Monday, February 4, 2013

This & That!

In 1999 NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre said that the NRA supported universal background checks for all gun purchases.  “No loopholes for anybody” he said.  This past weekend LaPierre said that there was no point to implementing universal background checks because the bad guys are just going to work their way around the law.“It’s a fraud to call them universal background checks” LaPierre said, “because the criminals aren’t going to comply with them.”  That’s like saying that there is no reason to have laws against murder because the bad guys are still going to kill people.  Why bother!  LaPierre’s argument is ridiculous.  91% of Americans, including law abiding gun owners, want background checks implemented on all gun purchases.  LaPierre and the NRA leadership are on the wrong side of this debate…and they know it.
Pulitzer Prize winning economist and bestselling author Paul Krugman is making the rounds hawking his book, “End This Depression Now.”  Naturally he has been asked about his views on current economic conditions and the steps the government should take to right the ship.  Krugman argues that all this talk about debt and deficit is much a due about nothing.  He says that long term debt is something that we can worry about later.  He says that the government’s focus should be on creating growth through additional stimulus via investing in infrastructure, education and research.  While we agree with Krugman’s views on the short term we wonder why we can’t take steps to address the long term needs as well.  Everyone knows that Medicare and Medicaid are the biggest components of our long term debt issues.  Everyone knows that as currently configured these programs cannot sustain the coming onslaught of aging baby boomers whose claims will swamp the system.  Some say the programs have only ten years of solvency remaining.  Yet Krugman seems to be encouraging  Washington to do the very thing that has brought gridlock to governing…why do today what you can put off until tomorrow.  Our elected leaders have proven their unwillingness to tackle difficult problems until the cost of procrastinating reaches disastrous proportions.  Given their recent history it would seem prudent for us to demand that congress address both short term growth and long term deficit control as one big “Grand Bargain.”  Maybe if congress starts now they can find a solution by 2023.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia recently ruled that the president violated the constitution in filling Nation Labor Relations Board vacancies by recess appointment.  For the past 90 years president have used recess appointments to bypass Senate approval to install administrative personnel.  The president used recess appointments to place three board members on the NLRB.  If the ruling stands roughly 200 NLRB decisions could be declared invalid as the board failed to have a quorum save for the now illegally appointed board members.  But the big story here is the effect the Court’s ruling has on the recent activities of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, since its director, Richard Cordray, was installed as a recess appointment.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the cornerstone of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which was enacted to eliminate the questionable banking activities that brought down the banking system.  Without the CFPB, Dodd-Frank has no power. And without a director, neither does the CFPB.  Republicans hate Dodd-Frank and so it comes as no surprise that Senate Republicans are threatening to filibuster Cordray’s appointment.  Republicans have never been able to put forward a salient answer as to why the banking system failed under the Bush Administration. So they use obfuscation and obstruction to cloud over their culpability.    If Republicans don’t like Dodd-Frank they should put forth a viable alternative instead of playing these political games.
The DOW Jones industrial average closed above 14,000 on Friday for the first time since 2007.  This good news is tempered by the fact the there are 2.5 million less jobs in this country than there were five years ago.  And while Wall Street is making millions, middle class workers have seen their average income decrease.  This information poses a number of questions.  If the DOW is over 14,000 points, having doubled since 2007, why do Republicans say that this president is bad for business?  Why is he hated by Wall Street?  Why is there any doubt that there is an ever increasing disconnect between the haves and the have not’s?  And why do Republicans scoff at Warren Buffett when he says that he never met an investor who when facing an opportunity to make money spent any time worrying about impending changes in tax rates?           

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