Best suggestion this week
Posted by aogSunday, 13 September 2009 at 11:14 TrackBack Ping URL

Let’s apply Sarbanes-Oxley to the federal government so that if President Obama’s budget numbers for any health care bill he signs turn out to be bogus, he gets heaved in to prison, just like a private sector CEO.

Via Gregory Koster

P.S. From the same string, “No Legislation without Explanation!

Comments — Formatting by Textile
erp Sunday, 13 September 2009 at 13:05

Goody. Do we get to take away his home, bank accounts and everything too just like we do the real chief executives?

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 14 September 2009 at 03:17

Unfortunately, even with other chief execs, we rarely take their “home, bank accounts and everything.”

Further, Obama is as “real” as most private-sector chief execs, and better than many - God help us all.

By way of contrast, G W Bush had an Harvard MBA as well as small and mid-size company CEO experience, not to mention his successful stints as Gov. of Texas; that’s about as “real” as it comes. Yet look how that turned out: He’ll share mention with Buchanan, Grant and Hoover in future history books.

Finally, Obama could just use the same dodge that private-sector CEOs use: Bury it in the footnotes. Also, the main point of SarbOx is to try to somewhat-level the playing field in terms of information available to insiders and outsiders; in that regard, there’s no higher level of disclosure than that which is occurring now, with untold numbers of town-hall meetings, Presidential speeches, advertising campaigns by both pro and con organizations, and heavy media coverage of health-care-change protesters.

If anybody doesn’t know that they’re buying a pig in a poke after all of that, they’re unteachable.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 14 September 2009 at 03:49

And speaking of Obama, apropros of nothing I was thinking the other day about Obama and 9/11. (This may well have been covered extensively somewhere else on the Web.)

Doesn’t the failure of the Obama admin. to expose the duplicitous and abominable plotting of the Bush admin., revealing 9/11 to be an inside job, severely weaken the case of the 9/11 Truthers?

There could be many reasons why the Obama admin. would want to keep such a truth quiet:

  • To avoid weakening already-fragile public trust in the gov’t, at a time when the gov’t is going to be asking the public to do or put up with many irritating/foolish/outright INSANE actions or policies in the near future, on top of the many i/f/oI actions or policies already newly undertaken in 2008/9
  • The current geopolitical situation suits the aims and goals of the Obama admin., and so revealing 9/11 to have been somehow staged by the U.S. would upset the applecart
  • The plotters, planners and agents of 9/11 have covered their tracks too well, or otherwise pulled the wool over the eyes of everyone important in the Obama admin.
  • Some globally-powerful person, agency or organization has warned Barack that revealing the truth about 9/11 would lead directly to another deceased-President cult of personality, starring him
  • He’s keeping that as his MetaUltimate Hole CardTM, in case he ever desperately needs a diversion
erp Monday, 14 September 2009 at 08:09

Uh oh. Troll alert.

Rough, Bush will go down in history with great presidents. I hope you’re young enough to be here when it happens.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 14 September 2009 at 08:12

Yet look how that turned out: [Bush will] share mention with Buchanan, Grant and Hoover in future history books.

Unlikely. I think it far more likely that historians will look at control of Congress and note the economy started tanking once the Democratic Party became dominant.

Also, while there has been a lot of publicity about POR-care, there’s been very little information. Basically Obama and crew have lied repeatedly and almost continuously about the subject.

cjm Monday, 14 September 2009 at 10:06

i agree that bush will be seen as a bad president — because he failed to lead. his passivity in the face of outrageous lies emboldened the left greatly. 9-11 was an act of war and he failed to declare war on the state sponsors behind it. he tried to spend his way out of a recession, leading to the current financial debacle. obama has made it all worse, and is a worse president than bush, but that doesn’t make gwb a good president. do remember that bush was all for an amensty for illegal aliens.

bush had plenty of help from the gop congress in all this, and that’s whay the gop leadership has to be replaced from top to bottom.

having said that, i think gwb is a good man who was in way over his head.

erp Monday, 14 September 2009 at 13:03

We’ve been around this one a couple of times. If Bush, who had no allies in the media and few in congress had taken time to defend himself against outrageous lies, etc., he would have been distracted 24/7. Think Palin.

