Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The top charts of 2015

The top charts of 2015

Keys to the economic situation.

The Melting of Social Democracy

Hotshot French economist Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, looked at the major democracies with North Atlantic coastlines over the past couple of centuries. He saw five striking facts: First, ownership of private wealth—with its power to command resources, dictate where and how people would work, and shape politics—was always highly concentrated. Second, 150 years—six generations—ago, the ratio of a country’s total private wealth to its total annual income was about six. Third, 50 years—two generations—ago, that capital-income ratio was about three. Fourth, over the past two generations that capital-income ratio has been rising rapidly. Fifth, the flow of income to the owner of the dollar capital did not rise when capital was relatively scarce, but plodded along at a typical net rate of profit of about 5% per year generation after generation. He wondered what these facts predicted for the shape of the major North Atlantic economies in the 21st century. And so he wrote a big book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that was published last year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Big Short - The Financial Crisis

Paul Krugman
In May 2009 Congress created a special commission to examine the causes of the financial crisis. The idea was to emulate the celebrated Pecora Commission of the 1930s, which used careful historical analysis to help craft regulations that gave America two generations of financial stability.
But some members of the new commission had a different goal. George Santayana famously remarked that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What he didn’t point out was that some people want to repeat the past — and that such people have an interest in making sure that we don’t remember what happened, or that we remember it wrong.

                  Sure enough, some commission members sought to block consideration of any historical account that might support efforts to rein in runaway bankers. As one of those members, Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote to a fellow Republican on the commission, it was important that what they said “not undermine the ability of the new House G.O.P. to modify or repeal Dodd-Frank,” the financial regulations introduced in 2010. Never mind what really happened; the party line, literally, required telling stories that would help Wall Street do it all over again.
Which brings me to a new movie the enemies of financial regulation really, really don’t want you to see.
The Big Short” is based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, one of the few real best-sellers to emerge from the financial crisis. I saw an early screening, and I think it does a terrific job of making Wall Street skulduggery entertaining, of exploiting the inherent black humor of how it went down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Creamer: Dems Must Unite Against New Effort to End Unions | Democratic Strategist

Creamer: Dems Must Unite Against New Effort to End Unions | Democratic Strategist

News Reports Give 284 Minutes to Trump, 10 to Sanders

A new report finds the flagship news programs at major networks NBCCBS and ABC have dedicated 234 minutes this year to stories about Donald Trump—compared to just 10 minutes for Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The gap comes despite Trump and Sanders often having similar levels of support in primary polls. The Tyndall Report found ABC’s World News Tonight, for example, has devoted 81 minutes to Trump campaign stories—and less than one minute to Sanders, for the entire year.
Dec. 15, 2015.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Donald Trump is Dangerous to Democracy

Choosing Democracy: Donald Trump is Dangerous to Democracy: Donald J. Trump called on Monday for the United States to bar all Muslims from entering the country until the nation’s leaders can “figure ...

Monday, December 7, 2015

Income inequality Happens by Design.

We Can't Fix It by Tweaking Capitalism

Income Inequality is form of Child Abuse
Portside Date: 
December 6, 2015
Steven W Thrasher
Date of Source: 
Saturday, December 5, 2015
The Guardian
The economic hoarding by those at the top has been termed “income inequality”, but that’s neither a strong nor accurate enough phrasing. I have never heard poor people complain about “income inequality”; poor people complain about being screwed out of housing [1] , or about working more hours for less pay [2] or about having to choose between medicine and food [3].
“Inequality” sounds like something that happens by accident and can be remedied by fiddling around the edges. It is not as if the rich are a little more equal and the poor a little less equal, and if we shift a bit we’ll all come out in the middle. What we’ve been calling “income inequality” might be better understood as a war waged by US political and economic policy on the poor.
A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies [4] issued this week analyzed the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans [5] and found that “the wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States”. That means that 100 families – most of whom are white – have as much wealth as the 41,000,000 black folks [6] walking around the country (and the million or so [7] locked up) combined.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Transition Economy- for Workers

