• Теги
    • избранные теги
    • Разное381
      • Показать ещё
      Люди367
      • Показать ещё
      Компании520
      • Показать ещё
      Страны / Регионы74
      • Показать ещё
      Международные организации43
      • Показать ещё
      Издания51
      • Показать ещё
      Формат1
      Показатели29
      • Показать ещё
      Сферы3
Закон Гласса-Стиголла
11 марта, 23:34

Team Trump Insists They Will Get Tough On Wall Street … Someday

WASHINGTON ― The Republican Party has been allied with Wall Street since the presidency of William Howard Taft. So its official 2016 policy platform was more than a little startling. Discarding decades of orthodoxy, President Donald Trump’s campaign called to reinstate Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era law crafted by Democrats that would force the break-up of the nation’s six largest banks. Trump’s advisers were wielding a devious, wonky cudgel. Hillary Clinton’s lucrative speeches to Goldman Sachs and other big banks were not sitting well with Democrats, Republicans or her own staff. Her husband had delivered the killing blow to Glass-Steagall in 1999 by granting his signature to a bill repealing the law ― a move widely blamed for fueling the 2008 financial crisis. By pledging to resurrect Glass-Steagall, Trump was positioning Republicans as populist crusaders for working people, shoving Democrats across the wrong side of the line in the ideological battle against the Washington-Wall Street axis voters held responsible for the Great Recession. Combined with trade rhetoric cribbed from populist Democrats (and strong doses of flagrant racism), Trump’s messaging delivered. Working class voters came out in droves for a New York City billionaire who literally seated himself on a golden throne at the Republican National Convention. Glass-Steagall was a blunt, effective instrument in its day. The law prohibited banks that accept deposits and make loans from placing bets in the much riskier securities markets. It was originally designed to end conflicts of interest that had allowed large firms to rip off their clients in the run-up to the 1929 stock market crash. But the law ultimately served a stronger purpose due to the advent of federal deposit insurance. Since the government guarantees depositors can’t lose their money in a bank failure, deposits function as an especially cheap source of funding for banks. Glass-Steagall prevented this funding from flowing to hot, high-flying speculation. This not only protected taxpayers from having to bail out bad bets, it discouraged excessive risk-taking by making it more expensive. When Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999, banks went on a merger binge, linking up with hedge funds, insurance companies, investment banks and private equity firms to create the unwieldy, unmanageable conglomerates that toppled in 2008. Bringing the law back would force Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup to split into several smaller firms. It would be much stronger medicine than anything implemented under former President Barack Obama’s 2010 financial reform law, known as Dodd-Frank. The Trump clarion call for Glass-Steagall was in ideological tension with another plank of the GOP platform that demanded the repeal of Dodd-Frank, which it derided as a “legislative Godzilla” that was “crushing small and community banks.” Different factions of the party had essentially opposite views about Wall Street, with one calling for much stricter regulation and another seeking to aggressively deregulate. But the two goals are ultimately compatible. Republicans had stumbled into a compromise policy that would repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with Glass-Steagall. And unlike repealing and replacing Obamacare, the replacement for Wall Street was both workable and available. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) had carefully crafted a new Glass-Steagall bill that could be voted on at any time. But since inauguration day, Trump has been all repeal and no replace. He has packed his administration with Goldman Sachs alums and foreclosure maestros. He has celebrated banking and private equity CEOs at the White House, and signed an executive order to begin unwinding Dodd-Frank. He has sent every executive branch signal possible that he does not want agencies to aggressively enforce the regulations currently on the books, and raised prices on mortgages for first-time homebuyers just for good measure. On Thursday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer opened his press briefing with a paean to small banks, bemoaning their regulatory burden. “Since 2008, the number of small banks has declined 30 percent,” Spicer declared. “The dramatic increase in regulation following the financial crisis has been a major driving force in the decline of these banks. Dodd-Frank alone has resulted in 22,000 pages of new regulations.” This was nonsense. Community banks aren’t failing because they have to spend $98,000 a year on a new compliance officer ― they’re just being bought out by bigger banks as part of a broader national merger wave. The horror, the horror of small bank owners agreeing to receive large sums of money. But Spicer’s speech prompted an obvious question from a reporter in the briefing room: “Candidate Trump campaigned hard on restoring the Glass-Steagall Act ... is repeal of Glass-Steagall on his agenda?” Spicer danced around over the fact that the administration has not met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who also ran for president pledging to implement Glass-Steagall, before insisting that, “yes,” Trump remains committed to bringing the law back. Don’t hold your breath. CORRECTION: This piece initially identified John McCain as a Democrat. He is a Republican.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

11 марта, 23:34

Team Trump Insists They Will Get Tough On Wall Street … Someday

WASHINGTON ― The Republican Party has been allied with Wall Street since the presidency of William Howard Taft. So its official 2016 policy platform was more than a little startling. Discarding decades of orthodoxy, President Donald Trump’s campaign called to reinstate Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era law crafted by Democrats that would force the break-up of the nation’s six largest banks. Trump’s advisers were wielding a devious, wonky cudgel. Hillary Clinton’s lucrative speeches to Goldman Sachs and other big banks were not sitting well with Democrats, Republicans or her own staff. Her husband had delivered the killing blow to Glass-Steagall in 1999 by granting his signature to a bill repealing the law ― a move widely blamed for fueling the 2008 financial crisis. By pledging to resurrect Glass-Steagall, Trump was positioning Republicans as populist crusaders for working people, shoving Democrats across the wrong side of the line in the ideological battle against the Washington-Wall Street axis voters held responsible for the Great Recession. Combined with trade rhetoric cribbed from populist Democrats (and strong doses of flagrant racism), Trump’s messaging delivered. Working class voters came out in droves for a New York City billionaire who literally seated himself on a golden throne at the Republican National Convention. Glass-Steagall was a blunt, effective instrument in its day. The law prohibited banks that accept deposits and make loans from placing bets in the much riskier securities markets. It was originally designed to end conflicts of interest that had allowed large firms to rip off their clients in the run-up to the 1929 stock market crash. But the law ultimately served a stronger purpose due to the advent of federal deposit insurance. Since the government guarantees depositors can’t lose their money in a bank failure, deposits function as an especially cheap source of funding for banks. Glass-Steagall prevented this funding from flowing to hot, high-flying speculation. This not only protected taxpayers from having to bail out bad bets, it discouraged excessive risk-taking by making it more expensive. When Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999, banks went on a merger binge, linking up with hedge funds, insurance companies, investment banks and private equity firms to create the unwieldy, unmanageable conglomerates that toppled in 2008. Bringing the law back would force Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup to split into several smaller firms. It would be much stronger medicine than anything implemented under former President Barack Obama’s 2010 financial reform law, known as Dodd-Frank. The Trump clarion call for Glass-Steagall was in ideological tension with another plank of the GOP platform that demanded the repeal of Dodd-Frank, which it derided as a “legislative Godzilla” that was “crushing small and community banks.” Different factions of the party had essentially opposite views about Wall Street, with one calling for much stricter regulation and another seeking to aggressively deregulate. But the two goals are ultimately compatible. Republicans had stumbled into a compromise policy that would repeal Dodd-Frank and replace it with Glass-Steagall. And unlike repealing and replacing Obamacare, the replacement for Wall Street was both workable and available. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) had carefully crafted a new Glass-Steagall bill that could be voted on at any time. But since inauguration day, Trump has been all repeal and no replace. He has packed his administration with Goldman Sachs alums and foreclosure maestros. He has celebrated banking and private equity CEOs at the White House, and signed an executive order to begin unwinding Dodd-Frank. He has sent every executive branch signal possible that he does not want agencies to aggressively enforce the regulations currently on the books, and raised prices on mortgages for first-time homebuyers just for good measure. On Thursday, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer opened his press briefing with a paean to small banks, bemoaning their regulatory burden. “Since 2008, the number of small banks has declined 30 percent,” Spicer declared. “The dramatic increase in regulation following the financial crisis has been a major driving force in the decline of these banks. Dodd-Frank alone has resulted in 22,000 pages of new regulations.” This was nonsense. Community banks aren’t failing because they have to spend $98,000 a year on a new compliance officer ― they’re just being bought out by bigger banks as part of a broader national merger wave. The horror, the horror of small bank owners agreeing to receive large sums of money. But Spicer’s speech prompted an obvious question from a reporter in the briefing room: “Candidate Trump campaigned hard on restoring the Glass-Steagall Act ... is repeal of Glass-Steagall on his agenda?” Spicer danced around over the fact that the administration has not met with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who also ran for president pledging to implement Glass-Steagall, before insisting that, “yes,” Trump remains committed to bringing the law back. Don’t hold your breath. CORRECTION: This piece initially identified John McCain as a Democrat. He is a Republican.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

