Friday, February 13, 2009

NYT: White House Appointments Creating "Personnel Crisis"

Yesterday, the New York Times said, in an article about Sen. Judd Gregg's withdrawal from the commerce secretary nomination, that the White House is suffering political fallout over a string of appointees who have stepped aside over vetting problems, unpaid taxes or philosophical differences with Mr. Obama. Since the president took office last month, not a week has passed without the White House responding to a personnel crisis.
The departure of Mr. Gregg is the latest setback to a White House that has struggled to fill several top positions and to fulfill Mr. Obama’s pledge of building a bipartisan administration. He is the third prospective cabinet secretary -- the second for the Commerce Department -- to remove his name from consideration.
Sen. Gregg said he alerted Mr. Obama to his decision "several days ago," but administration officials said the senator’s withdrawal had taken them off guard.
The White House sought to contain the political fallout, issuing a terse statement and pointing out that Mr. Gregg had said he would “support, embrace and move forward with the president’s agenda.”
Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, a West Virginia Democrat who is the chairman of the Commerce Committee, said he wished that Gregg had "thought through the implications of his nomination more thoroughly before accepting this post." However, this is the same type of political tilt-logic that expects congress to vote on a potential $1 trillion stimulus bill without taking time to examine what's in the package.

The administration, however, did fill two positions this week. Recent lobbyist and defense contractor Raytheon exec. William J Lynn, III, was confirmed to fill the Pentagon's number two position, and Leon E. Panetta was confirmed by the Senate to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

Read it.

Labels: ,

NRO: 3 Weeks in, Obama Already Needs Course Correction

The editors of National Review today observed if one were to judge by the market alone, one would be forced to conclude that President Obama’s economic team has gotten off to a wretched start.

Stocks have tumbled throughout the week, plunging most precipitously on Tuesday as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced his plan to save the banking system -- or, rather, announced that he has a plan, but declined to describe it in any detail. Stock have plummeted 2000 points since election day!

We don’t need to read the market tea leaves to know that Obama is on the wrong track -- a simple analysis of his actions this week yields the same conclusion.

On Tuesday morning, Geithner unveiled his much-anticipated plan to restore stability to the nation’s troubled banking system. Geithner was mum.

On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee hauled in the CEOs of the banks that cashed in on the $700 billion bailout and excoriated them for not lending the money quickly enough for congressional tastes. The elephant in the room was the fact that several of these banks are already insolvent -- they’re dead, but they don’t know it yet. The committee demonstrated that its priorities are exactly backwards.

The market’s verdict seems to be in: It is a vote of no-confidence in Obama’s economic agenda.

Read it.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Democrats Refuse to Post Stimulus Bill Online for 48-Hour Public Airing

Stimulus Bill to Floor Friday

The Human Events Web site reported late Thursday that in a press conference earlier in the day the House Republican leadership spoke candidly about being kept out of the House-Senate conference on the Obama-Pelosi-Reid so-called “economic stimulus” bill. They confirmed they had not yet seen the text of the bill as of 4 p.m.
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he was unsure how many Democrats would vote with Republicans again on this bill but that he thought Republicans “may get a few” Democrats to side with them. The fact that the Demos have now broken their promise to have the public able to see the bill for 48 hours may drive more Dems into the Republican camp.

“[I] don’t know, ‘cause they haven’t seen the bill either,” Boehner said.

“The American people have a right to know what’s in this bill,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) told HUMAN EVENTS after the press conference. “Every member of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- voted to post this bill on the internet for 48 hours, 48 hours ago. We’ll see if the Democrats keep their word.”
Actually -- as of 5:15 pm, the Democrats had broken their word. The stimulus bill -- which we still haven’t seen -- will be released late tonight and will be brought up on the House floor at 9 am tomorrow.

The following statement was released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer at 4:57 p.m.:
"The House is scheduled to meet at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow and is expected to proceed directly to consideration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment conference report. The conference report text will be filed this evening, giving members enough time to review the conference report before voting on it tomorrow afternoon."
Would you spend almost a $1 trillion sight unseen? Democrats in Congress are going to do it for you, and not a soul can stop them.


Labels: ,

Obama's Version of Transparency: Prescreening the Press

The editors of the Wall Street Journal made an interesting observation Wednesday about President Obama's press conference Monday night: The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.
Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night's event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn't out of fear of being left off the list the next time.
Read it.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pew Poll: Stimulus News Seen More Negative Than Positive

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, a public opinion research organization that claims to be non-partisan (but in reality somewhat liberal as with most news related organizations), reported late today that as the debate over President Obama’s $800+ billion so-called economic stimulus plan played out in Congress over the past week, more Americans were hearing bad things than good things about the legislation.
Close to half (48%) of the public says that what they were reading and hearing about the plan in the news was “mostly negative,” while about three-in-ten (29%) say what they read and heard was “mostly positive.” Some 17% say they saw a mix of both, according to the Pew Research Center’s weekly News Interest Index survey conducted Feb. 6-9.
A report like this usually comes when the establishment media can no longer run cover for a political issue because worrisome little things like details have become available through the alternative media.

