Archive for January, 2011

“Our Social Net Is ‘Not’ An Entitlement!”

Franklin D. Roosevelt was visionary in the establishment of Social Security.

Roosevelt was determined that the devastation and poverty he witnessed during The Great Depression would never befall hard-working Americans again. The Social Security Act was enacted to allow aging Americans to retire comfortably and with dignity. As he stated in his proposal to Congress in January of 1935, “It is a sound idea–a sound ideal.”

The program has worked well since its ratification in 1935 when a small amount of a worker’s pay was held out of each paycheck and saved for the individual until they retired from the workforce.

Social Security is ‘not’ an entitlement—it’s our money, our savings, that ‘we the people’ allow the government to protect for our future.

Defined broadly one could argue that Social Security is an entitlement—under both definitions of the word. But the usage by the Republicans has made the word dirty, its association with Social Security obscene. Listening to Ryan, Cantor, and Boehner’s negative references is offensive.

The people’ need to take back the argument from those that try to distort it.

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Posted in Economy, Opinion, Politics, Social Net | 3 Comments »

”Georgia Still Leading In Foreclosures!”

The FDIC closed four banks on Friday; another in the state of Georgia.

Georgia lost it’s 53rd bank on Friday as the devastation of the Georgia banking system continues unabated. The 52nd Georgian bank was closed just last week.

No buyer was found for Enterprise Banking Company in McDonough so the FDIC closed the bank and created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of McDonough to allow customers access to their insured deposits.

Customers will receive all of their insured funds from the DINB. This allows depositors continuing access to their accounts during the transition.

Enterprise is estimated to cost the Deposit Insurance Fund $39.6 million.

The Carolinas’ each lost a bank last Friday and the fourth take-over was United Western Bank in Denver, Colorado. Neither Colorado nor North Carolina lost banks in 2010 and prior to Friday had only lost three and two respectively since the crisis began back in 2008. South Carolina has now lost five during the crisis.

United Western was the 7th foreclosure this year and the 329th since January, 2008. There were 9 foreclosures at this time last year. It was the largest of the four banks and will cost the DIF $312.8 million of the $454.9 million hit to the Fund this week.

The loss-share story continued with agreements between the FDIC and the three assuming banks totaling nearly $1.5 billion with the Denver agreement over $1.1 billion of that total.

The 2011 foreclosures are on track with last year which had 157 banks seized by the FDIC, 17 more than 2009.

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Posted in FDIC Foreclosures | No Comments »

“The Political Talk World Is Shaken By MSNBC”

This article was posted on The Huffington Post on Tuesday, Jan 25. click on link to read it on HuffPost.

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There was a deafening silence across the land, then a rising cacophony!

In a sudden and bold move on Friday night MSNBC delivered a big blow to free speech. Within seconds of the end of Countdown the internet was atwitter with news of Keith Olbermann’s sudden curtain call at MSNBC.

The news surprised Countdown’s audience and shocked the media.

There have been many stories written since the Friday night announcement; attempts to explain possible reasons for Olbermann’s departure. They included his recent suspension, his stormy relationship with NBC management, the merger with Comcast, and his liberal voice.

None of it will become clear until the termination of any non-disclosure agreements between Keith and MSNBC.

Olbermann had become the voice for liberal media—the counter balance to the bias of Fox and NewsCorp.

Vilified by the right for his passionate liberal views, his popularity with progressives became the model for MSNBC’s prime time line-up. That popularity helped bring voices like Maddow, Schultz, O’Donnell, and Ratigan to the public.

Olbermann’s Countdown was gaining market share in the same time slot as Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, and with it came more vitriolic attacks from fans of Fox. On the Thursday before Friday’s announcement Countdown attracted over 1.1 million viewers. He aggressively called out Fox hosts for their lies and hypocrisy which in turn drew accusations of hypocrisy, and lies from his detractors.

Those attacks were unfounded given the fact-based reporting on Countdown, a model that is evident throughout the MSNBC line-up and generally non-existent on the comparable shows on Fox. There seems to be no interest in presenting information based in fact at Fox and the chastised main stream media is reluctant to point that out.

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Posted in HuffPost Articles, Media | No Comments »

“Where Are the Jobs, Mr. Speaker?”

Data from the weekly unemployment claims have a chilling affect!

The Department of Labor unemployment data for the weeks of January 13th and the 20th contained some frightening numbers, but most everyone focused on the more positive seasonally adjusted numbers in the two reports.

Seasonally adjusted initial claims on the 13th showed a large, but manageable, increase of 35,000 after the two holiday-shortened weeks. For the week of the 20th the number declined by 37,000 reversing all the negatives from the previous week’s rise. And seasonally adjusted continuing claims actually showed a surprising improvement, dropping 248,000 on the 13th and another 26,000 on the 20th.

Seasonally adjusted claims fell to the low four-hundred thousands, which is viewed by some as good news.

But, the unadjusted numbers were disturbing, showing little gain from last year’s totals. On the 13th initial claims climbed nearly 192,000; a total of 770,413 individuals filing for unemployment compensation. And though 212,504 fewer people filed on the 20th, 550,594 people signed up for benefits. Seasonal adjustments may no longer be valid given the depth of this unprecedented and lingering recession.

Over half-a-million hard-working Americans are still being laid off across the U.S. each week in construction, transportation, retail and the manufacturing and service industries. Healthcare is one of only a couple areas that are still growing and increased by 36,000 in December.

So, where are the jobs, Mr. Speaker?

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Posted in Economy, Jobs | 2 Comments »

“Hiding America’s ‘Real’ Economy!”

This article is available on The Huffington Post and was posted at 5:00 pm on January 20. Click on link to view on the Huff Post.

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America’s economy seems to be recovering but is that the ‘real’ story?