10 марта, 00:28

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 1:04 P.M. EST MR. SPICER:  Good morning, everyone. Q    Afternoon. MR. SPICER:  Thank you.  Appreciate the -- John Roberts fact-checking from the seat.  (Laughter.)  Good morning -- good afternoon.  (Laughter.)  It’s not my fault, it’s on the paper.   After receiving his daily intelligence briefing this morning, the President led a National Economic Council listening session with CEOs of small and community banks.  Since 2008, the number of small banks has declined 30 percent.  The dramatic increase in regulation following the financial crisis has been a major driving force in the decline of these banks.  Dodd-Frank alone has resulted in 22,000 pages of new regulations.   While large banks can hire armies of compliance officers whose sole purpose it is to ensure they meet the ever-growing number of regulations, it increases the cost of doing business for community banks, leading some not to engage in some forms of lending, or simply due to the time and costs involved. Our community banks are key funding sources for small-business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers across the country, many of whom can’t qualify for traditional loans.  They provide approximately half of all loans to small businesses.  By reforming the regulatory system so that it is efficient, effective, and appropriately tailored, we will stop treating these critical institutions in our communities the same as banks that have exponentially more in assets, enabling them to engage even more with small businesses and entrepreneurs that stimulate local economies. The banks participating in this listening session are members of the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America.  A full participant list is available to those who are interested. Yesterday I noted the continued signs of good news in our economy in terms of hiring, and the morning reports showed that consumer comfort has risen to the highest level in a decade.  I’m sure last night you also saw the report that illegal southwest border crossings are down by an extraordinary 40 percent, a significant deviation even when you consider the seasonal trends.  These measures reflect that both the economy and the border are already responding to the President’s agenda, even while we’re still in the beginning stages of putting his policies in place. The country and the world are clearly ready and waiting for the change that the President campaigned on and is already delivering.  Right now, the President is holding a legislative affairs lunch with OMB Director Mulvaney and key members of Congress on his plans for the federal budget and repeal and replace that we’ve talked about.   This is just the latest opportunity to continue the dialogue between the President and members on Capitol Hill on turning his ambitious agenda into action.  The strong relationship between President and congressional leaders will be key as the budget process moves along.  As Director Mulvaney has been saying, our budget blueprint will be released in mid-March, and the President is working collaboratively with both his Cabinet and Congress to create a budget that keeps the President’s promises to secure the country and make the most efficient use of taxpayer money. In attendance at the meeting from Capitol Hill are Senator Crapo, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Chairman Cochran; the Senate Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; Senator Mike Enzi, the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee; Senator Bob Corker of the Senate -- member of the Senate Budget Committee; Congresswoman Black, the Chairman of the House Budget Committee; Congressman Thornberry, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio; Congressman Meadows of North Carolina; the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus; and Congressman Rokita of Indiana.  Later this afternoon, the President will meet with former Secretary of Commerce Pete Peterson.  Then the President has a meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly and the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo. And finally, the President will make remarks to the Senate Youth Program around 4:00 today, a tradition that began with President Kennedy and has continued through every administration. The President is honored to be speaking to this distinguished group of young men and women who are interested in pursuing careers in public service. I also want to mention that right about now, the Vice President is giving the keynote remarks at the Latino Coalition’s Policy Summit.  His remarks focus on the particularly negative impact of Obamacare on small businesses, many of who have been unable to hire more workers, or were forced to scale down their operation due to high taxes and burdensome requirements that were imposed by the law.   The President is dedicated to improving the healthcare system for every American, including small businesses owners who have especially been suffered -- have had to suffer through complying with thousands of pages of regulations and rules.  That’s exactly why he’s working with Congress to enact the American Health Care Act, which he was glad to wake up this morning and see approved by the House Ways and Means Committee.   Also today, the President was pleased to see his Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, voted out of committee.  We had hoped to see Seema Verma, who would be confirmed as the administrator this week as the administrator of Health Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services.  Unfortunately, Senate Democrats continue to unnecessarily delay her confirmation.  At this critical time when we’re talking about healthcare, it’s ironic that they refuse to consider someone with such amazing expertise in this area. Seema Burma has worked for over 20 years in healthcare policy.  She has redesigned Medicaid programs in several states, including Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Kentucky.  She’s worked with governors’ offices, state Medicaid agencies, state health departments, state departments of insurance, as well as private companies and foundations.  She’s unquestionably and uniquely qualified for her position, and especially now that health reform is at the top of the President’s agenda, it’s time to get her in place.  This delay by Senate Democrats at this critical time is unacceptable. On a scheduling note for the weekend, the Vice President announced yesterday that he’ll be in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday with Governor Bevin.  The Vice President’s Office will have further details for you on that trip as we get closer.   Finally, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that today is the 10-year anniversary of the disappearance of Former FBI Agent Robert Levinson from Kish Island, Iran.  The Trump administration remains unwavering in our commitment to locate Mr. Levinson and bring him home.  The Levinson family has suffered far too long, and we will not rest until his case is resolved.  And with that, I’ll take your questions. Hallie Jackson. Q    I got a couple of topics for you, if you don’t mind. MR. SPICER:  Of course. Q    Julian Assange says the CIA has lost control of its entire cyber weapons arsenal.  Does the President agree? MR. SPICER:  I think, as we’ve commented before, there’s grave concern that the President has about the release of national security and classified information that threatens and undermines our nation’s security.  Obviously, he believes that the systems at the CIA are outdated and need to be updated.  We are not commenting on the current situation, as is U.S. government policy, but I think the situation technology-wise at the CIA, the President has acknowledged, needs to be updated.  The CIA put out a statement regarding the current situation, and I would refer you to that. Q    Follow-ups on that.  Is he going to talk about that with Mike Pompeo today? MR. SPICER:  He gets a daily briefing from the director, and I’m not privy to the contents of his discussion, but obviously issues of national security, including that, are probably something that gets discussed. Q    And then some Republicans have said Julian Assange should be imprisoned.  Does the President agree? MR. SPICER:  I think the U.S. government has had a position on Julian Assange is -- a position in the past, and I don’t see anything that has changed that.  He has compromised in the past -- and undermined our national security, and I think I’ll leave it up to the Department of Justice to further comment on their disposition of him. John. Q    Second topic was on healthcare.    MR. SPICER:  Second topics? Q    Second of two topics. MR. SPICER:  It’s like an interview, not a press briefing. Q    The President tweeted just a little bit ago that he believes that healthcare is coming along great.  We’ve also been watching Paul Ryan deliver a pretty lengthy PowerPoint presentation -- MR. SPICER:  Very good PowerPoint. Q    -- seeming aimed at convincing Republicans to get onboard this plan.  Isn’t that a sign that healthcare is not actually coming along great? MR. SPICER:  I think anybody who has been in Washington for a few days or longer recognizes that any major piece of legislation takes a lot of explanation.  The President has been very committed to talking to members of Congress.  He had another meeting last night.  Something as complicated as this, that deals with one-fifth of our economy, that was a major takeover of our healthcare system, isn’t a simple thing.   It’s a major, complicated piece of legislation that’s got three prongs to it.  And this is the first one -- the reconciliation piece that starts to chip away at finally repealing Obamacare.  When they passed Obamacare, they rushed it so quick they gave the then-Secretary of Health and Human Services great authority to enact certain aspects of it.  We now -- that would be our phase two, is having Secretary Price go through the pieces of Obamacare that he has been given the authority to, when they passed it, to help unwind a lot of the things they did.  And then phase three is stuff that has to be done through other pieces of legislation that does stuff like allow people to sell insurance across state lines; that allows small businesses to pool.  So there’s a lot of facets to getting this pushed through, and I think that one of the things that we’ve been able to do quite effectively is talk to members, especially in the House, but the Vice President has been very active on both sides of both chambers to communicate how this is a comprehensive strategy in three prongs to repeal and replace it with something more effective. Q    -- for example, roll back Medicaid expansion freezing until 2018?  Would he support that? MR. SPICER:  Look, Hallie, I think this is going to through the process of -- it’s working its way through Ways and Means today, there’s a mark-up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and I think that’s where we are going to continue to see action -- in the House, and then when it goes to the Senate the President will continue to engage very actively with the House and the Senate to get this done. Q    Thank you, Sean.  New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray said in a statement that Donald Trump should keep his hands off women’s bodies, women’s healthcare, and Planned Parenthood, which has done just fine without President Trump’s advice.  I wanted to know what the response from the White House was on this. MR. SPICER:  Well, I mean, with respect to Planned Parenthood specifically, the President has been very clear that he’s pro-life.  We’ve worked with them to talk about making sure that there’s a difference between taxpayer funding of abortion and women’s health services.  We have, and the President has committed to making sure that funds for women health  community centers is going to be reflected by a substantial increase in his budget.  He’s committed to doing that, and he’s trying to figure out a way to make sure that the focus of taxpayer money is spread towards community centers that provide vital health services to women, and that we’re not using taxpayer funds for abortion. John Roberts. Q    I just want to follow on Hallie -- MR. SPICER:  Which one? Q    In an unrelated topic.  (Laughter.)  Just so you’re prepared.  On healthcare, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas today sent a series of tweets in which he basically said, this is dead on arrival in the Senate, go back to the drawing board, adding that it is absurd for the committees to be voting on something that hasn’t even been scored yet.  What does the President think of what Senator Cotton said today?  Does he plan on having a conversation with him? MR. SPICER:  Well, we’re going to engage.  He has talked to Senator Cotton, and will continue to talk to any senator that has questions or concerns or ideas.  It went through the Ways and Means Committee last night.  I think they started at something like 10:15 yesterday morning.  It is an 18 -- Q    Has he talked --  MR. SPICER:  I don’t believe he has talked to Senator Cotton.  He’s meeting with members right now.  As I just mentioned, he had dinner last night with Senator Cruz.  He’s continuing to work both sides of the aisle, both chambers.  As I mentioned yesterday, I think you’re going to see a very aggressive, a very robust push.  We continue to have the team out talking to local media, local radio, op-eds placed, talking to local leaders.   We believe that the more we talk about the comprehensive, three-prong approach that we have to doing a lot of the things that conservatives have talked about -- to bring back cost containment, to get people to be more patient-centered in the healthcare decisions they make, allow more choices -- it’s going to bring people on board. But the thing that’s really interesting, John, about the current approach is that, no matter where you are, especially on the conservative side, you cannot possibly believe that the current healthcare system is an effective program.  It is a monstrosity.  It is a government gone wrong.  And I think -- Q    I hear that, but --  MR. SPICER:  And I think that we will continue to engage with him and other members of the House and Senate that have ideas, but it’s going to continue to work its way through the process.  As I mentioned, it went through the House Ways and Means Committee.  It’s currently going through the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  When the House passes it, and it goes over to the Senate, I’m sure Senator Cotton and other senators will have an opportunity to have their say.  That’s part of the process.  We welcome his ideas and his thoughts, as we do with other senators. But the President has continued to do tremendous outreach, and our staff has continued to do that.  Mick Mulvaney has been on the Hill, Vice President Pence has maintained a very aggressive schedule, as well as other members of the administration, and we’re going to get this thing passed with all of their input and ideas. Q    Was the President aware that Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when he appointed him to be the national security advisor? MR. SPICER:  I don’t believe that that was known.  I would refer you to General Flynn and the Department of Justice in terms of the filings that have been made. Q    Had the President have known that, would he have appointed him? MR. SPICER:  I don’t know, John.  That’s a hypothetical that I’m not prepared to ask.  I don’t know what he discussed prior to being appointed in terms of his background, his resume, his client base.  I don’t know any of that.  I know that, from what I have read, that he has filed the appropriate forms with the Department of Justice, and I think you should ask him and subsequently them if you have any questions about this specific filing. Jon Karl. Q    Sean, just following up on Senator Cotton, he told me just a short while ago that he believes that this bill might actually make things worse than the current Obamacare.  What do you say to Senator Cotton? MR. SPICER:  I respectfully disagree, and I hope we have an opportunity for the team to continue to not only talk to him about what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it, but that we’d love to hear his ideas.  I mean, this isn’t -- as I mentioned the last couple days -- we’re not jamming this down people’s throat.  We’re welcoming ideas and thoughts.  We think this is a great vehicle to restore a patient-centered healthcare bill to drive down costs, and I think Senator Cotton clearly recognizes that the current version of healthcare that is out there right now is not sustainable. And so we welcome his input into this process.  We think that the work that we’ve done prior to putting this together with the House is something that reflects a lot of the best ideas, and we would continue to welcome his input on this. Q    Are you open to major changes -- MR. SPICER:  Hold on, Charlie.  It’s not -- I’m not open -- Q    Is the White House open to major changes or is it -- MR. SPICER:  I think the President has said before he wants to hear members’ ideas.  He believes that this bill encompasses the best of ideas and the best way forward.  But again, we’re going to let the process work its will through the House and then subsequently through Senate.  And if members have ideas, we want to hear them and want them to be part of it.   This isn’t getting jammed through, and we welcome that, and that’s why the President continues to meet with folks.  He met with individuals yesterday.  He going to go meet with them today.  He’s going to be hitting the road.  He wants to hear members of Congress, outside groups, physicians, healthcare providers, patients.  But he wants people to have an input in this to make sure that we have the best possible bill that serves their needs and that don’t look back, like we do now with Obamacare, and say, I wish was had done this right. We’ve got a system that, frankly, isn’t working.  And I think that, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, you have got admit that either you or a loved one, or a friend, or a colleague isn’t getting the care they deserve, or isn’t paying what they thought they would be paying.  And I think we have to do this right so that we don’t look back the way we do now and regret the way that it was done. Charlie. Q    Senate and House conservatives said that they want sort of a return to a 2015 Obamacare repeal effort.  If that effort landed on the President’s desk, would he sign it? MR. SPICER:  Well, I think the effort that is going through right now is the vehicle that is what people are on board with.  I think one of the things that we have to remember is that the process, this three-pronged process, is done for a particular reason.  The reconciliation process -- which I know for most people, it sounds like a very arcane, inside-baseball congressional term -- but it only allows for certain things to happen in that repeal process.   And that's why we've been very clear -- and I think Paul Ryan laid out, Dr. Price has laid it out, and Mick Mulvaney is laying it out when he goes up to the Hill -- that there's a reason that we keep talking about it in three prongs.  Because there are only so many things that you are legally allowed to do through the reconciliation process.   When the Democrats jammed this through, they did it in a way that they did it basically in two steps.  They jammed it through the reconciliation process, number one.  And number two, they gave broad authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services so at the time -- that she could unilaterally do certain things with healthcare and implement certain things that we now have to undo in the same way. What we've done that's different, though, is frankly, add a third prong, which allows for additional legislative vehicles that will go through the House and then to the Senate, that will allow some of the core conservative principles that we've talked about for, frankly, decades, about allowing more competition, allowing people to pool, allowing people to do things that we think will allow lower prices to come out of the process.  And I think that's a big difference in how --  Q    So if a repeal lands on the President's desk, he would not sign it? MR. SPICER:  It is going to land on his desk, because we're going to go through this process. Q    I mean repeal without replace. MR. SPICER:  Well, again, I think the way that we're doing now I think is the right and the responsible way to do this.  This bill will land on the President's desk.  He will sign it.  We will repeal Obamacare and we will put into place a system that will be patient-centered that will allow the American people to have greater choice and lower cost. Blake. Q    Sean, with the pushback that you're getting so far with healthcare, do you think it is realistic to have both healthcare and tax reform done in 2017?  And I ask you that because Mitch McConnell was asked about this day, and he talked about there being certain constraints, and that the tax reform portion of it could be a 2018 item. MR. SPICER:  I think we feel very confident that we're going to get a lot done -- continue to get a lot done this year.  Tax reform is high on the President's priority list.  I think it's high on the American people's priority list.  And especially as April grows closer and closer, and people look down at their federal tax form and realize how much they're paying, and we see companies pledging to come back recognizing that these companies bought into the President's vision and agenda to make America more tax and regulatory friendly so that they would create jobs, manufacture more here.  That's something that he's committed to. He understands how important it is.  Look, the President is uniquely qualified as a businessman, a successful businessman, to understand what a good business climate does to job creation and to manufacturing.  And I think his commitment isn't just a campaign promise; it's something that he has lived by for decades now, understanding that that's what spurs economic growth, that makes one place more attractive to invest in or to hire more people or to grow jobs.  And so for him, this is deeply personal.  And I think that you're going to see Secretary Mnuchin and others work on the contours of that in the next several weeks.  But we intend to maintain to the schedule that he laid out. Q    The August portion is still the timeline? MR. SPICER:  That's right. Eamon. Q    Thanks, Sean.  On drug prices, Congressman Elijah Cummings was here yesterday.  He said that the President was enthusiastic about his deal to cut drug prices.  Is the President enthusiastic about that?  And if he is, how much pain should drug companies be prepared to take here? MR. SPICER:  (Laughter.)  Ironic that you're talking about drug companies and pain.  Maybe there's a pill for that. Q    Of course. MR. SPICER:  Yeah.  I think the President -- as you know, one of the reasons that he reached out to Elijah Cummings initially is because they share that and I think, frankly, yesterday came to a lot of other areas where I think that they can find common ground and work on issues.  And I know that drug prices is something that he understands near and dear is helping many people get the care that they need, but the rising cost is something that is -- so I think as we look at the vehicle in terms of the specific legislation, they share a commitment to it.  And I think that there will be continued follow-ups not just between Congressman Cummings but others as to what the best piece of legislation is and how we get that home. Q    The Democrats said that they're going to drop this bill in two weeks.  Is the President prepared to push the Democrats on Capitol Hill? MR. SPICER:  I don't -- I think that's a bigger conversation that we have to have with House leadership in terms of some -- maybe it is that right vehicle.  Maybe Speaker Ryan and Leader McCarthy and Chairman Brady have other ways to achieve the same goal or work with Congressman Cummings.  I don't want to be prescriptive to the House as to how they work their will, but I know that the President has a commitment to that topic and that he wants to work with Congressman Cummings and others who share that same commitment. John Gizzy. Q    Thanks a lot, Sean. MR. SPICER:  John Gizzy. Q    Oh, Gizzy.  (Laughter.) MR. SPICER:  You're both good-looking Johns -- (laughter) -- but I'm going to -- I'll come back. Q    All right, thanks. Q    Thank you, Sean.  Two questions.  First, a Japanese news service is reporting this morning that the President will have a meeting with President Jinping of China in April.  Does this mean that there is a new meeting before their scheduled meeting at the G20 in July? MR. SPICER:  I'm not going to comment on the President's schedule or foreign leaders at this time, John.  I think I've pretty much gotten that one down.  So until I have something further for you, I'm just going to let you get on to your next question. Q    All right, thank you.  Going back to the meeting and to your opening statement about the banks, in the last campaign, candidate Trump campaigned hard on restoring the Glass-Steagall Act, which would put a barrier between commercial and major investment banks.  It, of course, was repealed in 1999 -- the repeal signed by President Clinton.  Senator Sanders campaigned on this as well, noted that it was in the Republican platform in Cleveland, and said in December he'd be happy to work with the Trump administration on restoring Glass-Steagall.  Is there any plans for the President to meet with Senator Sanders?  And is repeal of Glass-Steagall on his agenda? MR. SPICER:  There's no current schedule to meet with him.  I'm sure that, as he has done with several other members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, that at some point, that will be scheduled.  But we don't have anything on the books for now.   But look, he's shown -- and I think today was another -- or yesterday was another example, today another example of his willingness to reach across the aisle, his willingness to look into both chambers and not just business but labor unions and other industries where we can find common ground.  And I think if Senator Sanders and others want to work with the White House on areas of ways that we can improve the financial industry, we're going to do that. Q    Are you still committed to restoring Glass-Steagall? MR. SPICER:  Yes. Erin. Q    On infrastructure, can you give a sense of timing, where it is on the priority list, and if these new reports that say that the infrastructure in the nation is in really bad shape, does that give it new urgency? MR. SPICER:  I think the President mentioned it in the joint address.  I think we're looking at a public partner private -- a public-private partnership as a funding mechanism.  There is a lot of work being done behind the scenes.  And I don't want to put a timeline on that.   Obviously, as I just mentioned to Blake, we've got -- we're currently dealing with the repeal and replace of healthcare.  I think we need to move on to tax reform.  But that is definitely somewhere that is -- we're trying to figure out how to move that vehicle.  There will be further discussion of that as we get closer to the budget as far as where that fits into the piece. John Decker. Q    Thanks a lot, Sean.  The President had this meeting last evening here at the White House with some conservative groups.  Out of that meeting, can you tell us whether the President was successful in twisting arms, getting these conservative groups to back this particular healthcare bill?  And just separately, I see on the President's campaign website that there is an event, a campaign-style rally planned in Nashville, Tennessee for next week.  Can you confirm that?  And why did you choose Nashville, Tennessee?  There's a Democratic congressman that represents Nashville -- it's Jim Cooper.  Are you hoping to get some Democrats behind this bill? MR. SPICER:  So in the first part of that, you saw a lot of the statements that came out last night from some of the various groups.  They were very encouraging.  Their guiding principle is we want to get to yes. I think one of the things that's really interesting, and I addressed it earlier, is that there's a lot of members, a lot of interested parties, a lot of groups that haven't fully heard the three-prong approach.  And I think Speaker Ryan did a phenomenal job today of really laying this out.  Dr. Price has done a good job.  That people need to understand the totality and the comprehensive nature of this; that there are three pieces of it.  And I think what happens sometimes is that the reconciliation piece of this gets lost as defining the totality of it.  And people need to understand the two other pieces that achieve many goals, that healthcare advocates and conservatives have fought for, for a long time that allow great competition, that allow small businesses to pool those resources together.  But there's a lot of things that occur in phase two and phase three that help bring down cost and create greater choice.   It's amazing when you listen in to some of these meetings how often people say, I didn't realize that, and I didn't understand the full scope and totality of what the plan was.  It's very encouraging.  And then I think they -- without getting into details -- I think in a lot of cases, they've shared some ideas with the President that we might be able to find some common ground on.  So we'll take it one step at a time. Go ahead. Q    On the campaign-style rally? MR. SPICER:  I would refer that question to the campaign.  I think the President is going to be traveling next week.  And then -- but there will be -- the details of that are listed on the campaign site.  There is going to be I think additional travel announced for next week on the official side.  