I haven't looked but I suppose the usual suspects are all excited about the "anti-Wall Street" speech Obama gave today. You know, the one where he gave the banksters and their lobbyists Holy Heck.
"Unless your business model relies on bilking people, there's little to fear from these new rules," the president told an audience of financial and political titans at Cooper Union.
Obama said the reforms were moving forward despite the "furious effort" of financial-sector lobbyists. "I'm sure that some of these lobbyists worked for some of you," he said, drawing a few laughs from the crowd of 700.
But, he said: "I want to urge you to join us, instead of fighting us in this effort. I am here because I believe that these reforms are, in the end, not only in the best interest of our country, but in the best interest of the financial sector."
Uh-huh. Good stuff, eh? Fred Hiatt's tame liberal, EJ Dionne, thinks he heard Obama finally blaming conservative policies for the economic disaster. And he did. Sort of.
"In this entire year and a half of cleaning up the mess, it's been tough because the folks very responsible for a large portion of this mess decided to stand on the sidelines," Obama declared. "It was as if somebody had driven their car into the ditch and then just watched you as you had to yank it out, and asked you: 'Why didn't you do it faster -- and why do I have that scratch on the fender?' And you want to say: 'Why don't you put your shoulder up against that car and help to push?' That's what we need, is some help."
Of course, is analogy is a little off - to start with, we're talking about somebody who deliberately drove a car they didn't own into a ditch as part of a scam to rip off the real owners - but I get that he's at least trying to assign some responsibility where it belongs. Sort of. And I admire that he had the Clintonesque balls to tell them to their faces.
But there's a problem here and the problem is that, whatever the news media claims -
Senate Republican centrists have stayed close to the GOP leadership for much of the past 14 months, throwing off the Democrats' legislative strategy for the 111th Congress.
Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Olympia Snowe (R) have shown surprising solidarity with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in opposing a Democratic Wall Street reform bill, forcing Democrats to reopen negotiations
- the obstruction that matters is coming from inside his own party. Hell, from inside his own WH. Do I have to remind you that the Demo's have a large plurality? That we've been through this "We can't unless we have 60 votes!" buillshit before only to find out that we, you know, can when we want to?
But the real GOP-style cognitive dissonance comes from the fact that the people Obama is chastising for kabuki purposes are the exact same people he's spent the last 2 years currying favor with and kowtowing to. These are the people Dodd watered his bill down to a thin stream of sugary piss for. These are the people Barry and Wall Street Timmy and Larry and the rest of the Gang insisted we save from their own greedy stupidity with our money, simultaneously rejecting ANY restrictions on the thieves whatsoever. For instance, this got brought up last year and the Demo leadership, including the Obama WH scotched it fast.
Alright, so Blanche took such a hiding over her healthcare "reform" that she's just using a going-nowhere bill to build her lib cred back up. Still, it's there and she's got actual libs with her. The point is she knows damn good and well that the Senate BD's aren't going to let her bill pass. It's a gesture, nothing more. A game. See, really, the economy is coming back and Demos just have to dance in place until it does and everything goes back to normal.
News to you that the econ's on its way back? That's cause you live on Main Street, not Wall Street. Inside the bubble, the US econ is having a record year.
The long-awaited recovery is now under way, but it's a slow, painful slog that's short on trust and confidence and long on a drumbeat of numbers that mostly shift from dreadful to less depressing. Twenty-seven months after the recession began, unemployment is stuck at 9.7%. Housing starts are dragging near half-century lows. Consumers are finally spending again, but they're still too fearful about their jobs and homes to crowd malls and auto lots with the buoyant abandon that heralds a full-rigged revival, the kind Americans are used to.
Amazingly, as consumers struggle, U.S. corporations are staging a nearly unprecedented comeback that's largely escaping notice. The gargantuan, dispiriting job cuts that seem to dominate the news have also been the spur for an epic resurgence in profits. For 2009, the Fortune 500 lifted earnings 335%, to $391 billion, a $301 billion jump that's the second largest in the list's 56-year history, approaching the increase in the robust recovery of 2003. For last year the 500 raised their return on sales from less than 1% to 4%. That's close to the list's 4.7% historical average.
Hence, the 500's profits virtually returned to normal after years of extremes - bubbles in 2006 and 2007, collapse in 2008 - despite a feeble overall recovery that's far from normal. This year's list - reminder: the Fortune 500 ranks U.S. companies by revenue - is packed with changes that reflect and spotlight the trends reshaping corporate America. The homebuilders that occupied 14 places in 2007 and three last year, including Centex and Pulte, have all disappeared, casualties of shrinking sales. No fewer than nine newcomers from recession-resistant health care joined in 2009, among them drugmakers Genzyme (sales: $4.5 billion) and Allergan ($4.5 billion).
How are they doing all this? I'll give you 3 guesses and if you need more than one, you haven't been paying attention.
The companies in this year's 500 list slashed costs so fast and so deeply - especially labor - that even in a feeble recovery, their earnings soared.
See? The pols, even the good ones, are convinced the bail-outs worked and we're getting back to our old stability, that it's just a matter of time. So they play political games they think they can afford to play but really, they're just letting themselves get conned.
But that's OK. It's all part of the dance.
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