Wednesday, September 22, 2010

GOP: A Pledge To America

You'll probably read a lot about this tomorrow:  A Pledge To America

I debated closing comments for this post, since I have zero interest in a partisan debate here, but I decided to leave them open so that people can pick specific quotes from the "Pledge" that they like or dislike.  If you have something to say, please refer to a specific quote and page number.

I'll start:  I liked this, from page 5:

"We will also prevent Washington from forcing responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior by ending bailouts permanently, canceling the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."

I'm interested in this claim, from page 7 (although I immediately expect all such claims - by both parties - to be suspect):
"So far, Washington Democrats have passed, and the president has signed into law, at least 14 violations of his pledge that “no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.”"

Oh wait - here's a clue, from page 14:

"Taxes. The new health care law includes at least a dozen violations of President Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on middle-class families. The Obama administration has conceded that the ‘individual mandate’ at the heart of the new law is indeed a tax, a notion the president “absolutely” rejected last fall."

So there's "at least a dozen" of the "14" violations cited above - seems like a slightly twisted way to look at it... Anyway.

I laughed at this, from page 15:

"Strengthen the Doctor-Patient Relationship: We will repeal President Obama’s government takeover of health care and replace it with common-sense reforms focused on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship."

That reminds me of my first job on Wall Street, at a firm I will not name.  This firm, back then, was one of the also-rans, a commercial bank trying to compete with the big broker dealers who were ruling the roost.  The CEO came and talked to us, the new hires, in the first week, and blathered about teamwork, and about how we'd crack the top 3 in the next 5 years.  Not wanting to waste the opportunity to fire a question at the CEO, when the floor was opened for questions I raised my hand and asked, simply, "Look, I understand the pep talk, but what are we going to do - call up Goldman's clients, Morgan's clients, and say "Hey - come to us - we've got teamwork?""

Needless to say, the CEO was slightly taken aback, there was an uncomfortable silence in the room,  and the coordinator for the new hires program looked at me with his jaw open and his eyes wide.    The CEO cleared his throat,  gave some BS response, and went back to answering mindless rote questions from MBA grads.  

The new hires coordinator came up to me after and said "Where do you keep the wheelbarrow?"  "Huh?"  I was puzzled.  "To carry your gigantic balls!" He explained. 

"Look," I responded "I wasn't trying to show my "balls" - I was trying to take advantage of a rare opportunity to gain some insight from the CEO and hoped that he could tell us something that wasn't fluff and bullshit."  Turned out, he couldn't.

Oh - by the way - this firm, 12 years later, is the king of the mountain.  They have a new CEO (perhaps have had more than one, I don't know), and have surpassed all the competition, just like the 1998 CEO said they would.  I don't think it had anything to do with him, his decisions, or "teamwork," but hey - he was right - it just took a little longer than he expected, and required a complete meltdown of the entire financial system.

What's my point?  That's what "We want to strengthen the Doctor-Patient Relationship" sounds like to me.  Really? You're going to legislate that?  Good luck...



Anonymous said...

The U.S. government needs to sell all its General Motors stock at an average $133.78/share to fully recoup the $49.5B spent to rescue the automaker, according to an administration official. The price is $39.15 greater than the highest level old GM shares ever reached...what do you think of that?

But What do I Know? said...

Wow! What a confusing mess. I read through this and couldn't really figure out what they were saying other than "we want to repeal everything Obama did." Whatever its faults, the pledge in 1994 was at least succinct; this one is farce. My sixth grader writes this incoherently too--but only on her first draft.

On a policy note, two points:

Cutting $100 billion from spending in the next year is meaningless in confronting fiscal issues--all it does it reduce the deficit from $1.5 trillion to $1.4 trillion. Without spending reductions in Social Security, Medicare, and defense, any talk of fiscal discipline is just talk, but the pledge goes out of its way to exempt those areas--and also to rule out any tax increases. While you may not disagree with those policy choices, to pretend that anything serious can be done with $100 billion worth of spending cuts is either ignorance or willful blindness.

Second, wasn't TARP a Republican creation?

I'm not a Democrat, and I'd really like it if the Republicans could come up with some ideas for improving the country, because they seem to be able to get things passed. But they've got nothing--just a return to the status quo ante Obama on health care and no coherent approach to the deficit.

BTW, you really do have a big pair if you asked the CEO that question.

Kid Dynamite said...

BWDIK - well, the "Pledge" did have DRAFT stamped in shadow text on each page!

agree on the $100B - Karl Denninger ranted about that part already as well.