A Superfund for Workers


Jeremy Brecher
Date of Source: 
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Dollars and Sense
When the Dominion Corporation proposed, On April 1, 2013, to build a liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point, Md., right on the Chesapeake Bay, seven hundred people demonstrated against it and many were arrested in a series of civil disobedience actions. But an open letter endorsing the project maintained it would “create more than 3,000 construction jobs” most of which would go “to local union members.” The letter—on Dominion letterhead—was signed not only by business leaders, but also by twenty local and national trade union leaders.
Similarly, in the struggle over the Keystone XL pipeline, pipeline proponents were quick to seize on the “jobs issue” and tout support from building trades unions and eventually the AFL-CIO. In a press release titled “U.S. Chamber Calls Politically-Charged Decision to Deny Keystone a Job Killer,” the Chamber said President Obama’s denial of the Keystone permit was “sacrificing tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs in the short term, and many more than that in the long term.”
The media repeat the jobs vs. environment frame again and again: an NPR headline on Keystone was typical of many: “Pipeline Decision Pits Jobs Against Environment.” A similar dynamic has marked the “beyond coal” campaign, the fracking battle, and the struggle for EPA regulation of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Is there a persuasive answer to the charge that climate protection policies are job-killers? A common environmentalist response has been that environmental protection produces far more jobs than it eliminates. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson explained, “environmental protection creates jobs—1.7 million of them as of 2008.” It is true that, on balance, environmental policies usually create jobs (see box, “Jobs: Clean Energy vs. Fossil Fuels”); unfortunately, this is of little comfort to the small number of workers in fossil-fuel producing and using industries who are likely to lose their jobs as a result of climate protection policies, including coal miners, power-plant workers, and oil refinery workers. And such workers can rapidly become Fox News poster children for the threat posed to workers by climate protection.
Fortunately, a strategy has been emerging to protect workers and communities whose livelihoods may be threatened by climate protection policies. Protecting those who lose their jobs due to necessary environmental policies has often been referred to as a “just transition,” a phrase popularized by labor and environmental leader Tony Mazzocchi of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers union (now merged with the Steelworkers) in the 1990s. (More recently, the term “just transition” is often being used in a broader way to include not only justice for workers and communities adversely affected by environmental policies, but the inclusion of broader social justice objectives within environmental policies.)

Monday, November 30, 2015

How Hedge Fund Billionaires Take Over a State

Excellent piece on Illinois politics in Today's New York Times.

MUST READ: WEALTHY SHIFT BALANCE OF POWER IN ILLINOIS: We've chronicled for months the daily battles between Republican Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state's public employee unions. But the New York Times' Nicholas Confessore offers a brilliant macro-level view of the group of millionaires and billionaires that mobilized to elect Rauner. "To bring about a revolution in the Illinois Capitolin Springfield, Mr. Rauner and his allies have created what amounts to a new campaign economy, in which union money has long been the financial lifeblood of both parties," Confessore writes. "All told, the Griffin family's contributions to Mr. Rauner through the end of 2014 came to $13.6 million - more than the combined sum donated to [former Democratic Gov. Pat] Quinn by 244 labor unions in the state." 
What's more, that group of wealthy donors is staying in the game after Rauner's election, with an ongoing spending binge designed to draw union-friendly Democrats to its corner, Confessore writes. Most of the wealthy donors "lean Republican; some are Democrats. But to a remarkable degree, their philosophies are becoming part of a widely adopted blueprint for public officials around the country: Critical of the power of unions, many are also determined to reduce spending and taxation, and are skeptical of government-led efforts to mitigate the growing gap between the rich and everyone else." 
"They come with a very political and philosophical bent," said the Chicago hedge fund executive William Daley, a former chief of staff to President Barack Obama and a member of Rauner's transition team. "I think they believe philosophically in that business mentality and that strong public unions are a root of all evil in governing places like Illinois or Chicago and New York and California." http://nyti.ms/1XqaNnh

A similar effort is at work in California.  The primary target is labor unions.