Some fourth quarter economic indicators—retail sales, manufacturing, stock market, corporate profits—portend a rising economy significant enough to avoid another slide to the bottom.

The optimism on Wall Street is palpable as the stock market continues to rise, or melt up as they now say, a result of the positive indicators over recent months. And the heightened exuberance the consumers showed this holiday season was also a positive sign. Manufacturing has been rising for the last several months which is seen as paramount to an improving economy.

The stock market is on its way back to its peak, due, in part, to record corporate profits.

The market is considered a forward looking indicator, and the private sector seems poised to stand on its own and no longer require the extreme measures it needed from the Federal Government.

So what could possibly go wrong and who would even whisper that things weren’t getting better?

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Posted in Economy, HuffPost Articles, Wall Street | No Comments »

“I Didn’t Know Gabby, But I’d Like To!”

Gabby Giffords is strong, she’s a fighter and someone I’d like to know!

On Saturday afternoon, January 8th, in Tucson, Arizona Congresswoman Giffords’s life was suddenly interrupted; tragically changed in a heartbeat by a cacophony of gunfire.

For the next few days her husband Mark and the entire country waited with bated breath while she went through surgical procedures to save her life.

It didn’t matter, at the time, what party she was from—what mattered was her life, the medical procedures, and her hopeful recovery.

As more information was released about the tragedy, hearts grew heavier and discourse more acetic.

In the confusion 13 people would be injured, six would lose their lives, and Gabby’s hung in the balance.

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Posted in Healthcare, Politics | No Comments »

“An UnHealthy Debate: Again!”

This HealthCare article has just been posted on The Huffington Post , Monday, Jan 17. Read it on HuffPost by selecting this link.

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The Repeal of the HealthCare Bill will add $230 billion to the deficit!

House Republicans are threatening to repeal the HealthCare Bill—and replace it!

At the end of their first week in office the new majority will, as they’ve promised in their Pledge to America, vote to repeal ObamaCare—the HealthCare Bill that took a long and difficult year to pass. Unfortunately, what finally emerged was a weakened compromise; a skeleton of real reform, forced upon the American people by the Obstructionist Party.

Last February I wrote an article, “UnAmerican Activities: An UnHealthy Debate,” in which I described glaring disruptions to the discourse over quality healthcare reform. It was clearly an opportunity missed to discuss and finally control debilitating healthcare costs.

It was an incredibly ugly time in this 100 year battle.

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Posted in Economy, Healthcare, HuffPost Articles, Politics | No Comments »

“Florida Loses First Bank of 2011”

Two banks were seized by the FDIC to start the new year!

Florida lost its 46th bank since the banking crisis began in 2008 edging closer to Georgia which has lost 51 in that time.

With the closure of First Commercial Bank in Orlando and Legacy Bank in Scottsdale, Arizona a potentially new dynamic may exist in 2011.

The agreement between First Southern Bank, assuming bank of First Commercial, and the FDIC includes a loss-share of $484 million. First Commercial which had only nine branches had combined assets and deposits of $1.1 billion. The loss-share amount is 44% of the total assumption and nearly 80% of the total assets.

In addition, the cost of the foreclosure to the Deposit Insurance Fund is $78 million, or $8.7 million per branch.

It is also the case in the smaller Legacy Bank take-over in Arizona, where the loss-share of $119.8 million is also 80% of the assets. But the hit of $27.9 million to the DIF is a loss of $15 million per branch. Combined the DIF will lose $105.9 million for the two banks.

The number of lost banks during the crisis edged higher to 324, but the loss of two banks the first week of January is double the loss last year.

In 2010 two banks were seized in the 2nd week and 15 during the month of January, so next week will be interesting to watch.

It will be even more interesting to watch the cycle of the first month in this fourth year of the banking crisis.

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Posted in FDIC Foreclosures | No Comments »

“There’s No Crying in Politics!”

The new Speaker of the House’s eyes were already moist before his acceptance speech!

Was he crying for the American people?

For the millions out of work? Or the children now in school that will not have a chance at the American Dream? How about the millions that will be losing their homes over the next two years? Or the disabled Iraq and Afghan veterans and their families? I doubt it.

They’re tears of joy for tax cuts for the wealthy. For AT&T ($40,250) American Financial Group ($38,900) Altria ($26,400) BofA ($16,500) and Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($15,500), and other corporations that donated over $9,000,000 to Boehner’s 2010 bid for the House.

Boehner’s tears were justified. He needed all of it to be reelected in Ohio’s 8th District. His campaign spent $9,682,000 to defeat his Democratic opponent. He will be eternally grateful to the corporations that helped him become the 53rd Speaker. Especially since his opponent spent almost $242,000 against him.

But isn’t Nancy Pelosi the big spender?

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Posted in Politics | No Comments »

“A House Derided”

This new article has been posted on The Huffington Post, Thursday at 11:05 pm. Click on the link to read at the HuffPost.

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Will the coming change in the House of Representatives be productive?

In the 110th and 111th Congresses the Democratic Majority was accused of socialism, out of control spending, manipulation, and derision by a bitter and vitriolic Republican minority. A minority with a memory deficit.

Attacks have been unfairly levied at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and other high ranking Democrats in the House for a multitude of positions and actions they took as the majority party. Many of the actions would actually ‘help’ most Americans.

Republicans are set to again become the majority in the House despite their previous 12 years of failure: causing the economic meltdown, throwing us into a costly war in Iraq, increasing the cost of Medicare with Medicare Part D, bailing out the banks with TARP, and on and on, ad infinitum.

If you think the House of Representatives was bad this past four years wait until you see what’s coming.

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Posted in Congress, HuffPost Articles, Politics, Republican Crises | No Comments »