Archive for May, 2011

“Who’ll Be the Next In Line?”

“Who’ll be the next in line…Who’ll be the next in line for heartache?”

The melodic Kinks tune should be the Republican theme song for the 2012 election as prospective candidates fall like flies. So who’s next?

Over the last year or so the Republicans have had no less than 20 presidential hopefuls with aspirations to the highest office in the country. A revolving door of right-wing pols offering hours of comedic relief, none of which has escaped notice of the punditry and, with any luck, the American people.

For a long time Republicans have followed an orderly ascendancy to the Presidential nomination, but the Tea Party has disrupted that long standing tradition. And the possible outcome’s unsettling to the party.

Since I wrote the last installment in my “Is That All You’ve Got?” series, in early March, new dynamics have emerged.

The Republican Party is in disarray, searching for a direction, unsure of what their party stands for.

Could it become any more inane?

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Posted in Election 2012, Is That All You've Got?, Politics, Republican Hopefuls | Comments Off

Quick Hit: “Hochul Turns New York Blue”

The Special Election in New York was a referendum on Medicare.

Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin to represent the people of NY-26 which has been very red since 1857!

Hochul garnered 48% of the vote in a three candidate race which included Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, who received 8% of the vote. Jane Corwin, the presumptive winner just two short month’s ago received just 43% in a district that has 30,000 more registered Republicans.

Corwin, like nearly every Republican, supported the Ryan Plan and seems to have paid the price for that endorsement.

Seniors have not been fooled by the medical voucher plan that Representative Paul Ryan presented as part of his budget proposal, realizing it is a veiled attempt at privatization. All but four Republican members of the House of Representatives voted for it last month and faced stiff opposition in town hall meetings throughout their districts. Nearly 80% of Americans polled do not want Congress to touch their Medicare.

Just as Corwin paid a steep price for her endorsement of the Ryan Plan, House Republicans will face tough challenges in the 2012 elections as a result of their ideological mistake.

Senators will be challenged in the Senate vote on the Ryan Plan that Harry Reid has called for this week. Republican Senators will be on the record and the 10 who are up for election in 2012 will have to answer to their constituents.

The win by Kathy Hochul in the 26th District in New York will send tremors through a Republican Party already in disarray.

This was a big victory for the Democrats and should be repeated—ad infinitum—in every election for the next year and a half.

The American people have spoken loud and clear.

Keep your hands off of my Medicare!

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Posted in Election 2012, Politics, Quick Hits | 4 Comments »

“And Then There Were Five!”

New article posted on The Huffington Post. Click on the link to read it on HuffPo.

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The Gang of Six loses one Republican over cuts to Medicare.

Last Tuesday, Senator Tom Coburn announced he was leaving the Gang of Six, citing differences between he and his colleagues over cuts in Medicare.

The six Senators had been meeting for over five months to develop a fiscal plan to stabilize the American economy and, hopefully, be acceptable to both parties in both houses of Congress.

Four of the six members were part of the President’s Deficit Commission. Like Senator Coburn, the other three, Senator’s Crapo, Conrad, and Durbin, supported the recommendations of the commission though it failed to get the votes needed to be formally considered by Congress.

What caused Coburn’s departure, and how will it affect the workings of the group?

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Posted in Budget, Economy, HuffPost Articles, Politics, Rebalancing America | Comments Off

“Two More Banks Fall in Georgia”

On Friday, Georgia lost two more large banks to foreclosure.

Atlantic Southern Bank and First Georgia Banking Company were seized by the FDIC and became the 62nd and 63rd banks closed in Georgia since the banking crisis began.

A third closure, the first of the year in Washington, was the 43rd bank foreclosure this year and only the fourth bank to fall in May.

Bank failures have slowed compared to last year but there are still some concerns: the cost of the foreclosures to the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund, the continued closures in Georgia, and the level of the loss-share provisions afforded assuming banks.

The three banks closed on Friday will cost the DIF over $445 million, $430 million of that from the two Georgian banks. With the cost of these new Georgia take-overs, the Peach State has cost the Fund over $1.3 billion this year alone.

In addition, the loss-share is an extraordinary $1.15 billion for just three banks.

Since the crisis began in 2008, a total of 365 banks have succumbed to this modern banking crisis which is far from over. Each bank foreclosure has an undetermined, but probably negative, affect on our financial recovery.

You can track the banking crisis in several ways including the FDIC Foreclosures Category here on The Cutting Edge Blog.

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Posted in Economy, FDIC Foreclosures | Comments Off

“America’s Retirement Insecurity”

This article has been posted on The Huffington Post. To read the article on the Huff Post click on the link.

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Republicans are bent on eviscerating America’s security against poverty!

The recession has taken its toll on hard-working Americans. It has left a nation insecure and unsure of the future; a future that is dimming with every new crisis.

Not since the 1930’s has the need for a social safety net been more crucial.