And on the worker side:

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez 
The American Prospect
Managers and supervisors can now legally require their workers to participate in politics as a condition of employment. For instance, in most states, managers have the legal right to mandate worker attendance at a political rally for a favored candidate—and fire or punish workers who decline to participate.
Aside from Citizens United and the overall political climate, several other changes in the American workplace have facilitated greater political recruitment of workers by managers. Most important, American workers have lost much of the voice and bargaining power that they possessed a generation ago. One clear manifestation of this imbalance in workplace power is the stagnation of the typical worker’s wages relative to the productivity of the overall economy, especially since the 1970s. Other signs of reduced worker bargaining power include record levels of wage theft by managers and the rise of on-call positions where employees are not notified of their schedules until just before they are required to report for work...
The collapse of the labor movement, competition with lower-wage economies overseas, the failure to update labor-law protections, and greater pressures on firms to generate high returns have all contributed to workers’ loss of power and left them in a far weaker position to resist employer demands for political support. In the past, when workers were more secure in their employment, they might have been comfortable refusing to participate in employer-led political activities. Today, not so much: Employees are reluctant to defy management for fear of being replaced.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Talking Political Economy for Thanksgiving

 With Thanksgiving just a day away, I wanted to send along some guidance on how to deal with the inevitable political debate that breaks out over Thanksgiving dinner.

When your conservative cousin insists that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea, I want you to know how to push back. When your cantankerous uncle vilifies unions, I want you to be prepared with the facts.

Let’s start with the erroneous attacks on unions.

MYTH: "Unions haven’t done anything for us."
Wrong. Unions do not damage productivity or employment growth. Instead, unions help distribute income gains more equitably toward workers from corporate owners and their executive managers. Evidence shows that when unions are empowered, the higher pay and standards they set—such as overtime pay and the 40-hour workweek—spill over and benefit all workers.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Real Divide Between Clinton and Sanders - neoliberalism

Jerome Karakul, Sociology, U.C. Berkeley 
When the Democratic candidates for president come together for their second presidential debate this Saturday, the question may arise -- as it did in the first debate -- as to what Bernie Sanders means when he says he is a socialist. But the distinction between "socialism" and "capitalism" is misleading here, for the real debate is about what type of capitalism the candidates favor, for none of them are old-fashioned socialists who advocate public ownership of major industries. There is, however, a far-reaching difference between the social democratic version of capitalism favored by Senator Sanders and the neoliberal version preferred by Secretary Clinton.
This difference is what was really beneath the disagreement that took place in the first debate about Denmark, which -- along with Sweden and Norway, the other countries mentioned in the debate by Senator Sanders -- embody the social democratic model: a type of highly regulated market economy that is characterized by strong labor unions, a generous welfare state, vigorous public institutions, and relatively high taxes and public expenditures.
A man taking a stroll on Rost Island, Norway
In contrast, the model of capitalism favored by Secretary Clinton might be termed neoliberal: heavy reliance on market mechanisms (hence Obamacare rather than Medicare for all or even a public option), privatization of many services previously carried out by the government (hence extensive private contracting by the U.S. military), a less generous welfare state, a bias toward deregulation (hence the decision to repeal Glass-Steagall), and lower taxes and public expenditures (though it should be noted that all of the Republican candidates support an even purer and more extreme version of the neoliberal model than Secretary Clinton). 
Senator Sanders captured a key element of the difference between the two models when he said in the first debate that "Congress doesn't regulate Wall Street; Wall Street regulates Congress." The degree to which concentrated corporate power dominates the political process is incompatible with the social democratic model, which is premised on the capacity of democratically elected government to regulate the economy in the public interest. An observer of European societies put the matter succinctly: In genuine democracies, the political institutions must shape the economy, not the other way around.

Neoliberalism, Democrats, and Public Schools

Jeff Bryant,  Education Opportunity Network,

The “big economic fight” in the Democratic Party that news outlets are reporting isn’t confined to economics.
The link above takes you to a story in the Washington Post explaining how a “populist wing” in the Democratic Party is rebelling against the conventional wisdom of “centrist” Democrats who have dominated the party since the 1990s.
“Right now the populist story is winning,” the article concludes.
My colleague Richard Eskow pounced on the article and writes for the Huffington Post, “The corporate-friendly policies of the party’s more conservative wing have fared poorly, both as policy and as politics, and as a result the party has moved to the left.”
Eskow points to “the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders” and other recent events as signs of “a major setback for the so-called ‘New Democrats’ who have dominated the party since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. Nearly 25 years after they rose to power, the ideas of the ‘New Democrats’ don’t seem so new.”

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This Changes Everything

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

California, Austerity and Prop. 30

The states, Justice Brandeis famously pointed out, are the laboratories of democracy. And it’s still true. For example, one reason we knew or should have known that Obamacare was workable was the post-2006 success of Romneycare in Massachusetts. More recently, Kansas went all-in on supply-side economics, slashing taxes on the affluent in the belief that this would spark a huge boom; the boom didn’t happen, but the budget deficit exploded, offering an object lesson to those willing to learn from experience.