And as we get closer to either the end of this week or the beginning of next week, I'll try to have more for you. Katie. Q    The President promised to immediately terminate DACA when he got in office.  It's been nearly seven weeks tomorrow and he still hasn't done it.  Can you definitively say if he's going to get rid of DACA?  And if not, is he giving them legal status?  And what's the plan for DREAMers? MR. SPICER:  I think, Kaitlin, we've talked about the status of that and the -- and how many steps we have to go through on immigration.  In the past, I think we've made significant headway in achieving the President's priorities of starting the wall, driving down illegal immigration.  The numbers that came out last night show that even when seasonally adjusted, we see a 40 percent dip in the people crossing our Southern border.  That's a very promising sign. That being said, the executive order, the second one -- there was a lot of effort put into making sure that that was rolled out effectively and achieved the goal of protecting the country that the President sought out to do initially.  So we're continuing to take steps on immigration, both legal and illegal immigration.  And as I've mentioned in the past, we'll have more as we go forward. Q    So he does still plan to get rid of DACA? MR. SPICER:  I think the President has been very clear about how he plans to address immigration as a whole, both legal and illegal. Katie. Q    Sean, the President is convening with conservative groups, but there's also opposition on the left.  Does he plan to -- he brought bipartisanship to Washington, finally.  (Laughter.)  Does the President plan to meet with groups like the AMA and AARP, which supported Obamacare but are not supporting this bill? MR. SPICER:  I don't -- it would be ill-advised for me to start saying who he is going to -- but I think that what we've shown over the last couple weeks is the President's willingness to meet with individuals, senators, groups.  So I don't want to rule in who is going to meet, or out, but I think that I've said before with respect to members, and I'd say it again with respect to groups, that I think if people have ideas that will help provide a more patient-centered healthcare system that drives down cost, the President and the team here will be willing to meet with them. So I don't want to be prescriptive in terms of telling them who they have to meet with.  Their day is pretty busy right now with the Hill, but I will get back to you on some of the other groups that they're going to meet with and we'll go from there. Brian. Q    Thanks, Sean.  Two quick questions.  One, this morning at the National Press Club, a local business in D.C. filed a Superior Court of suit against the President in regarding Trump Hotel.  And I don't expect you to speak to that issue specifically, but their feeling less that -- as much as this administration has supported small business, couldn't he divest himself from this and support small business in the district?  First question. MR. SPICER:  I'm really not sure -- how would he -- in terms of what? Q    Well, there's 25 small businesses, restaurants, in the area, and they're saying that the Trump Hotel is taking all that business away from them.  And couldn't he walk away from it and help out the small business in the district? MR. SPICER:  Well, as far as the President's -- obviously the President has made very clear in that December press conference at Trump Tower he doesn't have conflicts and he's done everything in accordance with the guidance that was given and gone well beyond what he ever needed to do.  But obviously, you can't -- your name is on certain things and that's a very big difference in terms of some of the properties that he owns.  But he understands the importance of small business.   That’s why we’re meeting with community banks this morning to talk about the lending that they need -- whether it’s small business, entrepreneurs, farmers, ranchers throughout the country.  He understands the role of small business in our economy and how many jobs they provide, and I think he’s been a champion of it. Q    Second question was, in his speech before Congress last week, he said it’s not too much to dream that at some point in time our -- and I’m paraphrasing -- our feet could be on foreign soil, and I’m guessing other planets.  With the NASA budget being released yesterday, I believe, is there a major initiative for this administration for space exploration?  Or are we just talking dreams? MR. SPICER:  I’m going to let Director Mulvaney get into the details of the budget next week, or whenever that -- I’m trying to remember the calendar here.  But when the Director comes out he’ll talk about the specific funding levels. As you know, we’re in the middle of this what we call passback provision where we’ve sent them from top -- numbers.  They’re sending us back their recommendations and their observations and edits and questions with respect to their budget.  So we’re going to take this one step at a time. Q    When he said -- MR. SPICER:  Obviously he’s very keen on America’s role in space, and I don’t want to get into specific budget priorities or numbers until we’re ready to release them.   John. Q    You called on me. MR. SPICER:  I’m sorry, April. Q    It’s very important.   MR. SPICER:  I know, I saw the hands.  (Laughter.)   Q    So, Sean, just really fast, following up on John, we’re seeing the campaign information for next week in Nashville.  You said something about talk to the campaign -- who’s the campaign? MR. SPICER:  I’ll try to help get you a name.  There is a campaign infrastructure still in place.  It would be inappropriate for me to be commenting on campaign activities from the podium.   So there’s a website up, same one that was during the campaign, and I would suggest that you utilize that.  But I’m only here as an official in the government so I don’t want to get into that. Q    Now, yesterday, going to back to Congressman Cummings, you talked about some other issues that they talked about in that meeting, where they found common ground.  I want to hit two issues.  The vote irregularities, voter fraud and voter suppression -- where does the President see this coming together.  We heard from Congressman Cummings, but where does he see -- we understand he’s saying that voter fraud is real when there are other people saying it’s not.  But then there are factual documents and cases of voter suppression.  So how is there a marrying of that in this President’s eyes? MR. SPICER:  I think that’s why he’s asked Vice President Pence to look into it.  I would disagree with the ascertation of -- I think there’s also factual evidence of people voting illegally.  We saw that in Texas a couple weeks ago and in other places. So part of the reason that he’s asked Vice President Pence to chair this task force is to look into the issue.  But we welcome input in other areas, and it’s an area that they’ll continue to discuss. Sara. Q    I’m not done.  HBCUs, HBCUs.  Now, also, Congressman Cummings said that when he talked to the President and he brought up the issue of funding for HBCUs, President Trump said to Congressman Cummings that the President did not ask for money.  Now, they came here, according to many of the presidents that I’ve canvassed, they came here with the intent of -- the fact that they were going to get some money from this executive order.   MR. SPICER:  I don’t think the executive order is the -- Q    That’s what their belief was.  But then what I understand is that there was talk about investment in these colleges from Steve Bannon.  One president wrote this down saying that “we are looking for a plan from you to invest in HBCUs and we will execute it when we get it.  And they’re looking for full funding for Title 3, Pell grant full funding -- fall, spring and summer, -- as well as a one-time $25 billion investment.  What does this White House think about this plan that they’re trying to give back to this White House, especially at a time when you’re looking at cutting domestic spending? MR. SPICER:  I think, when they were here, we were pleased to roll out the executive order that talked about making historically black colleges and universities a priority in this administration, moving that sort of point person into the White House so that we could coordinate a whole-of-government opportunities for -- we talked about this. Looking at the different educational opportunities -- expand government, whether it’s health or investment in sciences or even stuff like ROTC and NROTC programs that are some of these that span out of the Department of Defense.  But we’ve got to look at how we’re providing government assistance in a whole host of ways to historically black colleges and universities. I think the issue of funding will be properly addressed in the budget, and at that time -- but obviously this is something that has been discussed.  The President -- Q    Is the President’s request realistic?  Is this funding realistic? MR. SPICER:  April, I’m not going to negotiate the budget from here, but I think that the President has been -- made very clear that the vital role that they play in our society.  And I think he’s shown that initially by the executive order that he unveiled, and we will have further information for you as we get closer to the budget. Sara. Q    Thanks, Sean.  Circling back to what you said about critics characterizing the budget reconciliation bill as the entirety of repeal-replace, how quickly does the President want to see Republicans move on phase three, the companion legislation?  Does he envision those unfolding simultaneously?  And then given the early opposition to the budget reconciliation bill, does the President maybe want Republicans to recalibrate their strategy when it comes to that companion legislation? MR. SPICER:  I am not going to start to tell Speaker Ryan or Leader McCarthy [sic] or the Whip, Mr. Scalise, how to release and when to release legislation.  But I think obviously we need to make sure that members and all Americans understand the totality of this so -- at a schedule that they see fit.  And I’ll let them unveil that schedule that -- they talk about the totality of this plan and the comprehensive nature in all three prongs that make up the repeal and replace part of this.   It’s important I think, though, for people to understand that there’s a commitment to do all those things that we’ve talked about -- whether it’s pooling or -- across state lines.  There’s a lot of principles and things that we’ve discussed that I think are important to let people -- to know about. Q    What’s the assessment of the situation in Afghanistan?  What is the assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, because there have been a series of terrorist attack there?  And does the President have plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan? MR. SPICER:  So on troops I’d refer you to the Department of Defense on that one.  I think we are in the middle of a comprehensive review on our policy in Afghanistan that -- working with our Afghan partners and the Department of Defense and our key military leaders to create an approach to address Afghanistan to defeat ISIS. So we’re in the middle of that process.  When we have more we’ll update you.  But I think the Department of Defense is probably the best place to go to get that. Q    Thanks, Sean.  Today, hundreds of U.S. Marines were deployed to Syria.  So I’m wondering how involved was the President in that decision-making process, and is this part of his wider anti-ISIS strategy? MR. SPICER:  Obviously, the President was made aware of that.  This is something that was done in consultation.  He understands the regional issues that need to be addressed there, and, again, I would refer you back to the Department of Defense on that. Yeah. Q    Sean, thank you.  I have a follow-up question to Hallie’s first set of questions on WikiLeaks.  My question is -- MR. SPICER:  I feel like Hallie gets, like, eight questions -- Q    The Republicans are calling for Julian Assange to be in jail or be arrested.  What about the tech companies that he says that he will work with to give them these CIA hacking techniques?  Should there be any legal repercussions for tech companies willing to sort of embrace and use this technology that you’re taking a stance against, if you will? MR. SPICER:  So, number one, I’ll go back to the statement that we don’t comment on validating or authenticating allegations of this sort as the U.S. government -- in terms of U.S. government policy.  I will say that the President obviously feels deeply concerned about anybody, an individual or anybody, that seeks to undermine the national security of our country.   I don’t want to -- stay within my purview here, but I do think that I would check with the Department of Justice in particular about -- if a program or a piece of information is classified, it remains classified regardless of whether or not it is released into the public venue or not.  And so I would just suggest that someone consult with them regarding the legal repercussions of any individual or entity using any piece of still-classified information or technique or product that hasn’t been declassified.   There’s a reason that we have classification levels, and that’s to protect our country and our people.  And that’s something that we have to maintain, regardless of how it’s thought out. Zeke. Q    Sean, two questions for you.  One, back to General Flynn, how concerning is it to the President and to the White House that a registered foreign agent was selected to become -- was the national security advisor for a brief period of time? MR. SPICER:  Look, I think this is what he did for a living.  And as the President said in the press conference, talking to individuals that are within the realm of the duties that you’re going to perform is part of your job.   Q    -- compensated for -- MR. SPICER:  I understand that but he was being compensated, he wasn’t being compensated as part of the transition, as far as I’m aware.  And so he was a private citizen at the time.  And when you’re a private citizen, you’re allowed to engage in legal activities. I don’t have anything further on that, but I think there’s nothing nefarious about doing anything that’s legal as long as the proper paperwork is filed. Q    Sean, just real quick, it was just -- several reports out of the State Department from our colleagues that on Secretary Tillerson’s upcoming trip to Asia, he will not be taking any press with him on that trip.  That’s a breach of precedent, certainly of the last several bipartisan administrations.  Is it concerning to the White House that the administration’s foreign policy might not be effectively communicated to the American public and around the world because there isn’t a press pool with the Secretary of State? MR. SPICER:  This is the first I’m learning of it, I’d be glad to follow up with you, Zeke.  I don’t know that.  I think you all know that we have been a very transparent administration in terms of access to the President and his activities here.  I’d be glad to follow up with the Department of State and follow up -- that you can share that with your colleagues. Margaret. Q    Thanks, Sean.  Yesterday you said the President had no reason to believe there was any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice.  Did the Justice Department give you that assurance?  Because they’re telling The New York Times they did not. MR. SPICER:  I’m not aware of it, but that’s my point, is that we’re not aware of anything. Q    -- been told by the Justice Department that there is no investigation. MR. SPICER:  No. Q    So there might be one, you just don’t know.   MR. SPICER:  Right, I said I’m not aware and we’re not aware.  And that’s why we want the House and the Senate to do what the President has asked of them, to look into this.  But, no, we’re not aware. Q    To discover if there is an investigation. MR. SPICER:  No, to look into the situation.   Q    The Justice Department is saying, though, that they never gave you the assurances that you gave us.   MR. SPICER:  Okay.  No, the assurance I gave you, Margaret, was that I’m not aware.  And that is 100 percent accurate. Q    So when you said, no reason to believe, it was, I’m not aware if there’s an investigation? MR. SPICER:  That’s right.  Right.  I mean, I don’t know that they’re not interchangeable.  I’m not aware.  I don’t believe -- look up in a thesaurus and find some other ways, but I don’t know that there’s a distinction there that’s noteworthy.  But we’re not aware, I don’t believe, that that exists. Q    What’s that based on? MR. SPICER:  That’s based on that I’ve not been aware of.  But that’s the answer to that.  When someone is asking me if I’m made aware of something and the answer is no, then the answer is no. Q    But the question was whether he was the target of a counterintelligence probe. MR. SPICER:  Right, and the answer is, we’re not aware.  I don’t know how much clearer we can be on this. Q    So it’s just that White House is not aware if the President is the target of a counterintelligence probe? MR. SPICER:  Correct.  I’m not sure what we’re dancing around the same question. Q    Well, because I think yesterday, when you came out and corrected and clarified, people took that as a definitive answer that, in fact, that was not the case that you said -- MR. SPICER:  No, it means we’re not aware.  I don’t -- just that should be the definitive answer. Vivian. Q    Thank you.  I have two questions, but a really quick follow-up to Zeke’s. MR. SPICER:  So that’s three. Q    Two and a half.  (Laughter.)  So can you elaborate a little bit on how and to what extent Michael Flynn was involved in shaping the current Turkey policy for President Trump?  I mean, was he engaging with the Turkish leaders and -- MR. SPICER:  I don’t have anything on that.  You can contact the NSC on that.  I’m not aware. Q    Okay.  So for my two real questions.  First, is there any official response to the lawsuit in Hawaii over the revised travel ban? MR. SPICER:  I think we feel very comfortable that the executive order that was crafted is consistent and we’re going to go forward on this.  But I think, by all means, I don’t want to -- we feel very confident with how that was crafted and the input that was given. Q    Okay.  Thank you, and the second thing is Nigel Farage was at the Ecuadorian embassy in London today where Julian Assange happens to be staying.  We don’t know if they met or not, but was he there?  I mean, he’s a close ally of President Trump.  Was he there in any official capacity? MR. SPICER:  I don’t keep his schedule. Q    Was he delivering a message?  Do you know if there was contact on that? MR. SPICER:  I have no idea.  No.  I have my own concerns here, keeping track of what everyone is doing.  I generally don’t worry about what is going on across the pond. Johnathon. Q    You already gave me one, but just to follow through.  (Laughter.)  Q    I’ll take his. MR. SPICER:  Wow, all right.  Hey, hey. Q    But the question is not what, but Farage -- can you tell us he just wasn’t there on behalf of the White House? MR. SPICER:  Sure.  I don’t -- this is silly.  I really don’t think asking where random foreign leaders are and whether or not they are there -- I’m sure he was there doing whatever on behalf of either the -- Q    -- ally leaders -- MR. SPICER:  He’s a member of -- Q    He had dinner with the President --  MR. SPICER:  Okay.  I understand that, but I don’t keep his schedule.  I’m not sure.   Toulouse. Q    Two questions on two different topics.  First, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin sent a letter to Congress saying that Congress should raise the debt ceiling.  We know that the Office of Management and Budget director, Mick Mulvaney, when he was in Congress, he voted against raising the debt ceiling multiple times. So is Mulvaney going to support the raising of the debt ceiling and does the President support that?  And is he going to push Congress to do that? MR. SPICER:  I think we’ve got a few months to do that.  I think the Secretary was making Congress very much aware.  We got into -- have now been in the White House six weeks.  We’re approaching the 50th day here of this administration.  I think we are trying to deal with the situation at hand.  Part of the reason that the President has addressed a budget the way he has is to try to get our nation’s debt deficit and budget in order.  I think he’s continuing to show a tremendous respect for taxpayer money, the way we spend money and bring it down.  But obviously, there are certain things that are a little beyond our control when we walked into this building, and we’re going to work with Secretary Mnuchin and Director Mulvaney to address this issue, and obviously work with Congress. Q    Second question on another Cabinet Secretary.  Scott Pruitt said today that carbon dioxide was not a primary contributor to global warming.  That obviously is at odds with global scientific consensus.  Does the President agree that -- MR. SPICER:  I think -- that’s a snippet of what Administrator Pruitt said.  He went on and said, I don’t think we know conclusively, this is what know.  I would suggest that you touch base with the EPA on that.  But that’s -- he has a very lengthy response, and so that is just one snippet of what the administrator said at that. Anita. Q    Two things.  One, I think you mentioned at the top but I’m not sure, that apprehensions were down across the border.  There was a question yesterday about the wall.  Is the wall still needed if the apprehensions are down? MR. SPICER:  I think so, sure.  The President was very clear.  It’s not just needed, the President committed to doing it to the American people.  And I think, while we can have a good month, and I think we’ll see if that continues, that the President made a commitment to the American people to make sure that this isn’t just an anomaly, and that, while they might be down, I think we have to do what we can to protect our country, both in terms of national security and economic security.  So it’s of course still needed, and it’s a commitment that the President made, and I think one of the things that the American people, regardless of where they stand across the aisle, appreciate about this President is that he is a man that has kept his word.  He talks -- he made commitments to them, and he’s fulfilling them to make the country better. Goyal. Q    Sean, I said there was a second question. MR. SPICER:  I’m sorry, you did. Q    I think you’ve been asked this before but have been reluctant to say whether President Obama and President Trump have spoken since the inauguration, although President Trump was very forthcoming about that during the transition so I’m not sure why you wouldn’t mention it.  But I’m just asking that again.  And there was a report yesterday that said aides for both Presidents have spoken.  Can you talk to us about either of those things? MR. SPICER:  I’d be glad to follow up.  Unfortunately I did not ask the President whether or not he spoke -- I’ll be back tomorrow -- Q    Can you follow up?  Can you ask about the aides? MR. SPICER:  Yes, I can.  I will.  I keep my word too. Goyal. Q    Okay, well --  MR. SPICER:  Stealing what -- all the way -- Q    It’s actually me.  (Laughter.)   Q    Lost your shot. MR. SPICER:  Look at that. Q    Can you tell about policy now on Guantanamo, how it might have changed, where things are with that? MR. SPICER:  Where what, please? Q    On Guantanamo, on whether Guantanamo will be expanded, whether detainees will be brought to Guantanamo, whether they will be transferred out.  Just where things are. MR. SPICER:  I don’t have anything to announce with respect to its expansion or its use -- expansion use.  I think the President has commented on the importance of Guantanamo and the need to maintain that the people who are there are not people who seek to do anyone good.  They’re there for a reason, and he has no plans to close it, if that’s what you’re asking. As far as the future use goes in terms of expansion, I don’t have anything to comment on at this time. All the way in the back, yeah.  You got it, Goyal. Q    All right, all right -- MR. SPICER:  No, no, Goyal.  (Laughter.)  You keep trying to steal his question.   Q    Thank you, Sean.  Two questions please.   One is that -- as far as the attacks on the Indian American communities across the nation, they’re not new, it happened in the past also.  But the Indian American communities recently have been having candle vigils, have prayers, and all kinds of those things.  And also, the Indian ambassador met with the State Department officials -- President Trump recently.  So any presidential message for the Indian American community, how to stop these attacks at this time? MR. SPICER:  I think with respect to -- are you talking about the event in Kansas City specifically? Q    Yeah, and another one also. MR. SPICER:  I think the President -- whether it’s the event that happened in Kansas City, other events, the attacks on Jewish community centers that continue to plague us -- we saw another report this morning of some unfortunate activity.  I think we’ve got to continue to call it out, we’ve got to continue to root it out, we’ve got to continue to engage law enforcement, whatever is the applicable level of law enforcement depending on the event. But it’s something that I think all Americans should be outraged and disgusted by -- and stand up for the principles that unite us, and that’s what the President spoke so eloquently about during his joint address, and made it very clear that while certain policies may divide us as individuals, there are certain principles that can unite us. John Frederick. Q    And second part of my question, please, I’m sorry.  As far as the U.S.-India relations are concerned, they have been great in the past and now we have two businessmen in India -- Prime Minister Modi is also a businessman, and he -- President Trump of course a great, successful businessman.  So recently, high official visits have been going on from India to the U.S., meeting President Trump and officials, including foreign secretary and Commerce secretary and -- from the energy department from India.  So where do we go -- what is the future under President Trump’s administration of U.S.-India relations economically, trade, and bilateral -- all of those. MR. SPICER:  Thank you.  I think he has talked about during the campaign and the transition establishing a deeper relationship with Prime Minister Modi and U.S. -- India and businesses.  And I think as we move forward in terms of our foreign policy, we’ll have further updates on that. But as you know very well, he spoke very clearly and frequently about the relationship that we have and hope to continue to grow with India. John Frederick. Q    Sean, thank you.  During the campaign President Trump was not shy about his desire to get the United States out of these Middle Eastern wars, yet as a question earlier, we just sent 250 Marines into Syria.  Is President Trump committed to going to Congress to receiving authorization for an AUMF or a declaration of war if we continue to deploy United States troops overseas? MR. SPICER:  Well, John, I think there’s a big difference between an authorization of war than sending a few hundred advisors.  And I think most in Congress would probably agree with that as well.  I think that’s a big difference between a hostile action and going in to address some certain concerns, whether it’s certain countries in the Middle East or elsewhere.   I would refer you to the Department of Defense on that one.  I think the actions that he has done and taken with the advice that his generals have given him, his admirals as well, is something that we will continue to work on.   Q    Two questions.  One, first off, kind of clarifying the difference between the campaign stop and also the healthcare rollout.  So Nashville will be kind of the campaign stop.  How will the White House kind of pick and choose how that goes, whether it’s going to be a presidential visit trying to sell the healthcare rollout, or one for the campaign?  And then a second question.   MR. SPICER:  I think the campaign will make decisions with respect to how they want to spend their money and where they want to go.  And the White House will do the same.  But that’s something that every President back as far as modern history has done as well.  The President will be visiting several cities over the next coming weeks to engage the American people on the need to repeal and replace and other steps that he’s taking to deliver on the promises that he’s made as Commander-in-Chief.   Q    And then a second question, I know Senator Cruz was here for dinner last night.  Can you characterize the relationship between the two men?  2018 will be here before you know it.  Do you anticipate the President will be there to support him in that effort? MR. SPICER:  We got a few battles to get through legislatively, but I know that he enjoyed welcoming Senator and Mrs. Cruz and their two daughters last night to the White House.  They had a very enjoyable time and a very fruitful discussion.  But it’s something that he’s going to continue to do with members of both parties, both chambers, and not just here in Washington.  I think you’re going to see him continue to engage with governors and attorneys general and lieutenant governors. The President truly enjoys this level of engagement.  He likes to sit down and talk about ideas, talk about the future of this country and get their input and ideas.  And I think they talked a little business and a lot of personal last night, and it was a very enjoyable thing. With that, thank you, guys.  Have a great day.  I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.  I think tomorrow is going to be one-question Friday.  Thank you all. END  2:00 P.M. EST  