The fact that he allowed it all to roll over his back is IMO one of the greatest feats of self-control certainly in politics today and probably in my life time.

For causes of the current financial debacle, read this and this.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 14 September 2009 at 13:03

I think it far more likely that historians will look at control of Congress and note the economy started tanking once the Democratic Party became dominant.

Since the Democratic Party didn’t take control of Congress until Jan. of ‘07, well after the RE bubble had peaked and begun to deflate, that line of argument fails to convince.

G W Bush had within his power the ability to STOP the current and future financial disasters from occurring; all of the agencies with the EXPLICIT AUTHORITY and MANDATE to regulate that which went unchecked are part of the Executive Branch, not the Legislative. Bush the Younger could have acted, regardless of which party held Congress. He did not. He did not.

Whether he failed due to ignorance, bad judgement, or something more malignant, history shall surely lay it at his feet.

Also, what cjm said.

[T]here’s been very little information. Basically Obama and crew have lied repeatedly and almost continuously…

The fact that you have enough information to make that determination would satisfy SarbOx, as well as any reasonable standard regarding public discourse. Disappointing and coarse, but there you go - they can’t all be Washington, Lincoln, JFK or Reagan.

erp Monday, 14 September 2009 at 14:31

Rough, you probably inadvertently dropped JFK in the list above where he obviously doesn’t belong.

Try reading the links and all well, including time frames, will be revealed.

Obama and crew lie continuously — not a news flash I’m afraid.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Monday, 14 September 2009 at 23:09

erp:

You don’t believe that JFK was a good orator? A matter of personal opinion, I suppose, but that places you in the distinct minority with regard to the American public.

I have read the links, and had a good laugh. I intend to fisk them, if I get a few hours’ free time.

Suffice it to say that if all one knows about the situation is IBD’s shallow and (to be charitable) oddly-framed editorial analysis, then one knows essentially nothing about the causes and likely path of the crisis. For instance, one could get the impression that CRA was something more than a fetid sideshow, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were more important than the rest of the banking industry combined, that Clinton was almost solely responsible for a crisis that resulted from a bubble and zeitgeist THAT HADN’T EVEN BEGUN by the time that he left office, and most curiously, that the “great President” Bush was powerless to change it…

Despite holding the very same authority over the GSEs that IBD’s editorial writer insinuates “Slick Willy” abused, pegging that as the genesis of the crisis.

cjm Monday, 14 September 2009 at 23:35

bush opened the money/credit spigots after the dot-com crash, to head off a recession. this worked in a fashion, kind of like keeping a dam from failing until the water behind it is at maximum volume.

erp, i know you favor bush and you deserve have your good thoughts about the man.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 00:05

this worked in a fashion, kind of like keeping a dam from failing until the water behind it is at maximum volume.

Well put! Great analogy.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 07:52

I think the CRA was more than a sideshow, although I tend to not think it takes center place. The FMs, however, in my view are the heart of the matter. They served as amplifiers for normal market variance, turning a minor problem in to a major global one (and we’re not yet done — the FMs almost certainly need additional large cash infusions).

I also don’t see that much blame for Clinton — the names I generally hear are Dodds and Frank, which I think is justified. One should note that former President Bush and Senator McCain tried explicitly to stop the bleeding of the FMs before the collapse but the Democratic Party in Congress, lead by Senators Dodds and Frank, prevented that. That puts Bush well behind Clinton in the blame stakes.

erp Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 08:38

Thanks to an adoring media, the American public thinks JFK is a sainted martyr. They don’t remember, if they ever knew, that he was playboy and disaster as president. His attention span was even shorter than Clinton’s. In fact, the reason he was in Dallas that day was to press the flesh as his chances of being re-elected were slipping badly. Then there was the Bay of Pigs massacre, one of the most shameful episodes in American history. Then there was the nepotism of putting his totally unqualified brother in the attorney general’s chair and the episode in the PT boat …

I hope you find time to “fisk” the IBD editorials. Perhaps you can collaborate with Harry who probably has all the citations you’d need in his file.