Paul Krugman
Macroeconomics, trade, health care, social policy and politics.

And there’s an even bigger if less drastic experiment under way in the opposite direction. California has long suffered from political paralysis, with budget rules that allowed an increasingly extreme Republican minority to hamstring a Democratic majority; when the state’s housing bubble burst, it plunged into fiscal crisis. In 2012, however, Democratic dominance finally became strong enough to overcome the paralysis, and Gov. Jerry Brown was able to push through a modestly liberal agenda of higher taxes, spending increases and a rise in the minimum wage. California also moved enthusiastically to implement Obamacare.

I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

Needless to say, conservatives predicted doom. A representative reaction: Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute declared that by voting for Proposition 30, which authorized those tax increases, “the looters and moochers of the Golden State” (yes, they really do think they’re living in an Ayn Rand novel) were committing “economic suicide.” Meanwhile, Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute and Forbes claimed that California residents were about to face a “rate shock”that would more than double health insurance premiums.

What has actually happened? There is, I’m sorry to say, no sign of the promised catastrophe.

If tax increases are causing a major flight of jobs from California, you can’t see it in the job numbers. Employment is up 3.6 percent in the past 18 months, compared with a national average of 2.8 percent; at this point, California’s share of national employment, which was hit hard by the bursting of the state’s enormous housing bubble, is back to pre-recession levels.

On health care, some people — basically healthy young men who were getting inexpensive insurance on the individual market and were too affluent to receive subsidies — did face premium increases, which we always knew would happen. Over all, however, the costs of health reform came in below expectations, while enrollment came in well above — more than triple initial predictions in the San Francisco area. A recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund suggests that California has already cut the percentage of its residents without health insurance in half. What’s more, all indications are that further progress is in the pipeline, with more insurance companies entering the marketplace for next year.

And, yes, the budget is back in surplus.

Has there been any soul-searching among the prophets of California doom, asking why they were so wrong? Not that I’m aware of. Instead, I’ve been seeing many attempts to devalue the good news from California by pointing out that the state’s job growth still lags that of Texas, which is true, and claiming that this difference is driven by differential tax rates, which isn’t.

For the big difference between the two states, aside from the size of the oil and gas sector, isn’t tax rates. it’s housing prices. Despite the bursting of the bubble, home values in California are still double the national average, while in Texas they’re 30 percent below that average. So a lot more people are moving to Texas even though wages and productivity are lower than they are in California.

And while some of this difference in housing prices reflects geography and population density — Houston is still spreading out, while Los Angeles, hemmed in by mountains, has reached its natural limits — it also reflects California’s highly restrictive land-use policies, mostly imposed by local governments rather than the state. As Harvard’s Edward Glaeser has pointed out, there is some truth to the claim that states like Texas are growing fast thanks to their anti-regulation attitude, “but the usual argument focuses on the wrong regulations.” And taxes aren’t important at all.

So what do we learn from the California comeback? Mainly, that you should take anti-government propaganda with large helpings of salt. Tax increases aren’t economic suicide; sometimes they’re a useful way to pay for things we need. Government programs, like Obamacare, can work if the people running them want them to work, and if they aren’t sabotaged from the right. In other words, California’s success is a demonstration that the extremist ideology still dominating much of American politics is nonsense.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on July 25, 2014, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Left Coast Rising. Today's Paper|Subscribe

A History of the Decline of Labor

What the 1 % Want

What the 1% wants from our politicians

Posted: 09 Nov 2015 07:37 AM PST

The 1% in America have an out-sized influence on the political process. What policies do they support? And do their priorities differ from those of less wealthy Americans?

Political scientist Benjamin Page and two colleagues wanted to find out, so they started trying to set up interviews with the richest of the rich. This, they noted, was really quite a feat, writing:

It is extremely difficult to make personal contact with wealthy Americans. Most of them are very busy. Most zealously protect their privacy. They often surround themselves with professional gatekeepers whose job it is to fend off people like us. (One of our interviewers remarked that “even their gatekeepers have gatekeepers.”) It can take months of intensive efforts, pestering staffers and pursuing potential respondents to multiple homes, businesses, and vacation spots, just to make contact.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Elizabeth Warren on Social Security

Three weeks ago, the Social Security Administration made a quiet announcement.

