PHILIP ELLIOTT: Democrats Shouldn’t Get Too Cocky About Their Big Win in Trump Country. The bigger fight in 2018 is unlikely to be a carbon copy of what narrowly happened in Appalachia for a number of reasons. For one, Democrats avoided a messy primary fight in picking Lamb, a Marine veteran who secured the nomination […]
The White House faces an uphill battle getting nominees Pompeo and Haspel confirmed ahead of the midterm elections.
A bipartisan bill which would relax restrictions placed on the financial industry during the credit-crisis has cleared the Senate with a vote of 67-31, on the 10-year anniversary of the collapse of Bear Stearns - but not before several changes to the original legislation were made, which would benefit big banks. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee"A bill that began as a well-intentioned effort to satisfy some perhaps legitimate community bank grievances has instead mushroomed, sparking fears that Washington is paving the way for the next financial meltdown," writes David Dayen of The Intercept. Key Provisions Relaxes a host of reporting requirements for small - medium banks, and to a smaller extent, large banks Eliminates a reporting requirement introduced by Dodd-Frank designed to avoid discriminatory lending Relaxes stress testing requirements intended to show how banks would survive another financial crisis Raises the threshold for banks which are not subject to enhanced liquidity requirements, stress tests, and enhanced risk management, from $50 billion to $250 billion - exempting several institutions which could pose systemic risks down the road. Allows megabanks such as Citi to count municipal bonds as "highly liquid assets" that could be used towards the "liquidity coverage ratio," - assets which can be quickly liquidated during a crisis. Calls for a report on the risks and benefits of algorithmic trading within 18 months Introduced by Idaho Republican Mike Crapo and co-authored by North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp and several other Democrats, S.2155 was originally intended to relax regulations on community banks, credit unions, and so-called custodial banks - institutions which do not primarily make loans, but instead keep assets safe. In addition to relaxed reporting and disclosure requirements, the bill reduced the supplementary leverage ratio (SLR) - or how much equity they must have on hand compared to total assets (such as loans). As it was first written, the SLR modification would have benefitted just two U.S. banks; State Street and Bank of New York Mellon. After a vociferous protest by Citigroup CFO John Gerspach, among others, the language in the bill was vastly changed - along with the definition of a custodial bank so as to include virtually any large financial institution, such as Citigroup. “Citi is making a very aggressive effort,” according to one bank lobbyist who asked The Intercept not to be named because he’s working on the bill. “It’s a game changer and that’s why they’re pushing hard.” Aside from the gifts to Citigroup and other big banks, the bill undermines fair lending rules that work to counter racial discrimination and rolls back regulation and oversight on large regional banks that aren’t big enough to be global names, but have enough cash to get a stadium named after themselves. In the name of mild relief for community banks, these institutions — which have been christened “stadium banks” by congressional staff opposing the legislation — are punching a gaping hole through Wall Street reform. Twenty-five of the 38 biggest domestic banks in the country, and globally significant foreign banks that have engaged in rampant misconduct, would get freed from enhanced supervision. -The Intercept “Community banks are the human shields for the giant banks to get the deregulation they want,” said an angry Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who has donned her war paint for an ill-fated fight against the legislation. “The Citigroup carve-out is one more example of how in Washington, money talks and Congress listens.” Relaxed reporting, relaxed leverage ratios, relaxed disclosures One of the biggest giveaways is relaxed reporting requirements. Currently, banks with over $50 billion are subject to enhanced regulatory standards introduced by Dodd-Frank - which include additional capital and liquidity requirements, stress tests, and enhanced risk management. The new bill raises that threshold to $100 billion immediately, and to $250 billion in another 18 months. This would primarily benefit so-called "stadium banks," as explained by a Senate aide: "If you can get naming rights to a stadium, you're not a community banks." The relaxed rules would benefit 25 of the 38 largest banks in the United States, including Citizens Bank (Philadelphia Phillies), Comerica (Detroit Tigers), M&T Bank (Baltimore Ravens), SunTrust (Atlanta Braves), KeyBank (Buffalo Sabres), BB&T (Wake Forest University), Regions Bank (AA baseball’s Birmingham Barons), and Zions Bank (Salt Lake City’s Real Monarchs of Major League Soccer). While smaller banks don't pose much systemic risk in the event of another banking crisis - banks in the $250 billion range may be a different story. “The last crisis proved that three banks in the $100 to $250 [billion] range were shown to be systemic, because regulators had to arrange a quick emergency bailout or sale,” said George Washington University law professor, Arthur Wilmarth. National City was a $145-billion bank and a major subprime originator when it failed and was sold to PNC. The financing arm of General Motors, GMAC, had $210 billion in assets when it received $17.2 billion in bailout money and another $7.4 billion in guarantees after crumbling under the weight of bad loans. And Countrywide, once