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The politics of anger

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    Lennard Davis, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, wrote an article for the Huffington Post in October 2010 before the November election entitled, The Politics of Anger. His article focused on the anger of the Tea Party.

    Professor Davis asked at the time: "Is anyone but me completely puzzled by this reverence for anger? Since when did anger ever amount to a political position?"

    He also noted that anger should not be a permanent state of being, and instead that political discourse should be the driven by the art of the practical and the possible with compromises and alliances. "In the old days, politicians used to make strange bedfellows -- nowadays, as in a marriage gone bad, they don't even get into bed together anymore."

    In 2010 he noted that we cannot work to create more jobs and jump-start the economy until we've stopped yelling. And today as we listen to the rhetoric from the lowest rated Congress in history, the yelling hasn't stopped.

    Davis concludes that "Voter rage is not something to be cultivated in a democracy, because we all know that ironically road rage causes accidents, it doesn't prevent them. And voter rage, while all the rage now, can easily cause a huge accident come Election Day and beyond."

    I have hauled out Professor Davis's article from 2010 because yes indeed on election day in November 2010, a "huge accident" did occur in electing these "Road Rage Republicans" to drive our Congressional legislation. And now for 2012, Newt Gingrich is also running on the Anger Ticket. If the middle class voters elect Newt Gingrich President based on anger, it will be another "election day accident" that the citizens of the United States will rue for a long time.
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    In a Pundit Wire blog article by Dave Helfert entitled Unfortunately Anger Works Helfert also examines anger in politics.

    As Helfert correctly notes: "Fox News, MSNBC, talk radio and a seemingly infinite blogosphere have created massive echo chambers. No one has to be exposed to information that doesn’t reinforce their own beliefs and biases."

    And I agree with his astute observation that "some of our top government officials are more than willing to stand up in public and say things they know are not true, over and over and over again. They’re willing to use the most dishonest appeals to fear. Why? Because it’s effective."

    I have several posts in this website that focuses on anger. And while I have generally fingered Republicans, the left media is not clean. Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz are two media pundits that can get over the top at times...and it's effective because it makes their listeners feel good, including me. Anger played a big part in the recall of Governor Walker, and in that respect anger correctly focused can be good. And anger is a partial driving force in the OWS movement...that's also good as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

    Nevertheless, I for one wish we had more pundits that speak calmly but more effectively like Fareed Zakaria and Bill Moyers. But that's not entertainment.
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    I also examine anger in politics in a recent blog of mine.

    Most specifically, this article targets Newt Gingrich and his broken promise to remain "positive" during his campaign -

    http://www.alecdifrawi.com/alecs-insight/newt-gingrich-the-angry-little-man/#mo...

    I welcome your opinion.

    -Alec
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    Good article Alec. It's interesting how Gingrich's true character is emerging again. For those politicians and pundits that remember him during the Clinton years, none have anything positive to say about him. He hasn't changed his spots, but he's relying on people having a short memory.

    What is more interesting to me, however, is how he has turned one of his negative traits of arrogant bullying into a positive by channeling it against the media and playing the victim...well at least for now. It might have worked in South Carolina, but it will wear thin as the campaign wears on and as reporters turn the tables on him by sticking microphones in his face and asking him blunt in-your-face questions about his past. One of these days he will implode with that microphone in his face, and it will be all over for Newt. The questions is...when?

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    I am not going to post any links on this blog. I am not going to share any articles. I am well read. I am well versed in political science and history. I have supervised up to 300 people in a work environment. I am going to express views here. These opinions are based upon an amalgamation of books I have read or are reading; my personal and professional experiences; my travels; my faith; and interactions with my family, friends, and community.
    Ideas I post here have little to do with FOX News, the "Weekly Standard", Rush Limbaugh or any other right wing medium.

    With that said, I do not see as much anger, as I do energy and aggressive language. Given the age we are living in, with so many foes to Democracy and Capitalism out there, I believe a good dose of strong rhetoric is welcomed and needed from GOP candidates. Other than the elimination of Osama bin Laden, in my opinion, I cannot name one good thing that Barack Obama has done as our President. Given that, is it any wonder that there appears to be some anger during the GOP debates? Obama clearly has to go. Voting him out won't be easy. Three of our last four Presidents have served eight years, so Obama has incumbent status on his side. This is very frustrating to Conservatives, candidates and party actives. This election is so important to us because we feel that American strength and economics are in severe jepordy.