I don't think TARP was a Republican creation - I think they were the ones who voted it down (in accordance with their generally free market philosophies)

mostly, I think this "pledge" is typical rhetoric for the party - nothing new. (and I'm generally conservative)

as for the CEO thing - I just want to clarify that my goal was certainly not to show off or "punk" the CEO - that's no way to start a career! But I'm also not smart enough to just sit there and STFU when presented an opportunity like that!

But What do I Know? said...

Right--it's a draft. Good catch, KD. Wonder when the final copy comes out, lol.

I will pick a nit with you on TARP, however. Wikipedia says that the bill was signed by GWB on October 3, 2008--and I believe it was pushed by Hank Paulson. That makes it Republican in my book (though perhaps using it for GM and Chrysler was a Democratic idea.)

Kid Dynamite said...

BWDIK - you can look up the vote, I'm sure it's not hard to find, but the vote was along party lines, and the republicans voted it down. (at least, i THINK) they did.

the president does not make policy - that's why we have votes in congress - so you can't just say "it's republican" because Bush was a Republican.

I definitely agree that Paulson pushed the thing through with intimidation and fear (THE WORLD WILL END IF YOU DON'T VOTE FOR THIS)

Kid Dynamite said...

BWDIK - here is the roll call form teh first failed house vote:

it's actually not completely partisan

DEMS: 140-95
Repubs: 65-133

the second (passed) vote was:

dems: 172-63
repubs: 91-108

Marton H said...

Interesting how much the Republican Party banks on public forgetfulness about the instigators of TARP. It was Paulson's staff who drafted it, Paulson who presented it to Congress, Dubya who pushed it. (Remember "if the money isn't loosened up, this sucker's going down"? That was about TARP.)

I haven't seen any mention lately of that incident where the Republican Administration's Treasury Secretary knelt down and begged the Democratic congressmen to support his bailout - so that his own party comrades can vote against it and demonize it with impunity at tea parties...

But What do I Know? said...

Thanks for looking up that TARP data, KD. I'm sure there were some Republicans who voted against it on principle, but they had the luxury of their consciences since the Administration had lined up enough votes for the thing the second time after they had read the Riot Act. Maybe it wasn't official Republican party policy, but it was pushed by a Republican administration and president. I suppose you could say it had bipartisan support, but that only makes it slightly less disingenuous for the GOP to rail against it now. . .

Anonymous said...

so u started at jpm?

scharfy said...

Cheap stunt by repubs. Probably will backfire. Agree with comments, any talk of spending without entitlements is just talk.

Bottom line is people don't give 2 shits about healthcare if they have a good job.

Obama better pull a monster policy change or he'll get executed. He's gotta end the wars (victorious of course) before 2012...

November gonna be fun!!!

mrwiizrd said...

"in accordance with their generally free market philosophies"

I hope you were being sarcastic here KD, saying that Republicans are generally free market is akin to saying that OJ is generally innocent of murder.

TC said...

Absent a plan embracing Lincoln's "greenbacks" policy, the current iteration of pseudo-Republican might as well be making their pledge to Antarctica. Apparently, political courage these days demands one be only a little less irrelevant than the party in power.

Can't wait to watch these hacks squirm as the rage of a population abused by private interests increasingly sees through their every diversion revealing their lack of will to do the job they have sworn to, whose purpose is well-spoken in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution.

Kid Dynamite said...

Mr Wiizard - all I meant is that REpublicans, are, in general, in favor of less regulation and letting the "markets" do their thing.

I don't want to debate it, although I'd be pretty surprised if you disagree.

and Marton - I mentioned that in my 9:20am comment this morning

Greycap said...

The thing is, "less regulation and letting the markets do their thing" is a contradiction. Regulation is the lifeblood of markets. Without regulation, you don't get a perfect market, you get Russia or Zimbabwe or Somalia.

That's the problem with "we will also prevent Washington from forcing responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior by ending bailouts permanently." As long as this is just windbaggery, without any concrete alternative, it amounts to a 100% gold-plated guarantee from the Republican party to continue the need for bailouts and increase their size. Just legislating against bailouts is no more effective than legislating the value of pi or Plank's constant.

You can defy gravity by building a plane or balloon, but not by repealing the "law" of gravity. With respect to banking, the working planes and balloons come in the form of regulation. It's not like the answers aren't out there; you could start with this:

Kid Dynamite said...

greycap - I think I know exactly what you're trying to say, and I could probably write a 1000 word post on it alone.

as for the concept of "Regulation is the lifeblood of markets" - interesting... SOME regulation, or maybe "JUST ENOUGH" regulation is the lifeblood of markets...

J Johnson said...

atta boy kid. I am surprised after the BS answer you didn't pull a DYKWTFIA.

thanks for the post