cjm Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 09:21

not sure why clinton would receive blame for the housing bust, as it was clearly bush who let slip the dogs of credit :) i am open to persuassion on that point :) of course the dems had their greedy little paws all over the financial mess, and no one is saying they were anything but complicit. but bush and the republicans made only token protests, and did nothing when they had all three levers of power in their control. in fact you could say that about everything bush did or didn’t do — he was just going through the motions. when did he ever fight for anything?

that’s why the “party” system has to be broken up — all too often both sides conspire against the real interests of the country. each providing cover for the other. aog you know full well the republicans let the massive fraud go on because plenty of their own were profiting off it. i know bush and nccain made little squealing noises in protest, but they did not really take it seriously. it’s a newb mistake to ascribe bad intentions to only one side in this mess.

erp: jff khas been pretty well revealed as a bungler and playboy; his mythological status is much reduced, especially with younger people. pretty much the only favorable words i see about him now, is how much better he was than today’s crop of duds.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 07:11

The FMs, however, in my view are the heart of the matter. […] President Bush and Senator McCain tried explicitly to stop the bleeding of the FMs before the collapse…

So Bush wasn’t responsible because he was too weak to get legislation through Congress?

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) was an agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was charged with regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, ensuring the capital adequacy and financial soundness of those two government sponsored enterprises. One thing that OFHEO did was to dictate tougher capital restrictions on Fannie after its corrupt CEO, Franklin Raines, was forced out.

Clearly, the OFHEO had the power to shut down the FMs’ buying spree, by raising their capital requirements. The OFHEO was an agency of HUD, whose Secretary serves at the pleasure of the POTUS. Therefore, Bush had the power - he just lacked the intestinal fortitude. After all, Clinton mandated that the FMs buy more CRA mortgages through simple Executive Order. But Bush wanted political cover for the GOP in ‘08, hoping to change the FMs operating structure through a bipartisan act of Congress.

I don’t think that Bush had an easy choice before him. If he’d acted responsibly, the economy would have gone into a recession, possibly a deep and protracted one. There would have been ballot-box repercussions. He would have been blamed by the Dems and the public at large for taking away the punchbowl, (and the Kool-Aid, and the LSD with which it must have been spiked), and by the GOP for losing Congressional seats and possibly the White House in ‘08.

BUT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN RIGHT, and he would have saved us all from what’s coming. Churchill got booted from office after rallying Britain through WW II, when it would have been easy to instead make some kind of deal with the Third Reich - the public is fickle, and not always grateful. Bush made the hard choices on Iraq, pulling victory from the jaws of both Iraqi social and American political defeat; why didn’t he do the same with this vastly more important issue, the bedrock of American global military might and the contemporary American way of life, the engine of most of the world’s advances in science and technology: The U.S. economy?

Maybe he was burnt out from hanging tough on Iraq; maybe he and his badly-chosen advisors and Cabinet didn’t understand - although Greenspan and former Comptroller General of the United States and head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office David M. Walker damn sure did…

Whatever the reason, Bush had the responsibility to act as an adult, and adults sacrifice themselves for the good of family, community and nation. He was not thrust into the role of POTUS, he fought for it, he clawed tooth and nail - in viewing the McCain/South Carolina episode of 2000, one might even conclude that Bush was willing to play underhanded and dirty to gain the White House.

So after all of that effort, turmoil and struggle to be annointed The Decider, in the end he FAILED. TO. ACT.

Now, if this current economic climate, the worst and longest recession since the Great Depression, (or GD I as it may come to be known, just as WW I was known as the War to End All Wars before it, y’know, didn’t), if this were it and we were at the nadir, then it would be regrettable but perhaps understandable. However…

Only a QUARTER of the middle-estimate eventual losses in residential and commercial real estate have yet been taken. Even if we were to use the lowball estimate, there’s still more real estate pain ahead of us than behind us. National employment figures are dropping like a rock, this Christmas is going to be a retail disaster1 which will lead to plenty of retailers biting the bullet and slashing locations and workforces, and the Obama admin. is already planning to borrow 15% of GDP2, before the budget is hit by the one-two of free-falling tax revenues and rising safety-net costs…

Meanwhile, we’re following the Japanese model of allowing “zombie banks” to roam the land, which has worked out great for them - 19 years after their bubble began deflating, a full 44%(!!!) of their entire labor force is classified as “part-time”, and not by choice.