America’s biggest subprime lender, had $200 billion in assets when it was sold under duress to Bank of America. Going back further, if you adjusted Continental Illinois’ size for inflation when it received a federal bailout in 1984, it would fall in the $100 to $250 billion range. -The Intercept That said, the Fed will still have the discretion to regulate systemically risky banks. Title II of S.2155 also allows banks with under $10 billion in assets to avoid several reporting requirements, along with the Volcker rule's restriction on market trading with their own deposits - as long as their simple leverage ratio is between 8 and 10 percent. This may benefit community banks at the expense of consumers, as it allows the smaller lenders to issue high-risk loans without various disclosures and "ability-to-pay" rules across the country, as long as the loans are maintained within the bank's portfolio. The theory is that small banks with “skin in the game” won’t take imprudent risks. “I’ve got an S&L crisis that says otherwise,” wrote Georgetown Law professor and former CFPB adviser Adam Levitin in a blog post. He believes the provision will encourage community banks to load up on high-cost, toxic loans, setting them up to fail if economic conditions shift. -The Intercept Other relaxed regulations include not requiring appraisals in rural areas and eliminating escrow account requirements. “You can tell they’re not technical fixes because they all push against consumers,” said Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute. Discriminatory lending? Critics of the bill have pointed to section 104, which exempts banks and credit unions which make fewer than 500 loans per year from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) - which requires that lenders report credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, LTV ratios and other information in order to ensure that banks are not engaging in discriminatory lending practices. This would affect around 85% of all banks and credit unions. “HMDA data is a crucial tool to make sure every American has access to opportunity,” said California congressional candidate and mortgage industry expert Katie Porter. “Discrimination in lending has an ugly history in the U.S. This would make the data unreliable.” And the data are the building blocks of any lending discrimination case; you can’t enforce fair housing laws without the facts. Critics fear that S.2155 would enable smaller banks to overcharge black and Latino borrowers, or deny them financing altogether. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, blacks and Latinos had the highest rate of foreclosures per 10,000 loans to owner-occupants originated between 2005-2008. responsiblelending.orgIn response to the controversial provision, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), offered an amendment to kill the HMDA reporting requirements - however when asked about it he admitted: “I don’t need my amendment to pass” to support the underlying bill. “I think the bill is solid as it is.” The bill now moves to the House, where Republicans have been pushing a more aggressive rollback of financial regulations enacted during the credit crisis. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has said that House Republicans will want to alter the Senate bill to reflect their priorities. But that could drive away the Senate Democrats needed to pass the legislation, and so the House will face significant pressure to accept the Senate legislation with few, if any, changes. -WaPo Recall that nearly 20 years ago Congress and Bill Clinton repealed Glass Steagall - which allowed banks to take on massive risks, shortly before Barney Frank pushed banks to extend subprime and "liar" loans to under-qualified applicants, which were then packaged into AAA paper and leveraged into oblivion. And once again, history repeats itself...
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is “hopeful” that his panel can approve a new authorization next month affecting the Trump administration’s war powers, he said on Wednesday.Corker told reporters that he foresaw “a chance of being successful in April” at winning committee passage of a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, underscoring that he couldn’t commit to a timetable to release a measure that has required intensive consultations with colleagues. “We've been working at it ever since we began this year,” he said.His comments come as the Senate prepares to vote as soon as early next week on a bipartisan resolution that aims to force an end to the administration’s support for a Saudi-led coalition that’s engaged in the Yemeni civil war. That vote is likely to serve as a symbolic proxy for lawmakers’ long-running debate over ongoing U.S. anti-terrorism operations conducted under the authority of an AUMF that Congress approved in 2001.Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) last year introduced an updated version of their revised authorization plan, which Corker said he expected to include “portions of” in whatever consensus measure he readies for committee action. He declined to delve into the details of the measure ahead of its release, saying only that “our goal is to find a sweet spot” that can win support in both parties.Republican leaders are likely to balk at giving any floor time to a measure that restricts President Donald Trump’s war powers, and Corker acknowledged that he had no guarantee of floor time from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The new authorization has “got to get through committee first,” Corker said, adding later that he was still awaiting “input from the administration on some legal language.”
The GOP senator also promised to fight Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA.
