Morning Briefing for February 19, 2009

FEBRUARY 19, 2009

REDSTATE SOURCES REPORT: DEMS TO RUSH NEW HALF-TRILLION DOLLAR APPROPRIATIONS BILL THROUGH CONGRESS SIGHT UNSEEN

As soon as next week House Democratic Leaders will bring a nearly half-trillion dollar omnibus appropriations bill to the House floor. After breaking their word and refusing to post the trillion dollar spending bill on the internet for 48 hours before a vote (though they clearly had the time, since the bill-signing photo-op was 3 days later) will House Democrats keep this bill secret until the last minute too? Or will they let in some sunshine, post the bill online and let the American taxpayers know how their hard-earned money is being spent?

1. Democrats Now Racing to Fix **Job Killing Provisions** In Stimulus

Maybe now they’ll wish they read the bill.

2. Initial Reaction to the Obama Mortgage Bailout Plan

The idea is to spend about $275 billion to give more money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to facilitate refinancings of distressed mortgages.

3. Picking Winners and Losers Among The Large Banks

Last week, President Obama told us that starting today, the stimulus would immediately speed saving succor to the US economy, using metaphors that suggested the stanching of an open wound. Are you feeling stimulated?

4. A Nation of Cowards?

First we’re all gun toting Jesus freaks. Now this.

5. Sneaking Abortion Funding Into Every Bill

Respecting the right to life of our most vulnerable fellows is the right decision.

6. Where’s the Transparency? Obama’s Secret Orders Caught Media Unaware

Despite all claims to the contrary, President Obama has not been very vigilant about pursuing that idea of “transparency” he ballyhooed during the recent campaign.

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REDSTATE SOURCES REPORT: DEMS TO RUSH NEW HALF-TRILLION DOLLAR APPROPRIATIONS BILL THROUGH CONGRESS SIGHT UNSEEN

As soon as next week House Democratic Leaders will bring a nearly half-trillion dollar omnibus appropriations bill to the House floor. After breaking their word and refusing to post the trillion dollar spending bill on the internet for 48 hours before a vote (though they clearly had the time, since the bill-signing photo-op was 3 days later) will House Democrats keep this bill secret until the last minute too? Or will they let in some sunshine, post the bill online and let the American taxpayers know how their hard-earned money is being spent?

1. Democrats Now Racing to Fix **Job Killing Provisions** In Stimulus

Maybe now they’ll wish they read the bill.

“Sen. Schumer has pledged to undo a provision included in the stimulus package that will make it nearly impossible for New York’s banks to hire foreign workers through the H-1B visa program.

“The amendment to the stimulus bill, proposed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chuck Grassley, D-Iowa, originally would have banned the visas for any company that received money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP. A compromise lifted the ban, but companies will still be required to hire from the growing pool of laid-off American workers first. Advocates say that the mandate is so onerous that it will virtually stop banks from bringing foreign workers into the country.”

Sounds like somebody decided to slip in a bit of the pro-union pork – the unions loathe H-1B work visas, mostly because there’s no good way for them to wet their beaks – and Schumer didn’t notice until it was too late. You see, his problem is that the banks in his state that would be affected by this are international… so if they can’t bring the workers into the country, they can take the work out of the country. Which is important because they’ll also end up sending other people’s work out of the country. Work done by people who are registered to vote in the State of New York, which is why Schumer’s now going full guns to get this rule reversed in future legislation.

SOURCE

2. Initial Reaction to the Obama Mortgage Bailout Plan

The idea is to spend about $275 billion to give more money to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and to facilitate refinancings of distressed mortgages.

Obama’s warmup act was FDIC head Sheila Bair, who was been screaming about preventing foreclosures for a long time now. In her remarks, she said that voluntary mortgage relief hasn’t worked, and now it’s time to try something else. What that “something else” turns out to be, is of a course a matter of intense interest.

What did Mr. Market have to say about this? Prices for high-coupon mortgage-backed securities immediately tumbled. That makes sense if you assume that a lot of people who couldn’t refinance at lower rates before, will be able to now.

Yes, this raises interest rates. Yes, it makes the banking crisis worse by cutting the value of “toxic assets” still farther. Unintended consequences don’t always take so little time to appear.

SOURCE

3. Picking Winners and Losers Among The Large Banks

Last week, President Obama told us that starting today, the stimulus would immediately speed saving succor to the US economy, using metaphors that suggested the stanching of an open wound. Are you feeling stimulated?

Generally speaking, the world’s capital markets are showing not robustness, but at least moderate stability. Anyone who lived through the bizarre disruptions of last autumn will take what we have now and be grateful for it. Credit markets are busily but successfully transitioning to an asset base that is heavily weighted toward risk-free government debt. Stock markets are getting ready for a protracted period of economic weakness all around the world. Stocks will rally sharply from time to time over the next few years, but the overall trend is down.