    Republican voters now feel the same way most of you felt in 2004. Back then, for Democrats and Liberals the mantra was, "anybody but Bush". I recall a lot of anger and "Bush bashing" back then. Perhaps worse than what is seen from Conservatives and the Tea Party here in 2012. For crying out loud, in 2005 one would have thought that Bush himself were to blame for Hurricane Katrina, the storm itself. As long as the subject is anger, why isn't anybody calling foul at how Liberals used obsessive name calling against President Bush back then?

    Now the tables have turned. As a matter of national security, the Conservative mantra is, "anybody but Obama". Even though the GOP field has narrowed, the strengths and flaws of the remaining candidates are stread out. Therefore, as a registered Republican voter, I wish very much that Newt could be the one to debate Obama, while Mitt could run against Obama. Being there is no way to fuse Newt and Mitt, I think an Obama re-election is likely. Unfortunately, this is very sad should it happen. Because if Obama wins again, most of us will barely recognize our country in 2016.


    EDITOR: Out of respect for the First Amendment, please allow my post to stand. I have not composed anything that is profane or vile. I have basically expressed a series of views that be different from most of this site's particpants. LLAGERDOG thanks you.

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    Llagerdog,

    What has President Obama accomplished? I'll address just one...the big one.

    President Barack Obama averted another Great Depression and instead got a Great Recession. You may recall that when Obama took office the economy was in a free fall losing 800,000 jobs a month. The stock market was crashing and banks were on the verge of failing big time. This trend continued for a few months into his Presidency until he could get his policies and stimulus packages working and confidence restored.

    I believe if we had elected John McCain and Sarah Palin and let the "free market" dictate events, letting banks and businesses fail, it would have been an economic disaster. Most reputable economists will agree with me on that point.

    The conditions that led to the Great Recession (or the averted 2nd Depression) are multiple. Bill Moyers has identified several in his graph of The Triggers of Economic Inequality. Those on the right might cite other factors, but one cannot escape the reality depicted in that graph, a condition that was last seen in 1929 right before the Great Depression. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities also has a graph and discussion, although the graph only goes through 2007. This website has other graphs and reports along the same theme.

    So the question is: Why can't Congress and the President do something to fix this disparity? The simple answer is that our Congress is a part of the problem and not the solution. The Bush Tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which passed with simple majorities in the Senate (no filibustering) aggravated the income disparity. In particular the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 lowered the dividend and capital gains taxes to their current levels. That Senate vote was evenly split 50:50 with Dick Cheney casting the tie breaker that has put into force one of the major factors contributing to income disparity in this country.

    From the Congressional Research Service Report of December 29, 2011, Changes in the Distribution of Income Among Tax Filers Between 1996 and 2006: The Role of Labor Income, Capital Income, and Tax Policy:

    "Changes in capital gains and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in the overall income inequality."

    I have looked at all the tax plans put forth by the Republican candidates from Paul Ryan's Plan to Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan to Gingrich's flat tax plan. I'm not an economist so I have had to rely on economists' analysis of those plans. None of them address the income disparity, and all of them favor the wealthy...and/or make the deficit worse. In fact, as Mitt Romney stated, Gingrich's Plan would reduce Mitt Romney's taxes to near zero. How does that sit with all the Gingrich supporters...reducing Romney's taxes to nothing?

    I'll echo the words of many prominent economists when they cite income and wealth disparity, not only within the USA, but European countries, as the leading cause of the recession. That should be a "no brainer"...when the middle class and poor have less money to spend, they don't buy the capital goods and services that are marketed by corporations.

    Getting back to my earlier point...getting Congress to fix the problem is impossible in this partisan political atmosphere where the plutocrats, the military industrial complex and the religious right (and their lobbyists and special interest groups that fund these groups) have joined forces to block Obama's agenda, making unprecedented use of the Senate filibuster in his first two years, and now with the Republican controlled House doing nothing of substance except attacking Planned Parenthood and naming post offices.