Thousands of students marched Wednesday in Washington, D.C., and across the nation as they left school to call for stricter gun control measures as the House passed its first school safety bill since the massacre in Parkland, Fla.The actions come on the one-month anniversary of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 dead.Hundreds of students gathered in demonstration at the White House, bearing signs and chanting for tighter gun control laws. They then walked to the U.S. Capitol, where they were greeted by members of Congress who back their cause.The students criticized the Trump administration’s response to the shooting by turning their backs to the White House for 17 minutes — one for each of the students and staff members killed in Parkland on Valentine’s Day. Marches also took place in Louisville, Ky.; New York; Philadelphia; Boston; Chicago; Baltimore; Los Angeles; Littleton, Colo.; and Jacksonville, Fla. At hundreds of schools, students demonstrated by walking out onto football fields and lawns.President Donald Trump has asked the federal government to assist states in training school staff to carry guns, in addition to supporting a package of other school violence prevention proposals. After initially suggesting he would support raising the age to 21 to buy AR-15 rifles, he walked back that proposal.With strong bipartisan support, the House voted 407-10 to pass the STOP School Violence Act, which will repurpose a program focused on school violence prevention for grants administered by the Department of Justice to fund training and other initiatives intended to enhance school safety, including physical improvements such as metal detectors, stronger locks, and emergency notification and response technologies for schools to notify law enforcement of emergencies. Trump in a statement said he would sign the bill. The bill would authorize $75 million a year for the effort, according to the text.In the Senate, meanwhile, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said he’s introducing legislation to provide funding for “cutting edge research into the prevention of school violence.“ The Iowa Republican said the bill would support that research through the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center.But Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) raised questions about the Trump response plan, saying that the Trump administration's backing for training and arming school staff could endanger students, particularly African-American and Hispanic students.Outside on the Capitol lawn, students from area schools and members of Congress spoke against the administration's proposal. "We will not sit in classrooms with armed teachers. We will not learn in fear," said Matt Post, a high school student from Montgomery County, Md.At the White House, Farah Patmah, 17, of Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, Md., brought a sign that read, “Protect kids, not guns.”“Too many kids have died. We hope to have our voices heard. We have become the target, and we need this to stop,” she said.Jessica Bowen, 16, and Madison Steffes, 15, came from Potomac, Md., to advocate for "safer schools and gun reform."They said their high school, Winston Churchill High, supported students’ participation in the walkout and asked teachers to not administer tests."We want gun reform so that we can feel safe at school, and other students can too,” Bowen said.Homemade signs also spoke to students‘ desire to feel safer at school.One sign read, “I’m not afraid of an unexcused absence. I’m afraid for my life.” Another read, “Classrooms not war zones.”While some school districts encouraged students’ walkout, others said participating students would be disciplined. The American Civil Liberties Union reached out to districts ahead of Wednesday to communicate the students’ right to demonstrate and encouraging educators to incorporate lessons about civic engagement.The national group behind the walkouts, the youth branch of the Women’s March, says it expects roughly 2,850 walkouts took place in schools across the country Wednesday.The walkouts come 10 days ahead of the “March for Our Lives,” a rally to be held in D.C. on March 24. The rally, organized by Parkland survivors with major contributions from celebrities, is expected to attract half of a million people.On the Capitol lawn Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi offered support to the students, walking around the crowd to shake hands."Thank you for bringing urgency to this issue," Pelosi said. "You are creating a drumbeat across America."Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) also stepped outside the Capitol to encourage the students and were greeted with cheers.“The time is now for all of us to stand up to the NRA and pass common-sense gun legislation,” Sanders said.A spokeswoman for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says she "gives a lot credit to the students who are raising their voices and demanding change. She hears them, and their input will be valuable as she convenes the Federal Commission on School Safety and works to find solutions to keeping all students safe at school."Caitlin Emma and Benjamin Wermund contributed to this report.
The two Democrats are clashing over legislation that could ease regulatory requirements on banks adopted after the 2008 recession.
The two Democrats are clashing over legislation that could ease regulatory requirements on banks adopted after the 2008 recession.
Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog, You may not have ever heard of Nick Freitas before, but I have a feeling we’ll all be hearing a lot about him soon. At first glance, this may seem very political, very Republican vs. Democrat. But it’s not. It’s about logic versus emotion. It’s about an eloquent defense of the Second Amendment and the reason that the gun control debate is stalled. And the response to this speech underlined everything that was said. It’s about people who got so upset about historic facts that they had to leave the room instead of engaging in a discussion. Last week, he gave a rousing speech on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in defense of the Second Amendment. Some of his key points: We need to find out if gun-free zones are effective We need to understand the reasons behind the Second Amendment We need to make self-defense possible We should consider arming teachers We need to discuss this issue with mutual respect We have to admit that the government failed in the Florida school shooting One point he brought up that really spoke to me personally was the fact that not all gun-related acts of self-defense involve pulling the trigger and shooting the perpetrator. I know that in my own case during an attempted home invasion, just the presence of my gun and the perception of the would-be criminals that I wouldn’t hesitate to use it, deterred what could have been a heinous crime against me and my daughter. Freitas said in the speech that we have an inherent right to defend ourselves and that he will not accept a false narrative. He pointed out that he and his fellow Republicans don’t believe Democrats when they say that all they want to do is ban bump stocks. Freitas is a retired Green Beret who served 2 tours in Iraq. (source) He was elected to the state delegation in 2016 and is a self-described Libertarian-Republican. Listen to the entire speech in the video below. The response by lawmakers Despite Freitas’s factual and logical arguments, a number of Democrat delegates actually walked out of the room during his recitation of horrific past policies that were instituted by their own party and his plea for mutual respect so that a real conversation could happen. Delegate Lamont Bagley was really upset, calling the speech “hateful and divisive.” “We realize that we live in a ugly political moment. So while we were offended, we were not surprised,” Bagby said. “It should embarrass every member of this body that we have allowed such rhetoric to enter these chambers. Bringing up a very painful past to make a political point is disgusting and poisonous.” (source) Delegate Delores McQuinn, who walked out while Freitas was speaking, told reporters: “Let us not bring in things that would be hurtful and painful to people who have to live in a skin that some of you will never know and have to endure a reality that being black in America is sometimes difficult.” (source) Freitas seemed unconcerned at the outrage, responding: “More and more, offense is used as a weapon with which to turn away debate.And I’m not going to accept that.” (source) His speech was so popular that he was interviewed by CNN, who played a clip of a Democrat, Delegate Joseph Lindsay, who said he was “offended as he had never been offended since being a part of this body” by Freitas’s passionate speech. He claimed that his colleagues were “emotionally shaken and bothered.” Freitas wasn’t having any of it. There aren’t many politicians that I’d say I would support, but Freitas just might be the exception. He’s currently running for the US Senate against Tim Kaine, who is the former governor of Virginia and was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in her failed bid for the presidency. In his announcement for the bid, he promised to combat a worldview that “treats free people as if we were subjects instead of citizens.” He also said, “Quite frankly, establishment elements from both sides of the aisle have been responsible in thinking themselves made from finer clay than the rest of humanity.” (source) Yep, I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing more about Nick Freitas.
Democratic leaders are working closely with activists to keep the party united and gun control on the agenda.
Former Clinton campaign manager and ardent foodie, John Podesta, was caught flat-footed during a heated exchange on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday after being asked about the campaign's failure to campaign in so-called "purple states" in 2016. In a discussion of 13 Russian nationals indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, host Nancy Cordes noted that Russian operatives who meddled in the election somehow realized the importance of focusing on those highly contested swing states. “How is it that these Russian operatives knew to focus on purple states like Michigan and Wisconsin and your campaign didn’t?” Nancy Cordes, the host of “Face the Nation,” asked Podesta. A defensive Podesta responded “Of course we spent a lot of time and energy and effort in all those states." Cordes pushed back, something Podesta wasn't prepared for. “Hillary Clinton did not spend much time" in said "purple" states. A flustered Podesta then stammered his way through a series of talking points, noting “We had Tim Kaine was there, Barack Obama and she spent enormous time in Pennsylvania and Michigan.” Lynn de Rothschild had some thoughts on the matter: @johnpodesta this is pathetic;HRC lost because you ran an arrogant out of touch campaign;you have destroyed a great family and are a loser https://t.co/iHLnQTilhj — Lynn de Rothschild (@LdeRothschild) February 22, 2017 Podesta was caught off guard by the same MSM which was literally eating out of his home during propaganda huddles "off-the-record" dinners (no clue what was served over what) - with one of the goals of "Framing the HRC message and framing the race." Sick Hillary gives her marching orders to the sycophant media, and they happily comply. every “journalist” listed is not credible. Ever. pic.twitter.com/dcHstLKEEW — RockPrincess (@Rockprincess818) October 9, 2016 Alas for Podesta, it appears he may not enjoy the same support from the media he once had. Recall a similar heated exchange with Fox's Maria Bartiromo in June 2017 in which she grilled Podesta over his ties to a Kremlin-backed company. “Don’t you find it odd that there’s been so much attention on the Trump Campaign and the Trump associates and potential collusion with the Russians when in fact it’s really the Democrats who have deeper and stronger ties to Russia,” Bartiromo said. “I mean John I have to ask your own situation..” Bartiromo then goes on to break down how Podesta joined the board of the board of a small energy company in 2011 which later received $35 million from a Kremlin-funded entity. Other members of the board of Joule Unlimited included senior Russian official Anatoly Chubais and oligarch Reuben Vardanyan - a Putin appointee to the Russian economic modernization council. Podesta jettisoned his shares before the 2016 election, transferring them to his daughter via a shell corporation.