Then there’s this:

US credit shrinks at Great Depression rate prompting fears of double-dip recession By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard 14 Sep 2009

Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said US bank loans have fallen at an annual pace of almost 14pc in the three months to August (from $7,147bn to $6,886bn).

“There has been nothing like this in the USA since the 1930s,” he said.

Consumer spending falling, falling employment, falling real estate values, mounting losses on RE loans and securities (leading to rising pension-fund failures and lower pensions), unsustainable gov’t borrowing and banks making fewer loans - where’s the catalyst for economic growth?

I don’t see a repeat of the worst of GD I in the developed world, as we’ve got much better social safety nets now, but it’s going to be worse, AND FAR LONGER, than anything in most Americans’ living memory.

This wasn’t a garden-variety screw-up, it’s a world-class one, one that will be noted and remembered in history.

1 12% of the world’s container ships are IDLE, not making multiple trips between the world’s doo-dad exporters and the U.S., and dry shipping rates are down between 80%-95%(!!!) in what should be the busiest time of the year.

2 As is usual for White House incumbents, the Obama admin’s GDP and tax revenue projects for the next few years are, um, “optimistic”, which in this environment is synonymous with “delusional”. Running the deficits that we’d have to in order to meet the WH’s projected spending would push interest rates up to double where they are now, which would further devastate the RE markets. The various economic stimulus spending policies just can’t continue.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 08:12

So Bush wasn’t responsible because he was too weak to get legislation through Congress?

Because he couldn’t get legislation through Congress to fix the problem, Bush is less responsible than others. Because others acted to create the problem and perpetuate it, they are responsible. Your argument here is logical equivalent to “because Bush was too weak, Frank and Dodds are not responsible”.

I don’t disagree with your overall analysis, but human beings, even a POTUS, are finite. They have only so much attention, so much to sacrifice (e.g., Bush couldn’t sacrifice himself for hanging tough on Iraq and to prevent the financial disaster, there’s only one of him). I have actually had this discussion and used to some extent your argument to claim that Bush will not make the ranks of great Presidents, because he failed at some important tasks like this. I give him somewhat of a pass because of the point above — to blame Bush is to let the real villians off the hook.

P.S. I will say that I think Bush’s greatest failure wasn’t this, but his unwillingness to philosophically confront the Levelers.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 12:29

Bush did not create this problem. However, it both began and came to a crisis point on his watch.

Bush is human, with limited time, energy and attention. However, it was HE who sought and viciously fought to be chosen as the nation’s leader - nobody forced him, nor did events thrust him into the position. By choice, he’s Where the Buck Stops.

Bush wanted Congress to fix the FMs problem, but he didn’t need Congress, as I demonstrated above - HUD already had the authority to reign them in. IMO the FMs were less than half of the problem, but Bush had direct authority over all of Treasury’s various agencies, and Presidential influence with the purportedly-independent Fed and SEC. That should have been sufficient to curb the excesses and halt the casino mentality of the rest of the financial sector.

Now it’s possible that I’m wrong, and that the Executive agencies didn’t have enough authority, or that the political price would have been too great and Congress would have passed legislation to shut him down, but we’ll never know because HE DIDN’T EVEN TRY.

Bush was not a villian, but he was the Ultimate Cop, with the Ultimate Responsiblity to stop or thwart those who were villians, and he possessed the authority necessary for the job. He just shrank from the cost of using the power. THAT is why I’m so bitter about his failure,1 because it wasn’t just that he tried but failed - he didn’t really try at all. Congress didn’t stop him; this was a problem COMPLETELY ADDRESSABLE USING THE POWERS OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH. Bush didn’t need Congress to stop the bubble, the way he needed them regarding Iraq.

Philosophically confronting the Levelers is moot, because if this thing goes the way that I think that it will, the Levelers will have the whip hand for decades to come. The general public will not be receptive to anti-Leveling arguments.

1 Well, that and also that I feel personally betrayed by his total incompetence regarding this epochal calamity, having voted for him twice and been a big booster.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 18 September 2009 at 18:51

I have to say, this article (if accurate) is a rather severe indictment of Bush with respect to modern conservatism. It sounds quite plausible to me, but then we have to remember Tom Ridge and his little quoting error a few weeks back.

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