08 марта, 13:16

Gramm's border-tax crusade would help his firm

Ex-Texas senator's attack on Ryan's tax plan serves the interests of his investment company.

14 февраля, 03:41

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy

There are plenty of signs that Steve Mnuchin is not a good guy, even by the lax standards of today’s banking industry. OneWest, a bank he established with partners and ran from 2009 to 2015, mounted a record of ruthless foreclosures (in one case over a 27-cent error). A memo from top prosecutors in California’s state attorney general’s office saw evidence of its “widespread misconduct” and repeated violations of law, according to The Intercept. Mnuchin misled the Senate (accidentally, he says) on his banking history, his personal finances and his role in running a Cayman Islands tax-haven account. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans just managed to confirm Mnuchin as the next Secretary of the Treasury. Republican senators like Rob Portman of Indiana used contorted logic in an attempt to convince voters that Mnuchin did not mislead them, while Mnuchin attributed his failure to list $100 million of his own assets in his disclosure forms to “oversight.” (If you’re rich enough to overlook $100 million, it’s safe to say you’re very rich.) Mnuchin will run a department that once reprimanded him and OneWest, requiring them to work with an independent monitor. His areas of responsibility will include “supervising national banks and thrift institutions” and “enforcing Federal finance and tax laws.” ‘It Takes One to Catch One’ Aggressive bankers have held high office before, and it hasn’t always ended badly. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. had a reputation for playing rough and cutting corners, at a time when banks were largely unregulated and unsupervised. Kennedy was also said to have smuggled moonshine during Prohibition, but no evidence of that has ever come to light. (Kennedy, like Mnuchin, invested heavily in show business and did well.) When Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Kennedy to serve the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FDR was reportedly asked why he had appointed such a crook. “Takes one to catch one,” Roosevelt is said to have replied. By all accounts, Kennedy did an excellent job. But there was a major difference between Joe Kennedy’s outlook and Steve Mnuchin’s. Kennedy understood that Wall Streeters were rascals who needed strict oversight. Mnuchin wants to go easy on them. ‘Way Too Complicated’ Mnuchin wants to loosen regulations on the bankers whose misbehavior and massive fraud cost the economy trillions of dollars in lost income in the 2008 financial crisis. He used the same phrase to describe both the Dodd-Frank law, which took some needed first steps toward reining in predatory bankers, and the “Volcker rule” limiting banks’ ability to gamble with federally insured deposits. “Way too complicated,” he complained. To paraphrase what Sen. Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle when he faced him in a vice presidential debate: Steve Mnuchin, you’re no Joe Kennedy. During his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin said he now supported the Volcker rule, although he said it needed to be “improved” in ways he did not describe. He also said he supported some version of a “21st century Glass-Steagall Act” to separate commercial banking from the speculative and often high-risk world of investment banking. But again, Mnuchin offered no specifics. Mnuchin is part of a wave of former Goldman Sachs bankers joining the Trump administration, just a few short months after a campaign in which Trump vilified Goldman Sachs as representing the worst aspects of American finance. Assuming that his confirmation proceeds as expected, Mnuchin and Trump — together with Mnuchin’s ex-Goldman Sachs colleagues — will work with a Republican-led House and Senate that shares a basic antipathy to banking regulation and has increasingly diverted Wall Street campaign contributions from the Democrats. A Resistance Roadmap How can Americans resist Wall Street’s influence over the government with Trump in the White House, Mnuchin at Treasury and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress? There will be many strategy discussions in the weeks and months to follow, but some basic principles seem clear: Remind voters that this is a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy: Trump managed to convince a number of (mostly white) working-class voters that he had their interests at heart. Then he packed his administration with self-interested billionaires. Many of their economic moves are likely to benefit their own portfolios, while hurting the wallets of working Americans. Voters must understand that the GOP’s billionaire-packed cabinet has turned the government into a tool and plaything for the rich. Defend Social Security: The Treasury secretary serves as the managing trustee for Social Security’s trust funds, which held more than $2.8 trillion in reserves at the end of last year. Trump promised during his presidential bid that he would not cut Social Security. That made him stand out from the Republican field and helped him win the presidency. Voters must demand that Trump keep that promise, and that Mnuchin use his position to defend the program from direct cuts to its benefits — or the indirect cuts that would result if Medicare’s benefits were reduced and seniors had to pay more out of pocket. Hold senators accountable for confirming Mnuchin: If Mnuchin is confirmed, it will he because Republicans ignored both the evidence of his misdeeds and his “oversights” before the Senate. Voters must hold the GOP accountable for every misstep Mnuchin makes in office. Press them to keep their promises: Trump repeatedly promised to invest in American infrastructure. If he and Mnuchin offer only tax breaks for corporations or private “partnerships” that strip the American people of their own resources, they must be challenged on it. If Mnuchin reverses his support for the Volcker Rule and Glass/Steagall, he must face a grilling on Capitol Hill. If Congress fails to do its job, voters should press lawmakers to get it done. The Dodd-Frank law was a useful first step toward reining in bank criminality, but it didn’t nearly go far enough. The Obama administration’s failure to prosecute crooked bank executives gave a green light to ongoing fraud. If Mnuchin and Trump repeal or roll back some of the regulations now in place, as seems likely, brace for more fraud in the future. That will increase the risk of another financial crisis, at a time when inequality is growing and the middle class is disappearing. Altogether, it’s a recipe for disaster. Only one Democrat voted in favor of Mnuchin’s confirmation. No Republicans voted against it. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

