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Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

••• UPDATE to the update: The ‘hoarding’ of American wealth

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

••• UPDATE — An economist of some note, who chooses to remain anonymous, forwarded me some more information on the hoarding of wealth in American … Please read and let us know what you think

••• cbpp-ms-income-inequality-2008

••• cbpp-pulling-apart-state-analysis-income-trends-2008

From Monday …

I have come across the term hoarder (or hoarded) a couple of times today. The first I thought was interesting, the second kind of made me stand up and take notice.

The first came from someone who formerly wrote a column for me at a different newspaper. … The text and link to which he refers is included.

The second was included in Phil Hardwick’s blog on our website.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think …

Hoarder comment No. 1

For some reason, I was motivated today to read FDR’s First Inaugural Address. A link to it is below, and I suggest that you read it carefully and see how 1929-1933 is so congruent with 2007-2011.

Franklin Roosevelt saved capitalism by excoriating those who were perverting it and calling them out. They called him a socialist, but he saved the country.

One would think that the 1930s would have convinced Americans for all time that “trickle-down” economics is ultimately a disaster.

The moneychangers, as Roosevelt called them, are not philanthropists concerned about the average American. Cutting their taxes does not produce more jobs; it produces more hoarded wealth and higher annual bonuses.

They are today’s perverters of capitalism, and they must be called out as Roosevelt called them out.

http://www.bartleby.com/124/pres49.html

Hoarder comment No. 2

Speaking of small business, I couldn’t help but raise my eyebrows at this post from Gene Marks blog in the New York Times:

BEST CASE AGAINST LOBBYISTS Huffington Post’s Zach Carter and Ryan Grimm write about how the small-business lobby hurts small business: “Two years into the Obama administration, small businesses are still struggling to obtain credit and hire new workers, while big businesses withhold payments from them, horde cash and enjoy record profits. But if the top small-business goal for the past two years was to elect Republicans, the N.F.I.B. has done its job.”

See Phil Hardwick’s blog …

••• (Update) LaForge issues statement on earmarks

November 17th, 2010 Comments off

An update with my column from this week’s Mississippi Business Journal print edition as well as some links from other stories about LaForge’s comments …

LaForge delivers thoughtful argument in earmark battle

Bill LaForge believes efforts to eliminate earmarks by the incoming U.S. House GOP majority is “short-sighted.”

It was just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about LaForge and his recently released book titled “Testifying Before Congress,” which is gaining accolades from across the country.

The Cleveland native is past national president of the Federal Bar Association and is a frequent speaker on the topics of government and Congressional relations, communicating with Congress, the Congressional hearings process and the Congressional appropriations process.

LaForge is a main figure on Capitol Hill, having served as chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and culminated his government career as chief legislative counsel and chief of staff to Sen. Thad Cochran. Previously he served as Congressional liaison for the Peace Corps and as a legislative assistant to Mississippi Rep. David Bowen.

So, when he issued a statement last week critical of the anti-earmark wave, it should make all of us stand up and take notice.

His point was that eliminating earmarks will not change budget numbers, going so far as to say eliminating earmarks gives all of the budgeting power to the executive branch.

LaForge’s viewpoint is quite different from the one popular with the masses out there.

But LaForge isn’t one to stick his neck on the line for the hell of it.
He understands the process of Washington and the process of the national budget.

Republicans have abandoned the you-scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours earmark process, Democrats who still hold a majority in the Senate have to decide whether they’ll try to prop up a system that seems to be collapsing all around them.

With the GOP dead set against earmarks and President Barack Obama urging a crackdown, defenders of earmarks — mostly Democrats but with a few Republicans mixed in — are swimming against a powerful tide.

Earmarking allows lawmakers to steer federal spending to pet projects in their states and districts. Earmarks take many forms. They can be road projects, improvements to home district military bases, sewer projects, economic development projects and even those Predator drone aircraft that are used to kill terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

They can also include tax breaks for a handful of specific companies, like a tax cut proposed years ago for manufacturers of hunting arrows.

The reason Capitol Hill’s favor factory has churned out so many pork-barrel projects so successfully for so long is pretty simple: Everybody did it, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives.

Not anymore.

Critics like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have railed against earmarks for years, even as they proliferated when Republicans controlled Congress. Slowly, the tide has turned in their favor.

Boehner promises that next year’s spending bills won’t have earmarks. The opinion of House Democrats doesn’t matter much since they’ll be stripped of most of their power under a Boehner-led regime.

But it was last week’s surprise announcement by Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in support of a two-year moratorium on earmarks that fundamentally shifted the paradigm. Until then, McConnell had been a strong defender of the practice. Banning earmarks wouldn’t save money and would shift too much power to Obama, McConnell said in the days after the midterm Congressional elections.

Despite deep misgivings among many old-timers, Republican senators followed McConnell’s lead and endorsed a nonbinding moratorium on earmarks by a voice vote in a closed meeting.

LaForge says this direction is the wrong one.

“ … McConnell … went along with the party’s conservative wing,” he said. “This is all in reaction to the election and to voter interests in the government, especially the Congress, doing everything possible to reduce spending and get the financial house in order. Congressional Republican leaders feel it is necessary to restore trust in government by the American people.”

Earmarks are not ‘new’ money, LaForge went on to say.