    As Kaboom and others have argued in this website, Campaign Finance Reform is a necessary first step to change Congress. The last attempt to change that, at least in part, was the Disclose Act of 2010, which failed to get past the Senate Republican filibuster by one vote: 59-39. The Republican minority rules again.

    What is hard to understand is why so many in the populace vote against their best economic interest. I recommend you read Thomas Frank's 2004 book, What's the Matter with Kansas? to answer that question. Frank also has a new book along the same theme: Pity the Billionaire. What I especially like about his books is that his research is backed up with countless pages of references.

    Blue collar workers in Kansas and elsewhere in the heartland vote Republican not because of economic policies (which they are largely ignorant of or misinformed about) but rather because of culture war issues...gay marriage, abortion and those awful "Godless liberals" that are front page news, day after day in the right wing media like Fox News. And what little they do talk about economics, it is all focused on debt reduction. In my view Republicans don't care about debt reduction except when Democrats are in office, and then it becomes the political tool to put a false fear into the electorate.

    Republicans talk about debt reduction to divert the attention from jobs. They use debt reduction as a tool to divide the middle class targeting teachers, unions, and public sector workers. And they use debt reduction as a ploy in promising to do away with entire "Big Government" departments that look after the public welfare...and get in the way of the free market corporatist philosophy. Wow these plutocrats are so slick and effective in their propaganda. I'm just waiting for them to tell the poor to eat cake.

    I could go into a whole bunch of other issues like health care but I'll leave this topic for now.



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    Right on Schmidt! Deficit Reduction is Deficit Stupid.

    Restore Public-Purpose. Don't take away private sector savings!

    Listen to the people who have got it right over and over again.

    I give you what a merit based government batting order would look like:

    Warren Mosler for FED chief. Bill Black for SEC. Randy Wray for Treasury.

    We should not even need the CFPB! Banks and lenders should already be regulated to serve public-purpose!

    MMT-Deficit Owls: the last Progressives Left!
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    Schmidt, I read Thomas Frank's, "What's the Matter with Kansas", shortly after it was released. I checked it out of the local library, so unfortunately I do not own a copy. However, having attended college out on the High Plains, the book caught my attention when Frank appeared on one of the morning talk shows. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. However, I do not understand why Frank has such confusion while trying to understand the voting habits of his native state. The culture war theme is all well and good, but he too often omits character traits of self reliance and defiance to east coast/west coast elitism in his book.
    This is not only typical of Kansans, but most inhabitants that live along the 100th meridian, give or take a few degrees. Many of these voters can relate more to the success and failure of a Wall Street broker, than they can to a career politician that pushes entitlement programs. The one hypocracy here would be farm subsidies. Frank's description of small town business districts with boarded-up windows, delapidated farms, excessive rural poverty and such, are all too real and depressing. However, they were as much a reality in the 1970's during the Carter years, as they were in George Bush's America when the book was written in 2004. The Interstate Highway System, and the flight of young people to the population centers a generation ago, have had much to do with the decaying conditions in the Heartland. I remember when I first arrived in South Dakota, few understood why I had left Chicago. It was their goal to get a diploma, and move to a place like Chicago (although it was usually Minnapolis or Denver). But back to the point. The GOP platform reflects the Heartalnd voter rather well, and no just in cultural and social arena. The spirit of individual rights, self determination, self reliance, taking risks, patriotism, and non-intervention from government, are things Kansans and Heartland residents cherish. These values ring through more often in the GOP agenda, than they do in the Democrat Party agenda.
    Think Bob Dole. Think Ike.
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    Here's a Democrat we all can be proud of: former Senator of North Dakota, Bryon Dorgan.

    "I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this, but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930s is true in 2010". Dorgan was one of only 8 senators who voted "No" on the deregulation bill (the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act) in 1999.

    Dorgan and John Reed on Bill Moyers' new show:

    http://vimeo.com/35736514
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    Schmidt: I believe that your claim that the Obama adminstration averted a "Great Depression", and deserves credit for such, is unfounded and cannot be proved. You can site all the pro-Keynesian articles you wish, but it is all pure speculation. Unless we were to go back to 2008, elect McCain in lieu of Obama, travel down an alternative time tangent, and actually witness what a McCain government would have done with the economy during the first six months on 2009, we will never know. However, I will respect your opinion and you are definitely entitled to it. But here are the reasons why I disagree with you.