14 февраля, 03:41

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Is No Joe Kennedy

There are plenty of signs that Steve Mnuchin is not a good guy, even by the lax standards of today’s banking industry. OneWest, a bank he established with partners and ran from 2009 to 2015, mounted a record of ruthless foreclosures (in one case over a 27-cent error). A memo from top prosecutors in California’s state attorney general’s office saw evidence of its “widespread misconduct” and repeated violations of law, according to The Intercept. Mnuchin misled the Senate (accidentally, he says) on his banking history, his personal finances and his role in running a Cayman Islands tax-haven account. Nevertheless, Senate Republicans just managed to confirm Mnuchin as the next Secretary of the Treasury. Republican senators like Rob Portman of Indiana used contorted logic in an attempt to convince voters that Mnuchin did not mislead them, while Mnuchin attributed his failure to list $100 million of his own assets in his disclosure forms to “oversight.” (If you’re rich enough to overlook $100 million, it’s safe to say you’re very rich.) Mnuchin will run a department that once reprimanded him and OneWest, requiring them to work with an independent monitor. His areas of responsibility will include “supervising national banks and thrift institutions” and “enforcing Federal finance and tax laws.” ‘It Takes One to Catch One’ Aggressive bankers have held high office before, and it hasn’t always ended badly. Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. had a reputation for playing rough and cutting corners, at a time when banks were largely unregulated and unsupervised. Kennedy was also said to have smuggled moonshine during Prohibition, but no evidence of that has ever come to light. (Kennedy, like Mnuchin, invested heavily in show business and did well.) When Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Kennedy to serve the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FDR was reportedly asked why he had appointed such a crook. “Takes one to catch one,” Roosevelt is said to have replied. By all accounts, Kennedy did an excellent job. But there was a major difference between Joe Kennedy’s outlook and Steve Mnuchin’s. Kennedy understood that Wall Streeters were rascals who needed strict oversight. Mnuchin wants to go easy on them. ‘Way Too Complicated’ Mnuchin wants to loosen regulations on the bankers whose misbehavior and massive fraud cost the economy trillions of dollars in lost income in the 2008 financial crisis. He used the same phrase to describe both the Dodd-Frank law, which took some needed first steps toward reining in predatory bankers, and the “Volcker rule” limiting banks’ ability to gamble with federally insured deposits. “Way too complicated,” he complained. To paraphrase what Sen. Lloyd Bentsen told Dan Quayle when he faced him in a vice presidential debate: Steve Mnuchin, you’re no Joe Kennedy. During his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin said he now supported the Volcker rule, although he said it needed to be “improved” in ways he did not describe. He also said he supported some version of a “21st century Glass-Steagall Act” to separate commercial banking from the speculative and often high-risk world of investment banking. But again, Mnuchin offered no specifics. Mnuchin is part of a wave of former Goldman Sachs bankers joining the Trump administration, just a few short months after a campaign in which Trump vilified Goldman Sachs as representing the worst aspects of American finance. Assuming that his confirmation proceeds as expected, Mnuchin and Trump — together with Mnuchin’s ex-Goldman Sachs colleagues — will work with a Republican-led House and Senate that shares a basic antipathy to banking regulation and has increasingly diverted Wall Street campaign contributions from the Democrats. A Resistance Roadmap How can Americans resist Wall Street’s influence over the government with Trump in the White House, Mnuchin at Treasury and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress? There will be many strategy discussions in the weeks and months to follow, but some basic principles seem clear: Remind voters that this is a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy: Trump managed to convince a number of (mostly white) working-class voters that he had their interests at heart. Then he packed his administration with self-interested billionaires. Many of their economic moves are likely to benefit their own portfolios, while hurting the wallets of working Americans. Voters must understand that the GOP’s billionaire-packed cabinet has turned the government into a tool and plaything for the rich. Defend Social Security: The Treasury secretary serves as the managing trustee for Social Security’s trust funds, which held more than $2.8 trillion in reserves at the end of last year. Trump promised during his presidential bid that he would not cut Social Security. That made him stand out from the Republican field and helped him win the presidency. Voters must demand that Trump keep that promise, and that Mnuchin use his position to defend the program from direct cuts to its benefits — or the indirect cuts that would result if Medicare’s benefits were reduced and seniors had to pay more out of pocket. Hold senators accountable for confirming Mnuchin: If Mnuchin is confirmed, it will he because Republicans ignored both the evidence of his misdeeds and his “oversights” before the Senate. Voters must hold the GOP accountable for every misstep Mnuchin makes in office. Press them to keep their promises: Trump repeatedly promised to invest in American infrastructure. If he and Mnuchin offer only tax breaks for corporations or private “partnerships” that strip the American people of their own resources, they must be challenged on it. If Mnuchin reverses his support for the Volcker Rule and Glass/Steagall, he must face a grilling on Capitol Hill. If Congress fails to do its job, voters should press lawmakers to get it done. The Dodd-Frank law was a useful first step toward reining in bank criminality, but it didn’t nearly go far enough. The Obama administration’s failure to prosecute crooked bank executives gave a green light to ongoing fraud. If Mnuchin and Trump repeal or roll back some of the regulations now in place, as seems likely, brace for more fraud in the future. That will increase the risk of another financial crisis, at a time when inequality is growing and the middle class is disappearing. Altogether, it’s a recipe for disaster. Only one Democrat voted in favor of Mnuchin’s confirmation. No Republicans voted against it. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

09 февраля, 07:01

Информационная война против Дональда Трампа

Наши предыдущие статьи о Дональде Трампе были по-разному восприняты нашими читателями. Некоторые из них считают суждения Тьерри Мейсана наивными, так как они противоречат не только предостережениям международных СМИ, но и конкретным фактам. Ответ Тьерри Мейсана приведён ниже. Прошло две недели после вступления в должность нового президента США, но западная пресса так и не прекратила распространять ложь и подстрекать людей против него. Президент и его ближайшие соратники выступают с заявлениями и действуют так, что внешне это может казаться парадоксальным, и поэтому трудно понять, что же на самом деле происходит в Вашингтоне. Относительно отмены (начатой 20 января) Обамакэр, принятом при Обаме законе о медицинском страховании, следует заметить, что вопреки утверждениям западных СМИ, согласно которым он должен быть благом для малоимущих, последние массово выступали против него. Такая форма «социальной безопасности» оказалась слишком дорогостоящей и слишком директивной, чтобы кому-то понравиться. Полностью этим законом удовлетворены лишь частные компании, которые управляют этой системой.

31 января, 22:23

Donald Trump Is Breaking His Promise To Be Tough On Wall Street

If there was ever doubt that President Donald Trump’s tough talk on big banks was an empty show, his first 12 days in office have put it to rest. Trump is governing like a run-of-the-mill, deregulating Wall Street crony, despite his populist campaign rhetoric: His party’s platform pledged to return to the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which broke up big financial institutions by separating investment and commercial banking; he vowed to close a tax provision that saves private equity managers billions of dollars; he lambasted his opponent for her ties to Goldman Sachs, and he assailed the bank’s CEO in an election ad. On Monday, Trump made his first direct comments since his inauguration about the post-financial crisis bank regulation reform bill. “Dodd-Frank is a disaster,” he said. “We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank.” Tossing out Dodd-Frank would mean gutting huge swathes of rules restricting big banks, including intricate capital standards and the annual stress tests regulators use to make sure banks won’t need to be bailed out to the independent Consumer Financial Bureau. Indeed, the financial industry’s antipathy to the CFPB ― the brainchild of bank foe Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ― has Democratic aides and consumer advocates increasingly worried that Trump will fire its director, Richard Cordray. A mortgage company has brought forth a lawsuit questioning the president’s authority to do so. A three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled in October that the president could fire the agency’s head for any reason. (The agency has asked for the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case.) The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  In between claiming his rivals Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were controlled by Wall Street, Trump peppered his campaign with pledges to undo Obama-era financial reform. But he undercut the idea that he would enact tough new oversight to replace Dodd-Frank even before being inaugurated ― by filling his new administration with a cadre of Goldman Sachs alumni.  Steven Mnuchin, a former second-generation Goldman partner who founded a hedge fund and bought and ran a bank that foreclosed on tens of thousands of Americans during the housing crisis, was Trump’s pick to run the Treasury Department. Mnuchin was asked in his confirmation hearing what Trump’s idea of a new Glass-Steagall meant, specifically. His muddled response indicated that it simply referred to what, if anything, Trump ended up replacing Dodd-Frank with. (Senate Democrats are currently holding up Mnuchin’s nomination because he said in his confirmation hearing his bank didn’t use robo-signing. A Columbus Dispatch report used public documents to show Mnuchin’s claim was false.) Trump chose Gary Cohn, who spent a decade as Goldman Sach’s president and chief operating officer, to serve as his director of the National Economic Council ― a job generally seen as the No. 2 economic policy role, after the Treasury Secretary. And Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund salesman, event promoter and Goldman Sachs alum, was brought into the White House as a public liaison to government agencies and businesses. Scaramucci said in October that the Obama administration’s rule that cracked down on fees and bad advice to people saving for retirement was the equivalent to the Dred Scott decision. (He later called the comparison “a Dog Whistle for the media to demonstrate mock outrage.”) Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, was also an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in the late 1980s. Indeed, what appears to be the first action of the new Trump administration ― reversing a planned decrease in the cost of a federal mortgage insurance program that helps working- and middle-class Americans buy homes ― will mean hundreds of thousands of Americans will pay more money every month and tens of thousands may not be able to buy homes at all. The price hike, however, is a helpful boost to anyone selling private mortgage insurance and investors in mortgage-backed securities.  -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

31 января, 18:55

Another Goldman Sachs Administration?

Another Goldman Sachs Administration? Nomi Prins says that based on the past history of Goldman Sachs executives in public service, President Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs alumni Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn means that the one percent of the one percent will continue to feast on the rest of us. The Goldman Sachs Effect How… The post Another Goldman Sachs Administration? appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

30 января, 15:34

Only Glass-Steagall Can Save the U.S. from Another Epic Crash — Pam Martens

Only Glass-Steagall Can Save the U.S. from Another Epic Crash Pam Martens Allowing the largest Wall Street banks to brazenly loot the public is now the official policy of Congress. Following the worst financial crash since the Great Depression in 2008, Congress and the Obama administration engaged in the greatest legislative hoax in history in… The post Only Glass-Steagall Can Save the U.S. from Another Epic Crash — Pam Martens appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.

30 января, 06:09

The Goldman Sachs Effect

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished ― but the people did not share in its wealth.”  Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish ― in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come. Infusing Washington with Goldman alums isn’t exactly an original idea. Three of the last four presidents, including The Donald, have handed the wheel of the U.S. economy to ex-Goldmanites. But in true Trumpian style, after attacking Hillary Clinton for her Goldman ties, he wasn’t satisfied to do just that.  He had to do it bigger and better.  Unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, just a sole Goldman figure lording it over economic policy wasn’t enough for him. Only two would do. The Great Vampire Squid Revisited Whether you voted for or against Donald Trump, whether you’re gearing up for the revolution or waiting for his next tweet to drop, rest assured that, in the years to come, the ideology that matters most won’t be that of the “forgotten” Americans of his Inaugural Address. It will be that of Goldman Sachs and it will dominate the domestic economy and, by extension, the global one. At the dawn of the twentieth century, when President Teddy Roosevelt governed the country on a platform of trust busting aimed at reducing corporate power, even he could not bring himself to bust up the banks.  That was a mistake born of his collaboration with the financier J.P. Morgan to mitigate the effects of the Bank Panic of 1907. Roosevelt feared that if he didn’t enlist the influence of the country’s major banker, the crisis would be even longer and more disastrous.  It’s an error he might not have made had he foreseen the effect that one particular investment bank would have on America’s economy and political system. There have been hundreds of articles written about the “world’s most powerful investment bank,” or as journalist Matt Taibbi famously called it back in 2010, the “great vampire squid.” That squid is now about to wrap its tentacles around our world in a way previously not imagined by Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. No less than six Trump administration appointments already hail from that single banking outfit. Of those, two will impact your life strikingly: former Goldman partner and soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and incoming top economic adviser and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, former president and “number two” at Goldman.  (The Council he will head has been responsible for “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.”) Now, let’s take a step into history to get the full Monty on why this matters more than you might imagine.  In New York, circa 1932, then-Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his bid for the presidency. At the time, our nation was in the throes of the Great Depression.  Goldman Sachs had, in fact, been one of the banks at the core of the infamous crash of 1929 that crippled the financial system and nearly destroyed the economy. It was then run by a dynamic figure, Sidney Weinberg, dubbed “the Politician” by Roosevelt because of his smooth tongue and “Mr. Wall Street” by the New York Times because of his range of connections there. Weinberg quickly grasped that, to have a chance of redeeming his firm’s reputation from the ashes of public opinion, he would need to aim high indeed. So he made himself indispensable to Roosevelt’s campaign for the presidency, soon embedding himself on the Democratic National Campaign Executive Committee. After victory, he was not forgotten. FDR named him to the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce, even as he continued to run Goldman Sachs. He would, in fact, go on to serve as an advisor to five more presidents, while Goldman would be transformed from a boutique banking operation into a global leviathan with a direct phone line to whichever president held office and a permanent seat at the table in political and financial Washington. Now, let’s jump forward to the 1990s when Robert Rubin, co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, took a page from Weinberg’s playbook.  He recognized the potential in a young, charismatic governor from Arkansas with a favorable attitude toward banks. Since Bill Clinton was far less well known than FDR had been, Rubin didn’t actually cozy up to him from the get-go. It was another Goldman Sachs executive, Ken Brody, who introduced them, but Rubin would eventually help Clinton gain Wall Street cred and the kind of funding that would make his successful 1992 run for the presidency possible.  Those were favors that the new president wouldn’t forget. As a reward, and because he felt comfortable with Rubin’s economic philosophy, Clinton created a special post just for him: first chair of the new National Economic Council. It was then only a matter of time until he was elevated to Treasury Secretary. In that position, he would accomplish something Ronald Reagan ― the first president to appoint a Treasury Secretary directly from Wall Street (former CEO of Merrill Lynch Donald Regan) ― and George H.W. Bush failed to do.  He would get the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 repealed by hustling President Clinton into backing such a move. FDR had signed the act in order to separate investment banks from commercial banks, ensuring that risky and speculative banking practices would not be funded with the deposits of hard-working Americans. The act did what it was intended to do.  It inoculated the nation against the previously reckless behavior of its biggest banks. Rubin, who had left government service six months earlier, wasn’t even in Washington when, on November 12, 1999, Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed Glass-Steagall. He had, however, become a board member of Citigroup, one of the key beneficiaries of that repeal, about two weeks earlier. As Treasury Secretary, Rubin also helped craft the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He subsequently convinced both President Clinton and Congress to raid U.S. taxpayer coffers to “help” Mexico when its banking system and peso crashed thanks to NAFTA.  In reality, of course, he was lending a hand to American banks with exposure in Mexico.  The subsequent $25 billion bailout would protect Goldman Sachs, as well as other big Wall Street banks, from losing boatloads of money. Think of it as a test run for the great bailout of 2008. A World Made by and for Goldman Sachs Moving on to more recent history, consider a moment when yet another Goldmanite was at the helm of the economy.  From 1970 to 1973, Henry (“Hank”) Paulson had worked in various positions in the Nixon administration. In 1974, he joined Goldman Sachs, becoming its chairman and CEO in 1999.  I was at Goldman at the time.  (I left in 2002.)  I remember the constant internal chatter about whether an investment bank like Goldman could continue to compete against the super banks that the Glass-Steagall repeal had created. The buzz was that if Goldman and similar investment banks were allowed to borrow more against their assets (“leverage themselves” in banking-speak), they wouldn’t need to use individual deposits as collateral for their riskier deals. In 2004, Paulson helped convince the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to change its regulations so that investment banks could operate as if they had the kind of collateral or backing for their trades that goliaths like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase had. As a result, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns, to name three that would become notorious in the economic meltdown only four years later (and all ones for which I once worked) promptly leveraged themselves to the hilt. As they were doing so, George W. Bush made Paulson his third and final Treasury Secretary.  In that capacity, Paulson managed to completely ignore the crisis brewing as a direct result of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the one I predicted was coming in Other People’s Money, the book I wrote when I left Goldman. In 2006, Paulson was questioned on his obvious conflicts of interest and responded, “Conflicts are a fact of life in many, if not most, institutions, ranging from the political arena and government to media and industry. The key is how we manage them.” At the time, I wrote, “The question isn’t how it’s a conflict of interest for Paulson to preside over our country’s economy but how it’s not?” For men like Paulson, after all, such conflicts don’t just involve their business holdings.  They also involve the ideology associated with those holdings, which for him at that time came down to a deep belief in pursuing the full-scale deregulation of banking. Paulson was, of course, Treasury Secretary for the period in which the 2008 financial crisis was brewing and then erupted. When it happened, he was the one who got to decide which banks survived and which died. Under his ministrations, Lehman Brothers died; Bear Stearns was given to JPMorgan Chase (along with plenty of government financial support); and you won’t be surprised to learn that Goldman Sachs thrived.  While designing that outcome under the pressure of the moment, Paulson pled with Nancy Pelosi to press the Democrats in the House of Representatives to support a staggering $700 billion bailout.  All those taxpayer dollars went with the 2008 Emergency Financial Stability Act that would save the banking system (under the auspices of saving the economy) and leave it resplendently triumphant, bonuses included), even as foreclosures rose by 21% the following year. Once again, it was a world made by and for Goldman Sachs. Goldman Back in the (White) House Running for office as an outsider is one thing. Instantly inviting Wall Street into that office once you arrive is another. Now, it seems that Donald Trump is bringing us the newest chapter in the long-running White House-Goldman Sachs saga. And count on Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn to offer a few fresh wrinkles on that old alliance. Cohn was one of the partners who ran the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) division of Goldman. It was the one that benefited the most from leverage, trading, and the complexity of Wall Street’s financial concoctions like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) stuffed with derivatives attached to subprime mortgages. You could say, it was leverage that helped propel Cohn up the Goldman food chain. Steven Mnuchin has proven particularly adept at understanding such concoctions. He left Goldman in 2002.  In 2004, with two other ex-Goldman partners, he formed the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Dune went shopping, as Wall Street likes to do, for cheap buys it could convert into big profits. Mnuchin and his pals found the perfect prey in a Pasadena-based bank, IndyMac, that had failed in July 2008 before the financial crisis kicked into high gear, and had been seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  They would pick up its assets on the cheap. At his confirmation hearings, Mnuchin downplayed his role in throwing homeowners (including members of the military) out of their heavily mortgaged homes as a result of that purchase. He cast himself instead as a genuine hero, the guy who convened a cadre of financial sharks to help, not harm, the bank’s customers who, without their benevolence, would have fared so much worse. He looked deeply earnest as he spoke of his role as the savior of the common ― or perhaps in the age of Trump “forgotten” ― man and woman. Maybe he even believed it. But the philosophy of swooping in, attacking an IndyMac-like target of opportunity and converting it into a fortune for himself (and problems for everyone else), has been a hallmark of his career. To transfer this version of over-amped 1% opportunism to the halls of political power is certainly a new definition of, in Trumpian terms, giving the government back to “the people.” Perhaps what our new president meant was “the people at Goldman Sachs.” Think of it, in any case, as the supercharging of a vulture mentality in a designer suit, the very attitude that once fueled the rise to power of Goldman Sachs. Mnuchin repeatedly blamed the FDIC and other government agencies for not helping him help homeowners. “In the press it has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said, “On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a ‘Loan Modification Machine.’ Whenever we could do loan modifications we did them, but many times, the FDIC, FNMA, FHLMC, and bank trustees imposed strict rules governing the processing of these loans.” Nothing, that is, was or ever is his fault ― reflecting his inability to take the slightest responsibility for his undeniable role in kicking people out of their homes when they could have remained.  It’s undoubtedly the perfect trait for a Treasury secretary in a government of the 1% of the 1%. Mnuchin also blamed the Federal Reserve for suggesting that the Volcker Rule ― part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 designed to limit risky trading activities ― was harming bank liquidity and could be a problem. The way he did that was typically slick. He claimed to support the Volcker Rule, even as he underscored the Fed’s concern with it. In this way, he managed both to make himself look squeaky clean and very publicly open the door to a possible Trumpian “revision” of that rule that would be aimed at weakening its intent and once again deregulating bank trading activities. Similarly, at those confirmation hearings he said (as Trump had previously) that we needed to help community banks compete against the bigger ones through less onerous regulations. Even though this may indeed be true, it is also guaranteed to be another bait-and-switch move likely to lead to the deregulation of the big banks, too, ultimately rendering them even bigger and more dangerous not just to those community banks but to all of us. Indeed, any proposition to reduce the size of big banks was sidestepped. Although Mnuchin did say that four monster banks shouldn’t run the country, he didn’t say that they should be broken up. He won’t. Nor will Cohn. In response to a question from Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, he added, “No, I don’t support going back to Glass-Steagall as is. What we’ve talked about with the president-elect is that perhaps we need a twenty-first-century Glass-Steagall. But, no I don’t support taking a very old law and saying we should adhere to it as is.” So, although the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall was part of the 2016 Republican election platform, it’s likely to prove just another of Trump’s many tactics to gain votes ― in this case, from Bernie Sanders supporters and libertarians who see too-big-to-fail institutions and a big-bank bailout policy as wrong and dangerous. Rest assured, though, Mnuchin and his Goldman Sachs pals will allow the largest Wall Street players to remain as virulent and parasitic as they are now, if not more so. Goldman itself just announced that it was the world’s top merger and acquisitions adviser for the sixth consecutive year. In other words, the real deal-maker isn’t the former ruler of The Celebrity Apprentice, but Goldman Sachs. The government might change, but Goldman stays the same. And the traffic pile up of Goldman personalities in Trump’s corner made their fortunes doing deals ― and not the kind that benefited the public either. A former Goldman colleague recently asked me whether it was just possible that Mnuchin was a good person. I can’t answer that. It’s something only he knows for sure. But no matter how earnest or sympathetic to the little guy he tried to be before that Senate confirmation committee, I do know one thing: he’s also a shark. And sharks do what they’re best at and what’s best for them. They smell blood in the water and go in for the kill. Think of it as the Goldman Sachs effect.  In the waters of the Trump-Goldman era, don’t doubt for a second that the blood will be our own. Nomi Prins, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of six books. Her most recent is All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power (Nation Books). She is a former Wall Street executive. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