Next year, for just the third time since 1975, seniors who receive Social Security won’t be getting an annual cost of living increase. Neither will millions of other Americans whose veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, and other monthly payments are pegged to Social Security.

Two-thirds of retirees depend on Social Security to pay for the basics, to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads – but seniors who usually get a small boost on January 1st won’t see an extra dime next year. That’s why today, I’m introducing the Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act – a one-time payment equivalent to a Social Security benefits increase of 3.9%.

Help us show Congress that America’s seniors and veterans need a boost on January 1st. Sign up right now to show your support for the SAVE Benefits Act.

Why give seniors and veterans a 3.9% Social Security boost? Well, times are tough for America’s seniors – but they aren't tough for everyone. According to recent data, CEOs at the top 350 American companies received, on average, a 3.9% pay increase last year.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Prediction: The Future of Climate Change is Widespread Civil War

The Future of Climate Change Is Widespread Civil War

Portside Date: 
November 3, 2015
Michael T. Klare
Date of Source: 
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
The Nation
At the end of November, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for what is billed as the most important climate meeting ever held. Officially known [1] as the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the 1992 treaty [2] that designated that phenomenon a threat to planetary health and human survival), the Paris summit will be focused on the adoption of measures that would limit global warming to less than catastrophic levels. If it fails, world temperatures in the coming decades are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the maximum amount [3] most scientists believe the Earth can endure without experiencing irreversible climate shocks, including soaring temperatures [4] and a substantial rise [5] in global sea levels.
A failure to cap carbon emissions guarantees another result as well, though one far less discussed. It will, in the long run, bring on not just climate shocks, but also worldwide instability [6], insurrection, and warfare. In this sense, COP-21 should be considered not just a climate summit but a peace conference—perhaps the most significant peace convocation in history.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Standing Up to Wall Street


Charlie Rose interviews Bernie Sanders on Standing Up to Wall Street, socialism and social democracy, and more.  Sanders defines differences between he and Hillary Clinton.
Very good interview. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Joseph Stiglitz: What is happening in the new economy ?

Social Security in the Budget Deal

Today, the Republican Leadership agreed to a deal to keep the government operating, raise the debt limit, and ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time beyond 2016. When hostage takers release their hostages, we are, of course, relieved that the hostages are no longer in harm’s way, but this is nothing to celebrate. That the ransom isn’t steeper is also not something to celebrate. 
The deal does include some good provisions: Medicare beneficiaries will not experience the drastically large premium increases that were set to take effect next year. It also closes a loophole that was introduced in the law relatively recently that allows wealthier Americans to game the system by claiming extra benefits inconsistent with the goals of the program.
But there is a diversion of Social Security resources towards virtually nonexistent fraud. This focus on fraud is a distraction from Social Security’s one real shortcoming: its benefits are too low, and an overwhelming majority of Americans know it. Congress should follow the will of the people by expanding those modest but vital benefits and restore the program to long range actuarial balance by requiring the wealthiest among us to pay their fair share.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bernie Sanders Campaign


Sat. Oct. 24.  Des Moines, Iowa
Economic proposals:
Make the wealthy and the corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
Oppose Citizens United. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Keynes Comes to Canada

Paul Krugman
Canada has a reputation for dullness. Back in the 1980s The New Republic famously declared “Worthwhile Canadian Initiative” the world’s most boring headline. Yet when it comes to economic policy the reputation is undeserved: Canada has surprisingly often been the place where the future happens first.

  • And it’s happening again. On Monday, Canadian voters swept the ruling Conservatives out of power, delivering a stunning victory to the center-left Liberals. And while there are many interesting things about the Liberal platform, what strikes me most is its clear rejection of the deficit-obsessed austerity orthodoxy that has dominated political discourse across the Western world. The Liberals ran on a frankly, openly Keynesian vision, and won big.
Before I get into the implications, let’s talk about Canada’s long history of quiet economic unorthodoxy, especially on currency policy.
In the 1950s, everyone considered it essential to peg their currency to the U.S. dollar, at whatever cost — everyone except Canada, which let its own dollar fluctuate, and discovered that a floating exchange rate actually worked pretty well. Later, when European nations were scrambling to join the euro — amid predictions that any country refusing to adopt the common currency would pay a severe price — Canada showed that it’s feasible to keep your own money despite close economic ties to a giant neighbor.