    To begin with: I do not consider Bill Moyers a reliable source in economics. He has a great writing style. Yet, he should be a travel journalist reviewing a bed and breakfast, recommending a good winery, and detailing a thirify weekend getaway. From now on, please consult someone like Charles Krauthammer on the economy.

    Secondly: I do not think we were on the verge of a Depression once Congress passed TARP, which was signed into law by President Bush sometime in October 2008. If anything, the Bush administration deserves the credit for fending off a Depression (if there was to be one at all). Certain businesses WERE allowed to fail; AND IT WORKED WHILE BUSH WAS PRESIDENT!

    Third: I'm shooting from the hip here. I'll give you a narritive. I will give you what I rememeber off of total recall from that "Black Sept-Oct 2008", while I make my point that... "a Depression was not eminent once Obama entered office, and why Obama has the Bush administartion to thank for correcting the financial crisis".

    My college major was in History, but I have a minor in Economics. I was following the financial crisis in 2008 like some guys follow the NFL.

    I think Bear Sterns came first, and they had a buyer. Lehmen Brothers came next, but they were allowed to fail and went into bankruptcy. Thus, a failure that happened without government intervention. I think even liberal media outlets were praising the Bush administration for letting Lehman go under. AIG I know was next, but it had to be saved in order that all banks that were saddled with foreclosurers could stay afloat. TARP followed AIG, and I recall Bush had to use up a ton of favors in order to get it passed, but it took a second vote in the House to do it because Republican were not on board with Bush.
    TARP smacked of socailism, but it was designed to be short term. TARP is/was more of a loan than a bailout. Part of it involved the government buying company stocks and securities, which the taxpayers were actually experiencing a ROI by mid-2009. Next came the auto manufacturers. Bush did a righteous act by not even negotiating with the auto companies until after the election. I think Bush called G-20 shortly after the election too. There, I wrote all of this all off the top of my head. No references, no cross checking.

    Fourth: here is my point...after AIG (which was a loan, not a bailout. AIG had sufficient collateral), after TARP, and finally after the G-20 Summit; there was no need for a Stimulus!
    By the time the auto manufacturers came around after Obama took office, the recovery had already begun. The Obama Administartion started throwing gasoline on a proverbal fire that was almost extinguished. Cretainly there was going to be temporary backlash of continued high unemployment or other poor economic indicators; but the Obama government never gave the three programs I just listed above a chance to work.

    Instaed, Obama and his Democrat Congress in early 2009 acted by throwing money at a solved situation, thus the Stimulus...money the Treasury never had, and still doesn't. Perhaps people on this blog have no problem with a $7 trillion deficit ballooning into the $15 trillion deficit we have today, but I do! Since the catch phrase for AIG was "to big to fail"; the auto companies (other than Ford), used that mantra too. And Obama gave away the farm to them just to appease and satisfy his UAW voting bloc. The stimulus was and still is a joke IMHO. And it's application is all smoke and mirrors designed to look as if Obama saved us from an another "Great Depression". And that reamins blatantly a lie.
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    "Money the Treasury never had, still doesn't"?

    Nonsense.

    Taxes regulate demand. They don't give the national government anything it doesn't already have. That's what it means to be the sovereign issuer of the currency.

    National debt=non government savings to the penny!

    government deficit=domestic private sector surplus + capital account balance.

    Your partisan retelling of history is a nice story (i.e., Tarp was necessary, Obama stimulus bad), but it does not jive with the facts.

    If you're worried about debt and deficits, here's a few facts for you to ponder on:

    The interest rate on 3-month T-bill is somewhere between 0 and 1/100th of a percent, does this sound like a normal 'borrowing' operation to you?

    "MMT Summit with Kaboom"

    Fact of the matter is government spends first, then it taxes and/or borrows. Argue with the accounting logic of the US dollar spreadsheet all you want, but you cannot change the fact that without government debt (i.e., the "sunken fund") we would not have dollar bills in our pockets.