30 января, 06:09

The Goldman Sachs Effect

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished ― but the people did not share in its wealth.”  Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish ― in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come. Infusing Washington with Goldman alums isn’t exactly an original idea. Three of the last four presidents, including The Donald, have handed the wheel of the U.S. economy to ex-Goldmanites. But in true Trumpian style, after attacking Hillary Clinton for her Goldman ties, he wasn’t satisfied to do just that.  He had to do it bigger and better.  Unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, just a sole Goldman figure lording it over economic policy wasn’t enough for him. Only two would do. The Great Vampire Squid Revisited Whether you voted for or against Donald Trump, whether you’re gearing up for the revolution or waiting for his next tweet to drop, rest assured that, in the years to come, the ideology that matters most won’t be that of the “forgotten” Americans of his Inaugural Address. It will be that of Goldman Sachs and it will dominate the domestic economy and, by extension, the global one. At the dawn of the twentieth century, when President Teddy Roosevelt governed the country on a platform of trust busting aimed at reducing corporate power, even he could not bring himself to bust up the banks.  That was a mistake born of his collaboration with the financier J.P. Morgan to mitigate the effects of the Bank Panic of 1907. Roosevelt feared that if he didn’t enlist the influence of the country’s major banker, the crisis would be even longer and more disastrous.  It’s an error he might not have made had he foreseen the effect that one particular investment bank would have on America’s economy and political system. There have been hundreds of articles written about the “world’s most powerful investment bank,” or as journalist Matt Taibbi famously called it back in 2010, the “great vampire squid.” That squid is now about to wrap its tentacles around our world in a way previously not imagined by Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. No less than six Trump administration appointments already hail from that single banking outfit. Of those, two will impact your life strikingly: former Goldman partner and soon-to-be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and incoming top economic adviser and National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, former president and “number two” at Goldman.  (The Council he will head has been responsible for “policy-making for domestic and international economic issues.”) Now, let’s take a step into history to get the full Monty on why this matters more than you might imagine.  In New York, circa 1932, then-Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced his bid for the presidency. At the time, our nation was in the throes of the Great Depression.  Goldman Sachs had, in fact, been one of the banks at the core of the infamous crash of 1929 that crippled the financial system and nearly destroyed the economy. It was then run by a dynamic figure, Sidney Weinberg, dubbed “the Politician” by Roosevelt because of his smooth tongue and “Mr. Wall Street” by the New York Times because of his range of connections there. Weinberg quickly grasped that, to have a chance of redeeming his firm’s reputation from the ashes of public opinion, he would need to aim high indeed. So he made himself indispensable to Roosevelt’s campaign for the presidency, soon embedding himself on the Democratic National Campaign Executive Committee. After victory, he was not forgotten. FDR named him to the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce, even as he continued to run Goldman Sachs. He would, in fact, go on to serve as an advisor to five more presidents, while Goldman would be transformed from a boutique banking operation into a global leviathan with a direct phone line to whichever president held office and a permanent seat at the table in political and financial Washington. Now, let’s jump forward to the 1990s when Robert Rubin, co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, took a page from Weinberg’s playbook.  He recognized the potential in a young, charismatic governor from Arkansas with a favorable attitude toward banks. Since Bill Clinton was far less well known than FDR had been, Rubin didn’t actually cozy up to him from the get-go. It was another Goldman Sachs executive, Ken Brody, who introduced them, but Rubin would eventually help Clinton gain Wall Street cred and the kind of funding that would make his successful 1992 run for the presidency possible.  Those were favors that the new president wouldn’t forget. As a reward, and because he felt comfortable with Rubin’s economic philosophy, Clinton created a special post just for him: first chair of the new National Economic Council. It was then only a matter of time until he was elevated to Treasury Secretary. In that position, he would accomplish something Ronald Reagan ― the first president to appoint a Treasury Secretary directly from Wall Street (former CEO of Merrill Lynch Donald Regan) ― and George H.W. Bush failed to do.  He would get the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 repealed by hustling President Clinton into backing such a move. FDR had signed the act in order to separate investment banks from commercial banks, ensuring that risky and speculative banking practices would not be funded with the deposits of hard-working Americans. The act did what it was intended to do.  It inoculated the nation against the previously reckless behavior of its biggest banks. Rubin, who had left government service six months earlier, wasn’t even in Washington when, on November 12, 1999, Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that repealed Glass-Steagall. He had, however, become a board member of Citigroup, one of the key beneficiaries of that repeal, about two weeks earlier. As Treasury Secretary, Rubin also helped craft the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He subsequently convinced both President Clinton and Congress to raid U.S. taxpayer coffers to “help” Mexico when its banking system and peso crashed thanks to NAFTA.  In reality, of course, he was lending a hand to American banks with exposure in Mexico.  The subsequent $25 billion bailout would protect Goldman Sachs, as well as other big Wall Street banks, from losing boatloads of money. Think of it as a test run for the great bailout of 2008. A World Made by and for Goldman Sachs Moving on to more recent history, consider a moment when yet another Goldmanite was at the helm of the economy.  From 1970 to 1973, Henry (“Hank”) Paulson had worked in various positions in the Nixon administration. In 1974, he joined Goldman Sachs, becoming its chairman and CEO in 1999.  I was at Goldman at the time.  (I left in 2002.)  I remember the constant internal chatter about whether an investment bank like Goldman could continue to compete against the super banks that the Glass-Steagall repeal had created. The buzz was that if Goldman and similar investment banks were allowed to borrow more against their assets (“leverage themselves” in banking-speak), they wouldn’t need to use individual deposits as collateral for their riskier deals. In 2004, Paulson helped convince the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to change its regulations so that investment banks could operate as if they had the kind of collateral or backing for their trades that goliaths like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase had. As a result, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns, to name three that would become notorious in the economic meltdown only four years later (and all ones for which I once worked) promptly leveraged themselves to the hilt. As they were doing so, George W. Bush made Paulson his third and final Treasury Secretary.  In that capacity, Paulson managed to completely ignore the crisis brewing as a direct result of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the one I predicted was coming in Other People’s Money, the book I wrote when I left Goldman. In 2006, Paulson was questioned on his obvious conflicts of interest and responded, “Conflicts are a fact of life in many, if not most, institutions, ranging from the political arena and government to media and industry. The key is how we manage them.” At the time, I wrote, “The question isn’t how it’s a conflict of interest for Paulson to preside over our country’s economy but how it’s not?” For men like Paulson, after all, such conflicts don’t just involve their business holdings.  They also involve the ideology associated with those holdings, which for him at that time came down to a deep belief in pursuing the full-scale deregulation of banking. Paulson was, of course, Treasury Secretary for the period in which the 2008 financial crisis was brewing and then erupted. When it happened, he was the one who got to decide which banks survived and which died. Under his ministrations, Lehman Brothers died; Bear Stearns was given to JPMorgan Chase (along with plenty of government financial support); and you won’t be surprised to learn that Goldman Sachs thrived.  While designing that outcome under the pressure of the moment, Paulson pled with Nancy Pelosi to press the Democrats in the House of Representatives to support a staggering $700 billion bailout.  All those taxpayer dollars went with the 2008 Emergency Financial Stability Act that would save the banking system (under the auspices of saving the economy) and leave it resplendently triumphant, bonuses included), even as foreclosures rose by 21% the following year. Once again, it was a world made by and for Goldman Sachs. Goldman Back in the (White) House Running for office as an outsider is one thing. Instantly inviting Wall Street into that office once you arrive is another. Now, it seems that Donald Trump is bringing us the newest chapter in the long-running White House-Goldman Sachs saga. And count on Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn to offer a few fresh wrinkles on that old alliance. Cohn was one of the partners who ran the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) division of Goldman. It was the one that benefited the most from leverage, trading, and the complexity of Wall Street’s financial concoctions like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) stuffed with derivatives attached to subprime mortgages. You could say, it was leverage that helped propel Cohn up the Goldman food chain. Steven Mnuchin has proven particularly adept at understanding such concoctions. He left Goldman in 2002.  In 2004, with two other ex-Goldman partners, he formed the hedge fund Dune Capital Management.  In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Dune went shopping, as Wall Street likes to do, for cheap buys it could convert into big profits. Mnuchin and his pals found the perfect prey in a Pasadena-based bank, IndyMac, that had failed in July 2008 before the financial crisis kicked into high gear, and had been seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  They would pick up its assets on the cheap. At his confirmation hearings, Mnuchin downplayed his role in throwing homeowners (including members of the military) out of their heavily mortgaged homes as a result of that purchase. He cast himself instead as a genuine hero, the guy who convened a cadre of financial sharks to help, not harm, the bank’s customers who, without their benevolence, would have fared so much worse. He looked deeply earnest as he spoke of his role as the savior of the common ― or perhaps in the age of Trump “forgotten” ― man and woman. Maybe he even believed it. But the philosophy of swooping in, attacking an IndyMac-like target of opportunity and converting it into a fortune for himself (and problems for everyone else), has been a hallmark of his career. To transfer this version of over-amped 1% opportunism to the halls of political power is certainly a new definition of, in Trumpian terms, giving the government back to “the people.” Perhaps what our new president meant was “the people at Goldman Sachs.” Think of it, in any case, as the supercharging of a vulture mentality in a designer suit, the very attitude that once fueled the rise to power of Goldman Sachs. Mnuchin repeatedly blamed the FDIC and other government agencies for not helping him help homeowners. “In the press it has been said that I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” he said, “On the contrary, I was committed to loan modifications intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a ‘Loan Modification Machine.’ Whenever we could do loan modifications we did them, but many times, the FDIC, FNMA, FHLMC, and bank trustees imposed strict rules governing the processing of these loans.” Nothing, that is, was or ever is his fault ― reflecting his inability to take the slightest responsibility for his undeniable role in kicking people out of their homes when they could have remained.  It’s undoubtedly the perfect trait for a Treasury secretary in a government of the 1% of the 1%. Mnuchin also blamed the Federal Reserve for suggesting that the Volcker Rule ― part of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 designed to limit risky trading activities ― was harming bank liquidity and could be a problem. The way he did that was typically slick. He claimed to support the Volcker Rule, even as he underscored the Fed’s concern with it. In this way, he managed both to make himself look squeaky clean and very publicly open the door to a possible Trumpian “revision” of that rule that would be aimed at weakening its intent and once again deregulating bank trading activities. Similarly, at those confirmation hearings he said (as Trump had previously) that we needed to help community banks compete against the bigger ones through less onerous regulations. Even though this may indeed be true, it is also guaranteed to be another bait-and-switch move likely to lead to the deregulation of the big banks, too, ultimately rendering them even bigger and more dangerous not just to those community banks but to all of us. Indeed, any proposition to reduce the size of big banks was sidestepped. Although Mnuchin did say that four monster banks shouldn’t run the country, he didn’t say that they should be broken up. He won’t. Nor will Cohn. In response to a question from Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell, he added, “No, I don’t support going back to Glass-Steagall as is. What we’ve talked about with the president-elect is that perhaps we need a twenty-first-century Glass-Steagall. But, no I don’t support taking a very old law and saying we should adhere to it as is.” So, although the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall was part of the 2016 Republican election platform, it’s likely to prove just another of Trump’s many tactics to gain votes ― in this case, from Bernie Sanders supporters and libertarians who see too-big-to-fail institutions and a big-bank bailout policy as wrong and dangerous. Rest assured, though, Mnuchin and his Goldman Sachs pals will allow the largest Wall Street players to remain as virulent and parasitic as they are now, if not more so. Goldman itself just announced that it was the world’s top merger and acquisitions adviser for the sixth consecutive year. In other words, the real deal-maker isn’t the former ruler of The Celebrity Apprentice, but Goldman Sachs. The government might change, but Goldman stays the same. And the traffic pile up of Goldman personalities in Trump’s corner made their fortunes doing deals ― and not the kind that benefited the public either. A former Goldman colleague recently asked me whether it was just possible that Mnuchin was a good person. I can’t answer that. It’s something only he knows for sure. But no matter how earnest or sympathetic to the little guy he tried to be before that Senate confirmation committee, I do know one thing: he’s also a shark. And sharks do what they’re best at and what’s best for them. They smell blood in the water and go in for the kill. Think of it as the Goldman Sachs effect.  In the waters of the Trump-Goldman era, don’t doubt for a second that the blood will be our own. Nomi Prins, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of six books. Her most recent is All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power (Nation Books). She is a former Wall Street executive. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece. Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, as well as Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

23 января, 00:01

Orwell, Hitler And Trump

Last week, I reached for my Philip Roth ― his splendid novel, The Plot Against America. This week, I reached for my George Orwell. In 1946, as Europe was digging out from the ruin of World War II – a genuine case of mass carnage as opposed to Donald Trump’s fantasy carnage – Orwell wrote the classic essay on the seductions of propaganda, “Politics and the English Language.” Much of the essay, widely assigned in English classes, warns how stale writing leads to sloppy thinking. But the most original part is Orwell’s evisceration of propaganda. Combined with his great novel 1984, written in 1949 as a dystopian warning about the way totalitarian practice becomes internalized in totalitarian thinking, these two great works gave us the adjective, Orwellian. In 1984, we learned the official slogans of the Party: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” only slight parodies of communism and Nazism. “Freedom is Slavery” was not far from the infamous greeting at the gates of Auschwitz, Arbeit Macht Frei. And Ignorance is Strength seems to be Donald Trump’s credo and operating premise — ignorance for both himself and his public. Orwell’s target was the prettified euphemism, used mostly by extreme leftwing and rightwing parties and governments. If people could be persuaded to accept the re-framing, they might well alter their conception of reality. In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell made great sport of pretentious writing and mixed metaphors, such as “The capitalist octopus has sung its swan song.” But he was dead serious about the political point. He wrote:  Defenseless villages are bombed from the air, their inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts sent on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their land and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population… Note that Orwell was writing two full decades before the Vietnam War. Even before the advent of Donald Trump, the misuse of language in our own day has been in many respects more insidious and more corrosive than the plague against which Orwell was warning. Orwell’s examples came from either totalitarian governments or far-left and far-right parties in the democracies. In America, a democracy, both major parties have increasingly used Orwellian language, Republicans far more than Democrats. Trump has taken the maneuver to a whole new low. But the earlier Orwellian efforts softened the ground. There was a time when most laws had descriptive or technical names, such as the Glass-Steagall Act, the National Labor Relations Act, or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Since George W. Bush, pieces of legislation have been treated as branding and marketing opportunities. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, The Bush Administration hastily assembled a wish list of every over-zealous prosecutor and surveillance agent. The initials of the legislation were tortured until they spelled out the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act, the Patriot Act for short. What patriot could be against the Patriot Act? And speaking of torture, that activity, prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, was rebranded as enhanced interrogation. Sending American captives off to prisons in allied nations where there were no limits on torture was called a rendition. If a document was censored, that was now termed redacted. Even the mainstream press, shamefully, has succumbed to that usage. As Orwell would have appreciated, “censored,” is plain English. Censorship sounds like something we might want to oppose or at least suspect. “Redacted” is a bland, unfamiliar and bureaucratic word that suggests a neutral and presumably defensible process. And the Obama Administration found the word just as convenient as Cheney, Bush and company did. After the USA Patriot Act, it became standard procedure for both parties to give laws propagandistic names, though the Republicans were the repeat offenders. One of the worst pieces of bipartisan education legislation ever, later repudiated by both parties because of its over-reliance on teach-to-the-test, was called “The No Child Left Behind Act.” (Who could be against that?) Republican advocates of school vouchers, mindful of the well-established support for public schools, began rebranding them as the more sinister sounding “government schools.” When President George W. Bush sponsored a tax-subsidized drug insurance program run by private insurance companies, he made sure to brand it “Medicare Part D,” since Medicare was a broadly supported public program ― even though his drug program was pure windfall to the drug industry and had nothing whatever to do with Medicare. This may seem like small beer, but it is one of several trends on the use of language that has misled and cheapened public discourse ― and laid the ground for Trumpism. At the extreme, the trend feeds the ability of demagogues to persuade citizens that up is down, or black is white. Fox News, the most flagrantly biased of the cable channels, pioneered the trend with its slogan, “Fair and Balanced.” As any serious person knows, Fox is a propaganda organ, while the reputable news organs, from the New York Times to NPR, really do make an effort to separate fact from opinion. Long before Trump, the “mainstream” Republican Party made lies a staple of its arsenal, from its lies about Obamacare to its bogus budget numbers to its false contentions of fraudulent voting. Trump has embellished this technique by lying, then accusing his critics of lying, until the debate is hopelessly scrambled. Trump manufactures phony stories, then accuses the media of “fake news.” Hitler was the first to describe the technique of repeating a lie so often that people would come to believe it. He called it the Big Lie. From his denial of climate change to his denial that Obama was born in Hawaii, Trump has dusted off the Big Lie. But then he goes classic Big Liars one better―by denying the denial. As Jonathan Swift wrote in 1710, “Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late.” (A version misattributed to Mark Twain has it that “a lie is halfway around the world while the truth is putting its boots on.”) You get the point. Trump’s strategy is to flood the zone — to proliferate so many lies that by the time one lie is rebutted he has put out several more, and he seems to believe even the lies that contradict previous lies. Ignorance really is Trump’s strength. In his Inaugural Address, Trump claimed that America is succumbing to a horrible crime wave, when if fact serious crime is at a 30-year low. Republican demonizers of the Affordable Care Act bemoan the high out-of-pocket expenses, when in fact all the Republican replacements would raise deductibles and co-pays. And so on. Trump has resurrected the Big Lie. But, pathetically, he also resorts to the Little Lie. On his first full day in office Trump’s main concern was whether his was bigger―his inaugural crowd. Though it was easily verified that Obama’s inaugural had a larger crowd, as did the women’s march the next day after Trump’s show, a livid Trump sent out his press secretary to rail at the press for understating Trump’s size. The press spokesman, Sean Spicer, himself told at least seven easily verifiable lies. I am feeling a little better than I did on Inauguration Day, in part because of the good cheer and political resolve modeled at the several women’s marches ― but also because you can sense the wheels starting to come off the Trump bus. Call it the New Separation of Powers. Trump’s inner circle is a snake pit of intrigue between the likes of Bannon, Priebus, and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump is at odds with senior members of his own cabinet, who are at odds with each other. Trump’s ad libs, like his abrupt support for universal health coverage, regularly cut the legs out from under his Republican Congress. Trump may wish he were a total dictator, but this is still a democracy. Lies can work during campaigns but at some point, when you try to govern, reality has a way of intruding. Eventually, the truth does get its boots on.   Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School. His latest book is Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility.  Like Robert Kuttner on Facebook.  function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

19 января, 19:45

Mnuchin weathers attacks on funds, foreclosures

Democrats went after Trump’s pick for Treasury secretary but barely laid a glove on him.