Years of impaired vision, misplaced ideology, and tainted government have left the U.S. vulnerable to a catastrophic collapse the magnitude of the ‘30’s.

Republicans, after causing most of our fiscal problems, are attacking the social safety net, more specifically Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as the major problems in our fiscal solvency.

Representative Ryan’s attempt to privatize Medicare is meeting considerable resistance. People are acutely aware of the negative ramifications of his proposed voucher system; a push for privatizing healthcare.

George W. Bush’s attempt to do the same to Social Security in 2005 was equally rebuked and failed for good reason.

Why are people so averse to modernizing these social programs?

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Posted in Economy, HuffPost Articles, Politics, Rebalancing America, Republican Crises, Social Net | 2 Comments »

Quick Hit: “Oil Slides While Executives Whine”

The price of oil fell by over $5.00 a barrel yesterday after EIA report was released.

Speculators were running for the exits yesterday as demand for their pumped-up product continues to fall.

Oil Executives of the big five oil companies, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Conoco, and Royal Dutch Shell, testified before the Senate Finance Committee to justify—after amassing huge quarterly profits—the need of government subsidies of $2.1 billion dollars a year.

In a pre-statement with unAmerican overtones, Conoco-Phillips CEO, James Mulva, called the elimination of the subsidies ‘UnAmerican’ and ‘discriminatory.’

With the oil industry making record profits, why continue subsidies?

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Posted in Economy, Oil, Uncategorized | Comments Off

“The Gang of Six”

Three Republicans and three Democrats search for budget compromise!

A bipartisan group, six Senators, have spent months pounding out a compromise they hope to persuade Congress to adopt; a plan that will reduce the deficit, create jobs, and turn the U.S. economy around.

Senators Mark Warner (VA), Dick Durbin (IL), Kent Conrad (ND) and Tom Coburn (OK), Saxby Chambliss (GA), and Tom Crapo (ID), after months of meeting behind closed doors may not be able to complete a deal as budget talks begin in earnest now that Congress has returned from its two week recess.

Since they’ve been meeting in almost complete secrecy it’s difficult to predict what their proposal will contain. Difficult to know what they agree on and what they differ on.

Unlike the Ryan Plan which was passed by the House a few weeks ago, the bipartisan proposal is rumored to contain some revenue increases as well as spending cuts. It will, like the President’s Deficit Commission, address the reality that serious deficit reduction requires growth in revenue which does not sit well with Republicans.

Will the bipartisan plan get bipartisan support?

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Posted in Budget, Economy, HuffPost Articles, Jobs, Politics | 1 Comment »

“Bank Foreclosures Accelerate”

Without fanfare five more banks fail and are seized by the FDIC.

Georgia and Florida are again ravaged by the FDIC on a Friday afternoon. They each lost two banks, Georgia their 60th and 61st and Florida, the 48th and 49th.

The FDIC, through April, has closed 39 banks, ten of them in the Peach State. Georgia leads the nation in bank failures, a result of lax regulation and capital requirements.

Florida, number two in lost banks since the crisis began, has lost only 4 this year attributed to poor lending practices and over-leveraged balance sheets.

The Wall Street Journal continues to track bank failures since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, tracking all 361 failures.

The FDIC had to pay $643 million from the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) for the five banks closed on Friday, the 29th. Over $400 million for the two Georgia banks and $245 million for the other three banks in Florida and Michigan.

Georgia has cost the DIF $875 million this year. By comparison, Silverton Bank in Atlanta, closed by the FDIC on May 1 of 2009, cost the fund approximately $1.3 billion so Georgia banks have taken their toll on the Fund.

Adding to Alabama’s recent catastrophe, two Birmingham banks were closed by the FDIC just two weeks before the devastation of the tornadoes. Both were relatively large banks, costing the DIF $435 million.

April ended with only 13 banks failing, much better than the 23 that were taken over in the same month last year. But, only eight were closed in April, 2009.

The acceleration in the second half of the month is disconcerting. Eleven were closed on the last two Fridays of the month, excluding Good Friday.

Tomorrow will be the first Friday of May which will give us an indication of the continued acceleration or a slow down.

This is a development that we need to continue to watch.

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Posted in Economy, FDIC Foreclosures | 2 Comments »

“Transitory Oil: Greasing the Slide”

Turmoil in the Mideast is being blamed for high gas prices.

Americans are getting fleeced by big oil companies!

In his first ever press conference Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke referred to the rise in oil and gas prices, as well as food and other commodity prices, as transitory. Though these stifling rises aren’t permanent they are having an immediate impact on those that can least afford them. They continue to erode the middle-class.

Transitory or not, big oil companies are making a killing on the high prices.

Exxon/Mobil reported record quarterly earnings, $10.65 billion, for the first quarter of 2011. That’s a 69% improvement over the same quarter last year. They spend millions of dollars in television and radio ads telling us how great they are. How much they’re doing for our planet. How much they’re improving our lives.

But are they really improving our lives?

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Posted in Economy, Oil | Comments Off