Read it.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who Caused the Economic Collapse; Was it an October Surprise?


Embedded above is a C-SPAN video of Paul Kanjorski. He's a Democrat member of Congress from Pennsylvania. He was on C-SPAN's Washington Journal on January 27th. This is what he said:
On Thursday at about 11 o'clock in the morning the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of money market accounts in the United States, to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in a matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help. It pumped $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide; we were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn't be further panic out there.

[. . .]

If they had not done that, their estimation was that by two o'clock that afternoon, five-and-a-half trillion dollars would have been drawn out of the money market system of the United States, would have collapsed the entire economy of the United States, and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it. We're really no better off today than we were three months ago because we've had a decrease in the equity positions of banks because other assets are going sour by the moment.
A massive electronic run on banks was averted on September 18, a run that would have caused economies to collapse worldwide and would have threatened our entire political system.

The question now is this: Just who was behind the bank run?

More from the Wall Street Journal.


With 3 Republicans On Board, Senate Passes Obama Spending Package (H.R. 1 as Amended; American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)

President Barack Obama's economic recovery plan has passed the Senate and is on its way to House-Senate negotiations.

In a purely political self-preservation move, bucking constituents' calls to hold the line, just three Northeast Republicans helped pass the plan on a 61-37 vote.

Breaking with all other Republicans and voting with Democrats are:

Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania;

Olympia Snowe of Maine;

Susan Collins of Maine.

For the record, in both houses of congress, a total of 225 Republicans voted against Obama's spending bill.

Senate Roll Call.
House Roll Call.

Labels: , ,

White House Census Grab Unconstitutional

Writing in U.S.News & World Report, Michael Barone says the White House Census power grab may violate the Constitution.
Here's an argument that it's unconstitutional for the president to take over the Census from the secretary of commerce. It goes like this: Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution provides for an "actual enumeration" and a statute passed by Congress provides that the duties under this clause are to be performed by the secretary of commerce. Article I (as Joseph Biden didn't know in debate) is about the legislative, not the executive branch. Hence, it is argued, the president can't substitute a sampling for the enumeration required to be done by the secretary.

However, it is undoubtedly true that the president can fire the secretary of commerce for any reason, including failure to conduct the Census the way he wants the Census conducted. An acting secretary could conduct the Census the way the president wanted, even if the Senate refused to confirm a new secretary of commerce who would. And who would have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Census taking? Perhaps the state that, under the statutory formula apportionment House seats among the states, got the 436th rather than the 435th seat, i.e., came close to getting another seat but didn't get it.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 9, 2009

Collaborators: 3 Republican Senators to Remove

Democrats are focusing on the votes of the following GOP Senators in order to pass the pork-laden $1.2 trillion (with interest) spending bill the president is pitching as a stimulus package:

Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania;

Olympia Snowe of Maine;

Susan Collins of Maine.

In a news report from the financial site, writers Mark Pittman and Bob Ivry today noted that stimulus package the U.S. Congress is completing would raise the government’s commitment to solving the financial crisis to $9.7 trillion, enough to pay off more than 90 percent of the nation’s home mortgages.
The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation have lent or spent almost $3 trillion over the past two years and pledged to provide up to $5.7 trillion more if needed. The total already tapped has decreased about 1 percent since November, mostly because foreign central banks are using fewer dollars in currency-exchange agreements called swaps. The Senate is to vote early this week on a stimulus package totaling at least $780 billion that President Barack Obama says is needed to avert a deeper recession. That measure would need to be reconciled with an $819 billion plan the House approved last month.

Only the stimulus package to be approved this week, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program passed four months ago and $168 billion in tax cuts and rebates approved in 2008 have been voted on by lawmakers. The remaining $8 trillion in commitments are lending programs and guarantees, almost all under the authority of the Fed and the FDIC. The recipients’ names have not been disclosed.

“We’ve seen money go out the back door of this government unlike any time in the history of our country,” Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said on the Senate floor Feb. 3. “Nobody knows what went out of the Federal Reserve Board, to whom and for what purpose. How much from the FDIC? How much from TARP? When? Why?”
Read it.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Poll: Nearly Half of Americans Say Increased Govt. Spending Harmful

In a poll released Sunday evening by Rasmussen Reports, Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters say that, generally speaking, increased government spending is bad for the economy.

Thirty-five percent (35%) believe more government spending will help the economy, and seven percent (7%) say it’s likely to have no impact, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

By a 54% to 31% margin, investors say increased government spending generally hurts the economy while non-investors are more evenly divided.

Read it.

Labels: , ,