16 января, 23:23

Who Killed The Middle Class?

It's becoming clear that our Middle Class -- the midsection of U.S. earners and consumers -- has shrunk alarmingly. And this is the main reason for the political polarization today that in the words of journalist Christopher Hedges, has driven the Republican Party "insane". Our society has become so polarized that Donald Trump needed the support of the Ku Klux Klan, white nationalists, and Vladimir Putin to become President-Elect. Whereas it has been such middle class values of probity, honesty and science, first satirized in Moliere's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, (The Middle Class Gentleman), that has been the stabilizing influence in American politics since WWII. The main difference between poverty and middle class and between middle class and wealthy, noted one researcher, "is belief in, and planning for, moving up as a working assumption." A report from the Pew Research Center found that, for the first time since the 1970s, families defined as "middle income" are actually in a minority in the US - squeezed from both ends by an enlarged poverty-stricken group below them, and an enriched group above them. Graph: Fortune Magazine This graph shows the shrinkage of those defined as middle class from 1979 to 2014 -- from 38.8 percent (gray line) to 32.09 percent (blue line), according to a Pew research study. The shrinkage reads like a textbook example of the future that French economist Thomas Piketty predicts for the world in his best-selling, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In 1971, there were 80 million households in the US defined as middle income - compared with a combined 52 million in the groups above and below. Now, there are 120 million middle-class families, but 121 million rich and poor - "A demographic shift that could signal a tipping point," says Pew. So who or what is at fault for the result; record income inequality last reached in 1929 that led to the Great Depression? We can fault President Reagan, who was first to break the unions with his firing of all federally employed Air Traffic Controllers that belonged to PATCO, the traffic controllers union. Or, conservatives' espousal of the Reagan motto, "government is the problem," which caused massive downsizing of government regulation, as well as regulators, as well as the ensuing de-regulation of whole industries, such as the airlines, telecommunications, and financial markets. But the truth may be much closer to the present -- in fact, from the Presidency of Bill Clinton. For it was President Clinton who veered so far to the right in his 1966 reelection campaign (thanks to Republican strategist Dick Morris) that he preempted the Republican platform by continuing to deregulate the financial markets with the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that separated FDIC depositor-insured banking from higher risk investment banking, financing the addition of 100,000 more police to combat the drug epidemic, and downsizing poverty programs with welfare reforms that took tens of thousands off the welfare rolls, which required them to take low-paying menial jobs to receive even a limited amount of financial support. The Republicans, as Chris Hedges said, were thus driven politically insane. They no longer had those bread and butter issues (such as law and order, smaller government) that were once their own, which led to formation of the Tea Party, and a new political civil war declared on Big Government ruled by the northern elite that had ruled for so long. It was our 150 year-old Civil War taking a new form, in other words, but with almost the same mix of combatants. Hillary Clinton, unfortunately, wasn't able to break away from the Clinton mix of conservative economics (e.g.,balancing the federal budget) and social liberalism that resulted. The culture wars against abortion, civil rights, and welfare (including Obamacare) were the only issues the Republican Party had left. The result was and is President-elect Trump, an ideologist of neither party. Trump is an advocate of no government, where possible, who can count on the loyalty of only his most trusted associates and family. Sound familiar? It is politics of the tribe, the close=knit family, held by gangsters and Oligarchs, with everyone else to be treated with obfuscation and outright deceptions. Even more significant is the record inequality since 1979, resulting from the loss of those policies that built up the middle class after WWII, policies from the New Deal, such as social security and Medicare, entitlements, unionization of whole industries, leading to the unparalleled prosperity of the 1950s and 60s. So lt us hope a majority of our politicians realize, as a majority of Americans still do, that our prosperity and stability rest on a middle class that hasn't given up hope for a better life. Harlan Green © 2016 Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

05 января, 21:04

More Brilliance from Larry Summers

This post and full archives can be viewed at Trader Scott's Market Blog. The brilliant PHD economist Lawrence Henry "Larry" Summers has come out with a scathing criticism of Donald Trump's economic policy:   “The Navarro-Ross paper is well beyond voodoo economics,” Summers said of the September report on Trump’s growth plans. “The logic of it, the arguments made, are so far out of the mainstream of any kind of responsible economic thinking that they are the economic equivalent of creationism.” Summers dismissed the idea that any tax policy introduced to encourage U.S. companies to repatriate profits would boost investment and hiring.“The vast majority of the companies who have large overseas cash also have substantial amounts of domestic cash,” he said. “The reality is that cash that is brought home will be used to pay dividends, to buy back shares, to engage in mergers and acquisitions, to rearrange the financial chessboard, not to invest in large amounts of new capital. It is a chimera to suppose that there will be large increases in capital investment as a consequence of that repatriation.” Lawrence Henry's amazing analytical abilities regarding economic issues are beyond reproach, so we should all heed his brilliant pronouncements. And since he believes Trump's economic ideas "are so far out of the mainstream of any kind of responsible economic thinking that they are the economic equivalent of creationism", let's take a look at what a "responsible" Harvard PHD economist believes. Larry is one of the founding members of the Committee for the Advancement of Negative Interest Rates. Larry concocted, excuse me, developed this brilliant economic policy with his three brothers, Moe, Curly, and Schemp. And it has certainly been a roaring success worldwide, as can be evidenced by the booming growth in all of the countries which have unleashed, excuse me, enacted his crack economic team's policy. Larry, Moe, Curly, and Schemp also have another foundation - The Society for the Complete Banning of Physical Cash, a.k.a., The War on Cash Society. Henry's magnificent abilities as a hedge fund manager allowed him to have great input into Harvard's endowment fund. Professor Summer's acumen led to a mere $1.8 billion loss in the financial crisis, but who's counting. And Lawrence loves the idea of big banks, and he trusts them to understand complex economic and market situations. In 1998 he testified before the Senate that derivatives regulation wasn't necessary because Wall Street could be trusted to regulate itself - no prob. He also pushed to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, because, well you know, we can trust Wall Street to regulate itself. So these are the views, theories, and actions of another "responsible" PHD economist who has never accomplished a darn thing in his life.

28 декабря 2016, 16:36

4 Financial Mutual Funds to Watch in 2017

Invest in financial mutual funds as higher-rate environment seems likely.

25 декабря 2016, 08:45

Илдус Нафиков: «Счета – это обязательство сохранности денег. Их никто банку не ссужал!»

Сотни предпринимателей пострадали в ситуации с ТФБ, продолжаются дискуссии о том, как же помочь бизнесу, готовому закрыться из-за остановки платежей. Прокуратура РТ, со слов бизнес-омбудсмена Тимура Нагуманова, обещает с пониманием отнестись к ситуации, хотя сам Илдус Нафиков публично не комментировал ситуацию. Между тем два года назад глава ведомства публиковал в «БИЗНЕС Online» свое письмо депутатам Госдумы, где предлагал разделить «осторожные» и «рисковые» операции на банковском рынке.

12 декабря 2016, 21:24

The Roots Of The Democratic Debacle

On January 20, what was unthinkable to many just a few weeks ago will become reality: Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s victory, which in many ways echoed the Brexit vote, was part of an increasingly global revolt against elites—political, financial, and cultural. It was also a populist rebellion against the economic and social dislocations of a globalization process dominated by the interests of multinational corporations and exacerbated by the rise to preeminence of a neoliberal ideology of deregulation, tax cuts, privatization, reduced social services, free trade, and the unimpeded movement of capital. From Goldwater to Reagan But the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats was also a consequence of a political crisis specific to the United States, one whose roots extend back to 1964, when the long migration of whites to the Republican Party began. As the liberal Lyndon Johnson vied for the presidency against the conservative Barry Goldwater, the New Deal coalition that had dominated American politics since 1932 began to show its first cracks. The cause was the civil rights movement, which aroused fierce opposition among whites in the deep South, leading them to abandon their historic attachment to the Democratic Party and to vote in five states—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—for a Republican Party led by a man who had opposed the Civil Rights Bill in the name of “states’ rights.” Though Johnson defeated Goldwater in a landslide, the “Solid South” was solid for the Democrats no more. By 1968, with opposition to the civil rights, student, anti-war, and other ‘60s movements mounting, it became apparent that the old and increasingly fragile New Deal coalition of labor, the South, northern blacks, and white liberals was in the process of disintegrating. This time the biggest shift took place in the North, where segments of the Northern working class—many of them white ethnics unsettled by the race riots and student revolts that punctuated the decade—abandoned the Democratic Party for Richard Nixon. The result was Republican victories in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Indiana—all Northern states with large working classes. Meanwhile, the movement of the South away from the Democratic Party escalated sharply, with nine of the eleven states of the confederacy voting either for Nixon (four) or the overtly racist George Wallace (five), most famous for his speech defiantly pledging “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Prior to the 1968 election, a young Nixon aide named Kevin Phillips completed a draft of a brilliant and prescient book entitled The Emerging Republican Majority. In it he argued that 1968 “bespoke the end of the New Deal Democratic hegemony and the rise of a dominant new Republican coalition in rising sections of the country,” notably the “Sun Belt” states of the South and West and in “Middle America” urban-suburban districts. The great political upheaval of the sixties, he argued, was not the progressive and left movements with which the decade is often identified, but “rather a populist revolt of the American masses…against the caste, policies and taxation of the mandarins of Establishment liberalism.” The results of the 1968 election, which Richard Nixon won with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Hubert Humphrey and 46 for George Wallace, seemed to confirm Phillips’ analysis. The Wallace voters, he predicted, would in short order logically migrate to the Republican Party, giving them a clear electoral majority; a “substantial Negro vote,” he pointedly noted, “is not necessary to national Republican victory.”[1] When Nixon was re-elected in a historic landslide in 1972 by a margin of 23 points, Phillips’ case for an emerging Republican majority seemed compelling. The Watergate scandals temporarily derailed the trend towards a Republican majority, and Jimmy Carter, a centrist born-again Southerner with considerable appeal in the states of the old confederacy, managed to win a close election in 1976. But the realignment already visible in 1968 was resoundingly confirmed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory—489 electoral votes to 49—over the incumbent Carter. The 1980 election did more than signal an electoral realignment, for it also marked the arrival of a transformational presidency that would fundamentally change the boundaries of both policy and political discourse. With his simple formula of low taxes, small government, and a strong national defense, Reagan had constructed a resonant alternative to the long-reigning New Deal ideology. To be sure, Reagan’s appeal was not devoid of racial dog whistles; he had, after all, chosen to launch his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the very place where three civil rights workers had been brutally murdered just 16 years earlier. In any event, Reagan’s combination of neoliberal economic policy and fierce opposition to Soviet communism proved immensely popular. When in 1984 he decimated Walter Mondale, a Democrat friendly to labor unions and widely perceived as an advocate of “big government,” by a margin of 525 to 13 in the electoral college, the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition had been swept away. Dilemma for the Democrats Having lost four of the last five elections, three of them by enormous margins, Democrats faced a genuine dilemma: how were they to regain the White House in the face of a formidable Republican juggernaut? The answer that began to emerge in the wake of Mondale’s defeat came in the form of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a business-friendly movement within the Democratic Party that advocated a “third way” between the right-wing conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the liberalism of the New Deal and its heir, the Great Society. Founded in 1985 and emphasizing market-based, non-bureaucratic solutions to public problems and a hardline approach to foreign policy, the DLC did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Calling for less regulation of business and reduced reliance on large-scale government programs, the New Democrats advocated reduced welfare benefits, less progressive tax policies, and tough measures to combat crime, including stiffer prison sentences. Receiving a powerful boost from the decisive defeat of Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Northern liberal, by George H W Bush in the 1988 election, the DLC’s brand of soft neoliberalism was soon to become the ideology of the dominant wing of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Bill Clinton’s ascent to the leadership of the DLC in 1990 and his successful 1992 campaign for the presidency marked a turning point in the transformation of the Democratic Party into the corporate-friendly—and corporate-dependent—entity that was unable to defeat Donald Trump in 2016. Yet there is no denying Clinton’s singular accomplishment: to get elected and then re-elected after Republicans had controlled the White House for 20 of the previous 24 years. But Clinton’s personal electoral success came at a price. In 1994, the Democrats lost control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in decades, and Clinton chose to embark on a policy of “triangulation” between the Republicans and the Congressional Democrats that moved the Party to the right and alienated the activist base of the party. As part of this strategy of triangulation, Clinton sponsored and signed crime and welfare bills that, as Michelle Alexander documented, had disastrous effects on black America. As befit a New Democrat, Clinton in 1993 expended enormous political capital to gain passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) against fierce opposition within the Democratic Party. He also reneged on a major campaign pledge that linked removal of China’s “most favored nation” status as a trading partner to improvement in its record on human rights. In his second term, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, a measure that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking and which furthered the deregulation of Wall Street—legislation that many analysts believe contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008. And in 2000, after having successfully lobbied for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he convinced Congress to establish permanent normal trading relations with China—an act that contributed to the loss of as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States. Far from repudiating the neoliberal economic policies initiated by Ronald Reagan, the Clinton presidency extended them into new domains. Obama’s Thwarted Aspirations Then, after an eight-year period of Republican rule under George W. Bush, who left office with one of the lowest approval ratings in modern history, Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of a multiracial coalition demanding fundamental—albeit not clearly defined—“change.” In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal ten months before he was elected, then-candidate Obama observed that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, that Bill Clinton did not,” adding that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path.” The message was clear: unlike Hillary Clinton, his foe in the battle for the Democratic nomination, Obama aspired to be a genuinely transformational president. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Coming into office in the midst of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, his first task was to avoid a total collapse. In confronting this task, Obama departed from one key neoliberal orthodoxy, rejecting austerity and sponsoring a $800 billion stimulus package that helped avert a second Great Depression. But in other regards, he followed neoliberal dogma: studiously avoiding any policies that might undermine “business confidence” and attending solicitously to the needs of capital, including the powerful financial institutions responsible for the crisis. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know that Obama was seeking and following the advice of Wall Street even before he was elected; in a remarkable email dated October 6, 2008, Michael Fromer, an executive at Citigroup, wrote John Podesta, co-chair of Obama’s transition team (and in 2016 the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign), with a list of candidates for 31 cabinet-level positions as “recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.” The list bore a striking resemblance to the names that ended up in the cabinet, including Eric Holder (Attorney General), Robert Gates (Defense), Rahm Emmanuel (Chief of Staff), and Peter Orszag (Office of Management and Budget). For Treasury, the list had only three names: Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. In the end, Geithner became Secretary of Treasury, Summers Director of the National Economic Council, and Rubin a trusted informal advisor. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Taking his cues from Wall Street, Obama advocated a policy notably friendly to the nation’s deeply unpopular major financial institutions: a gigantic taxpayer-funded bailout and a decision not to prosecute a single Wall Street executive for any transgressions committed in the lead-up to the crisis. At the same time, the Obama administration did little for the many millions of people who lost their homes and pensions as a result of the crash. In response, growing public outrage at the gentle treatment of Wall Street and the conspicuous lack of assistance offered to its victims, coupled with the rise of the Tea Party and the emergence of fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Democrats suffered a massive defeat in the mid-term elections, losing 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama again succeeded in cobbling together a coalition that, like Bill Clinton’s, was just strong enough to win him re-election, though this time by a margin of under 4 percent. But Democrats again suffered serious setbacks in the mid-term election of 2014, losing 13 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. Having been swept into office in 2008 with the largest Democratic majority in the House and Senate since 1964, Obama had by 2014 managed to lose control of both Houses of Congress by considerable margins.  Signs of Popular Anger This was the political landscape when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in April 2015. The warning signs should have been evident: the Democrats had been roundly rejected in the two most recent mid-term elections, the economic recovery was still sluggish, and the emergence of the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street and other insurgent movements on the left seemed to suggest roiling popular discontent. Into this atmosphere of widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country stepped the former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady—the very embodiment of the status quo at a moment of clamorous demand for change. The primary process in the Republican and Democratic parties quickly revealed seething populist anger against the Establishment on both the right and the left. But the response of party elites to popular insurgencies was very different; while the Republican Establishment, which despised Trump, proved unable to unify behind an alternative candidate and deny him the nomination, the Democratic Party establishment, deploying the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee and systematically enlisting major donors as well as its numerous allies in the media, succeeded in quashing a surprisingly strong left insurgency from Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, the 74-year-old Sanders—a professed democratic socialist calling for a “political revolution”—won 22 states and 43 percent of the primary vote. For those who cared to look, by January 2016—even before a single primary vote had been cast—troubling signs about Clinton’s presidential prospects were everywhere visible: a majority of voters viewed her unfavorably, a far stronger majority viewed her as not “honest or trustworthy,” and a narrow majority viewed her as not caring “about the needs and problems of people like you”—the latter finding almost unprecedented among Democratic candidates.[2] Equally troubling, Clinton polled poorly on each of these items with independents, a group whose votes would be critical in the November election. Under ordinary circumstances, numbers like these would have been fatal for someone seeking a party’s presidential nomination. But the Democratic Party elite—its donors, its operatives, and the elected officials who comprise the “super-delegates”—had long since decided it was Hillary Clinton’s rightful turn. So, too, had President Obama, who quietly discouraged a possible Joe Biden candidacy and subtly placed his thumb on the scale on behalf of Hillary Clinton during her bitter and protracted primary battle with Sanders. What happened on November 8 cannot be understood apart from the decision of the Party Establishment to stick with Hillary in a year of mounting populist anger. ‘Any sense of her core message?’ The Clinton campaign was delighted to find Donald Trump as the sole remaining obstacle to the White House—he had, after all, said numerous outrageously racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic things during the primaries, and his erratic behavior had, their extensive focus-groups assured them, convinced the public that he was “temperamentally unfit” to be president. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message, testing 85 different slogans and finally settling on the insipid “Stronger Together.” So devoid of content was the campaign that a plaintive Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief pollster, was reduced to emailing campaign chairman John Podesta in February of this year: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” Though Clinton for years had her eyes on the presidency, coming painfully close in 2008, her behavior in the two years after her term as Secretary of State ended in January 2013 needlessly put at risk her chances as well as those of the Democratic Party. In less than 24 months between 2013 and the beginning of 2015, Hillary Clinton was paid $21.7 million for delivering 92 speeches—this was in addition to the $104.9 million that Bill Clinton had received for 542 speeches given since he left office in January 2001.[3] The great majority of these speeches were to audiences at some of America’s largest private corporations, and some of them—the three speeches to Goldman Sachs at $225,000 per appearance are simply the best known—were delivered at the very Wall Street firms implicated in the economic collapse of 2008. Not all of Clinton’s speeches, however, were to private corporations; one prominent example of a speech to a non-profit institution was at the financially strapped University of California at Los Angeles in March 2014. Clinton’s fee for her speech at UCLA was $300,000; when officials there requested a reduced rate for public universities, they were told by Clinton’s representatives that $300,000 was the “special university rate.” The Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message. In the presidential campaign of 2012, Barack Obama portrayed Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who outsourced the jobs of American workers, and this appeal helped him win enough support in the white working class to carry Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who has a long record of exploiting undocumented workers and stiffing small contractors, was a ripe candidate for similar attacks. But Hillary Clinton, who had collected gigantic fees from corporate America and whose campaign was being heavily funded by Wall Street, was not the right candidate to make such charges stick.[4] No small part of her campaign’s ultimate failure was rooted in her inability to plausibly launch this line of attack.[5] Perhaps realizing that she was ill-suited to make a populist appeal to those left behind by globalization and de-industrialization, the Clinton campaign instead embarked on an identity-based strategy of reassembling the Obama coalition. The main target groups of this strategy were African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, millennials, and white women. But this strategy was no substitute for a clear message. In the end, the decidedly uncharismatic Clinton was unable to fully reassemble the Obama coalition, winning by strong majorities but smaller margins in virtually every group compared to Obama v. Romney in 2012: African-Americans (88-8 v. 93-6), Latinos (65-29 v. 71-27), Asian-Americans (65-29 v. 71-27), and millennials (55-37 v. 60-37). The one exception was women, and even here—despite concerted targeting and Donald Trump’s numerous egregiously sexist remarks and several highly-publicized accusations of sexual assault—the gain was a mere one point (54-42 v. 55-44). Women, who comprise 52 percent of the electorate, simply did not vote the way the Clinton campaign had projected. Though the gender gap was real, women voted more on the basis of race and class, with white women favoring Trump 53 to 43 and white women without college degrees voting for Trump by a stunning margin of 67 to 28. Even among white women with college degrees, thought by the campaign to be a key Clinton constituency, Trump lost by just 45 to 51. The Clinton campaign’s single-minded emphasis on diversity over social class was evident in a memo on the choice of vice president released by Wikileaks. In a March 17 email, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta wrote that he had “organized names into rough food groups,” beginning with Latinos, then women (all white), then African-Americans (all male). Also listed were white men (the group from which Tim Kaine was ultimately selected) and token groups of military and business leaders. But group mobilization often produces group counter-mobilization, a point emphasized by Thomas Edsall, who observed that “Clinton’s efforts to appeal to individual demographic groups fueled the retaliatory backlash that Trump capitalized on to make incremental but decisive gains.” Nevertheless, at the national level, Clinton’s strategy of assembling a diversity-based coalition worked reasonably well; she did, after all, win the popular vote by a margin of more than 2.8 million. But American elections are decided by the electoral college, and this requires winning enough states to garner 270 electoral votes. This is where Clinton’s strategy failed, and the place where it did so is clear: the industrial states of the “rust belt.” The first step toward understanding why Trump won Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is to acknowledge that he had a clear and resonant message. Departing from Republican orthodoxy, Trump relentlessly attacked “free trade” deals such as NAFTA and TPP, the failure to secure the border and the presence in America of millions of undocumented (or, as he preferred to call them, “illegal”) immigrants, and U.S. involvement in unnecessary wars like Iraq and Libya. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” his emphasis on “America First” (despite its unfortunate historical associations), and his repeated references to “forgotten Americans” were tailor-made to appeal to the white working-class populations of the upper Midwest. Sixty-four electoral votes were at stake, and it was here that he won the election. The White Working-Class Revolts Many analysts have blamed Clinton’s loss on the pervasive presence of racism and xenophobia in the white working class, and there is no shortage of survey evidence showing that Trump supporters were more likely to exhibit racist and xenophobic attitudes than those who voted for other candidates.[6] But it is also worth remembering that an African-American named Barack Hussein Obama was victorious in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan in both 2008 and 2012, often by comfortable margins; indeed, many of the white working-class counties critical to Trump’s victory had twice voted heavily for Obama. Interestingly, even African-Americans were not immune to the 2016 trend towards Trump in these rust belt states, with the Democratic margins among blacks declining modestly in each of them.[7] But the main force behind Trump’s victory in these four critical industrial states was undeniably the white working class. In each of these states, white non-college educated men voted overwhelmingly for Trump: 71-26 in Pennsylvania, 70-26 in Ohio, 69-26 in Wisconsin, 68-24 in Michigan. And non-college educated white women, too, voted heavily for Trump, though not quite as decisively as men: 58-38 in Pennsylvania, 55-41 in Ohio, 56-40 in Wisconsin, and 57-38 in Michigan. This was a genuine working-class revolt. In an eerily prescient article written in July of this year, the filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a native of Flint, Michigan, predicted that Trump would win the election by focusing on “the four states of the rust belt of the upper Great Lakes—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” “From Green Bay to Pittsburgh,” he wrote, “this, my friends, is the middle of England, broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we used to call the middle class.” “Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people… [feel] abandoned by the Democrats.” In truth, Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters who failed in the end to tip this traditionally Republican state to the Democrats. Meanwhile, the objective circumstances of the working class continue to deteriorate; between 1975 and 2014, the median incomes of white male workers without a college degree declined by more than 20 percent (after adjusting for inflation), with a drop of 14 percent in the seven years between 2007 and 2014. Contempt for Trump Supporters But the Democrats’ problem with the white working class goes well beyond its failure to enact policies that protect its economic interests. For there is a powerful cultural dimension to the flight of less educated whites from the Democratic Party that is rooted in a feeling—not without justification—that many of its leading elements look down on them. This elemental feeling that they are not viewed by Democratic elites with dignity and respect was amply confirmed by Hillary Clinton’s now-famous remarks at a gala LGBT fundraiser in New York City. In it, she said that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic―you name it,” adding that some of them are “irredeemable.” These comments–and the laughter from the well-heeled audience–confirmed to Trump supporters that many Democrats hold them in contempt. According to Diane Hessan, whose special assignment for the Clinton campaign was to interview 250 undecided voters and to stay in touch with them over the course of the campaign, this was the moment—more than FBI Director James Comey’s remarks, more than the emails, and more than Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac—when undecided voters shifted to Trump. Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters Having since the 1980s joined rather than resisted the move toward neoliberalism and having adopted a pro-corporate stance, the Democratic Party now finds itself in a crisis that is simultaneously political, economic, and cultural. After the electoral debacle of 2016, the Party is in a profoundly weakened state, with Republicans controlling not only the presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate and (soon) the Supreme Court, but also 31 of 50 governorships, 35 state senates, and 32 state assemblies. The Democratic Party must now face the discomfiting reality that Obama’s two victories veiled serious underlying weaknesses; since his sweeping victory in 2008, Democrats have lost 64 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate. But political trends in the United States can reverse themselves with astonishing rapidity; Johnson’s 23-point victory over Goldwater in 1964 was followed by Nixon’s victory in 1968, and Nixon’s 23-point victory over McGovern was followed by Carter’s victory in 1976. Though the shock of defeat is still fresh, there are early signs that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party may be gaining strength. In the battle over leadership of the Democratic National Committee, a leading candidate is Keith Ellison of Minnesota, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives and an African-American Muslim. And it is already clear that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be among the democratic party’s most influential figures. In the United States and abroad, 2016 was a year of populist revolt. As John Judis noted in an incisive new book, The Populist Explosion, populist movements are an early warning system of real problems that the major parties have downplayed or ignored.[8] But left-wing and right-wing populism are fundamentally different. Left-wing populism is dyadic and champions “the people against an elite or establishment”; right-wing populism is triadic and champions “the people against an elite that they accuse of coddling a third group, which can consist for example, of immigrants, Islamists, or African-American militants.” In 2016, Trump’s right-wing populism was triumphant, first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. But unlike many European countries, there was a politically viable left-wing alternative in the form of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And had Sanders been nominated, he might well have won. Though there is no way of knowing how a Sanders v. Trump election would have played out, a nationally representative poll of 1638 registered voters taken just days before the election showed Sanders beating Trump by 12 points, 56 to 44.[9] At Clinton’s rallies in the closing days of a campaign notably lacking in inspiration, the speakers would often blare with the sounds of Andra Day’s stirring pop anthem, “Rise Up.” The 2016 election did witness an uprising, but it was not the one that the Clinton campaign had anticipated. What Democrats now need to ponder is whether the uprising in their own party might, in this year of the outsider, have been the best path to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. *** [1] Kevin P Phillips. The Emerging Republican Majority, New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1969 [2] Jerome Karabel, “Is Hillary Clinton More Electable Than Bernie Sanders?”, The Huffington Post, January 26, 2016. See also Glenn Greenwald, “With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?,” The Intercept, February 24, 2016 [3] Tyler Durden, “The Complete Breakdown Of Every Hillary and Bill Clinton Speech, And Fee, Since 2013,” Zero Hedge, August 3, 2015; Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger, and Alexander Becker, “How the Clintons Went From ‘Dead Broke” To Rich: Bill Earned $104.9 Million For Speeches,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2014 [4] John Carney and Anupreeta Das. “Hedge Fund Money Has Vastly Favored Clinton Over Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; Ben Norton, “Hillary Clinton Is Wall Street’s Preferred Candidate: Financial Execs Pouring Millions Into Her Campaign To Defeat Trump,” Salon, May 9, 2016 [5] According to a poll conducted by the AFL-CIO, Obama won union voters my a margin of 32 points over Romney (65-33) in 2012; in contrast, Clinton’s victory over Trump among union voters in 2016 was just 19 points (56-37). This loss of support among working-class voters was crucial in permitting Trump to breach the Democrats’ “blue wall” in the industrial states of the Midwest. [6]Dylan Matthews, “Taking Trump Voters’ Concerns Seriously Means Listening To What They’re Actually Saying,” Vox, October 15, 2016; Zack Beauchamp, “These 2 Charts Explain How Racism Helped Fuel Trump’s Victory,” Vox, 11/10/16 [7] This conclusion is based on my analysis of CNN state exit polls in 2012 and 2016. [8] John Judis. The Populist Explosion, New York, Columbia Global Report 2016 [9] Ryan Grim and Daniel Marans, “New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump,” The Huffington Post, November 11, 2016. Sanders skeptics are correct when they argue that he would undoubtedly have faced fierce attacks from the Trump campaign; the question is how well he would have withstood them. For a sample of some of what was in the Republican opposition research file on Sanders, see  Kurt Eichenwald, “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election,” Newsweek, November 14, 2016 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 декабря 2016, 21:24