In this environment, you still have America’s largest banks failing to do what they’re there to do: intermediate the formation of credit for the economy. They’re not making loans, and none of the policy responses to date (a string of ad hoc rescues and a moderate-sized capital injection) has done anything to change that. Neither has policy succeeded in doing anything that would induce any rational private investor to buy stock in a large bank.

The picture among regional and community banks is very different. None of these is lending for much, apart from home mortgages with federal guarantees, but there are many conservatively-run, perfectly solvent banks out there. Part of their problem is an extreme reluctance by regulators to give smaller banks full credit for their capital levels.

But large banks can’t go back to normal lending until their capital levels return to safe ranges. Until then, it’s folly for them even to think about increasing their asset base. It’s a good thing that the people in charge of policy seem to recognize this. We have had some speeches from senior Congressional leaders suggesting that the job of banks is to lend, and by golly, they’ll lend as long as the US taxpayer is their primary shareholder. Such talk would be deeply frightening if it were backed by action, but so far it hasn’t.

SOURCE

4. A Nation of Cowards?

First we’re all gun toting Jesus freaks. Now this.

“We, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race,” said average American Eric Holder, Attorney General for the Obama administration, in a speech to Justice Department employees earlier today.

Holder, whose speech was meant to honor Black History Month, went on to call America “a nation of cowards” which “never been at ease with…frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us” despite the fact that “this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot.”

Though he admitted the workplace is now “largely integrated,” Holder complained that, in his opinion, Americans “self-segregate” into “race-protected cocoons” on the weekends and in their private lives.

Apparently our esteemed Attorney General has a bit of a problem with the free association of a free people, as well as with the fact that we’re not all starting our conversations with fellow Americans with statements like the facetious title of this post.

The fact is, folks like Holder, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, and their race-minded fellows are clinging to an increasingly outdated and obsolete worldview like a man long-since rescued from the sea clinging to a life preserver.

Partial proof of this fact can be found in the fact that, in the last eight years alone, African-Americans have served in some of the highest offices in the land, including National Security Adviser, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and President of the United States, with the latter being elected to that position by a margin of 192 electoral votes.

The fact that he can make the remarks he made today, in the face of such a “racial ceiling”-defying reality, suggests that Mr. Holder prefers constant notice of, and discussion about, race and differences to actual equality or the achievement of a “color blind” society. Unfortunately, as countless people who have learned the hard way can tell you, actually engaging in “frank conversations about racial matters” often results in those engaging in those “frank conversations” being held up for ridicule or, worse, fired.

Identity politics and the categorical identification and treatment of Americans according to race, religion, and gender — which has for so long been a key tool in the Left’s political toolkit, and the only way of viewing life for folks like Lowery and, evidently, Holder — is both outdated and irrelevant. America as a whole crossed the threshold into a largely “colorblind” society years ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Holder is apparently among the tiny minority that has lagged far behind the rest of the country in this area.

SOURCE

5. Sneaking Abortion Funding Into Every Bill

Respecting the right to life of our most vulnerable fellows is the right decision.

For some thirty years Congress has built into bills a legislative device called a “pro-life rider.” These riders prevent public funding for abortion from being slipped into bills under the radar. These riders have wide bi-partisan support having resisted elimination since the 1970s.

But, now these riders are coming under threat by the new Obama administration and his pro-abortion Democratic Party cohorts. A bi-partisan group of House members, however, seek to quash the effort by Obama and his followers to reverse a thirty-year tradition, one that conforms to the majority opinion of the American electorate.

Heath Shuler (D-NC), Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and nearly 100 of their fellow House members have signed a letter urging the House majority leaders to retain pro-life riders into the coming session and beyond.

SOURCE

6. Where’s the Transparency? Obama’s Secret Orders Caught Media Unaware

Despite all claims to the contrary, President Obama has not been very vigilant about pursuing that idea of “transparency” he ballyhooed during the recent campaign.

Politico reported on a host of documents, proclamations and executive orders that Obama has made in the last month and none of them were online. In fact, many were not even released at all to the press by the White House.

So, where is the drumbeat of outrage about the “secret presidency” we heard for the last 6 or so years?

Remember all the mavens of the Old Media establishment that kept claiming that Bush was too secretive? Along with the Old Media, the nutrooters also took up the claim as a battle cry against the evil Bush administration. Of course, Bush was trying to fight an intelligence war where keeping secrets means life or death for our soldiers. But, regardless of Bush’s reasons, the media and the left were constantly apoplectic over this supposed “secrecy.”

It was undemocratic, mean spirited, anti-American… evil even. The left was in a constant state of righteous indignation over Bush’s secrecy.

Then came the answer to their dreams, the man to cause tingles up their legs, Barack Obama. Why, he was going to change everything. It was to be a government of “transparency,” don’t ya know? Obama made all sorts of promises to put every government policy, debate, and document on line for all to see.

Apparently, neither Obama nor his supplicants in the media are much worried about secrecy now.

SOURCE

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Erick Erickson

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