The recent congressional spending deals repealed or delayed several ACA taxes, as well as a Medicare cost-cutting board.
Kevin Cramer's entry into the North Dakota Senate race Friday ended a streak of GOP misses on sought-after candidates.
Senators on Monday kicked off an open-ended immigration debate that promises to test their rusty skills at bipartisan legislating, with no guarantee of success. The Senate voted 97-1 to proceed to a legislative shell bill that’s designed to serve as a vehicle for votes on competing immigration proposals, with Ted Cruz (R-Texas) the sole “no” vote. All eyes are now on which idea — if any — can clear a 60-vote hurdle that requires both parties to look across the aisle. But as debate began, Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledged that it’s anyone’s guess as to whether such an immigration plan exists. President Donald Trump’s immigration framework is on track for a Senate floor vote and was endorsed Monday by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but it’s unlikely to win 60 votes without significant changes. Democrats, meanwhile, are still weighing how hard to push for a vote on some of their preferred ways to help the estimated 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers, aware that any idea with a chance of success will have to offer concessions on border security and other volatile issues. “There’s a lot at stake here,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters, adding, “I just don’t know at this moment that we’ll have 60 votes. I don’t know if we can get 11 of the Republicans to join the Democrats on anything.” The Senate’s immigration debate is beginning with just two scheduled weeks of legislating until the March 5 cutoff date by which Trump has vowed to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Senators in both parties were cautiously optimistic about an agreement that would tee up competing votes as soon as Tuesday, but the chamber’s reliance on procedural motions that require unanimous consent presents the near-constant risk of partisan disputes snarling that work. “This is going to be done or not done this week,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters, a push to wrap up quickly that other GOP leaders also underscored. “People had better get to work, because the clock is ticking.” Cornyn put the onus on Democrats who pushed hard for a commitment from McConnell to bring an immigration debate to the floor, noting that “so far, they seem to be a little confused about what they’re planning on doing.” But with House GOP leaders’ plans on immigration even harder to predict, even some Republican senators are uncertain of what’s to come. In the three years since McConnell took the reins of the Senate in 2015 with a fast-paced energy debate, the chamber has held few truly unrestrained floor votes on contentious policies. “I’m happy to see the dialogue, and I’ve seen all the various plans,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters. “But as best I can tell, they’re all held together with spit.” Kennedy held off on committing to support the White House’s immigration framework, translated into legislation by a group of Republicans including Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. The White House plan did get backing Monday from the Senate GOP’s most politically vulnerable incumbent, Dean Heller of Nevada. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he would vote against the amendment distilled from the White House’s framework and signaled he could have a new proposal of his own as soon as Tuesday that’s designed to thread the immigration needle. Given GOP leaders’ interest in wrapping up the immigration debate before next week’s scheduled recess, Flake told reporters, “I think that we’ll have to” have a proposal ready by Tuesday in order to get a floor vote this week. Flake said that he’s talking with Durbin as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about his forthcoming plan. On the Democratic side, Durbin said Monday he’s still deciding whether to push for a floor vote on the DREAM Act, the gold-standard bill for liberal activists that offers a path to citizenship for more than 1.5 million undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Durbin acknowledged that the DREAM Act, while it originally boasted some GOP support, also has no path to winning 60 votes. For the Senate liberals who first vowed last year to withhold their votes on government spending bills without aid to Dreamers, however, a vote on their preferred bill remains an important goal. “Up or down vote on DREAM. That’s the whole point,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), though she added that she didn’t know whether it would get time on the floor. One of the biggest X factors in the week’s free-for-all is what legislative ideas may emerge from a group of dozens of mostly moderate senators from both parties who began meeting on the issue during last month’s government shutdown. Members of that group suggested Monday that they are close to agreement on a potential amendment, but warned that it might not be ready for the Senate floor this week. “We’re close, but we’re not ready quite yet,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a leader of the group she’s christened the Common Sense Coalition. Asked whether the group’s product would meet the standards Trump advisers have laid out, she said “that remains to be seen.” As did much about the Senate’s endgame on Monday. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 GOP leader, said he’s still in favor of a slimmed-down solution that offers a legislative remedy for the Dreamers immediately along with spending on border security. That approach may not be necessary if another approach can get 60 votes, Thune told reporters, but “I still think we ought to be prepared to pass something out of here.” Ted Hesson and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.