The Roots Of The Democratic Debacle

On January 20, what was unthinkable to many just a few weeks ago will become reality: Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s victory, which in many ways echoed the Brexit vote, was part of an increasingly global revolt against elites—political, financial, and cultural. It was also a populist rebellion against the economic and social dislocations of a globalization process dominated by the interests of multinational corporations and exacerbated by the rise to preeminence of a neoliberal ideology of deregulation, tax cuts, privatization, reduced social services, free trade, and the unimpeded movement of capital. From Goldwater to Reagan But the defeat of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats was also a consequence of a political crisis specific to the United States, one whose roots extend back to 1964, when the long migration of whites to the Republican Party began. As the liberal Lyndon Johnson vied for the presidency against the conservative Barry Goldwater, the New Deal coalition that had dominated American politics since 1932 began to show its first cracks. The cause was the civil rights movement, which aroused fierce opposition among whites in the deep South, leading them to abandon their historic attachment to the Democratic Party and to vote in five states—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—for a Republican Party led by a man who had opposed the Civil Rights Bill in the name of “states’ rights.” Though Johnson defeated Goldwater in a landslide, the “Solid South” was solid for the Democrats no more. By 1968, with opposition to the civil rights, student, anti-war, and other ‘60s movements mounting, it became apparent that the old and increasingly fragile New Deal coalition of labor, the South, northern blacks, and white liberals was in the process of disintegrating. This time the biggest shift took place in the North, where segments of the Northern working class—many of them white ethnics unsettled by the race riots and student revolts that punctuated the decade—abandoned the Democratic Party for Richard Nixon. The result was Republican victories in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Indiana—all Northern states with large working classes. Meanwhile, the movement of the South away from the Democratic Party escalated sharply, with nine of the eleven states of the confederacy voting either for Nixon (four) or the overtly racist George Wallace (five), most famous for his speech defiantly pledging “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” Prior to the 1968 election, a young Nixon aide named Kevin Phillips completed a draft of a brilliant and prescient book entitled The Emerging Republican Majority. In it he argued that 1968 “bespoke the end of the New Deal Democratic hegemony and the rise of a dominant new Republican coalition in rising sections of the country,” notably the “Sun Belt” states of the South and West and in “Middle America” urban-suburban districts. The great political upheaval of the sixties, he argued, was not the progressive and left movements with which the decade is often identified, but “rather a populist revolt of the American masses…against the caste, policies and taxation of the mandarins of Establishment liberalism.” The results of the 1968 election, which Richard Nixon won with 301 electoral votes to 191 for Hubert Humphrey and 46 for George Wallace, seemed to confirm Phillips’ analysis. The Wallace voters, he predicted, would in short order logically migrate to the Republican Party, giving them a clear electoral majority; a “substantial Negro vote,” he pointedly noted, “is not necessary to national Republican victory.”[1] When Nixon was re-elected in a historic landslide in 1972 by a margin of 23 points, Phillips’ case for an emerging Republican majority seemed compelling. The Watergate scandals temporarily derailed the trend towards a Republican majority, and Jimmy Carter, a centrist born-again Southerner with considerable appeal in the states of the old confederacy, managed to win a close election in 1976. But the realignment already visible in 1968 was resoundingly confirmed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory—489 electoral votes to 49—over the incumbent Carter. The 1980 election did more than signal an electoral realignment, for it also marked the arrival of a transformational presidency that would fundamentally change the boundaries of both policy and political discourse. With his simple formula of low taxes, small government, and a strong national defense, Reagan had constructed a resonant alternative to the long-reigning New Deal ideology. To be sure, Reagan’s appeal was not devoid of racial dog whistles; he had, after all, chosen to launch his 1980 presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi—the very place where three civil rights workers had been brutally murdered just 16 years earlier. In any event, Reagan’s combination of neoliberal economic policy and fierce opposition to Soviet communism proved immensely popular. When in 1984 he decimated Walter Mondale, a Democrat friendly to labor unions and widely perceived as an advocate of “big government,” by a margin of 525 to 13 in the electoral college, the last vestiges of the New Deal coalition had been swept away. Dilemma for the Democrats Having lost four of the last five elections, three of them by enormous margins, Democrats faced a genuine dilemma: how were they to regain the White House in the face of a formidable Republican juggernaut? The answer that began to emerge in the wake of Mondale’s defeat came in the form of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a business-friendly movement within the Democratic Party that advocated a “third way” between the right-wing conservatism of Ronald Reagan and the liberalism of the New Deal and its heir, the Great Society. Founded in 1985 and emphasizing market-based, non-bureaucratic solutions to public problems and a hardline approach to foreign policy, the DLC did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Calling for less regulation of business and reduced reliance on large-scale government programs, the New Democrats advocated reduced welfare benefits, less progressive tax policies, and tough measures to combat crime, including stiffer prison sentences. Receiving a powerful boost from the decisive defeat of Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Northern liberal, by George H W Bush in the 1988 election, the DLC’s brand of soft neoliberalism was soon to become the ideology of the dominant wing of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Leadership Council did not offer an alternative to the neoliberalism of Reagan and Thatcher, but implicitly endorsed its central premises. Bill Clinton’s ascent to the leadership of the DLC in 1990 and his successful 1992 campaign for the presidency marked a turning point in the transformation of the Democratic Party into the corporate-friendly—and corporate-dependent—entity that was unable to defeat Donald Trump in 2016. Yet there is no denying Clinton’s singular accomplishment: to get elected and then re-elected after Republicans had controlled the White House for 20 of the previous 24 years. But Clinton’s personal electoral success came at a price. In 1994, the Democrats lost control of both Houses of Congress for the first time in decades, and Clinton chose to embark on a policy of “triangulation” between the Republicans and the Congressional Democrats that moved the Party to the right and alienated the activist base of the party. As part of this strategy of triangulation, Clinton sponsored and signed crime and welfare bills that, as Michelle Alexander documented, had disastrous effects on black America. As befit a New Democrat, Clinton in 1993 expended enormous political capital to gain passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) against fierce opposition within the Democratic Party. He also reneged on a major campaign pledge that linked removal of China’s “most favored nation” status as a trading partner to improvement in its record on human rights. In his second term, President Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, a measure that repealed the Glass-Steagall Act which separated commercial and investment banking and which furthered the deregulation of Wall Street—legislation that many analysts believe contributed to the financial meltdown of 2008. And in 2000, after having successfully lobbied for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, he convinced Congress to establish permanent normal trading relations with China—an act that contributed to the loss of as many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs in the United States. Far from repudiating the neoliberal economic policies initiated by Ronald Reagan, the Clinton presidency extended them into new domains. Obama’s Thwarted Aspirations Then, after an eight-year period of Republican rule under George W. Bush, who left office with one of the lowest approval ratings in modern history, Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 with the enthusiastic support of a multiracial coalition demanding fundamental—albeit not clearly defined—“change.” In an interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal ten months before he was elected, then-candidate Obama observed that “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not, that Bill Clinton did not,” adding that Reagan “put us on a fundamentally different path.” The message was clear: unlike Hillary Clinton, his foe in the battle for the Democratic nomination, Obama aspired to be a genuinely transformational president. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Coming into office in the midst of the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, his first task was to avoid a total collapse. In confronting this task, Obama departed from one key neoliberal orthodoxy, rejecting austerity and sponsoring a $800 billion stimulus package that helped avert a second Great Depression. But in other regards, he followed neoliberal dogma: studiously avoiding any policies that might undermine “business confidence” and attending solicitously to the needs of capital, including the powerful financial institutions responsible for the crisis. Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know that Obama was seeking and following the advice of Wall Street even before he was elected; in a remarkable email dated October 6, 2008, Michael Fromer, an executive at Citigroup, wrote John Podesta, co-chair of Obama’s transition team (and in 2016 the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign), with a list of candidates for 31 cabinet-level positions as “recommended by various sources for senior level jobs.” The list bore a striking resemblance to the names that ended up in the cabinet, including Eric Holder (Attorney General), Robert Gates (Defense), Rahm Emmanuel (Chief of Staff), and Peter Orszag (Office of Management and Budget). For Treasury, the list had only three names: Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. In the end, Geithner became Secretary of Treasury, Summers Director of the National Economic Council, and Rubin a trusted informal advisor. Eight years on, we can see that the Obama presidency proved neither transformational nor realigning. Taking his cues from Wall Street, Obama advocated a policy notably friendly to the nation’s deeply unpopular major financial institutions: a gigantic taxpayer-funded bailout and a decision not to prosecute a single Wall Street executive for any transgressions committed in the lead-up to the crisis. At the same time, the Obama administration did little for the many millions of people who lost their homes and pensions as a result of the crash. In response, growing public outrage at the gentle treatment of Wall Street and the conspicuous lack of assistance offered to its victims, coupled with the rise of the Tea Party and the emergence of fierce opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Democrats suffered a massive defeat in the mid-term elections, losing 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 10 seats in the Senate. In the 2012 presidential election, Obama again succeeded in cobbling together a coalition that, like Bill Clinton’s, was just strong enough to win him re-election, though this time by a margin of under 4 percent. But Democrats again suffered serious setbacks in the mid-term election of 2014, losing 13 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. Having been swept into office in 2008 with the largest Democratic majority in the House and Senate since 1964, Obama had by 2014 managed to lose control of both Houses of Congress by considerable margins.  Signs of Popular Anger This was the political landscape when Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for president in April 2015. The warning signs should have been evident: the Democrats had been roundly rejected in the two most recent mid-term elections, the economic recovery was still sluggish, and the emergence of the Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street and other insurgent movements on the left seemed to suggest roiling popular discontent. Into this atmosphere of widespread dissatisfaction with the direction of the country stepped the former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and First Lady—the very embodiment of the status quo at a moment of clamorous demand for change. The primary process in the Republican and Democratic parties quickly revealed seething populist anger against the Establishment on both the right and the left. But the response of party elites to popular insurgencies was very different; while the Republican Establishment, which despised Trump, proved unable to unify behind an alternative candidate and deny him the nomination, the Democratic Party establishment, deploying the ostensibly neutral Democratic National Committee and systematically enlisting major donors as well as its numerous allies in the media, succeeded in quashing a surprisingly strong left insurgency from Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, the 74-year-old Sanders—a professed democratic socialist calling for a “political revolution”—won 22 states and 43 percent of the primary vote. For those who cared to look, by January 2016—even before a single primary vote had been cast—troubling signs about Clinton’s presidential prospects were everywhere visible: a majority of voters viewed her unfavorably, a far stronger majority viewed her as not “honest or trustworthy,” and a narrow majority viewed her as not caring “about the needs and problems of people like you”—the latter finding almost unprecedented among Democratic candidates.[2] Equally troubling, Clinton polled poorly on each of these items with independents, a group whose votes would be critical in the November election. Under ordinary circumstances, numbers like these would have been fatal for someone seeking a party’s presidential nomination. But the Democratic Party elite—its donors, its operatives, and the elected officials who comprise the “super-delegates”—had long since decided it was Hillary Clinton’s rightful turn. So, too, had President Obama, who quietly discouraged a possible Joe Biden candidacy and subtly placed his thumb on the scale on behalf of Hillary Clinton during her bitter and protracted primary battle with Sanders. What happened on November 8 cannot be understood apart from the decision of the Party Establishment to stick with Hillary in a year of mounting populist anger. ‘Any sense of her core message?’ The Clinton campaign was delighted to find Donald Trump as the sole remaining obstacle to the White House—he had, after all, said numerous outrageously racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic things during the primaries, and his erratic behavior had, their extensive focus-groups assured them, convinced the public that he was “temperamentally unfit” to be president. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message, testing 85 different slogans and finally settling on the insipid “Stronger Together.” So devoid of content was the campaign that a plaintive Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief pollster, was reduced to emailing campaign chairman John Podesta in February of this year: “Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” Though Clinton for years had her eyes on the presidency, coming painfully close in 2008, her behavior in the two years after her term as Secretary of State ended in January 2013 needlessly put at risk her chances as well as those of the Democratic Party. In less than 24 months between 2013 and the beginning of 2015, Hillary Clinton was paid $21.7 million for delivering 92 speeches—this was in addition to the $104.9 million that Bill Clinton had received for 542 speeches given since he left office in January 2001.[3] The great majority of these speeches were to audiences at some of America’s largest private corporations, and some of them—the three speeches to Goldman Sachs at $225,000 per appearance are simply the best known—were delivered at the very Wall Street firms implicated in the economic collapse of 2008. Not all of Clinton’s speeches, however, were to private corporations; one prominent example of a speech to a non-profit institution was at the financially strapped University of California at Los Angeles in March 2014. Clinton’s fee for her speech at UCLA was $300,000; when officials there requested a reduced rate for public universities, they were told by Clinton’s representatives that $300,000 was the “special university rate.” The Clinton campaign—unlike the Trump and Sanders campaigns—struggled to find a message. In the presidential campaign of 2012, Barack Obama portrayed Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who outsourced the jobs of American workers, and this appeal helped him win enough support in the white working class to carry Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan. Donald Trump, a multi-billionaire who has a long record of exploiting undocumented workers and stiffing small contractors, was a ripe candidate for similar attacks. But Hillary Clinton, who had collected gigantic fees from corporate America and whose campaign was being heavily funded by Wall Street, was not the right candidate to make such charges stick.[4] No small part of her campaign’s ultimate failure was rooted in her inability to plausibly launch this line of attack.[5] Perhaps realizing that she was ill-suited to make a populist appeal to those left behind by globalization and de-industrialization, the Clinton campaign instead embarked on an identity-based strategy of reassembling the Obama coalition. The main target groups of this strategy were African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, millennials, and white women. But this strategy was no substitute for a clear message. In the end, the decidedly uncharismatic Clinton was unable to fully reassemble the Obama coalition, winning by strong majorities but smaller margins in virtually every group compared to Obama v. Romney in 2012: African-Americans (88-8 v. 93-6), Latinos (65-29 v. 71-27), Asian-Americans (65-29 v. 71-27), and millennials (55-37 v. 60-37). The one exception was women, and even here—despite concerted targeting and Donald Trump’s numerous egregiously sexist remarks and several highly-publicized accusations of sexual assault—the gain was a mere one point (54-42 v. 55-44). Women, who comprise 52 percent of the electorate, simply did not vote the way the Clinton campaign had projected. Though the gender gap was real, women voted more on the basis of race and class, with white women favoring Trump 53 to 43 and white women without college degrees voting for Trump by a stunning margin of 67 to 28. Even among white women with college degrees, thought by the campaign to be a key Clinton constituency, Trump lost by just 45 to 51. The Clinton campaign’s single-minded emphasis on diversity over social class was evident in a memo on the choice of vice president released by Wikileaks. In a March 17 email, Clinton campaign chair John Podesta wrote that he had “organized names into rough food groups,” beginning with Latinos, then women (all white), then African-Americans (all male). Also listed were white men (the group from which Tim Kaine was ultimately selected) and token groups of military and business leaders. But group mobilization often produces group counter-mobilization, a point emphasized by Thomas Edsall, who observed that “Clinton’s efforts to appeal to individual demographic groups fueled the retaliatory backlash that Trump capitalized on to make incremental but decisive gains.” Nevertheless, at the national level, Clinton’s strategy of assembling a diversity-based coalition worked reasonably well; she did, after all, win the popular vote by a margin of more than 2.8 million. But American elections are decided by the electoral college, and this requires winning enough states to garner 270 electoral votes. This is where Clinton’s strategy failed, and the place where it did so is clear: the industrial states of the “rust belt.” The first step toward understanding why Trump won Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is to acknowledge that he had a clear and resonant message. Departing from Republican orthodoxy, Trump relentlessly attacked “free trade” deals such as NAFTA and TPP, the failure to secure the border and the presence in America of millions of undocumented (or, as he preferred to call them, “illegal”) immigrants, and U.S. involvement in unnecessary wars like Iraq and Libya. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again,” his emphasis on “America First” (despite its unfortunate historical associations), and his repeated references to “forgotten Americans” were tailor-made to appeal to the white working-class populations of the upper Midwest. Sixty-four electoral votes were at stake, and it was here that he won the election. The White Working-Class Revolts Many analysts have blamed Clinton’s loss on the pervasive presence of racism and xenophobia in the white working class, and there is no shortage of survey evidence showing that Trump supporters were more likely to exhibit racist and xenophobic attitudes than those who voted for other candidates.[6] But it is also worth remembering that an African-American named Barack Hussein Obama was victorious in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan in both 2008 and 2012, often by comfortable margins; indeed, many of the white working-class counties critical to Trump’s victory had twice voted heavily for Obama. Interestingly, even African-Americans were not immune to the 2016 trend towards Trump in these rust belt states, with the Democratic margins among blacks declining modestly in each of them.[7] But the main force behind Trump’s victory in these four critical industrial states was undeniably the white working class. In each of these states, white non-college educated men voted overwhelmingly for Trump: 71-26 in Pennsylvania, 70-26 in Ohio, 69-26 in Wisconsin, 68-24 in Michigan. And non-college educated white women, too, voted heavily for Trump, though not quite as decisively as men: 58-38 in Pennsylvania, 55-41 in Ohio, 56-40 in Wisconsin, and 57-38 in Michigan. This was a genuine working-class revolt. In an eerily prescient article written in July of this year, the filmmaker Michael Moore, himself a native of Flint, Michigan, predicted that Trump would win the election by focusing on “the four states of the rust belt of the upper Great Lakes—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” “From Green Bay to Pittsburgh,” he wrote, “this, my friends, is the middle of England, broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we used to call the middle class.” “Angry, embittered working (and nonworking) people… [feel] abandoned by the Democrats.” In truth, Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters who failed in the end to tip this traditionally Republican state to the Democrats. Meanwhile, the objective circumstances of the working class continue to deteriorate; between 1975 and 2014, the median incomes of white male workers without a college degree declined by more than 20 percent (after adjusting for inflation), with a drop of 14 percent in the seven years between 2007 and 2014. Contempt for Trump Supporters But the Democrats’ problem with the white working class goes well beyond its failure to enact policies that protect its economic interests. For there is a powerful cultural dimension to the flight of less educated whites from the Democratic Party that is rooted in a feeling—not without justification—that many of its leading elements look down on them. This elemental feeling that they are not viewed by Democratic elites with dignity and respect was amply confirmed by Hillary Clinton’s now-famous remarks at a gala LGBT fundraiser in New York City. In it, she said that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic―you name it,” adding that some of them are “irredeemable.” These comments–and the laughter from the well-heeled audience–confirmed to Trump supporters that many Democrats hold them in contempt. According to Diane Hessan, whose special assignment for the Clinton campaign was to interview 250 undecided voters and to stay in touch with them over the course of the campaign, this was the moment—more than FBI Director James Comey’s remarks, more than the emails, and more than Bill Clinton’s visit with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac—when undecided voters shifted to Trump. Hillary Clinton made little effort to speak to these people, not visiting Wisconsin even once during the campaign while making a futile trip to Arizona in search of Latino voters Having since the 1980s joined rather than resisted the move toward neoliberalism and having adopted a pro-corporate stance, the Democratic Party now finds itself in a crisis that is simultaneously political, economic, and cultural. After the electoral debacle of 2016, the Party is in a profoundly weakened state, with Republicans controlling not only the presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate and (soon) the Supreme Court, but also 31 of 50 governorships, 35 state senates, and 32 state assemblies. The Democratic Party must now face the discomfiting reality that Obama’s two victories veiled serious underlying weaknesses; since his sweeping victory in 2008, Democrats have lost 64 seats in the House and 11 in the Senate. But political trends in the United States can reverse themselves with astonishing rapidity; Johnson’s 23-point victory over Goldwater in 1964 was followed by Nixon’s victory in 1968, and Nixon’s 23-point victory over McGovern was followed by Carter’s victory in 1976. Though the shock of defeat is still fresh, there are early signs that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party may be gaining strength. In the battle over leadership of the Democratic National Committee, a leading candidate is Keith Ellison of Minnesota, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives and an African-American Muslim. And it is already clear that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will be among the democratic party’s most influential figures. In the United States and abroad, 2016 was a year of populist revolt. As John Judis noted in an incisive new book, The Populist Explosion, populist movements are an early warning system of real problems that the major parties have downplayed or ignored.[8] But left-wing and right-wing populism are fundamentally different. Left-wing populism is dyadic and champions “the people against an elite or establishment”; right-wing populism is triadic and champions “the people against an elite that they accuse of coddling a third group, which can consist for example, of immigrants, Islamists, or African-American militants.” In 2016, Trump’s right-wing populism was triumphant, first in the Republican primaries and then in the general election. But unlike many European countries, there was a politically viable left-wing alternative in the form of the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. And had Sanders been nominated, he might well have won. Though there is no way of knowing how a Sanders v. Trump election would have played out, a nationally representative poll of 1638 registered voters taken just days before the election showed Sanders beating Trump by 12 points, 56 to 44.[9] At Clinton’s rallies in the closing days of a campaign notably lacking in inspiration, the speakers would often blare with the sounds of Andra Day’s stirring pop anthem, “Rise Up.” The 2016 election did witness an uprising, but it was not the one that the Clinton campaign had anticipated. What Democrats now need to ponder is whether the uprising in their own party might, in this year of the outsider, have been the best path to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. *** [1] Kevin P Phillips. The Emerging Republican Majority, New Rochelle, NY, Arlington House, 1969 [2] Jerome Karabel, “Is Hillary Clinton More Electable Than Bernie Sanders?”, The Huffington Post, January 26, 2016. See also Glenn Greenwald, “With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?,” The Intercept, February 24, 2016 [3] Tyler Durden, “The Complete Breakdown Of Every Hillary and Bill Clinton Speech, And Fee, Since 2013,” Zero Hedge, August 3, 2015; Philip Rucker, Tom Hamburger, and Alexander Becker, “How the Clintons Went From ‘Dead Broke” To Rich: Bill Earned $104.9 Million For Speeches,” The Washington Post, June 26, 2014 [4] John Carney and Anupreeta Das. “Hedge Fund Money Has Vastly Favored Clinton Over Trump,” The Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016; Ben Norton, “Hillary Clinton Is Wall Street’s Preferred Candidate: Financial Execs Pouring Millions Into Her Campaign To Defeat Trump,” Salon, May 9, 2016 [5] According to a poll conducted by the AFL-CIO, Obama won union voters my a margin of 32 points over Romney (65-33) in 2012; in contrast, Clinton’s victory over Trump among union voters in 2016 was just 19 points (56-37). This loss of support among working-class voters was crucial in permitting Trump to breach the Democrats’ “blue wall” in the industrial states of the Midwest. [6]Dylan Matthews, “Taking Trump Voters’ Concerns Seriously Means Listening To What They’re Actually Saying,” Vox, October 15, 2016; Zack Beauchamp, “These 2 Charts Explain How Racism Helped Fuel Trump’s Victory,” Vox, 11/10/16 [7] This conclusion is based on my analysis of CNN state exit polls in 2012 and 2016. [8] John Judis. The Populist Explosion, New York, Columbia Global Report 2016 [9] Ryan Grim and Daniel Marans, “New Pre-Election Poll Suggests Bernie Sanders Could Have Trounced Donald Trump,” The Huffington Post, November 11, 2016. Sanders skeptics are correct when they argue that he would undoubtedly have faced fierce attacks from the Trump campaign; the question is how well he would have withstood them. For a sample of some of what was in the Republican opposition research file on Sanders, see  Kurt Eichenwald, “The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election,” Newsweek, November 14, 2016 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

11 декабря 2013, 00:45

Правило Волкера одобрено и вступит в силу в 2015 г.

Пол Волкер, инициатор "правила Волкера" Американские регуляторы одобрили законодательство по ограничению торговой деятельности банков, которое получило название "правило Волкера". Банковские компании отрицают необходимость принятия данных мер и готовят судебные иски против данного закона.  За принятие “правила Волкера” проголосовали все пять регуляторов, которые участвовали в процессе создания данного закона: ФРС США, Комиссии по ценным бумагам и биржам (SEC), Комиссии по торговле товарными фьючерсами (CFTC), Федеральной корпорации по страхованию вкладов (FDIC), свою подпись под проектом закона также поставил глава Управления валютного контролера (OCC). “Правило Волкера” запрещает банковским компаниям участвовать в торговых операциях на финансовых рынках, в том числе “с целью хеджирования рисков”, с использованием собственных средств (proprietary trading). Кроме того, банкам также запрещается увеличивать размеры компенсаций и денежных вознаграждений с целью поощрения подобных операций на финансовом рынке. Впервые с инициативой введения данного законодательства в 2009 г. выступил Пол Волкер, бывший глава ФРС (он занимал этот пост с 1979 по 1987 гг.). По мнению Волкера, повышенная торговая активность банковских компаний США по целому спектру активов стала одной из причин финансового кризиса 2008 г. С данной точкой зрения согласились в администрации президента Обамы, который одобрил начало работы над законопроектом в 2010 г. Однако в своем конечном виде, который был одобрен регуляторами, законопроект появился только 3 с половиной года спустя. Целью данного законодательства является снижение риска для финансовой системы США, а также всей глобальной экономики от торговой активности банков. Одним из громких примеров подобной активности банков в посткризисный период стало дело “Лондонского кита”: из-за рискованной стратегии JP Morgan потерял свыше $6 млрд. “Правило Волкера” начнет функционировать только в 2015 г. Во многом такое решение было принято под давлением банковских компаний, которые активно лоббировали против принятия данного законодательства. По данным некоммерческой организации Sunlight Foundation, в период 2010-2013 гг. наиболее тесно с регуляторами общались именно представители крупных банковских организаций.   За это время представители JP Morgan встречались с регуляторами более 30 раз, Goldman Sachs – более 20 раз. Также свой активный интерес к процессу формирования “правила Волкера” проявили в Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, фонде BlackRock и ряде других финансовых компаний. Главы ряда банковских компаний, в частности Брайан Мойнихан из Bank of America Merill Lynch, уже попытались принизить значение данного закона.  BofA: "правило Волкера" ничего не изменит По мнению Мойнихана, "правило Волкера" не окажет заметного влияния на банковский сектор США. Однако при этом банковские компании не оставляют надежд на противодействие нововведению. По информации издания Financial Times, американские банки уже готовят иски против принятия "правила Волкера" (Wall St prepares Volcker rule legal challenges). Ряд экспертов уже поставили под сомнение эффективность "правила Волкера", назвав закон слишком мягким и содержащим слишком много лазеек для продолжения торговых операций банков с использованием собственного капитала. Подобная точка зрения высказывается в издании Forbes (The Volcker Rule Will Not Work). Стоит добавить, что принятие "правила Волкера" многие рассматривают как попытку частичного воссоздания закона Гласса – Стиголла (Glass – Steagall Act). После финансового краха 1929 г., который стал одним из катализаторов Великой депрессии в США, американские власти постарались ограничить спекулятивную активность коммерческих банков. Банкам было запрещено заниматься инвестиционной деятельностью. Были серьезно ограничены их возможности по операциям с ценными бумагами. Закона Гласса – Стиголла действовал в США с 1933 по 1999 гг., пока не был отменен "Законом о финансовой модернизации".

23 сентября 2013, 23:25

Ричард Фишер призывал коллег начать сокращение QE3

Глава ФРБ Далласа Ричард Фишер заявил, что он призывал своих коллег на заседании ФРС, проходившем на прошлой неделе, сократить программу количественного смягчения. Фишер является противником третьего раунда программы по выкупу облигаций Бездействие в этом вопросе, по его словам, привело к неопределенности и посеяло замешательство на финансовых рынках. По словам Фишера, многие инвесторы недовольны действиями ФРС, так как они ожидали, что на заседании будет принято решение сократить объемы выкупаемых облигаций. Фишер является противником третьего раунда программы по выкупу облигаций, известной как количественное смягчение, или QE3. В других речах Фишер называл крупнейшие американские банки "кинжалами, направленными в сердце экономики США". Глава ФРБ Далласа также является сторонником возврата закона Гласса-Стиголла 1933 г., который запрещал коммерческим банкам заниматься инвестиционной деятельностью, существенно ограничивал право банков на операции с ценными бумагами и вводил обязательное страхование банковских вкладов. Закон был отменен в 1997 г. Напомним, сейчас ФРС ежемесячно покупает облигации на $85 млрд, что должно способствовать росту цен на активы и стимулированию найма, расходов и инвестиций. ФРС также сохраняет краткосрочные процентные ставки близко к нулю, для того чтобы поддержать рост экономики. Ричард Фишер не входит в число президентов ФРБ и управляющих, которые в 2013 г. обладают правом голоса в Федеральном комитете по открытому рынку (Federal Open Market Committee, FOMC). В рамках ежегодной ротации голосов в FOMC он войдет в список голосующих членов комитета в 2014 г.