    Read Alexander Hamilton's 1790 "Report on Public Credit" (here).

    By the way, even Jefferson and Madison came around to supporting Hamiltonian ideas: see 2nd Bank of the US.

    Anyways, time to throw our partisan delusions away and stop using the debt as a political football from hell.

    Joy Division: "Dead Souls."
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    Llagerdog,

    Your take on Thomas's What's the Matter With Kansas differs from mine. You state that you "do not understand why Frank has such confusion while trying to understand the voting habits of his native state." Actually Frank understands it quite well..it's the essence of his entire book, and he spells it out quite clearly. And for you to somehow justify that peculiar Kansas voting behavior you conclude: "The spirit of individual rights, self determination, self reliance, taking risks, patriotism, and non-intervention from government, are things Kansans and Heartland residents cherish. These values ring through more often in the GOP agenda, than they do in the Democrat Party agenda.
    Think Bob Dole. Think Ike."

    Well Frank did not make that distinction, and actually those are liberal American Democratic values and not just Kansas Republican values. What you omitted from the list (and what Frank and I would emphasize) is that liberals also believe in equal opportunity for women, minorities and the LGBT community, instead of "the majority voting away the rights of the minority;" and pro-choice on abortion instead of "life begins at conception;" and freedom of religion (or from religion) instead of "we are a nation of Christians;" and public schools instead of charter schools that take away critical funding from the public schools; and war as a last resort instead of unchallenged war to feed the military-industrial-complex.

    Liberals are patriots that believe every much in freedom as conservatives, but we apply that often misused word "freedom" to all Americans and not just some...and we don't have to wear a flag lapel to prove that patriotism or wrap ourselves in the American flag. We believe that "non-intervention from government" includes keeping the government out of our bedrooms...or from spying on us. So add to your list all of the above culture war issues and the real differences between Democrats and the current brand of Republicans become more apparent.

    But that's not all. As long as we are debating these culture war issues, Americans won't get distracted with how the conservative brand of capitalism has failed them. And how every single tax plan of the Republican candidates for President aggravates the wealth disparity in this country instead of making it better. Cutting taxes even more for the rich doesn't stimulate the economy enough to create the desired jobs. We need even more federal government spending now on things like infrastructure and education to make up for the lack of private investment and cuts in state funding, and we need comprehensive tax reform that doesn't necessarily increase revenues but provides more fairness for the middle class that has borne the brunt of the cost of the recession.

    The Republican elitists...those in the top 0.01 percent have skillfully created an imaginary enemy in liberals and Democrats (especially an imaginary Obama) using culture war issues to divide the middle class. They demonize the LGBT community and their "decadent life style," not to mention "godless liberals" and "socialists" and "Tiller the baby killer" and "Ground Zero mosque" and the "food stamp President." It's phony outrage repeated over and over again by the right wing media until it gets solidified as an ideology into the minds of their viewers and listeners. Some might call it mind control or even "brain washing." But what does it have to do with job creation? Nothing! That's why they have to keep doing it.

    I saw a bumper sticker on a construction worker's truck in the Home Depot parking lot that read "the only good liberal is a dead liberal." The anti-liberal rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Fox News is indeed "mind control." Most Republican voting Americans have little understanding of what liberals really stand for...to them they can only echo the words of the Fox News hosts, or Rush Limbaugh...or a Mark Levin, who speaks of the "tyrannical liberal corrosion that has filtered into every timely issue affecting our daily lives, from the economy to health care, global warming to immigration, and more." Wow, that's crazy talk.

    But let me finish...you said "Think Bob Dole. Think Ike." Of course, as you well know both Ike and Dole would be far to the left of the current slate of Republican candidates and many of those Republicans that reside in Congress. But it is refreshing to know that your brand of conservatism identifies more with these two distinguished gentlemen. I respect you for that.

    I'll address your other comments on Obama's averting the Great Depression next.

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    Yeah, llagerdog.....notice how the Romney, Gingrich, and Perry tax plans ADD TO THE DEFICIT!

    Apparently, when a Democrat is in office, the country is broke, but just by the magic of putting a Republican in power.....poof!....the Treasury can somehow find the dollars to add to the deficit.