Socialism With an American Face

Gar Alperovitz,,
Sen. Bernie Sanders' public defense of socialism in the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate has kicked off America's first major discussion of the idea in more than a generation. Columnists, talk show hosts and Donald Trump have all joined in. Most of the discussion, however, has been wildly misleading, and almost all of it has bypassed some of the most interesting forms of a very American and practical form of socialism emerging throughout the United States.
Sanders was clear about what he meant by socialism, pointing to Denmark as a positive example. But Denmark is a capitalist nation with a record of welcoming and supporting private business investment. The word "socialism" is used there - as it is in many European countries - to describe a strong welfare state that includes comprehensive health care, a solid safety net, generous retirement benefits, day care and many other programs that almost any American progressive would support.
The American term for this kind of system - capitalism with a strong welfare state - is, in fact, liberalism or, perhaps, when combined with very tough taxes on the rich and corporations, populism. Socialism, on the other hand, historically has gone far beyond progressive welfare state measures by asserting that a democratic society can be achieved only if it includes democratic ownership of the economy.
In many European countries, strong labor movements committed to socialism as strong liberalism have helped counterbalance the power of capital by supporting a stronger welfare state. However, this option has always been constrained in the U.S., where union membership has declined from 35.4 percent of the labor force at its peak in the early 1950s to a mere 11.1 percent today. Racism and other factors historically have weakened and divided the American labor movement and almost entirely prevented union organizing in the South.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Republicans seek to stop CFPB- Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
You'll never guess who's going around Washington, trolling the halls of Congress, talking about the importance of protecting the long-term health of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The banking industry.
That's right: After years of trying to kill, then delay, and then defang the agency, the banking industry and their Republican friends in Congress have launched a new effort to attract Democratic support for their latest attack by claiming that they just want to help the agency and the consumers it protects. Surely Democrats will not be taken in by yet another attempt to weaken the CFPB. 
The latest industry-sponsored bill would fundamentally change the structure of the CFPB by replacing the agency's single, independent director with a commission of political appointees. 
The banks can't point to any difficulties with the agency's operations. In fact, the CFPB has been operating for only four years, but the success of the single-director structure is already apparent. Under the leadership of Director Richard Cordray, the CFPB already has:
  • returned more than $11 billion to over 25 million consumers who were cheatedon their credit cards, checking accounts or other financial products; 
  • built a complaint hotline that has exceeded all expectations, handling more than 700,000 complaints and building an information database that is beginning to level the playing field for consumers; and 

California Seniors face hard times

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Take on Banks Does Not Stand Up.

Matt Tiabbi.

….The other drama was serious and highly charged argument between two extremes on the political campaigning spectrum, pitting the unapologetic idealist Bernie Sanders against the master strategist Hillary Clinton. (Martin O'Malley seemed like an irrelevant spectator to both narratives.)
One of the most revealing exchanges in the Clinton-Sanders tilt involved the question of Wall Street corruption. Sanders has always been a passionate crusader against Wall Street perfidy, but Hillary's take on the subject was fascinating.
Asked about it Tuesday night, she gave an answer that to me sums up her candidacy and the conundrum of the modern Democratic Party in general. She seemed to hit a lot of correct notes, while at the same time over-thinking and over-nuancing a question where a few simple unequivocal answers would probably have won everyone over.
The key exchange began with a question from CNN's Anderson Cooper:
"Just for viewers at home who may not be reading up on this, Glass-Steagall is the Depression-era banking law repealed in 1999 that prevented commercial banks from engaging in investment banking and insurance activities. Secretary Clinton, he raises a fundamental difference on this stage. Sen. Sanders wants to break up the big Wall Street banks. You don't. You say charge the banks more, continue to monitor them. Why is your plan better?"

Paul Ryan and Republican Economics

WASHINGTON — First, it was called the Roadmap for America’s Future. Later, it was the Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise. The next installment was Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for American Renewal.

Each one could be called the Ryan Plan, for short, or the Ryan Budget: a single-minded — Democrats would say absurdist — quest by Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, to drastically cut federal spending and taxes, transform Medicare essentially into a voucher program, partly privatize Social Security and abolish the corporate income tax, the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax.