reid expects the Senate to work right through the weekend as President Obama wraps up his overseas trip.

For the record, the Senate:
· Will reconsider extending jobless benefits.
· Furthermore, unless Congress takes corrective action by April 1st, Medicare reimbursements to doctors will be slashed by nearly 25%.
· Reid also wants to officially raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But Republican support is lacking on that so far.

However, the first order of business this week will be the Ukraine-aid bill, which calls for $1 billion in loan guarantees.

Reid noted: “I am hopeful and somewhat confident that this legislation will receive the bipartisan support it deserves.”

But does a Ukraine-aid bill really deserve support?

During this busy phase in Washington, the missing argument is that the U.S. can scarcely afford the time and the money to play both sides of the ocean to aid Ukraine via the IMF.
Foreign aid is preferable to going to war, but the Constitution is silent on foreign aid. This means that the national charter does not authorize providing such aid in the first place.

Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced: “[I]t’s important to note that for every dollar the United States contributes to the IMF, other countries provide 4 dollars more.”

Lew added that the U.S. has developed an actual “package of bilateral assistance focused on meeting the most pressing needs in Ukraine, to include a 1 billion-dollar loan guarantee.”

Lew also has urged Congress to approve legislation to “support the capacity of the International Monetary Fund to lend additional resources to Ukraine.”

However, if money must be spent, it’s arguably better to avoid Medicare cuts and extend jobless aid for Americans—instead of extending foreign aid.

Indeed, all this talk in Congress and by President Obama to isolate Russia misses a key point.

That point is as follows: In a way, America needs to isolate itself from world commitments which force U.S. taxpayers to guarantee international loans. Like never before, the U.S. needs to get its own house in order.

Simply put, we need to operate on a more nationalistic impulse—not more internationalism.

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Ron Paul on CIA Targeting Congress

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Source: http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org

By Adam Dick

Ron Paul on CIA Targeting Congress

 

RPI Chairman and Founder Ron Paul, speaking on the Fox Business show The Independents Wednesday night, addresses the Central Intelligence Agency’s spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee — seemingly to cover up torture revelations against the agency. Paul notes the irony that Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) “doesn’t care about our privacy, but, lo and behold, she does care about her own.”

Watch the complete interview here:

 

Will GOP lawmakers do anything about the “Too Big To Fail” bank subsidy? Probably not.

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Will GOP lawmakers do anything about the “Too Big To Fail” bank subsidy? Probably not.

 

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Dave Camp in the House and David Vitter in the Senate are looking to address the implicit subsidy granted to banks designated as too big to fail. These banks are able to borrow at lower than true market rates because they are backed by the US taxpayer. Their smaller competitors who do not have this taxpayer financed guarantee must borrow at higher rates and so are at even more of a disadvantage versus the big guys. Over time this means that capital will increasingly move from small banks to large. (This is just one of the problems with Dodd-Frank.)

This undermines the very foundation of the marketplace and our economy.

Perhaps Camp and Vitter can figure something out, but it will be tough. The big banks dump piles and piles of money into the coffers of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

(From The Washington Post)
 
“Eliminating the megabanks federal handouts is a simple matter of common sense,” Vitter recently said. “Megabanks have been growing at a rapid pace since the financial meltdown, largely on the backs of U.S. taxpayers.”
 
Neither Vitter nor Camp could be considered liberal sympathizers. Rather, their interests in ending big bank subsidies center on a key Republican tenet of protecting the free-market economy. Subsidies create market distortions that fly in the face of that tenet.
 
Still, a vast majority of Republicans are unlikely to jump on the too-big-to-fail bandwagon. The securities and investment industry pumps millions of dollars into the party’s coffers, handing $3.5 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee this election cycle, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

How Economists and Policymakers Murdered Our Economy

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Source: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

How Economists and Policymakers Murdered Our Economy

 

Paul Craig RobertsThe economy has been debilitated by the offshoring of middle class jobs for the benefit of corporate profits and by the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing in order to support a few oversized banks that the government protects from market discipline. Not only does QE distort bond and stock markets, it threatens the value of the dollar and has resulted in manipulation of the gold price. See http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/01/17/hows-whys-gold-price-manipulation/

When US corporations send jobs offshore, the GDP, consumer income, tax base, and careers associated with the jobs go abroad with the jobs. Corporations gain the additional profits at large costs to the economy in terms of less employment, less economic growth, reduced state, local and federal tax revenues, wider deficits, and impairments of social services.

When policymakers permitted banks to become independent of market discipline, they made the banks an unresolved burden on the economy. Authorities have provided no honest report on the condition of the banks. It remains to be seen if the Federal Reserve can create enough money to monetize enough debt to rescue the banks without collapsing the US dollar. It would have been far cheaper to let the banks fail and be reorganized.

US policymakers and their echo chamber in the economics profession have let the country down badly. They claimed that there was a “New Economy” to take the place of the “old economy” jobs that were moved offshore. As I have pointed out for a decade, US jobs statistics show no sign of the promised “New Economy.”

The same policymakers and economists who told us that “markets are self-regulating” and that the financial sector could safely be deregulated also confused jobs offshoring with free trade. Hyped “studies” were put together designed to prove that jobs offshoring was good for the US economy. It is difficult to fathom how such destructive errors could consistently be made by policymakers and economists for more than a decade. Were these mistakes or cover for a narrow and selfish agenda?

In June, 2009 happy talk appeared about “the recovery,” now 4.5 years old. As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, “the recovery” is entirely the artifact of the understated measure of inflation used to deflate nominal GDP. By under-measuring inflation, the government can show low, but positive, rates of real GDP growth. No other indicator supports the claim of economic recovery.

John Williams writes that consumer inflation, if properly measured, is running around 9%, far above the 2% figure that is the Fed’s target and more in line with what consumers are actually experiencing. We have just had a 6.5% annual increase in the cost of a postage stamp.

The Fed’s target inflation rate is said to be low, but Simon Black points out that the result of a lifetime of 2% annual inflation is the loss of 75% of the purchasing power of the currency. He uses the cost of sending a postcard to illustrate the decline in the purchasing power of median household income today compared to 1951. That year it cost one cent to send a post card. As household income was $4,237, the household could send 423,700 postcards. Today the comparable income figure is $51,017. As it costs 34 cents to send one postcard, today’s household can only afford to send 150,050 postcards. Nominal income rose 12 times, and the cost of sending a postcard rose 34 times.

Just as the American people know that there is more inflation than is reported, they know that there is no recovery. The Gallup Poll reported this month that only 28% of Americans are satisfied with the economy. http://www.gallup.com/poll/166871/americans-satisfaction-economy-sours-2001.aspx?version=print

From hard experience, Americans have also caught on that “free trade agreements” are nothing but vehicles for moving their jobs abroad. The latest effort by the corporations to loot and defraud the public is known as the “Trans-Pacific Partnership.” “Fast-tracking” the bill allowed the corporations to write the bill in secret without congressional input. Some research shows that 90% of Americans will suffer income losses under TPP, while wealth becomes even more concentrated at the top.

TPP affects every aspect of our lives from what we eat to the Internet to the environment. According to Kevin Zeese in Alternet, “the leak of the [TPP] Intellectual Property Chapter revealed that it created a path to patent everything imaginable, including plants and animals, to turn everything into a commodity for profit.”

The secretly drafted TPP also creates authority for the executive branch to change existing US law to make the laws that were not passed in secret compatible with the secretly written trade bill. Buy American requirements and any attempt to curtail jobs offshoring would become illegal “restraints on trade.”

If the House and Senate are willing to turn over their legislative function to the executive branch, they might as well abolish themselves.

The financial media has been helping the Federal Reserve and the banks to cover up festering problems with rosy hype, but realization that there are serious unresolved problems might be spreading. Last week interest rates on 30-day T-bills turned negative. That means people were paying more for a bond than it would return at maturity. Dave Kranzler sees this as a sign of rising uncertainty about banks. Reminiscent of the Cyprus banks’ limits on withdrawals, last Friday (January 24) the BBC reported that the large UK bank HSBC is preventing customers from withdrawing cash from their accounts in excess of several thousand pounds. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25861717

If and when uncertainty spreads to the dollar, the real crisis will arrive, likely followed by high inflation, exchange controls, pension confiscations, and resurrected illegality of owning gold and silver. Capitalist greed aided and abetted by economists and policymakers will have destroyed America.