    We need to stop politicizing ACCOUNTING IDENTITIES.
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    Llagerdog,

    It's interesting how Republicans view history differently. But let me give my version of events.

    You claimed: "I do not think we were on the verge of a Depression once Congress passed TARP, which was signed into law by President Bush sometime in October 2008. If anything, the Bush administration deserves the credit for fending off a Depression (if there was to be one at all). Certain businesses WERE allowed to fail; AND IT WORKED WHILE BUSH WAS PRESIDENT!"

    So lets revisit the events at that time. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) also commonly known as the "the bank bail-out" was supposedly designed to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions (mainly banks) to promote bank lending again. Bush signed it into law on October 3, 2008 as the stock market was on a downward spiral. On the Friday he signed it, the Dow Jones Index dropped 157 points. On the following Monday it dropped another 158 points, followed by successive day losses of 370 points, 508 points, 189 points, 679 points, and 128 points to finish the week. Over eight days in October, the market lost 2,400 points or 22 percent to close at 8451.

    The market was very volatile and did rebound sharply on Monday October 13, rising 936 points, but on Wednesday it again dropped 733 points. The market volatility continued through the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2009 reaching 7,949 on January 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated and continuing to decline to a low of 6,507 on March 9, 2009.

    Furthermore job losses were also on a downward spiral. In August 2008, 84,000 jobs were lost; in September 159,000 jobs; in October after TARP was signed into law 240,000 jobs were lost. November 533,000; December 524,000; January 650,000, February 651,000; March 633,000; April 539,000; and May 345,000.

    The New York Times used the words, "as stock markets plunged, credit markets around the globe seized up and the world seemed on the verge of a cataclysmic financial meltdown."

    On December 16, 2009, the IMF chief warned of a Great Depression “if the international community does not work together."

    On January 11, 2009, Professor Peter Morici, a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, contended: "The economy will not recover without fundamental changes in banking and trade policy. A large stimulus package, though necessary, will only give the economy a temporary lift," he said. "The economy is in a depression, not a recession."

    There are others that forecasted doom, and some not so pessimistic. But the point I would make is that, although economists were divided (some with 20:20 hindsight), when Obama was inaugurated there was no consensus that a depression was not imminent. A combination of actions including Obama's Stimulus bill (which McCain voted against), Bush's bank bail-outs, and Federal Reserve lending got us past the uncertainty. Ultimately the market got a big confidence boost with Tim Geitner's article, My Plan for Bad Bank Assets, published on March 23, 2009. But job losses continued for a few months after until the benefits of the Obama Administration plans started to be noticed.

    So yes, some Republicans credit Bush's bail-out of the banks and AIG as what averted the depression. But some Republicans also slam Obama for bailing out the banks. You can't have it both ways.

    While you can argue the relative contributions, I am certain that the world was looking to the United States and Barack Obama for leadership to take us out of that quagmire with a series of steps. John McCain would have not have inspired that confidence in my opinion.






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    TARP was partly psychological. Everything it achieved liquidity wise was possible via FED LLR authority. However, putting Congress behind it, and having the Treasury orchestrate it, gave the action a level of publicity that the FED could not achieve on its own, and certainly does not want.

    TARP was Treasury fiscal monetarism. FED did/is doing a hell of lot more than $700 billion in "bailouts," i.e., the FED's ABC, etc. discount lending programs.

    Preferential treatment in credit markets is like a bailout, but FED is still plainly removing income from the economy through the interest earned on its various lending facilities, even if it's a miniscule return. The FED, I repeat, is not printing money. It is plainly removing net-dollars from the private sector, as interest payment in fully collateralized swaps.

    By the way: the initial GOP House rebellion over TARP, eventually subdued on the second vote, set the stage for the TEA PARTY rebellion once Obama took office. This fomenting mass of faux populism came to ahead as a result of poorly sourced and referenced opposition to POTUS's weak and pathetic mortgage modification plan, which the tea party interpreted as a plan to 'write down the debt of poor people that the government had forced Wall Street to lend to, resulting inevitably in more taxes on those who did the right thing,' blah, blah, blah. These false memes are still with us today.

    Right-wing faux populists follow the Hitler Line.