“They only direct where the money will be spent. Essentially, they are directives from Congress on how taxpayers’ dollars should be spent, rather than allowing executive branch agencies to make all the decisions. The same amount of dollars will still be on the table and will be spent.”

A shareholder at Winstead Sechrest & Minick, P.C., specializing in government relations/public policy, LaForge makes a great argument, and a reasoned, thoughtful one.

If only we had more reasoned, thoughtful arguments in Washington, we would be better off.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

••• Other links with similar stories …

A lobbyist’s defense of earmarks: They make the government work

That Earmarks Ban? Mostly For Show

FACT CHECK: Ban on pet projects mostly symbolic

Our Opinion: Doling out our cash

Bennett: Earmark ban good politics, bad policy

Earmark reform won’t dent the deficit

••••••••

Here is the original post from last week …

Cleveland native Bill LaForge, a past national president of the Federal Bar Association, has issued a statement on the topic of earmarks that has become a national issue and rallying cry in the recent national elections.

LaForge calls the efforts to eliminate earmarks as “shortsighted”, giving all of the budgeting power to the executive branch.

LaForge is a frequent speaker on the topics of government and Congressional relations, communicating with Congress, the Congressional hearings process and the Congressional appropriations process.

“Earmarks are not “new” money,” LaForge said in his statement. “They only direct where the money will be spent.

“Essentially, they are directives from Congress on how taxpayers’ dollars should be spent, rather than allowing executive branch agencies to make all the decisions. The same amount of dollars will still be on the table and will be spent.”

A shareholder at Winstead Sechrest & Minick, P.C., specializing in government relations/public policy, LaForge has been a main figure on Capitol Hill as chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and culminated his government career as chief legislative counsel and chief of staff to Sen. Thad Cochran. Previously he served as Congressional liaison for the Peace Corps and as a legislative assistant to Mississippi Rep. David Bowen.

Below is his statement, in full …

I decided to issue my own statement on earmark reform:

Yesterday the Senate Republican conference agreed on a two-year moratorium on earmarks. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reluctantly changed his position of supporting earmarks, went along with the party’s conservative wing, and embraced the idea of a moratorium, thus ensuring the endorsement of the Republican caucus, and avoiding a bitter and devisive intra-party battle. This is all in reaction to the election and to voter interests in the government, especially the Congress, doing everything possible to reduce spending and get the financial house in order. Congressional Republican leaders feel it is necessary to restore trust in government by the American people.

However, in reality, it is a mere symbolic gesture…a political reaction and a “feel-good” outcome for politicians who believe that they must listen to the American people and do their will on this issue. It will have NO impact on the federal budget. Earmarks are not “new” money. They only direct where the money will be spent. Essentially, they are directives from Congress on how taxpayers’ dollars should be spent, rather than allowing executive branch agencies to make all the decisions. The same amount of dollars will still be on the table and will be spent. The sad difference now is that Congress is abdicating its constitutional responsibility and privilege regarding the power of the purse, and turning over all the decisions to the executive branch. To me, this is very short-sighted. But it is an issue rife with demagoguery and political messaging. Politicians are falling all over themselves trying to outdo their rivals on this issue, so you will note that an unlikely coalition involving the President and congressional Republicans is having a field day with this issue. For many, perception has become reality, and it appears that the moratorium is real, at least for now. The Senate action by Republicans comes on the heels of similar action by House Republicans earlier this year. It remains to be seen how congressional Democrats in both houses will respond and what they will do next. It is possible that all or some Democrats, and possibly even some Republicans, will continue to request earmarks. Politically I would envision Republicans making any Democratic earmarks a big issue during the next campaign. Hell hath no fury like a reformed earmarker! Only time will tell.

Thompson doesn’t talk about financial reform

July 15th, 2010 Comments off

A sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulations was sent to President Barack Obama’s desk today after a year of partisan struggles and delicate cross-party courtships that promised more and delivered less.
What is promised is that financial entities will be held to a higher degree of accountability.
Unfortunately for most banks in Mississippi, the bill could be a burden that will hurt its customers — like you and me.
In a story in the Mississippi Business Journal this week, we talked to the Mississippi Bankers Association, which is among bill opponents who are angry that the bill, if passed, would punish community banks for the bad behavior of big banks, mortgage brokers and non-bank lenders. The bill will make less credit available and increase bank costs.
Community banks are those with assets of less than $10 billion, which includes most banks in Mississippi.
Mac Deaver, MBA president, told the MBJ the bill is bad for Mississippians.
The community banks are going to get the brunt of this, and their examiners are going to examine them in a politically charged atmosphere,” Deaver said. Banks will lose money in compliance costs.
On the House side, Second Congressional District Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi voted for the bill despite the urgings of experts in his home state that his constituents will be hurt by the bill.
Despite repeated phone calls and e-mails to Thompson’s offices about the financial overhaul and the impact on Mississippians, the congressman did not respond.
In fact according to a Wall Street Journal story today, the financial overhaul will hurt American farmers.
Oh yeah, Thompson represents most of the Mississippi Delta where a large majority of Mississippi’s farmers live.
So Thompson voted for a bill that his state’s bankers, by and large, say will hurt them and a majority of their customers, and he has voted for a bill that will wreak havoc with the finances of the state’s agriculture industry.
Good move, congressman. You have managed to help pass a bill that impacts more than 40 percent of the Mississippi economy for the worst.
And you have no comment.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.