Reprinted with permission from www.paulcraigroberts.org


 

About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

 

TN Senate staffer arrested on child pornography charges found dead

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Source: http://www.prisonplanet.com

By Rebecca Shabad
The Hill

Senate staffer arrested on child pornography charges found dead

 

The former chief of staff to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) who was arrested on child pornography charges last month has been found dead in a suicide.

 

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Jesse Ryan Loskarn, 35, hanged himself in his parents’ house in Sykesville, Md., according to a spokesperson for Maryland’s office of the chief medical examiner.

Authorities found Loskarn’s body on Thursday after responding to a call at approximately 12 p.m., according to a statement from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Loskarn had committed suicide, and the body was then transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Full article here

 

The Fed’s The Big Story, Not The Budget Deal

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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The Fed’s The Big Story, Not The Budget Deal

 

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The real action is coming soon in the Senate when it votes to confirm the new Fed chairman.

 

The Budget deal is disappointing, but small beer. It’s just the same, oft-told tale: we’ll cut spending in the future if you’ll let us spend more now, along with some sneak provisions making it even harder to control spending in the future.

At least legislators have to vote on it. This has helped reveal which Congressional representatives and senators are part of today’s political corruption and which are trying to reform the system. This is useful information to have.

Nevertheless, the real vote to watch is the one coming as early as this week in the Senate: the likely confirmation of Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Senators voting for her, especially Republicans, are telling us that they are part of the problem, not the solution. The Fed is the real enabler of all the government’s deficit spending. It could not happen if the Fed refused to underwrite it. And Janet Yellen is the biggest enabler of all, even bigger than the present chairman Ben Bernanke.

Here are all the ways that the Fed supports out-of-control federal spending:

- It keeps interest rates repressed, which allows the government to borrow at virtually no cost. For most of the time since the Crash of 2008, the government has been able to borrow at a rate below the reported rate of inflation, which is itself repressed. This means the government has virtually free money at its disposal.

- You would think that free money would be enough. But the Fed has done more. It has itself bought government debt with newly created money. It has not even been deterred by a law forbidding this.

Here is how it works. The government sells a bond to Wall Street. The Fed then buys the bond back using its newly created money. With this behind the scenes maneuver, the government is not directly buying bonds from itself and is thus not directly breaking the law.

As a result of this neat trick, the Fed now owns more US government debt than either China or Japan. Indeed the amount of US debt owned by the Fed today is greater than the entire debt of the US government at the close of the Clinton administration.

This is such a neat trick, it raises a question. Since the government can just create enough new money to pay for any amount of spending, why bother to borrow at all? Why bother even to tax?

The answer is that an end to borrowing or taxing would make it too obvious what is happening. The government likes to borrow from itself in secret.

- Keeping interest rates artificially repressed and letting the government borrow from itself are enough to enable an unlimited amount of government spending. But the Fed obliges in a third way.

All the new money it creates helps to pump up economic and market bubbles. Those bubbles at least temporarily swell tax revenues.

Have you ever wondered how the Clinton administration managed to balance the federal budget as its second term ended? It was because the dot-com bubble blown up by the Fed was providing billions of dollars of unexpected and unsustainable tax revenue from businesses, individuals, and especially individuals selling stocks and reporting large taxable gains.

Is this too hard on the Fed? Didn’t the Fed’s interest rate repression and flood of newly created money just save us from plunging into a Great Depression during the dark days of 2008-9? The simple answer: no.

The Fed brought us the Crash of 2008 in the first place. It did so by repressing interest rates and flooding us with new money after the dot-com crash, which just brought us the housing bubble.

It accelerated the ensuing crash by supporting and refusing to reconsider a new bank accounting rule that made financial institutions insolvent overnight. This rule, misleadingly labeled “mark-to-market,” actually imposed “mark-to-make believe,” as Steve Forbes dryly noted at the time. The Crash of 2008 ended in March 2009, when the new rule was suspended.

The Fed’s response to the crisis was to double up on policies that got us in trouble in the first place. This is like trying to cure a hangover with more alcohol, and it has not worked any better.

Even by the Fed’s own standards, it has been a failure. As the Crash unfolded, the Fed thought that repressing interest rates would increase borrowing and spending and thus stoke economic “demand.” But depriving savers of interest income actually reduced “demand” more than the additional borrowing and spending.

There is no evidence that the Fed’s radical policies have improved the economy, and much evidence that they have held it back by, among other things, creating so much uncertainty for business owners.

What the Fed’s policies have actually produced so far are new asset class bubbles in bonds and increasingly in stocks. When those bubbles burst, all of us will have to suffer, as we did in 2008, but especially the middle class and the poor. They are the ultimate victims of the Fed’s latest failed attempt at central economic planning.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is the former CEO of Cambridge Associates and the author of 6 books. His most recent book is Where Keynes Went Wrong. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

 

Federal Reserve Ducks Public Scrutiny During Centennial Anniversary

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Federal Reserve Ducks Public Scrutiny During Centennial Anniversary

 

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U.S. Chamber cavalry arrives to help Mitch McConnell

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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U.S. Chamber cavalry arrives to help Mitch McConnell

 

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The US Chamber says that McConnell is a “true conservative.”

I suppose, if securing a $3 billion earmark so that Senator Reid could declare victory (but oh so short lived) in the government shutdown is “conservative.”

And don’t forget completely wussing out on the debt ceiling deal. Very conservative.

This is Karl Rove and company here. This is the establishment thinking that the GOP might just win the Senate and they don’t want to lose a Senator who would become the Leader. The Chamber and much of the establishment need someone who will set an agenda in the Senate commensurate with their interests. God forbid McConnell be deposed by some small government Tea Party cretin.

Even if McConnell were to be primaried the establishment need not fear losing control completely in the Senate. Next in line for GOP leader is John Cornyn, a Bush guy.

But it would be an embarrassing blow and the Chamber has had quite enough embarrassment from the GOP caucus on the other side of the Capitol thank you very much.

(From The Washington Examiner)

“The people of Kentucky have a true conservative champion for American free enterprise in Senator Mitch McConnell. McConnell has a 92 percent lifetime score with the U.S. Chamber. We appreciate his efforts to fight back against the war on coal, and to protect Kentucky jobs from the harmful policies coming from Washington, D.C.,” said Chamber National Political Director Rob Engstrom.

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

 

Banks and Reid working together? “Nuclear Option,” a move to make sure Yellen is confirmed and QE continues? (Video)

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Banks and Reid working together? “Nuclear Option,” a move to make sure Yellen is confirmed and QE continues? (Video)

 

“Well boys, there goes the filibuster!”

“Well boys, there goes the filibuster!”

This in an interesting take on why Reid moved when he did.  From one of the best connected people in politics, Ron Paul. (He does have a son in the Senate.)

End the Fed.

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Senator (Harkin) Says Politics Have Reached Civil War Levels (Video)

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Senator (Harkin) Says Politics Have Reached Civil War Levels (Video)

 

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This kind of talk from the Senate is not helpful. It’s understandable that Harkin would feel dispirited, confused, and frustrated. This is a guy who recently introduced a bill calling for the president to put together a centrally planned “manufacturing strategy” ala the Soviet Union. Times have clearly passed Harkin by.

There is a very new economic and political reality in this country. The post World War II wave the Senator has ridden his entire life is no more. The New Deal is the Old Deal and many of the new guard refuse to go along. That’s what Harkin is crying about. It very similar to the boo hoos which came from  Senator Reid when he said recently that, “the anarchists have taken over.” 

No, people are actually just fighting back against a state which has expanded unceasingly over the last 70 years. Get used to the new way of doing things cranky birds. Times are a changin’.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

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